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At UN, Top Peacekeeper Ladsous Dismisses Tunisia Scandal, Haiti & Rwanda Comments

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 13 -- Herve Ladsous is the fourth Frenchman in a row put atop the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, a Gallic functionary who was earlier this year chief of staff to disgraced French foreign minister Michele Aliot-Marie who flew during the Arab Spring on planes provided by allies of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali.

  Six weeks ago, Ladsous was suddenly given the UN job upon the nomination of the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy, after the UN rejected Jerome Bonnafont who had started bragging to diplomats in India about getting the post.

  Finally on October 13 Ladsous finally took questions from the press.

  Inner City Press asked Ladsous about l'affaire Aliot-Marie and Ben Ali, as well as about comments he made in 2004 urging elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to leave Haiti, and in 1994 defending France's position on Rwanda, which was to support the killings led by Colonel Theoneste Bagosora. Video here, from Minute 21:52.

  "I will not go into personal aspects," Ladsous replied, saying dismissively that Rwanda was 15 years ago -- of course, it remains a major scandal and trauma for UN Peacekeeping, pulling out as 800,000 people where killed -- and that, as with Haiti, he was only speaking for the French government, so he wouldn't respond.

  Structurally similar, in Sudan Ahmed Haroun says that everything he did was for the government in Khartoum. That doesn't mean that Haroun isn't held responsible. Why would it be different for Ladsous? Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky cut off the follow up question. Video here, at Minute 25:09.

  If even what Ladsous did earlier this year, presiding as chief of staff over flights in dictator's allies' planes, is somehow irrelevant, a "personal aspect," what ARE Ladsous' qualifications for the top UN Peacekeeping job, other than the endorsement of Nicolas Sarkozy?

Ladsous & Ban Ki-moon: Ben Ali, support of Bagosora not shown

  France, of course, has its own national interest in sites of UN Peacekeeping, for example in Cote d'Ivore, which Ladsous used as his first example of UN Peacekeeping success. Despite knowing that the question was coming, Ladsous did not deign to respond to the critique that the job shouldn't only be given out based on nationality, and now four times in a row to the same nationality. This does not bode well.

Footnotes: Ladsous said to show him "indulgence" and not ask about details, at least yet. And so Inner City Press directed its question about UN Peacekeepers' inaction in Southern Kordofan to UN spokesman Nesirky, who said he was "just making the point" that this should have been asked to Ladsous instead of the background and qualification questions. Video here, from Minute 37:57.

 There are other question, already: Ladsous is said to have told the Security Council that South Sudan forces are still in Abyei, but many think this was overplayed, that the South Sudan numbers are small and understandable. And why isn't DPKO flying in the Ethiopian deployment to Abyei? Ladsous continued to speak Thursday about flooded roads.

What of the discipline, if any, of Beninois peacekeepers repatriated from Cote d'Ivoire for buying sex for food from under-aged girls? How can an official who refused to address or explain his own actions implement a zero tolerance policy? We'll stay on this - watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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