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On Protesters Shot in Kidal, Araud Urges Probe, Hasn't Read of Ouattara Hit Men

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- With France taking over presidency of the UN Security Council for December, its Ambassador Gerard Araud took questions from the press on Tuesday.

   Inner City Press asked him about the Malian Army shooting protesters in Kidal, and about the UN's report of agents of Cote d'Ivoire president and French ally Alassane Ouattara going into Ghana to try to kill or kidnap supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo.

  On these Cote d'Ivoire aspects of the UN Liberia Sanctions report, Araud replied that he hasn't read the report. In two days, Liberia Sanctions are on the Security Council's agenda.

  On the shooting of protesters in Kidal, on which the UN has confined itself to a press release from the MINUSMA mission which even Reuters deemed unclear, Araud provided a bit more information. He acknowledged that two female demonstrators were left in critical condition.

  Araud alluded to the larger issues of the Tuaregs, saying that some in Bamako and the south view them as accomplices to or complicit with ("complice") the Islamist takeover of the north.

 But if a solution would be more equitable distribution of resources and more impartiality by the UN, the UN mission siding with the Malian Army as they shoot protesters is hardly condusive to this.

  Araud said the protesters were throwing rocks. But is that a sufficient reason for an army, one the UN and France are providing support to, to open fire? Araud said this requires a Malian judicial and administrative investigation, and also one by MINUSMA. Given UN Peacekeeping's recent history of sitting on or burying reports, it is difficult to have confidence in this.

  Earlier on Tuesday, Araud had been scheduled to speak about Syria at the Security Council stakeout. That got canceled; Araud had to brief non-Council member states.

   Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Araud (he kept it newsy so we will) and hoped that he will do as many question and answer stakeouts as last month's presidency, China -- nine.

  In one of Araud's previous presidencies -- he'd said he thought his one fifteen months ago would be his last -- he did a mere three question and answer stakeouts. That might have been related in part to which month it was. December as he said will be busy. Watch this site.

Footnotes: Araud initially made light of a question about the Central African Republic rebels Seleka and the diamond trade, alluding to former French president Valerie Giscard d'Estaing and, it seemed, to the French luxury goods to then "Emperor" Bokasa. Araud returned to the question by reading from the pending resolution, noting the suspension of CAR from the diamond trade Kimberly Process.

  A question on French firm Areva and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Araud flatly refused, saying it is not on the Security Council's agenda (true) and is "not a threat to international peace and security" (less certain).

  Inner City Press might ask: what then about Areva and its lobbying against paying taxes in Niger, which at least through the Sahel IS on the Security Council's agenda? Should be an interesting month - we'll have (much) more. Watch this site.


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