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Italian Prodi as Sahel Envoy Completes UN "European Sweep" of Africa

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 9 -- The selection of Italian Romano Prodi as the UN's envoy to, of all places, Mali culminates what sources in the African Union and the UN's Department of Political Affairs complain to Inner City Press is the "Europeanization" of the UN's African missions under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  The top posts in the UN missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire all went to Europeans, the last to Dutchman Bert Koenders. The Democratic Republic of Congo mission MONUSCO is led by the former American ambassador to the country, Roger Meece.

  But when the call went up, first by Morocco then by France, for a envoy to cover the Sahel, many in the UN's Department of Political Affairs assumed it would at last or at least be an African.

  They were mistaken, and disappointed.

  What are Prodi's qualifications? Many were less than impressed with the report on the "modalities for support to African Union peacekeeping operations" which he was paid to oversee; some perhaps liked it, or him.

   A Security Council Deputy Permanent Representative on Tuesday, asked rhetorically of Prodi's qualifications and if he speaks Arabic, continued to say to Inner City Press, "good question, he speaks French, right?"

  Inner City Press covered Prodi's craven UN job search in 2008, when he and his entourage met with none other than Laurent Gbagbo on the terrace of what was then the Delegate's Lounge. Click here for that.

  Now, ironically, the UN to the benefit of Koender's mission and France's project is accusing Gbagbo supporters of trying to recruit groups from Mali to somehow come destabilize Cote d'Ivoire -- as if outlawing even the opposition's newspapers didn't do a good enough job of destabilizing.

  Why did Ban Ki-moon, as he announced in Paris, dole out this job to Prodi? Why are all of his West Africa Special Representatives from Europe?

  Some go further and continue to ask, why did he replace a Deputy Secretary General from Tanzania with one from Sweden -- and then not make up for it, even giving the Special Adviser on Africa post to the former Egyptian Ambassador under Mubarak, Maged Abdelaziz?

  This last triggered the anger of many African countries, not least from the South. But Ban Ki-moon, as one source put it to Inner City Press, does not seem to take these things seriously. Hence Prodi. Watch this site.

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