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Amid Cote d'Ivoire Carnage UN, Diplomats & France Focus on & Free Japan's Ambassador, Ban to DC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- During heavy fighting in Abidjan on April 6 when Inner City Press at the UN asked the Deputy Permanent Representative of a Security Council member about military action in Abidjan, his first response was about the plight of single fellow diplomat, Japan's Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Yoshifumi Okamura.

  Everything else is “philosophical,” the DPR chided Inner City Press, calling the plight of the Japanese ambassador the most pressing problem.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the UN not accessing the Japanese embassy, and that of the Vatican, on the UN noon briefing on April 6. Nesirky had, or at least provided, no answers at or after the briefing.

  Hours later, after Alassane Ouattara's Permanent Representative Yousoufou Bamba told Inner City Press that pro Ouattara forces had fired back at, but had not been able to penetrate, the Japanese embassy in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood -- click here for Inner City Press' exclusive story at the time -- French soldiers of the Force Licorne shot it out with Gbagbo defenders, freeing Okamura and staff.

  Skeptics say this is how it has been throughout the battle of Abidjan: Ouattara's forces are repelled by Gbagbo's, and then the French get involved, claiming a UN mandate.

  These skeptics say this explains the UN and French firing missiles from attack helicopters at Ggagbo encampments: trying to soften them up to Ouattara's forces can push forward.

  There is a further twist in the hiearchy: what Ouattara's forces couldn't do, the UN tried; what the UN couldn't do, like free Okamura, the French did.

   But the focus of diplomats, even from another country, on problems of their peers means that even countries ostensibly questioning actions like Licorne's and the UN's in Abidjan end up applauding it because another country's diplomat is saved.

  Others note that the head of the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire is former South Korean Ambassador to the UN Choi Young-jin.

UNIDO with Japanese, Okamura shakes with 2 Aug 2010 Cote d'Ivoire ministers

   Some ask, what was Japan's Ambassador doing still living in Cocody when the “final assault”on Gbagbo's compound there began? French expatriates presumably with less information left other Abidjan neighborhoods to move into military camps. Did no one tell Okamura?

This isn't the way to treat a once and future Security Council member, a close observer mused. Or maybe it it. Watch this site.

Footnote on Cote d'Ivoire: with Ban Ki-moon visiting Washington DC today to visit with “key lawmakers,” one wonders if this will include Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who for whatever reason just came out with an analysis that Ouattara did not win the election.

  Will Ban reach out to Sen. Inhofe? Or will his office demand a meeting with Ban?

* * *

On Cote d'Ivoire, Ouattara's Bamba Says Blasted Japanese Embassy to Get Snipers on Roof, Endgame?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- With the forces of Alassane Ouattara blasting away at the residence of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan, in New York Ouattara's Ambassador to the UN Yousoufou Bamba told Inner City Press “it is a matter of hours.”

Earlier on Wednesday a Security Council member's Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that the worry wasn't the “philosophical” issues of whether the UN should be shooting from attack helicopters but rather the precarious situation of the Japanese embassy, and Vatican representative, in Abidjan.

  While UN spokesman Martin Nesirky provided no information about either at the noon briefing when Inner City Press asked or in the hours that followed, Bamba told Inner City Press that there were Gbagbo snipers on the roof of the Japanese embassy, and that fire from the Ouattara side damaged the embassy. Can you say, diplomatic incident?

Ban & Bamba, Japanese embassy & position on Caritas not shown

  French Ambassador Gerard Araud disappeared from the ongoing Security Council debate on Haiti on Wednesday afternoon, and UN sources said he was briefing select journalists about Cote d'Ivoire. It is not clear what he said.

  Another Council member's Permanent Representative, on the other hand, was very clear: the UN was going beyond the mandate given to it in Resolution 1975. One wondered, when would the Council finally debate this “philosophical” issue? Watch this site.

Footnote: a longtime Gbagbo adviser at the UN in New York on April 5 told Inner City Press that Gbagbo's former Permanent Representative had sold out to the French, for money. He said that Gbagbo's residence had been bugged. His harshest criticism was reserved for the UN, from which he resigned in disgust. And do it goes.

* * *

As Juppe Says Ban Demands Gbagbo Letter, UN No Comments, Vatican & Japan Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- A day after French foreign minister Alain Juppe said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agrees that Laurent Gbagbo must sign a letter ceding power to Alassane Ouattara, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if that is, in fact, Ban's position.

I don't speak for the French Foreign Minister,” Nesirky said.

But you do speak for the Secretary General,” Inner City Press asked. Is it Ban's position or not?

Nesirky would not answer, saying he would not characterize the Secretary General's communications with Juppe. Thus does the UN thumbs its nose at transparency and lose credibility, by being used as Juppe used Ban, and France used UNOCI.

Inner City Press was told by a Security Council member's Deputy Permanent Representative that UN peacekeepers have not gotten to the residences in Abidjan of the representative of the Vatican as well as the Japanese Ambassador.

Ban & Juppe, joint demand of letter as condition not shown

 It was unclear, he said, which side was blocking access -- noting that it is Vatican charity Caritas which reported 1000 dead in Duekoue, which many largely blame on supporters of Ouattara.

Nesirky would not answer about which side is blocking access, although he repeatedly blamed the UN's failure to even protect journalists in a hotel on “heavy weapons.”

Inner City Press asked him if Ouattara's forces have heavy weapons too. Nesirky would not answer. He repeatedly insisted that the UN is impartial. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 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.

* * *

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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