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Western Sahara's Polisario Speaks on #UN TV Amid Pushback, Article 100 Cited

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- After the UN Security Council's open meeting on Western Sahara, there was a lull at the press stakeout.

South Africa's Baso Sangqu had spoken in the Council chamber, decrying the watering down of the report on the MINURSO mission and invoking the UN Charter's Article 100, which says that UN staff, for example like Herve Ladsous the fourth Frenchman in a row to run UN Peacekeeping, should not do the bidding of their countries.

But Sangqu indicated that he would not be speaking at the stakeout. So who would?

The Frente POLISARIO's representative to the UN Ahmed Boukhari came out, and to the microphone. Inner City Press went over, listened and asked him a series of questions, about MINURSO's freedom of movement, the Arab Spring, a possible visit to Western Sahara by the King of Morocco.

Boukhari called this last a "provocation," and said that Morocco would try to use the "settlers" to make the King look popular in Western Sahara.

While this went on, a cluster of Moroccan diplomats stood off camera appearing increasinly agitated. They summoned over UN staff; a moment later, Inner City Press was asked regarding Boukhari, "Who is this guy?"

Well, he's the representative to the UN of a party to a UN mediated conflict. Once in the past, it is true, the UN TV camera was turned off while POLISARIO spoke.

But when Inner City Press inquired, the answer given was that the electricity had, by chance, gone off just then. This time, will Boukhari's stakeout go online on the UN Webcast archives? It should, just as stakeouts by a non-governmental democracy activist from Yemen went up.

Inner City Press asked Boukhari another Arab Spring question, then was told to stop, that there was another speaker waiting. Morocco's Ambassador Loulichki came around the corner and to the microphone. He spoke in Arabic and then French, then said he would take the first question in English, from Inner City Press.

Thanking Loulichki for this, Inner City Press reminded him of the question asked but not answered ten days previous, about freedom of movement for MINURSO in Western Sahara compared to that being demanded in Syria.

Loulichki responded that he lived there in 1999 to 2001 and that 90% of MINURSO personnel live out among the population, they go to movies and play soccer and could not be monitored. Likewise, when Inner City Press asked if Morocco had opposed any ongoing presence in Dakhla by UN political affairs officer, said that a team had been allowed for five days, after last September's violence.

Inner City Press asked about the promised referendum on self-determination. Loulichki said that James Baker in 2000, as the UN's envoy, had deemed this unfeasible, that a compromise should be negotiated. But in the Council chamber on Tuesday, at least as translated, Loulickhi said that Morocco owns Western Sahara. What kind of compromise is that? Watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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