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On Mali, ICG Says Don't Ask Azawad to Surrender, As in DRC, M23 Is Asked Just That

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 22 -- A week after Chad's ambassador Ahmad Allam-mi told Inner City Press his country won't stay in North Mali to “protect the MNLA,” the International Crisis Group's Comfort Ero said, “Kidal is a special case.”

  Inner City Press asked Ero to assess the performance of the UN's Sahel envoy Romano Prodi, and what ICG thinks should or will be done with the wannabe breakaway Azawad.

  On Prodi, Ero said “we're disappointed it's been slow.” Perhaps relatedly, as Inner City Press has reported, Prodi while ostensibly a full time UN employee put his name in competition to become president of Italy. It that because the Sahel is slow? Or do Prodi and his distraction, even conflict of interest, MAKE the UN slow?

  Ero's answer on Azawad was that “there must be a willingness to include all armed groups at table if they are willing to end armed struggle." She said that France's “initial draft demanded preconditions that amounted to surrender.”

  It's a good point. But isn't this what is  simultaneously being demanded of the M23 in Eastern Congo? There, the DRC government has said the Security Council resolution means M23 must “cease to exist” as a military “and political” entity. If that's not surrender, what is?

  The caution ICG expressed about the dangers of UN peacekeepers in Mali seems to also apply to Eastern Congo in light of the intervention brigade.

  Ero said repeatedly that ICG met with people “in this building,” seeming to refer not only to country's diplomats but also to Secretariat officials. What was the role of these officials, like Herve Ladsous, in drafting France's resolution? What will it be in implementing it - for whom?

  Did ICG not have similar access or interest on the Eastern Congo resolution? One wanted to ask their views, but the press conference was over.

Footnote: The presser began with Inner City Press thanking the panelists including the Swiss Mission and Scott Malcomson, Director of Communications of ICG, on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access; UNCA then did the same. One also wonders what ICG thinks of the withholding from the public of UN reports, for 48 hours or more, and on big media colluding to ask the UN to throw out smaller, more investigative media: because that's what UNCA, at least its Executive Committee, has come to represent. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.

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