After 15-0 Vote on Cote d'Ivoire, Complaints About UNOCI's
Impartiality from India, Brazil, But No Ceasefire
March 31 -- After the UN Security Council voted 15-0 on a
modified version of a Cote
d'Ivoire resolution introduced by France
and Nigeria on March 25, Inner City Press posed questions about the
resolution and military advances by forces supporting Alassane
Ouattara to the Ambassadors of France, Nigeria and Ouattara,
Yousoufou “Joseph” Bamba. (Click
for YouTube video of March 25 Q&A with Bamba).
March 29 outside the US Misison to the UN, Inner City Press asked
Bamba when he thought it would be over. “This weekend,” Bamba
said smiling. “We'll have coffee.”
March 30, Inner
City Press asked Bamba at the Security Council stakeout on UN TV what
the Ouattara forces who do about the call for a ceasefire by Laurent
that Ouattara is the president of the country. Some at the stakeout
muttered, so is Gaddafi. But it was lost in the
rush to get US Ambassador Susan Rice to the stakeout microphone.
asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud if France thought the Ouattara
forces should pause in their advances.
“Ouattara is the
president of Cote d’Ivoire and the legitimate forces of the
legitimate president are under his authority.” The same skeptics
wondered as a matter of consistency if France would apply this same
answer to President Omar al Bashir in Sudan, or the new “president”
Ban & YJ Choi, "destiny" talk not shown
is the Q&A
as transcribed by the French Mission to the UN, with Inner City
Press: What seems to be a criticism from India and Brazil, that
ONUCI should be impartial. There are reports by the UN about firing
at the UN helicopters by the forces of Ouattara and his invisible
commandos. Are you calling for any restraint on that side?
Of course. We are calling to stop all violence against the
ONUCI, all violence against the civilian population. I think the
Indian and the Brazilian concerns are pretty legitimate. You have a
civil war, you have violence growing, you have the prospect of maybe
fighting in Abidjan. The Indians, especially because they are a major
troop contributor, and Brazilians simply don’t want the ONUCI to
become part of this fighting, part of the civil war. And again, about
violence against civilians, we are addressing the same message to
Press: Do you think the Ouattara forces should stop their
advances or you’re sort of cheering them on?
I think President Ouattara is the president of Côte d’Ivoire
and the legitimate forces of the legitimate president are under his
answer this way is understandable. It is perhaps more noteworthy from
former colonial power France. But should the
UN to speaking as its
envoy Choi Young-jin does, most recently to Al Jazeera, that by these
military advances by Ouattara's forces Ivorians are seizing their
destiny, without foreign military intervention as in Libya?
among others, urged UNOCI to be impartial. Later at the Chinese End
of Presidency reception, a diplomat from a Council member with a
population over one billion told Inner City Press it is a “terrible
resolution,” and scoffed that the UN Secretariat briefings are
“just based on Western media reports.”
Then why not
or at least abstain?
Representative explained some of the changes to the initial draft,
including the downward modification of a referral of the case of Cote
d'Ivoire to the International Criminal to a passing mention of the
possibility, through another mechanism, of the ICC. Also, she said,
UNOCI is not called on to seize heavy weapons.
is informed that the previous force commander of UNOCI, or perhaps
the entire Bangladeshi battalion, was skeptical of the more
aggressive or “pro Ouattara” stance that some were demanding. The
new force commander, from Togo, is said not to have those qualms.
complained about the rush to vote on the resolution, without
sufficiently consulting Troop Contributing Countries, Inner City
Press asked major TCC Nigeria about this criticism. Sometimes you
have to move fast, the Nigerian Ambassador said.
asked, Will ECOWAS ask for a Security Council authorization to use
force in Cote d'Ivoire? Nigeria's Ambassador replied that ECOWAS has
not asked for that.
skeptic muttered, “not yet.” Watch this site.
Footnote: at the March 30 UN noon briefing, Inner City
asking Ban Ki-moon's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if he understood
the lack of impartiality complaints of "some people"--
Haq cut in and asked Inner City Press, "By 'some
people' you mean yourself?
