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Mali Double-Speak on ECOWAS Presaged By Kosovo About-Face

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 --  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, now Traore's spokesman Diarra Diakite won't confirm the request was made.

  Two weeks ago there was a similar reversal in Bamako. On August 21, Inner City Press reported that Mali had recognized Kosovo, and noted that "the fact that Mali just had a coup d'etat, and doesn't control the northern half of the country, was not mentioned" in Hashim Thaci's statement in the UN Security Council.

   On August 24, Inner City Press was sent a report and wrote that "the Malian presidency would wish to inform both the national and international community that the president has not yet signed any document recognizing the Republic of Kosovo and reserves the right to take appropriate measures to identify and punish the authors of the false document."

  But it was Kosovo's Hashim Thaci who said it, on August 21, offering "thanks... to the Republic of Mali for the recent decision to recognize Kosovo." Video here, Minute 44:30.

   So Thaci was contradicted by Bamako, and now in a sense Jean Felix-Paganon's September 5 statement has been as well.

   Inner City Press on September 5 asked first the UN then incoming UN Security Council president Peter Wittig to confirm what Felix-Paganon said.

  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 purported to confirm that the request had been received by ECOWAS.

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

That's the UN's word 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.

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