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As Ivorian Day Feted with Drums at UN, Battalion & Ladsous Go Missing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 7 -- When Cote d'Ivoire celebrated its national day beside Manhattan's East River on Tuesday evening, it was joined by UN Security Council Permanent Representatives from France, India, Togo and the UK.

  The first two, at least, were interviewed for Ivorian television, amid polyrhythmic drums and dancers, lamp chops and Moet champagne.

The Permanent Representative of Georgia was dancing, followed later and more wanly by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chosen Special Adviser on Africa Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt.

The American chief of the UN Department of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was there, fresh from his first "horizon briefing" to the Security Council. But French top UN Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous was not seen, nor his deputy.

Less than a month ago Ladsous proposed cutting a full battalion from Cote d'Ivoire, sources told Inner City Press from Abidjan. Then a day ago, seven Ivorian soldiers were killed in Abidjan, as UN peacekeepers from Benin stood by and did nothing.

While some blame this on rebels, presumably pro-Gbagbo, taking advantage of the Security Council limiting the mandate to the protection of civilians, there is a growing history under Ladsous of peacekeeping inaction.

Near Duekoue they did nothing as civilians presumed to support Gbagbo were beaten and at least six killed. And that's just in Cote d'Ivoire -- the record in the Congo is worse. So where was or is Ladsous? At least French Ambassador Gerard Araud was there, and will Wednesday meet with the Red Cross. Where was or is Ladsous? The questions go unanswered. Watch this site.

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