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Amid Cote d'Ivoire Chaos, UN Ignores Questions, of Jack Lang & Bassole, Sudan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- Amid the chaos in Cote d'Ivoire, the UN in New York puts out statements but refuses to answer questions. What some praise as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's rare decisiveness in dismissing the country's Constitutional Council's pro Laurent Gbagbo ruling, others see as mere following of the US and French line, with a eye toward nailing down both votes for a second term as Secretary General.

  Ban named Jack Lang, while still the deputy leader of a political party in France, to a UN post on piracy. Now Lang has written a letter to Gbagbo. In what capacity?

  Early on the morning of December 5, Inner City Press sent questions to Ban's spokesman and deputy spokesman, including “on deadline for UN confirmation or denial that Joint UN-AU mediator for Darfur Bassole is going to Cote d'Ivoire to work on the crisis there. If so, who has sent him, and how will it impact his work for the UN (and AU) on Darfur?”

  Twenty two hours later, no answer at all, to this or reiterated questions, some of them ten days old, about North Korea, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Iran and human rights.

  Others notices that while US President Barack Obama put out a statement on the afternoon of December 3, when he spoke to China's president Hu on Sunday night, he listed as topics only North Korea and Iran. So how important is Ivory Coast -- or for that matter Sudan -- to the Obama administration, if they talk foreign policy with China and don't mention either one?

  The question about Bassole is similar to one raised about Thabo Mbeki: how can those charged with mediating the conflicts in Sudan find time, a month before the slated referendum, to jump across the Continent into another cauldron? Is the bench of mediators so shallow?

  The UN Department of Political Affairs is known to be soliciting funds for its own mediation machinery -- but what successes can it show?

  As several diplomats have asked Inner City Press, what good is this UN if it couldn't even foresee this standoff in Cote d'Ivoire? What can be expected of this UN in Sudan? Watch this site.

UN's Ban & Gbagbo, Jack Lang, Bassole & answers not shown

From the UN's December 3 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: is Mr. Choi going to brief the Council later today on this announcement by the Constitutional Court turning back… turning yesterday’s results over? And also, does Mr. Choi and UNOCI, do they have the raw numbers the election as has been reported? And if so, what are they… when do they intend to announce their count of who won, Mr. Ouattara or Mr. Gbagbo?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, I can tell you that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has just finished a press briefing in Abidjan, where he has delivered a statement on the certification of the result of the second round and I would hope to be able to bring you that as soon as possible. And as I say, in addition to that — maybe you had not yet entered the room — I would expect a statement from the Secretary-General quite soon in fact, on the same topic.

Inner City Press: Has been asked to brief the Council, do you know?

Spokesperson: Who?

Inner City Press: Mr. Choi.

Spokesperson: I think I would prefer you to check with the Security Council presidency — with the [United States] Mission — on that. What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General, as I was saying just a little while ago, did speak to Ambassador Rice this morning, along with a number of other leaders in the region and elsewhere. So, this is obviously something that is moving quite fast and we expect to issue the statement from the Secretary-General quite soon. I can tell you that on the ground our Mission has increased patrols and it’s tense, but there have been no major security incidents of concern today. That’s what I can tell you, for now.

Inner City Press: I was just speaking to an Ivorian, I guess diplomat, who is… their argument is that in the north the vote was deeply flawed and ballot… I just… it made me wonder, what was ONUCI’s sort of presence in the north? Maybe you can answer it now or sort… file… find later in the day, but if that’s the argument by the Gbagbo camp, I just wonder what percentage of UNOCI was deployed there, whether they had any sort of knowledge of the type things that are being alleged, it seems important to figure that out.

Spokesperson: Well, as you know, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the mission have a very specific role, which is to provide this certification. And as I say, that statement by Mr. Choi has just been read out by him in Abidjan. I am expecting to be able to pass that on to the media here. You will have seen the media reports I am sure, yourself. I am expecting to be able to pass that on to you. And that does give I think quite a lot of detail that would help you.

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On Cote d'Ivoire, Gbagbo Prefers UN Abou Moussa to Choi, UNSC Unlit Saturday

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- On Cote d'Ivoire, the lack of planning by the UN, France and US became evident on Friday as in New York the US, even as President, was unable to get a Security Council statement or meeting, as UN envoy Choi was threatened with expulsion from Ivory Coast by Laurent Gbagbo.

