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As W. Sahara Report Flows Selectively at UN, Mali Overplayed, AFP & France

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 9 -- The UN's consideration of Western Sahara, where it has supposed to hold a referendum since 1991, has become formulaic to an extreme. As Inner City Press has at least twice noted, UN reports are issued, then recalled and amended.

  This time, however, despite the Western Sahara report being assigned a number (S/2013/220) on neither April 8 nor April 9 would this document come up in the UN's document system. Rather a message in English and French: “There is no document matching your request, Pas de reponse a votre demande.”

  Even the Polisario Front, a party to the conflict, could not find the report on April 8. Meanwhile Permanent Members of the Security Council handed the report to “their” media, resulting in stories which breathlessly emphasized that in light of terrorism in Mali and the Sahel, the conflict better be solved soon -- that is, without a referendum.

  Here is from Agence France Presse's report, by Tim Witcher who most recently has complained to UN Security about how Inner City Press asked a question to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping:

urgent international efforts to end the Western Sahara conflict because of fears the Mali war will spill over into the Moroccan-occupied territory... While the year-old conflict in Mali, where French-led international forces are battling Jihadist groups, dominates headlines.”

  Just as AFP, 41% of whose funding comes from the French government, did not question how France claimed to be operating under UN Security Council resolutions when it intervenes in Mali, it does not question the spin on and use of Mali in this context.

  Polisario, which finally got its own copy of the report, issued a statement which is sure to be published by rote elsewhere, as a hat-tip to telling the two sides. It added this, now published by Inner City Press:

"the question of Western Sahara as a problem of decolonization should be resolved with or without what is going on in the Sahel. We as all African countries are concerned by stability and security in Mali or in any other place in Africa but there should be no confusion between an internal problem in a concrete country and the right of self-determination of the people of the last colony in Africa located in the other corner of the region.”

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