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On Cote d'Ivoire, Bamba Says Gbagbo Arrested Not By France But Ouattara Forces

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 11, updated -- After wire services in Abidjan reported that the French tanks from the Force Licorne assaulted the residence of defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo, seized him and turned him over to Alassane Ouattara's forces, Ouattara's envoy to the UN called Inner City Press over.

Tell your colleagues,” he said. “I have an announcement to make.”

As UN TV fine tuned its microphone and Inner City Press announced the impromptu stakeout by Twitter, Bamba stepped to the mic. As a major US news channel begged him to do it “first in English,” Bamba announced the arrest of Gbagbo in French.

Inner City Press asked Bamba to confirm or deny that the French Force Licorne actually took custody of Gbagbo, then handed him over to Ouattara's forces.

No, Bamba said, denying it. The Forces Republicain de Cote Ivoire made the arrest.

It seems important to establish this basic fact. Moments later, as France's Permanent Representative to the UN Gerard Araud and his spokesman walked into the Security Council, Inner City Press asked them both, “Who arrested Gbagbo?”

Neither one answered, or even turned back. It is unclear if this is related to previous Press coverage of Cote d'Ivoire, click here to view.

Inner City Press asked Bamba if he expected the Security Council to issue a statement about the arrest of Gbagbo. “First they have to hear from [top Peacekeeper Alain] Le Roy,” he answered.

It was quickly announced that Le Roy would brief the Council at 10:30 am. As he went in, Inner City Press asked him, “who arrested Gbagbo?”

Le Roy to his credit stopped and answered. He said, “He's in the custody of Ouattara forces, in Golf Hotel, we provide security.”

But that doesn't answer who arrested Gbagbo.

Update of 10:58 am --  Inner City Press asked US Permanent Representative Susan Rice, "who arrested Gbagbo, the forces of Ouattara?" She said she didn't have more information, but "that's what the PR said," referring to Bamba.

 Multiple reports say that over 30 French tanks (or armored vehicles), each with four to eight French soldiers inside, moved on Gbagbo's residence on Monday morning, after France and the UN hit it with air strikes overnight. The question of who "made" the arrest is a broader one.

Ban & Juppe, joint demand of letter as condition not shown

Le Roy instructed a staff member to show him a cable before it is send to Ban Ki-moon's envoy Choi Young-jin.

Inner City Press asked Bamba if Ouattara's force intend to arrest Djedje. Bamba shook his head and said, “He has been in the French embassy for some days.”

Rats leave a sinking ship, a source snarks for Abidjan. A Permanent Five member of the Council's spokesman told Inner City Press, of the (French) arrest, “It is a strange precedent.” But would this member's Ambassador come say this on camera at the stakeout, on the record? Watch this site.

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On Cote d'Ivoire, As UN Downplays French Role, Dodges on Leaked Documents

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 -- On Cote d'Ivoire, the UN now claims that it was only the Alassane Ouattara administration, and not France, negotiating for Laurent Gbagbo to surrender.

Inner City Press asked chief UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy to explain French foreign minister Alain Juppe's statement this week that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supports his position that Gbagbo must sign an agreement ceding power to Ouattara. (Ban's own ostensible spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press on the same question, “I don't speak for the foreign minister of France.)

Le Roy, without addressing Juppe or even mentioning his name, insisted that this demand is that of Ouattara, and that the UN is only helping with the negotiations.

When Inner City Press asked against about France, Le Roy said that because Gbagbo's former ambassador to the UN then foreign minister Djedje went to France - Le Roy said either the residence or embassy - France was involved.

Earlier on Friday, Inner City Press was told that Djedje may no longer represent Gbagbo, at least according to Simone Gbagbo.

Inner City Press asked Ouattara's ambassador to the UN Yousoufou Bamba, who said both that he had once been Djedje's boss -- “he worked for me” -- and, rhetorically, “foreign minister of what?”

Bamba went on to wonder “where is Simone Gbagbo?” Where indeed.

