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After Ban Met Rajoelina, No Read Out for 16 Hours, Nothing on Press Freedom

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- Before Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Madagascar's Andrei Rajoelina Monday at 4:15, or really, 4:25, pm (click here for photo op video) Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman a question at the day's noon briefing:

Question:  Yeah, Madagascar, I wanted to ask, I, probably I should have asked this before, but it seems like a good day to ask it, is the current president, Joelimana [sic]* he, he blocked the wife of the former deposed president, [Marc] Ravalomanana, from coming back and, and that was something that she seemed to have a right to come back, many people say it may be an attempt by the current transitional president to remain on either as a prime minister or otherwise.  So, I wanted to know, without pre-judging what will be said this afternoon, what is the UN’s position on the blocking of the wife of the deposed president from returning to the country, and to the possible switch in 8 May* elections from presidential to parliamentary?

Spokesperson Martin Nesriky:  I think we’d have to wait to see what comes out of the meeting to be able to brief you on what happens in that meeting, which is later this afternoon.  I don’t have anything specific on the return question; I’d have to check further.

   But 16 hours after the meeting, no read-out had been issued. Nor any any answer been given on "the return question" or the other questions set out in Inner City Press February 3 piece on Madagasar (nor did Ban's spokesperson's office provide any answers to the UN Peacekeeping questions that have accumulated), see below.

  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.

  Now it appears that the UN has stopped, even indirectly and on a delay, providing answers to the many UN Peacekeeping questions that have built up under Ladsous, for example Monday's question about the lack of protection for whistleblowing peacekeepers.

   Ban's UN protects Ladsous, concealing even the few actions they take on his misdeeds. We'll have more on this, today. Watch this site.

* -- While Inner City Press may in Monday's noon briefing have stumbled over the President's name, the UN's Department of Public Information which creates the transcripts (which are approved or ordered up by Ban's spokesperson's office) in almost all cases fixes such pronunciation or verbal hiccups.

  But not here -- although they DID change how Inner City Press said the date in May to the British format. So which is it? And why? And what is wrong with this UN?

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