Coup Leader Reportedly Served on UN Missions, France, UN and Council
Shrug, on Guinea
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 19, updated -- The leader of the coup in Niger, Major
Djibo, learned while on UN Peacekeeping Missions in Cote d'Ivoire and
the Congo, it was reported.
Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm it, and on February 22
received the following:
Answer to your query on Niger coup leader
From: Yves Sorokobi at
To: Inner City Press
Date: Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM
Major Salou Djibo served in MONUC as a military observer from 06
August 2006 to 06 August 2007. At the time, he was a captain.
Concerning his alleged service in Côte d'Ivoire in ONUCI, we are
unable to confirm this report. Any service of this individual in
d'Ivoire would have been as a member of the Niger contingent deployed
Inner City Press asked the head of the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy whether working
and ostensibly receiving training with DPKO makes a soldier more or
less likely to join or launch a coup. Video here.
Le Roy and his
fellow UN Under Secretary General John Holmes both laughed. Le Roy
responded that the UN cannot answer for what peacekeepers do after
their service, then countered with the example of former Nigerian
President Obansanjo. Some found it a weak defense, given charges
charges of irregularities in large infrastructure deals reached in
Obansanjo's days in power.
two USG spoke
in front of the UN Security Council, after a meeting about Haiti.
Inner City Press was told by a Permanent Five member's political
advisor that France was being "hesitant to raise Niger" in
the Council, despite the fact that it forces the Council to consider
attempts to overthrew Idriss Deby the strongman in Chad, another
French ex colony.
asked France's representative at the meeting, is anyone raising the
Niger coup? "You are," he replied.
Niger coup leader's spokesman, UN Peacekeeping
training not shown
camera, the French representative said that
neither Niger nor the delay of elections and increase of violence in
Cote d'Ivoire had been discussed in the Council on Friday.
France, the Council and Secretariat is the inclusion in Guinea's
interim government of Major Claude Pivi, a military officer named in
the UN's own report as likely being responsible for the massacre of
civilians last September 28. Inner City Press asked UN Deputy
Spokesperson Marie Okabe about it on February 17, and she referred to
a previous Ban Ki-moon statement lauding the interim government.
official on February 18 said he wasn't aware of it, and nothing was
said on Friday either. "Maybe Monday," a fleeing diplomat
said. And so it goes at the UN.
it is impossible to discuss Niger and the UN without recalling the
UN's stealth envoy to the country, Canadian Robert Fowler, who was
kidnapped while visiting a Canadian owned mine in the country. When
he was released, he said someone in the UN in New York might have
leaked his location and how to grab him. Then the UN tried to sweep
the whole thing back under the rug. Now, a coup. Might the rug become
* * *
Rice of US Insists UN "Misconstrues" Somalia Aid
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 19 -- Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN,
accused the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden of
"misconstruing" US restrictions on aid. Ambassador Rice
asserted a "diversion of resources" to the Islamist group
Al Shabab. Since it is on US terrorism lists, US law requires the
restrictions the US is demanding.
what are these
U.S. restrictions? Bowden, while publicly complaining about them, would
not provide any description. Rather, he said that when he went to
Washington to discussed them with US aid officials, they told him the
issue was "above [their] pay grade."
asked Ambassador Rice about precisely this quote. She insisted that
it is Al Shabab which is responsible for the lack of aid. Video here,
But what of
Bowden's quoting of US aid officials? A US State Department official
in Washington, described as "irritated," has said of
Bowden, "We're going to talk to him." The
quote reminded on
UN observer of "something from the Sopranos," or the Mafia
film "Good Fellas."
boss, top UN humanitarian John Holmes,
stood before a UN microphone
on Thursday evening, Inner City Press asked him to explain what
Bowden had said, and to describe the US restrictions to which the UN
is publicly taking exception.
responded that the message was only that the UN needs more funds.
Even pressed, he declined to follow or back up Bowden. Video here,
cop, bad cop," an observer mused afterwards. Or was Holmes
showing his political stripes, declining to criticize the U.S. as,
for example, his predecessor Jan Egeland did after the tsunami?
Susan Rice back on Jan. 26, US Somalia aid
restrictions not shown
Ambassador Rice's two responses to the Press about Somalia, she went
in to a Security Council meeting about Haiti. Speaking first, from a
prepared text, was the UN's John Holmes. So goes diplomacy at the UN.
While Ambassador Rice also took two questions about Iran's nuclear
program, the Press was not able to ask for her views on developments
in Sudan and Darfur, or on anti-democratic moves in Niger and Cote
d'Ivoire, nor the incorporation of a presumptive war criminal into
Guinea's interim government. But the answers on Somalia, although of
a piece with Washington's script, were appreciated.
official told Inner City Press that "Susan Rice, as an expected
future Secretary of State, is playing it safe. She will not, for
example, criticize [former South African president Thabo] Mbeki about
Sudan." Until questions are asked, and answered, we'll stick to
an open mind.
the US Mission to the UN's transcript:
City Press: On Somalia, the U.N. has said that the U.S. is
politicizing aid, and has made restrictions that make it impossible
to feed people in southern Somalia. Could you say what the
restrictions are and what the reasons for them are?
Rice: Well, first of all we utterly reject that claim; we think it's
false and unfounded. The reason why aid is not now proceeding to the
people of southern Somalia is one reason alone and it's quite clear:
it's Al Shabaab's attacks on WFP and other U.N. agencies, its
kidnapping of innocent relief workers, its extortion of funds which
prompted WFP on January 5th to take the decision that it could not
and would not continue to deliver life saving assistance in southern
Somalia. That's an unfortunate development but it is a direct
consequence of Al Shabaab's attacks and efforts. The U.S. is the
largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, we have been
consistently over many years, and in 2009 we contributed $150 million
in humanitarian assistance to Somalia. So, as I said we reject that
claim as false and unfounded.
City Press: One follow up, Mark Bowden of the UN had said when he
traveled to Washington and met with USAID officials they said to him
that the decision was above their pay-grade and was being made by the
State Department on a political basis.
Rice: He's conflating and misconstruing two different things. The
reason why the people of Somalia in the South are not able to receive
the assistance that we and others have traditionally provided at
present is because WFP took a decision, a decision they felt
compelled to take and we understand why they had to take it, that
they could no longer continue to provide assistance safely, given Al
Shabaab's harassment, attacks, and terrorist activities. The question
of how the U.S. government has responded, and we have been in
discussions with humanitarian delivery agencies about the fact that
we have grave concerns about the diversion of resources to Al Shabaab
and other terrorist organizations in contravention of U.S. law. And
we have had those discussions, they have been ongoing but
nonetheless, the U.S. provided $150 million of humanitarian
assistance to Somalia last year. We remain, as we have been for many
years, the largest donor, and what is precluding the delivery of
assistance to people in southern Somalia is Al Shabaab.