Inner City Press at the UN's noon briefing on Friday asked Nesirky:

Inner City Press: President Ouattara has said that he intends to, quote, “starve out”, i.e., blockade the residence of Gbagbo so that no water or food goes in and so then he has to come out. And I just wondered what is, not Mr. Le Roy or Mr. Choi Young-jin, what’s the Secretary-General, what’s his position on that?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as you know, it is in the title that Alain Le Roy is Under-Secretary-General reporting to the Secretary-General. He is in charge of peacekeeping operations. And what is happening with the Mission in Côte d’Ivoire, he will be briefing the Council and after that, I am sure he will be happy to speak to you, including on that topic, if he has an update.

Inner City Press did ask Le Roy, who said that the UN does not engage in starving people. He was then asked if the UN will then provide food and water to Gbagbo. I haven't thought about it, he said, maybe.

Le Roy went on to say Gbagbo used the delay of negotiations to “regain full control of the Cocody and the Plateau.”

   Inner City Press also asked Nesirky:

Inner City Press: on Côte d’Ivoire, [inaudible] press has gotten and published some documents about Licorne, writing to the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire about alleged violations of the arms embargo by Gbagbo, et cetera. And what I am wondering is what, the question has come up is how close, how would you describe the coordination between UNOCI and Licorne? Is it limited to military actions? Does UNOCI receive letters from other Member States or embassies in Ivory Coast about alleged violations? And can you just, can we just be clear on what, I have heard that Licorne attends meetings in UNOCI on a variety of topics, not necessarily limited to military. Is there some way to get an indication of what that relationship is?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Again, that’s something that you can ask Mr. Le Roy. But as a general principle, I am not going to respond to reports about leaked documents.

    Inner City Press asked Le Roy about the access of Licorne, and did not get a clear answer.  Afterward, Inner City Press was told "we are watching." So are we.

* * *

Leaked French Documents Show Cote d'Ivoire Strategy at UN of France on Liberia, Mali & Even San Francisco

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 8, updated -- With Cote d'Ivoire's defiant Laurent Gbagbo surrounded after French and UN military action in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood, internal French government documents obtained by Inner City Press and published exclusively today paint a picture of France's communications with the UN Mission UNOCI, its analysis of the politics of Guillaume Soro, Liberia and the Malian press, even its recycling of a French diplomat arrested in New York as France's new general consul in San Francisco.

In the first document, France's Force Licorne (Unicorn) wrote to the Special Representative of the Secretary General about Gbagbo's import of heavy weapons. Click here to view. More recently, France is accused of violating the arms embargo by providing and facilitating weapons to the forces of Alassane Ouattara.

The second document is an internal French cable detailing the Financial Organization of the Rebellion, down to a “racket” of shaking down money for taxi licenses.

In the third document, France bemoans the failure of a visit of three African heads of state to Cote d'Ivoire, including Nigeria's Obasanjo and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki now active in Sudan, complaining that this situation can be prolonged until the international community decided to “impose a solution.”

In the fourth document, France analyzed and critiques South African policy toward Cote d'Ivoire and Gbagbo.

In the fifth document, France analyzes Liberia's foreign policy as pro-American. More recently, a purported interview of a Ouattara commander describing coordinating with a French citizen working with the UN Mission in Liberia has surfaced.

In the sixth document, France analyzes the “discrete attitude” of the Malian press.

In the largest set of documents published today -- there are more -- France details its work in the UN Security Council on resolutions concerning the UN mission UNOCI.

One of the French diplomats involved was Romain Serman, who was later arrested by the New York Police Department. See arrest sheet and signed statement, here. Then French Ambassador de la Sabliere, to “avoid a scandal,” sent Serman back to Paris.

But in 2010 he was re-assigned to the US, as general consul in San Francisco. And so it goes.

Update at 1pm, April 8: at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to describe how UNOCI has allowed Licorne to lobby it and attend its meetings, and if other countries have been allowed. 

  Nesirky said he would not comment on leaked documents, and also directed Inner City Press to ask the (French) chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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