No -- the criticism exists not only in Cote d'Ivoire
(Inner City Press said at the briefing, "quite a few people in the
Ivory Coast think that the UN is.... reporting only on one side") but
even inside the Security Council, albeit in diplomat form, most
publicly March 30 by India and Brazil.
So what is the UN's
response? Watch this site.
* * *
Claims It Urges All Ivorians to Halt Fight, Choi Speaks of Destiny
March 30 -- On Cote
d'Ivoire, moments after the UN's envoy
to that country Choi Young-jin was on Al Jazeera television saying
that in the advances of military forces supporting Alassane Ouattara
the Ivorian people are taking care of their own destiny without
outside military intervention as in Libya, Inner City Press asked the
UN for clarification.
asked Haq, yes or no, if the UN is calling on Ouattara forces to stop
military advances. Haq replied he has no information about
General Ban Ki-moon and the UN calling for a stop to military action
or rooting Ouattara's forces on? Haq said, contrary to what Choi has
just said, that “we urge all sides to halt fighting.”
television, did not issue such a call. Inner City Press asked Haq if
he could understand that a lack of impartiality by the UN is seen by
some people --
demanded of Inner City Press, "By 'some people' you mean yourself?"
podium, Haq and main Ban spokesman Martin Nesirky have repeatedly
complained of protests against the UN by Ivorians, always
characterizing them as supporters of Gbagbo.
apparently to even
ask a question of the UN about these critique of objectivity,
impartiality and primary concern with civilians leads to the above.
about what Nesirky had said on March 29. Here's from the UN's
of March 29:
Press: Amnesty International has come out saying that there is a
UNOCI base, three kilometres, I guess, from the town and saying that
the peacekeepers should do more to protect civilians. It’s
obviously, it’s a fight that the Ouattara forces are winning, some
people are fleeing and I am wonder… when you say it was a
reconnaissance helicopter, what exactly is UNOCI’s role as these…
the two… the supporters of the two camps clash in these towns, how
are civilians being protected? And is UNOCI calling for the Ouattara
forces to… what is UNOCI’s call on the Ouattara forces, as
regards protection of civilians?
The call is the same, regardless, and that is that innocent
civilians need to be protected. And what we are alarmed about is
that, with each successive move from whichever side, I mean armed
move, we are seeing displacement of people, either inside the country
or into another, particularly into Liberia. And, as you know, inside
the country, people are also seeking shelter. They are desperate,
they are frightened, and it’s the mission’s job within the
mandate it has, as much as possible, to protect those civilians. And
I know that they are actively engaged in that. In some cases, it is
easier said than actually done. If I have an update on precisely the
location you are referring to, I’d be very happy to give you that.
Press: I want to follow up on this, because, in variants of the
announcements made from this podium, there is sort of running count
of civilians killed by, generally associated with the pro-Ouattara
forces, and how it is described. And I just wondered, the number may
be lower, but does the UN have any estimate of the number of
civilians killed by the pro-Ouattara sides, and also of the number of
people displaced, the relative causation factor of the people that
have been chased into Liberia or into other places?
Well, on the casualties, those people who have lost their
lives, there is a very strict way of handling this within the
mission. They need to be able to verify the location, the name, the
identity of the person and the age of the person. And that is a very
important part of the process. It isn’t always feasible to
ascertain who was to blame. The fact remains that you, very sadly,
have civilians who have lost their lives. It isn’t always possible
to ascertain. And where it is, I am sure that the mission will be
seeking to log that, not least because, if you are trying
subsequently to hold people accountable, you do need to have that
kind of material at hand. On the broader question, if I have
anything further from the mission, then I’d be happy to share that
on Tuesday evening across from the US Mission to the UN, Inner City
Press spoke with Ouattara's UN envoy Yousoufou Bamba, who jovially
predicted that it will all be over by the weekend "and we'll have a
coffee together, you and me."
That type of talk is one thing for Ouattara's envoy. But the
celebratory talk of YJ Choi is something not before seen in the UN
system. So too the hiring of UN envoy who are allowed to continued to
be paid by outside governments. More on that to follow.