  Later Friday Inner City Press was told by Ivorian diplomats that Gbagbo will inaugurate himself as president on Saturday. Meanwhile, UN sources say that all electrical source will be turned off in the Security Council over the weekend, with provisions to move any emergency meeting to Conference Room 3 in the UN's North Lawn building, where the Council has never met.

  An African Permanent Representative explained to Inner City Press that all along, Gbagbo has wanted to replace Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's envoy Choi with his deputy, Abou Moussa from Chad. Now may be the time.

  Another African Perm Rep told Inner City Press that the African Union had found many more flaws in the voting in the North of Cote d'Ivoire than found by the UN or other observers, and said this would become known "in coming days."

The Ivorian diplomats Inner City Press spoke with, as well as several African Permanent Representatives, questioned Choi's and Ban Ki-moon's and “even” Obama's “rush” to coronate Ouattara. “The UN didn't do that when the (Republican - leaning) US Supreme Court decided for Bush over Gore,” one of them pointed out.

We will fly the flag of sovereignty!” exclaimed an African Permanent Representative, linking the UN's “lack of planning” in Cote d'Ivoire with its being ejected from Chad and, mostly, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “We will throw the UN out!”

UN's Abou Moussa, Ban & Stoudmann- was Choi a good replacement?

  Well meaning UN senior staff consulted by Inner City Press lamented the way it was playing out, and blamed some of it on Choi, saying that an SRSG more experienced in UN peacekeeping would have been better. “This will blow back on Ban Ki-moon,” one of them said.

Inner City Press ran from these interviews to the press area to write, skipping the Cuban Mission party. But in the UN press area a sign announced “This area will be closed from Saturday, 4 December 8:00 am UNTIL Sunday 5 December 6:00 am.” So if they want press coverage, the Security Council meeting or stake out if they want one will be on Sunday. Watch this site.

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As Gbagbo Moves to Eject UN Choi from Ivory Coast, No UNSC Action Under US, Only Obama Statement

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3, upstead -- In Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo's adviser and Ambassador to the UN Alcide Djedje has threatened to throw out of the country UN envoy Y.J. Choi after Choi rejected the decision of the Gbagbo dominated Constitutional Council that Gbagbo won the run off election, 51% to 49% over Alassane Ouattara.

   This took place hours after the UN Security Council, led this month by the US, had begun to call a meeting, then stood down. Inner City Press observed and reported the preparations for the meeting.

   Inner City Press  can now report that a video link was established, and a UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire official appeared on screen, ready to speak to the Council.

  But the US never convened the Council to meeting. Another Permanent Five ambassador told Inner City Press on Friday afternoon that the US had said, only a press statement, no meeting.

  Some fairly or unfairly even wondered if the US decision not to call a meeting despite the “crisis” in Ivory Coast was related to Permanent Representative Susan Rice not being in New York.

  At 11:50 am, Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN to confirm or deny by e-mail that there would be a Council meeting. Not having any response for an hour, Inner City Press asked again, including a question on Sudan, and was told that it would be called.

  During that time, apparently more friendly press was told that there would be no meeting, but rather a press statement read by Brooke Anderson.

  Now as 6 pm has passed, no meeting, and no UN Security Council press statement read by Brooke Anderson. (Also, no answer on 12 SPLM soldiers killed in Sudan.)

   The US Mission had not informed UN staff still in waiting that they could go home (perhaps to return this weekend).

   An African diplomat told Inner City Press at the stakeout that some countries, like his, wanted to check that all had been done correctly, including in Choi's statement.

UN Choi & Gbagbo in 2007, threat to eject not shown

  At 5:15 pm e-mailed out a copy of a statement by US President Obama, hailing Ouattara's win and calling on Gbagbo to respect the result.

  So has Barak Obama become the Security Council? What explains the Council's failure to meet, and failure to even issue a press statement?

  Some of those surrounding the Council have been told to be "on alert" for a Council meeting, or at least read out of a UNSC statement by some US Ambassador, over the weekend...

 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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