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With UN Guarding Jails in CAR, Can Those Who Fled Cast Votes?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 9, more here -- With UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic guarding prisons, their chief Herve Ladsous on December 9 told the Security Council that "inmates inside the Bangui central prison seized weapons and shot and threw hand grenades at UN peacekeepers providing static guard duty outside the prison. Three UN troops and one UN police officer were injured in the incident."

  But should UN peacekeepers be functioning as prison guards? How many attacks on civilians in CAR are they not reporting? This is what Ladsous' mission in Darfur is accused of: covering up attacks on civilians and even peacekeepers.

  Ladsous on December 9 scarcely mentioned the impact of his country, France, on the CAR, including a recent incident in which Gazelle helicopters it pulled out of CAR were stopped in Nigeria, under suspicion, on their way to Chad.
  Back on December 2, Inner City Press asked Chad's Permanent Representative to the UN Mahamat Zene Cherif about the rights of refugees from the Central African Republic.

  Mahamat Zene Cherif said there are 100,000 in Chad and more in Cameroon. In his national capacity, he said they should be allowed to vote and participate in CAR, that will be a gauge of the process. He mentioned mobile voting places and a role for the UN.

 On December 9, the Council heard about Cameroon: "The National Electoral Authority has also conducted a mission to Cameroun to assess the voter registration modalities for refugees there. Further missions in the sub-region are also planned to ensure the participation of this important constituency in the elections.”  Here's hoping.

  Back on December 2 before the first questions of the press conference, Inner City Press for FUNCA Free UN Coalition for Acce thanked Mahamat Zene Cherif for the briefing. It has been absurdly argued that there is some rule or precedent that the old UNCA, become the UN's Censorship Alliance, gets a set-aside first question. From today, that is no longer the case. (Earlier on December 2, FUNCA asked the UN about censorship in Libya, here.)

  Mahamat Zene Cherif fielded questions on North Korea (that was UNCA's, as second), Libya, Security Council reform, Syria, Ebola and others. He announced that only that morning five soldiers from Chad were injured in Mali by a mine: news, when a Troop Contributing Country holds the Security Council presidency.

  During the month, the Sahel, the African Union, the delayed Kosovo debate and Afghanistan, among others, will be considered, and covered on this site.

  Amid calls for UN Security Council reform of the powers of the permanent five members, there are also slights among the elected ten members.

With Chad set to take over Presidency of the Security Council on December 1, on November 13 it bristled when this month's President, Australia, circulated a “Program of Work” for December, Chad's month.

Chad's protest, which multiple sources exclusively provided to Inner City Press and which it is publishing here in redacted form, tells the Australian Mission's Political Coordinator Michael Bliss that

Chad is surprised by your email circulating the December POW. The procedure is that the mission assuming the presidency of that month is the one authorized to do so. We think it is a profound lack of responsibility by the Australian Mission. I hope that we will continue to respect ourselves as non permanent members of the Security Council.”

  That is, Chad not only challenged the violation of procedures, but noted that it was one non-permanent member doing it to another.

  The email of Michael Bliss of the Australian Mission angered those who provided it to Inner City Press. In a reference to Bob Geldof's “Do They Even Know It's Christmas,” Bliss wrote that

“in respect to that question asked long ago by Bob Geldof, and friends of some other Africans, the Chadian mission do know that it is Christmas time in the week of 22/12 but, I am told, has resisted SCAD's strenuous attempts to arrange the program so that scheduled work concludes by 19/12.”

  SCAD is the UN Department of Political Affairs' Security Council Affairs Division. On the one hand this seems to be a problem between member states, elected members of the Security Council from different continents, of different religions and different cultures.  Inner City Press reached out to the Australian mission and understands that the joking reference was to wanting a quiet Christmas, and is now to their credit acknowledged as ill-considered.

  But on the other hand, Inner City Press is informed, others up to the level of Permanent Representative wonder who gave Chad's Program of Work to Australia - whose Bliss said it came from "off the back of a truck." Which truck? We'll have more on all this.


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