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On Mali, UN Can't Confirm ECOWAS Request, Bamba & France Can

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 5 -- For weeks, months really, the UN Security Council has been talking about Mali and how serious the coup d'etat and "loss" of the North are.

  But the regional group ECOWAS was blamed for an unrealistic proposed deployment, and for not having the consent of the authorities, such as they are, in Bamako

  Wednesday after France's special representative for the Sahel region Jean Felix-Paganon said that Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore had made the intervention request to ECOWAS, Inner City Press asked first the UN then incoming UN Security Council president Peter Wittig to confirm it.

  UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press he could not confirm the request, nor the capture of two more towns, but said "I'm sure you'll hear more from [UNSC President] Wittig, if asked." Video here, from Minute 15:47.

So half an hour later Inner City Press asked Wittig, what are the next steps on Mali, and about the request.

  Wittig said he wasn't sure if it had been "officially communicated," and that the next steps were up to the "African actors." He said, "We don't know yet whether the Malian consent has been officially communicated to the ECOWAS authorities."

  Inner City Press later on Wednesday asked Cote d'Ivoire Permanent Representative Bamba, who confirmed that the request had been received by ECOWAS.

  Bamba smiled and told Inner City Press that things could move fast. Fast with a request for UN authorization and funds? Or in "re-conquering" Timbuktu?

That's the UN's work now, re-conquest. It is applied not only to north Mali but also to Somalia, as the Kenyan Navy shells the port city of Kismayo. If the UN authorized and pays for a re-conquest, what responsibilities does it bear for how it's carried out? And who's really in charge here? Watch this site.

Footnote: after Kosovo claimed that Mali had recognized it, then after Inner City Press' tongue in cheek report, Mali said it wasn't so, Kosovo's claim and statement don't appear to be retracted...

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