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Prodi Praises Africa on Phones & Solar Power, Doesn't Know on Drones

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 10 -- The UN's envoy on the Sahel and Mali, Romano Prodi, told the press on Monday that he doesn't know what drones are. Pressed, he said it's that he's not a military man.

  Inner City Press asked, in the debate between going fast or slow with the use of force in northern Mali, which side he comes down on. Prodi said one has to prepare militarily now, but that to say there can be a military action soon is "not credible."

  This was a comment the reclusive chief of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous made recently in Paris. When Inner City Press asked about it at the UN, who Ladsous was speaking of and if there was a transcript.

  No transcript has been provided. And not all Security Council members agree that September 2013 would be the earliest.

  Since Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his speech linked his "Energy for All" initiative, co-chaired by an executive of Bank of America, with the potential for solar power in the Sahel, Inner City Press asked Prodi if this was in fact a real UN program.

  Prodi indicated that despite being in Ban's speech, it hadn't been directly discussed, but said he liked the idea.

   It's like portable phones in Africa, Prodi said - energy should be decentralized.

   He did not, however, directly answer Inner City Press' question about issues with Mali's army, its human rights record and whether coup leader Sonogo is still involved.

  All of these implicate the UN's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, on which UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions.

  Ladsous, it must be noted, unlike Prodi DOES know about drones. And he wants them, having proposed them earlier this year in the C-34.

  Without getting any approval, he is pushing them again. Recently at a stakeout where he refused to take Press questions he mentioned "force multipliers." What, pray tell, are those? Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press got an answer from Morocco's foreign minister Saad Dine El Otmani, asked and answered in French, about the role of arms from Libya. He said they play a harmful role, merci. Merci a vous. But why then did the issue only get added to the Presidential Statement at the last minute? Click here for Inner City Press coverage of the Sahel debate and link to the Presidential Statement.

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