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On Protesters Shot in Kidal, Mali Says Wait  for Ballistics, FrancAfrique

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 -- One of the UN's too-few criticisms of military action in north Mail, the shooting into a crowd of protesters in Kidal on November 28, was disputed in the Security Council on January 16.

  In a statement prepared like a defense attorney, trying raise reasonable doubt, Mali's Permanent Representative Sekou Kasse said that the UN Mission MINUSMA elements closest to the shooting were 400 meters away, precluding them from "objective" testimony. The argument made was one must wait for the ballistic analysis ordered by the Malian government itself. Will that be credible?

 Again, similarly, can statements by the French Mission to the UN, about military action in its former colony Mali and related topics, be believed? If so, does that require disbelieving the UN itself, whose reports are different?

  In the run-up to the UN Security Council's January 16 meeting on Mali, both France and the UN Mission MINUSMA filed reports. It's worth comparing their accounts of the same incidents, for example on October 23, 2013 in Tessalit.

France gives a Polyanna report emphasizing its good works and downplaying death:

"On 23 October 2013, in response to an attack on a Chadian post in Tessalit by a commando made up of three armed terrorist groups using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, the Operation Serval Liaison and Support Detachment assigned to the Chadian battalion assisted MINUSMA by conducting a patrol with a Mirage 2000D jet and sending a CASA 'Nurse' medical evacuation aircraft. The end result was that six wounded Chadians were evacuated and the remaining explosives were neutralized."

  The UN by contrast recounts seven deaths including five civilians (one child) and two peacekeepers:

"On 23 October, four individuals drove and detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device into a MINUSMA checkpoint in Tessalit. Seven people were killed, including four adult civilians, a six-year-old boy and two MINUSMA peacekeepers."

  This type of disparities in reporting - misleading - would and should be delved into in legislative review sessions. But the Security Council, on which France uses its Permanent Five seat, confines such consultations to behind closed doors. How and where will these disparities be explained?

  One might say, at the Security Council stakeout. But Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping, has said he has a "policy" against answering Press questions.

Earlier this week, French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the stakeout to rail against publication of a New York Police Department document concerning a French diplomat -- contrasting with the case of Indian diplomat Khobragade -- an NYPD document on which Araud's French Mission to the UN had declined to comment, responding only with threats that publication would a "hostile act."

 While continuing to pursue that, delving into the French report, and the roles of UN Peacekeeping, MINUSMA and their respective leadership(s), will be done elsewhere.

The French report makes claims about the December 14, 2013 incidents in defense of a "bank building" in Kidal, an incident that when Inner City Press asked Araud about at the stakeout, Araud refused to answer, calling it a mere detail. Then why is it in France's self serving report, a report which is materially different that the UN's? We'll have more on this.


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