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As UN for Ouattara, not Hamas, Algeria or Gore, Chad's Friends Snark

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- At Tuesday night's reception for Chad's independence, most talk was of Cote d'Ivoire and “imperialism,” as one African ambassador put it to Inner City Press.

  “Don't quote me by name but use it,” he said, after asking why “the West” was so concerned about Alassane Ouattara not taking power despite being declared winner. “Hamas won but wasn't recognized,” the African Ambassador said, also citing Algeria and even Al Gore. He indicated to quote him as "an African Ambassador" so that "the US and France won't know which capital to complain to."

  Also on Ivory Coast, it was pointed out that while Ghana had been more than willing to intervene for democracy in Togo, it now is opposed to such “meddling” in Cote d'Ivoire.

  Ghana's Permanent Representative, it is said, is slated to leave New York this month. His predecessor works for the UN in Nairobi. Thus does the UN keep African voices quiet.

  The Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo complained that the UN just doesn't want to leave. Chad's Ambassador, the host, successfully spoke in the Security Council in favor of the UN leaving his country. One of his deputies argued to Inner City Press, “we have UNDP, we have other UN organs, that's all we need.”

  The mood was of rebellion, amid videos of Chad's Deby being sucked up to by France's Sarkozy.

UN's Ban in Chad, blow off and suck up not shown

  The turn out was mostly African, although Inner City Press noted and spoke with the Permanent Representatives of the UK, Bolivia, Turkey, the Philippines and others. Jamaica was in the house, as were Austria and Georgia. But where, one asked, was Susan Rice of the US?

  Bolivia complained again about the Obama administration cutting off aid for non support of Copenhagen. “We didn't need Wikileaks to learn that,” he said, predicting there will be no climate agreement in Durban, maybe only in Qatar. We'll see.

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In Cote D'Ivoire, as UN Retreats from Gbagbo Turf, Talks Tough in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- While at the UN in New York the new Ambassador of Alassane Ouattara says the UN is ready to “be firm” to remove Laurent Gbagbo from power, in Abidjan the UN peacekeepers drove away from a crowd of Gbagbo supporters, leaving behind four civilian UN employees who were then disappeared.

Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 11 about an incident the previous day, in which the UN “withdrew” from a neighborhood with Gbagbo supporters in it. What are the UN's rules of engagement? How can the it protect civilians if it retreats in this way?

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: In Côte d’Ivoire, there’s this report of the peacekeepers retreating, as some headlines put it, or turning around, leaving a neighborhood described as being under Gbagbo’s loyalist security concerns. Can you say, is that true, and what are the terms of engagement, and are they going to return to this area? Or is that an area they’re no longer policing or able to protect people in?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, generally, obviously the Mission has a mandate to protect civilians, and has been regularly patrolling. It also has to exercise discretion where necessary. I can tell you that, referring to an incident or an instance on 10 January — in other words, yesterday — this was a logistics convoy from the Mission that comprised four civilian trucks, and it was stopped at the checkpoint near the American embassy on its way to re-supply the Golf Hotel in Abidjan. And then a few minutes later, three vehicles with some 20 defense and security force, FDS [Defence and Security Forces] elements, arrived at the location. And then a crowd of several hundred, which included five additional vehicles with 50 people from the FDS, the police and the gendarmerie, and then four civilians who were part of this convoy were taken into custody. And then, in the meantime, the crowd started looting the items from the vehicles. The peacekeepers, the UNOCI elements, left to bring reinforcements, and when they returned the three civilian trucks and the four drivers were missing.

Choi Young-jin with peacekeepers, retreat & legislative elections not shown

And UNOCI is, as I’ve been informed, is in direct contact with the FDS leadership to ascertain their whereabouts and the mission is investigating the incident and is also putting in place measures to try to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future.

Inner City Press: They said 13 trucks, that seems to add up, it sounds like [inaudible] the incident that’s being --

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I’m telling you – this is from the Mission. Okay?

  No, it's NOT okay. Watch this site.

* * *

Amid Discussion of Cutting Cocoa Customs & Paying Gbagbo Army, UN Is Listening

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 7 -- In and around the UN in New York there is open talk about trying to cut off Laurent Gbagbo's access to cocoa customs in Cote d'Ivoire, or to paying bribes to his military to defect. But is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon part of these discussions?

Among Security Council members the date of January 16 is named for when payment is due to Gbagbo's military. One Ambassador told some of the press that Gbagbo's military is being told that “the ICC is watching,” and that ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the Council that not only Ouattara but also Gbagbo recently called him. France is described as trying to blockade cocoa custom funds to Gbagbo.

Inner City Press on January 7 asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if, during Ban's video conferences with his envoy in Abidjan Choi Young-jin the two speak on these topics. “The Mission monitors such developments with a close eye,” Nesirky replied. He added that “the Mission keep Headquarters informed... They assess every aspect across the spectrum.” Audio here, from Minute 18:40.

To some, this was a surprising answer.

UN's Ban & Choi, talk of cocoa customs & payments not shown

  When Ouattara called for a Special Forces action against Gbagbo and Inner City Press asked Nesirky about it, he replied that the UN favors a diplomatic solution. Watch this site.

Inner City Press asked Nesirky how the UN could conclude that the deadly fighting in Douekou was not related to the Gbagbo - Ouattara standoff. Rather than explain, Nesirky read out a note that a seven person team from Abidjan will go to Douekou with aid and to assess. Then what?

* * *

As UN Misses Gbagbo Forces' Deadly Raid on Opposition Office, Ban's Spokesman Passes Buck to DPKO Missions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 4 -- What is the UN doing in Cote d'Ivoire and whom is it protecting? After forces of Laurent Gbagbo raided the offices of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm whether one or four people had been killed, and to state where other that the Golf Hotel is it protecting, even just in Abidjan.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, who earlier spoke about the ONUCI Mission's “patrols,” replied that UN peacekeepers had “sought to gain access but it was not yet possible.”

Inner City Press asked whether the UN was purporting to protect offices of opposition political parties, or by implication their officials.

The focus is the Golf Hotel,” Nesirky said. As the UN says when civilians are slaughtered or raped in Eastern Congo, he said UN peacekeepers “can't be everywhere all the time.” Here we're talking about a foreseeable attack on an opposition politicial party's office right in Abidjan. The UN couldn't be there?

Outside the UN Security Council, Inner City Press learned that the Council will in all probability have consultations on Cote d'Ivoire on January 5. “We're still consulting” a source told Inner City Press, “but it looks like it will be tomorrow.

At the noon briefing, Nesirky added that he would “defer to [his] colleagues in the Mission” to provide further answers. Video here, from Minute 22:22.

UN's Le Roy meets Ouattara, answers on protection of offices not shown

  Nesirky, who is the spokesman not only for Ban Ki-moon but for the UN Secretariat, which includes UN peacekeeping missions, increasingly engages in this passing of the buck. In just the past ten days, he has told Inner City Press to go ask the UN Mission in Kosovo about a UN judge who let an organ theft defendant go free.

  He has allowed the UN - African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur to go 11 days without answering a question about rape by Sudan government officials right next to UN peacekeepers.

  Most recently Nesirky has told to go ask MINUSTAH in Haiti how much the UN pays an official. We'll have more on that one, and the others. 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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