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As ECOWAS Proposes 3000 Troops to Mali, Portugal & ICP Ask Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- Mali was the topic when the UN Security Council met ECOWAS on Friday behind closed doors in the UN's North Lawn building.

  Outside the meeting, Inner City Press learned from sources that Portugal was asking the hardest questions inside, "still mad about being sidelined on Guinea Bissau," as one diplomat put it.

  ECOWAS is asking for a Security Council resolution to authorize, among other things, a stand-by force of 3000 soldiers to go into Mali and support the remaining government based in Bamako.

  Inner City Press asked ECOWAS' Commissioner for Political Affairs Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman with whom mediator Blaise Campaore would talk: Ansar al Dine? The MNLA? AQIM?

  She said ECOWAS will not negotiate with terrorists. So who is excluded?

Inner City Press asked ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire OUEDRAOGO how many troops would be sent to Mali. Three thousand, he said. Video here, from Minute 2:08 - French!

  Inner City Press asked about Portugal's questions, and later heard from Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral that he didn't back off the questions, just said the Council should focus on offering political support.

   Back at the stakeout Inner City Press asked Ivorian Defense Minister Paul Koffi KOFFI if the attack in his country that killed seven UN peacekeepers from Niger also, as Inner City Press heard, killed at least one Ivorian security person.

  He did not answer this question directly, but Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky on June 14 answered what Peacekeeping chief Herve "The Drone" Ladsous refused to earlier in the week: that one Cote d'Ivoire security person was killed:

Inner City Press: Various diplomats including from the Ivorian mission have said that beyond the seven Nigerois peacekeepers that were killed, there were somewhere between one and three Ivorian security forces killed in the same attack. I wanted to know if the UN is aware of that. I tried to ask Mr. Ladsous, but he said, "I don’t speak to you," so I’d like to know from your side, from DPKO’s [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] side, are they aware of Ivorian security forces being killed and are they part of this ceremony and of the deep concern being expressed by the United Nations?

Spokesperson: As I understand it, we are aware of one member of the security forces of Côte d'Ivoire also losing his life in that attack. And it’s not something that would go without notice, of course; I am sure that that has been mentioned in Côte d'Ivoire today. The focus, I speak here for the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, and what has been going on the ground today in Abidjan was a memorial ceremony for those fallen peacekeepers. And I would simply place it in that context, Matthew.

   OK. On Mali, first a press statement then a resolution drafted by colonial power France is expected. 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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