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As UN Stonewalls on French Co's in Mali, France Claims No Interest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- Peacekeeping can be big business. On December 4 Inner City Press reported on the French companies vying for pieces of the pie providing logistics to peacekeepers in Mali; on December 5 Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson about it:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you the Mali mission, MINUSMA, there has been reporting about the lobbying by companies such as Sodexho, Thales, GEOS and others to become the logistic suppliers to the MINUSMA mission. Where does that stand? The logistics contracts that were previously fulfilled by Pacific Architects and Engineers when it was an African Union mission, are they being put up to bid and where does the process stand? What would you say to those who say it seems to be a bunch of French companies now standing in line to get these DPKO contracts?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I’d say that there is always an entirely transparent procurement process in any tendering for contractual arrangements with companies in Peacekeeping Operations. And I am sure that my colleagues in the Department of Field Support, who would be handling that, as I understand it, would be able to help with any details on that.

  By the next day, no information was provided. That's part of the problem: UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to be placed by France atop the Department, refuses to answer Press questions. Video here, UK coverage here. But still - this is money not only from France.

  In the absence so far of a UN Peacekeeping response, Inner City Press runs this, Google-translated:

"The current negotiations, which should lead to a formal tender, is actually directly between the United Nations and a State, in this case France. Among the companies are well approached Thales, Sodexo, etc. Bolloré... The control of the operation was entrusted to 'France Expertise Internationale,' a public institution with French industrial and commercial, created on April 1, 2011 by Law No. 2010-873 of 27 July 2010 on the external action the state, and promote technical assistance aims to French and international expertise abroad. Its mission? Here is what the Decree 2011-212 of 25 February 2011 on France Expertise Internationale:

'In the framework of the tasks referred to in Article 12 of the Law of 27 July 2010 referred to above, France international expertise is responsible, alone or, by agreement, in cooperation with other public or private operators,: 1 Promoting technical assistance and international expertise to the French international organizations, foreign governments and other foreign organizations to implement any project funded by these entities states; 2 Action with European public operators in the framework of European groupings of economic interest; 3 Run for the part rightful missions on behalf of the European Union; 4 Assist in any client, French or foreign, wishing to lead an international project, 5 ° act as an international operator for the account or at the request of the State or any other public authority; 6 Run the provision of services on behalf of public institutions; 7 ° Conduct or coordinate, at the request of any client, the training of international technical experts. France international expertise operates without prejudice to the tasks of competent private, French or foreign, in expertise and international mobility. It works in close cooperation with all operators, whether public or private. Ensures the needs expressed by the diplomatic network abroad.'

  How is the procurement of logistics for MINUSMA being done? What is the role of France and of "letters of assist"?

Here was French Ambassador Gerard Araud's answer to Inner City Press,about the Central African Republic, on December 5:

Inner City Press: There is some criticism that the African forces today have not come outside of the capital come out of their bases and defended people? How would this resolution change that? Also people look at the intervention in Mali, your presence in Mali and they say we are back to the “françafrique”, the idea of France and its former colonies. How would you say these two actions are different, is there any economic interest of the country behind either of the two?

Araud: As for the mandate, it is simple. The African force needed a stronger mandate. The MICOPAX didn’t have it. Now it has a mandate under chapter VII. The spokesperson of the African Union here said it intends to implement this mandate, I quote him in French “de manière aggressive”, in “an aggressive manner”.

Secondly, they needed personnel. The MICOPAX, the previous force, had around 2,000 troops. Now it should be 4,000. It will be also reinforced in its structure, in its headquarters, in its command structures. It will also be able to rely on the support of the French forces. The French forces will go from 450 to more than 1,200.

As for the action of France, I am not here to give a qualification. I think, and nobody can say that there is any economic interest in the CAR.

I’m proud of my country. Nobody wanted to go there, nobody was really interested by this forgotten crisis in a largely ignored country. So we are doing the job, and I think it is really great. But doing the job means supporting the Africans. It means also that as soon as the African forces are able to monitor, to control the situation, we will withdraw our own forces. We go there because we are needed but we have absolutely no particular thirst to be engaged in the CAR.

Really? And in Mali? Watch this site.


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