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UN Silent on Morocco's Detentions, Guinea Guards, As Polisario Defector Deflects Resource Question

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 12 -- As the issue of Western Sahara is once again debated in the basement of the UN in New York, in Morocco the government detained seven officials of the Polisario Front upon their return from Algeria. Polisario's leader Mohammed Abdelaziz called on the United Nations to intervene on what he called an abduction.

  But when, two days later, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesperson Michele Montas for the reaction of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, or by implication his envoy Christopher Ross, or even if Mr. Ban is aware of the detentions, Ms. Montas said "I am not aware of it." Video here, from Minute 23:18.

  The discussion of Western Sahara at the UN gets more and more surreal. On October 8, correspondents were invited to what was advertised only as a briefing on the topic. Once there, a representative of Morocco's Mission to the UN translated, Arabic to English, the statement of one Ahamadou Souilem of the Oulad Dlim tribe, who said that "being convinced that the Polisario cause is worthless and its ideology founded on baseless myth," he "decided to head back to his motherland, the Kingdom of Morocco, in July 29th, 2009."

  Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Ahamadou Souilem who has the right to trade away the fishing rights and other natural resources of Western Sahara. Ahamadou Souilem's long answer, in Spanish, essentially said to look to the future, not to the past, that restrictions on the natural resources of colonies refers to Spanish occupation and not the present arrangement.

UN's Ban and Morocco's Ambassador, detentions and resource sale curbs not shown

  During the UN General Debate, the representative of the military regime in Guinea spoke in favor of Morocco and its autonomy -- but not independence -- plan. A Polisario representative told Inner City Press that Morocco provides training and assistance to the personal guards of Guinea's military leader.

  Inner City Press asked Morocco's Ambassador to the UN about this on October 8. He looked taken aback, and said that all matters are "in the Fourth Committee," and that it is important to be diplomatic. This was two days before the arrests in Casablanca, and now the UN's silence. Watch this site.

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At UN, France Opposes Human Rights in W. Sahara, Sudan Grandstanding

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- As a Security Council meeting on both South Sudan and Western Sahara droned on an hour past noon, US Ambassador Susan Rice emerged, looking around at the stakeout for her French counterpart Jean-Maurice Ripert. The issue was France's insistence that the Council's resolution on South Sudan should call on President al-Bashir to reverse his decision to expel international NGOs from Darfur.

China had countered that the resolution should then also note the African Union and Arab League position that the indictment of al-Bashir should be suspended. China proposed a compromise, sources tell Inner City Press, in which the resolution would refer only to two events in March, leaving unstated the indictment and expulsion. France said no, they would abstain and make a statement to explain why.

   Simultaneously, France was opposing a Ugandan proposal to include human rights language in the Western Sahara resolution. Cynics guessed that the two disputes might become linked, with France getting its way on one and not the other. (As usually in such a trade off, Polisario of Western Sahara could be expected to get the short end of the stick). Polisario's own unpaid lobbyists from Independent Diplomat were on the scene, speaking also about the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Wester Sahara, including Europe's yen for fish, slaked also illegally off Somalia.

UN's Ban and Pascoe-look alike Ross: human rights in Western Sahara not shown

The UN's new envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, sat taking it all in. Inner City Press asked him about resources and human rights, questions he genially deflected. You look like Lynn Pascoe, Inner City Press finally said. I've heard that, he responded. And then went back into the meeting.

At 1:05 p.m., Ambassadors Rice and Ripert went back into the meeting, and the bell rang to convene the other members. Moments later, it was announced that consultations on both items is postponed to 4 p.m., with an emphasis the Western Sahara MINURSO human rights language. A Western P-5 Perm Rep sai the Sudan resolution is agreed to. Watch this site.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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