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On Cote d'Ivoire, Ladsous' DPKO Stonewalls, Araud Says New Situation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 -- When the UN's envoy to Cote d'Ivoire Bert Koenders came to the UN on July 18, his proposal and that of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous was to cut costs by removing a battalion from Abidjan.

  Then an attack on a base there on the Ivorian National Day resulted in at least seven soldiers killed, while separate sources tell Inner City Press that the Beninois UN Peacekeepers in the base did nothing. Ivorian source have blamed it on the mandate. Inner City Press asked the UN on August 8:

Inner City Press: This attack that took place in Abidjan, on an army base, killed seven soldiers. From what I learned yesterday, there seems to also be a UN peacekeeping base inside that base, with Beninois peacekeepers. A question arisen of why didn’t they take action, they were there but they didn’t act, and a UN News Service press release says that the attackers took ammunition and weapons from the base. So is it possible to know what are the terms of engagement of UN peacekeepers there? Why are they situated inside the Ivorian military base and why did they not act when the base was attacked?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I will check with our colleagues in DPKO.

But more than two days later, no answers have been provided. DPKO chief Ladsous is on record that he will not answer any Inner City Press questions.

And so when on August 10 on little notice French Ambassador Gerard Araud did a stakeout and took questions from those who knew, Inner City Press learned of it late and ran there and asked about Cote d'Ivoire, if a battalion would still be cut after the attack in Abidjan and the destruction of the camp near Duekoue.

Araud answered, although it is not clear if he was referring to the attack on the refugee camp of presumed supporters of Laurent Gbagbo when he referred to a "village" in the west. Araud said:

First I think, the first attack was against a village in the west of the country. Mr. Koender came afterward, he told us, it's not an isolated incident, we know that there are people preparing a sort of destabilization of Cote d'Ivoire. So there is, a change of posturing, deploy in a different manner.

Araud continued that, "We thought the threat was out of Abidjan, now we have seen what happened in Abidjan. In coming days we'll see if it's possible to reduce the force in Abidjan, or if it's not possible."

It would be good, now after more than two days, to get an answer from Ladsous' DPKO. Watch this site.

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