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Mauritania Says It'd Serve MINUSMA On Border, UN & France Say It's Up to Mali

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- When the UN Security Council's meeting on Mali ended on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked envoy Bert Koenders about Mauritania's offer to contribute troops to his mission, MINUSMA, but only if they could remain close to their own country's border.

It is unclear if UN Peacekeeping, which supervised MINUSMA and Koenders, accepts or should accepts such dictates by Troop Contributing Countries.

Koenders replied that Mauritania's offer is being discussed and negotiated with the Malian government.

But again: doesn't the UN have a position, since it is a UN peacekeeping mission, paid from the UN -- that is, other states' -- money?

Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud, including because France has owned the top post in UN Peacekeeping for the last four times, more than 16 years, if the UN could live with the restrictions Mauritania proposed in Mali.

Araud replied that Mali is sovereign, that's why they have to be negotiated with.

Let's say he meant that the host countries of UN Peacekeeping missions get to veto particular Troop Contributing Countries. But once a TCC is approved, can the TCC dictate where -- and how -- it will serve? It remains UNclear. Watch this site.

Inner City Press also asked Koenders about Paragraph 16 of his statement to the Council, which while referring to impunity to did not mention the gang rape charges against MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad.

  Koenders said it is being investigated and that witnesses can be interviewed by Chad, as they have not left Mali. We'll see.

When France's Gerald Araud followed, Inner City Press asked him about the (echoing) Malian minister's reply that MINUSMA should do more to protect civilians in Gao and Kidal. What explains the UN in the DRC reacting to the shelling of Goma with attack helicopters, and doing nothing when Gao was shelled?

  Araud said the difference is that MINUSMA is so new. Is that the only difference? Who's being servile, or Serval, to whom? Watch this site.

From the French Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: The Malian Minister Diarra said that MINUSMA, on the protection of civilians, could be doing more in Gao and Kidal, they should have a greater presence there. I wonder what the difference is in terms of mandate and role between MINUSMA and MONUSCO in the DRC? It seems, in the DRC, each time a shell falls on a city, it goes back at the rebels. Here shells are falling and it doesnít seem there is any response. You said here they are amateurs. Can you explain the difference?

Amb. Araud: First, as Mr Koenders said, the main difference is that the force has just been created, on the 1st of July. The force is half of its strength. We are in the first weeks, the first months of the force.

Secondly, there was no need to retaliate or to shoot back. There was one shot. After that, you have to conduct an investigation to try to guess who did it. We will see exactly the way the force is behaving when the force is totally operational. I think it could be in the coming months....

Inner City Press: I want to make sure I didnít misunderstand Mr Koenders. He was reporting that Mauritania offered peacekeepers to MINUSMA but only if they could remain in the part of the country near its own border. I donít know what the DPKO policy is but my understanding is that it is between the Mauritanian and the Malian governments. Does that mean they wouldnít be part of the MINUSMA? Is there some Malian role?

Amb. Araud: Mr Koenders just repeated what the policy is. We are in a sovereign country, Mali, and, as the host country, it has something to say about the contingents. That is the reason why Mr Koenders said it was between Mali and Mauritania. This type of conversation has to be conducted between Mali and Mauritania. Thank you.


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