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As Ban Meets Rajoelina, No Follow Through on Security Abuse, Press Freedom

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 3 -- With Secretary General Ban Ki-moon slated to meet Madagascar's Andrei Rajoelina tomorrow afternoon, his UN's silence on attacks on the press and security forces' abuse in southern Madagascar speaks volumes.

  Back in May 2012, the UN was partnering with Rajoelina's Ministry of Communication to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Madagascar. On this same day Reporters without Borders directly criticized the Minister of Communication for threatening to shut down Radio Free FM and for his part in the detention of 2 Free FM journalists.

  Then after evidence of abuse including gang rape and the burning of twenty-some villages in southern Madagascar emerged, the transitional prime minister -- whose place Rajoelina now reportedly seeks to take until he runs again in 2018 -- said an investigation would be launched. But has it?

  Sources tell Inner City Press that Rajoelina's agenda may be to seek Ban's support to change the order of elections to have legislative elections happen on May 8 rather than presidential elections.

  Now that Rajoelina has given in to pressure and declared himself out of the running for president, there is public speculation that he wants to set up a stand-in to run for president in 2013 with Rajoelina as Prime Minister, then Rajoelina runs for president in 2018. Rajoelina has already declared his candidacy for 2018.

   France has publicly stated that it may support a candidate in Madagascar’s upcoming presidential election ("si nous encourageons une candidature, ce sera aussi discrètement que possible").

  Perhaps as part of this support, the new French ambassador recently declared that ousted-president Ravalomanana should not be allowed to return to his country before the election.

  So France favors forced exile counter to Article 20 of the SADC roadmap for a way out of the crisis which states that Ravalomanana should be allowed to return to his country unconditionally. Vive la France.

  The UN's related laxity on press freedom and follow through on public commitments to investigations is become more and more pervasive.

  Ban's chief of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold the post, back in December said a probe of 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, his partners, would be finished by the end of January. But it has not been.

   Ladsous has overseen the same sleight of hand on the killing of internally displaced people in Cote d'Ivoire, along with envoy Bert Koenders.

  Meanwhile Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions, and Ban's for-now partner on press issues, the UN Correspondents Association, has said nothing about Ladsous' stonewalling, choosing instead to go out into the hall with him for private briefings, video here.

   Ban's UN protects Ladsous, concealing even the few actions they take on his misdeeds. We'll have more on, this week. And tomorrow, as Ban meets Rajoelina. Watch this site.

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