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As Kouchner & Le Roy Ask Where Darfur Nur Could Be Sent, Gambari Talks of Threats

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27, 2010 -- With Darfur rebel Abdel Wahid Nur living in Paris, what is France's relationship to and plans for him? Inner City Press on Monday asked French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner about Nur, whom Kouchner had said would be joining the negotiation process in Doha. Kouchner shrugged that Nur had said that. Now what?

Where would you have us send him?” Kouchner asked Inner City Press. “Sudan?”

Inner City Press asked Kouchner to confirm that other French diplomats have argued, that France wants to expel Nur but believes a court would on current evidence grant him asylum. These Elysee sources say that France has been seeking evidence, including through the UN, that Nur is behind recent violence in the Kalma and Zalingei IDP Camps in Darfur, as a basis to expel him.

Before Kouchner could answer, his handler Monsieur Valero groaned and rolled his eyes, as if the question was forbidden. There are many causes for the violence in the camps, Kouchner finally said. Video here.
  One would like to better understand France's position, but the denial of access, seemingly based on the content of articles, makes it difficult.

  Later on Monday, Inner City Press asked the UN's top peacekeeper Alain Le Roy, a French national, about Abdul Wahid Nur. Le Roy replied much as Kouchner had: Where should Nur be sent? Inner City Press pointed out that Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice & Equality Movement is currently in Libya.

Kouchner and UN's Ban, Abdel Wahid Nur not shown, opaque

Inner City Press also posed a Nur question to the UN's Ibrahim Gambari, in New York for the Tripartite Meeting with Sudan held on Monday afternoon in the UN's Conference Room 7. Gambari said there is evidence Nur -- or his supporters? -- made death threats. There is talk of a flier to this effect, which Nur has denied.

The politics here seem to have Gambari, a fan of the Doha process and some say of Omar al Bashir, wanting Abdul Wahid Nur arrested or expelled from France. Obviously, someone is protecting him. Watch this site.

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At UN, As France Grabs the Mic, Kouchner Says to Report Only What He Says On It: Leaving Sarkozy Government Soon?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27, 2010 -- When Bernard Kouchner, for now the French Foreign Minister, did a media stakeout at the UN midday Monday, a dozen reporters showed up and fought with each other to ask questions.

   Inner City Press managed to ask a question about Sudan, and France's hosting of Darfur rebel leader Abdul Wahid Nur, the answer to which will be published later today. But the sideshow was the maneuvers by France's Mission to the UN to control who could ask questions.

  As reporters shouted out questions ranging from Israeli settlements to the Balkans and conditions in Haiti, Kouchner turned toward the loudest voice, or the most interesting word he heard. Meanwhile two French reporters, apparently promised the “right” to ask questions prior to the stakeout, stood to the side.

  The French Mission's spokesman at first pointed to them, then grabbed the UN microphone boom to “give” the floor to the two French journalists.

  This degree of control had never been seen or attempted, according to long time UN stakeout denizens. “It makes them look like the teacher's pet,” one such denizen remarked. Another opined that the French Mission to the UN tries to use access to newsmakers and events as a way to discipline or influence reporters about their coverage.

Kouchner & a mic, Mission's attempts to control the Press not shown

  On the questions that he did take, Kouchner was energetic, and not as directly rude as he was during a stakeout in the UN's Temporary North Lawn Building last week. There, when a Japanese reporters was setting up a question, Kouchner goaded the reporter that it wasn't a question at all.

  During his time in New York, the French Mission to the UN tried to tightly control all media access to Kouchner, including snubbing some of the most active reporters at the UN, including on the issues Kouchner speaks most about: humanitarian access, Sudan, the Responsibility to Protect and Myanmar. It is not clear on whose behalf this control was being exercised.

 During his weekend in Haiti, Kouchner reportedly said off microphone that he will soon be leaving the Sarkozy government. Asked about this on Monday, Kouchner bristled that the press should listen to what he says on microphone and not off microphone.

  In his speech to the General Assembly, Kouchner ranged back to the Security Council's resolutions on the Kurds in Iraq in the early 1990s, talking about the Right to Intervene and later Responsibility to Protect. How do he and France apply this to Sudan, or to Myanmar, the topic of another UN meeting later on Monday? We will have more on this.

* * *

France, Under Fire on Roma & from Al Qaeda, Hides from the Press at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- With confirmation that the French uranium workers in Niger abducted last Thursday are being held by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, recent French hijinx at the United Nations are increasingly being questioned.
  Two months before this UN General Debate, France's former diplomat Douste Blazy was exposed, including by this publication, for siphoning off $11 million in UNITAID funds to raise a mere $200,000. Still, Douste Blazy appears in this week's MDG Summit.

   French President Nicholas Sarkozy was in New York for three days, including his speech Monday to the Summit, but he did not hold any media availabilities with the UN press corps.

   Sources say Sarkozy wanted to avoid the inevitable questions about his policy of expelling Romas or gypsies from France. Previously, Sarkozy held a "French only" press conference at the UN, excluding even a Francophone Lebanese reporter for lack of a French passport.

  A day before Sarkozy, French Defense Minister Herve Morin came to the UN. In light of the previous day's kidnappings in Niger, Inner City Press specifically asked Morin about his country's war on Al Qaeda, leading to the military action along with Mauritanian troops against northern Mali in July. Video here, from Minute 14:42.

Kouchner previously at UN with Ripert, inaction on Pakistan not shown

  Morin told the Press, that “France is determined to combat Al Qaeda... France is committed to combat this cancer which has invaded the Sahara.” He said France trained troops in Mauritania, Mali and Niger to fight “four to five hundred fanatics.”

  Now the five French hostages have been taken from Niger into Mali. France is flying surveillance planes over the desert. Even in New York, the security seems to be high.

  French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who claims he almost quit over the Roma issue, will host a reception Friday night at the French facility on Fifth Avenue and 79th Street. Even journalists who questioned Morin are not invited, or are specifically dis-invited. Is it fear for security, or fear of questions? 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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