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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Cote d'Ivoire, Juppe Says Ban Ki-moon Also Demands Gbagbo's Signature

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- In what appears to be an endgame in Abidjan, the relation between France and the the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been put into the spotlight.

  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on April 5 if UN attack helicopters had fired at Laurent Gbagbo's residence in self-defense.

  Nesirky bristled that it was not the UN which fired on Gbagbo's residence. Video here.

   But when a French reporter stated that helicopters of the French Force Licorne had fied on Gbagbo's house, and ask if that was on behalf of the UN, all Nesirky said was that it was legal for Licorne to support the UN.

   Then Nesirky dodged a series of questions about the UN's role in negotiating with Gbagbo, who reportedly retreated to a bunker under his fired-upon residence.

  When a reporter read him a quote from France that the UN was engaged in negotiations, Nesirky said that because he did not have a wireless computer with him, he did not know. Video here.

   French minister of foreign affairs Alain Juppe, however, said that Gbagbo must sign a letter relinquishing power to Alassane Ouattara, and that “Ban Ki-moon agrees with me on that.”

Ban & Juppe, joint demand of letter as condition not shown

   Even if Security Council Resolution 1975, authorizing the UN to shoot at and “take out” heavy weapons of Gbagbo's forces if they were to be used to fire on civilians, can be read to permit UNOCI and Licorne to fire missiles at Gbagbo's house -- Russian foreign minister Lavrov, among others, was not convinced on Tuesday -- the resolution is not about Ban adopting France's demands as a condition of ending military action.

  So who, some want to know, is working for whom? Watch this site.

Footnote: after Ban's spokesman Nesirky's noon briefing, a more senior Ban official suggested to Inner City Press that Gbagbo, “if he's smart,” will demand UN protection at the Golf Hotel, where Ouattara stayed, and begin holding press conferences there. That, is seems clear, France would not accept.

  The Ban official also noted that until recently, it was Ban's envoy Choi Young-jin who was hiding in a basement. Turn about is fair play?

* * *

In Cote d'Ivoire, As UN & France Fire at Gbagbo Home, Ban Claims Not a Party

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 4 -- As UN and French helicopters fire missiles at the Presidential Palace in Cote d'Ivoire, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon insisted Monday in a written statement that the UN is not a party to the conflict.

Inner City Press asked Ban's top Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy to explain this, and also why the UN never used anything near this force when purporting to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan and elsewhere.

Le Roy said that the UN was targeting only Gbagbo's heavy weapons, and that the French helicopters were being used because the UN helicopters, from Ukraine, don't have nighttime capability.

While not really explaining the difference in the UN's enforcement of the protection of civilians in Darfur versus Cote d'Ivoire, Le Roy pointed repeatedly to Security Council resolution 1975, passed March 30, directing UNOCI to shoot at Gbagbo's heavy weapons.

This language, in fact, was watered down from the French proposal that UNOCI - and, apparently, the French Force Licorne -- seize Gbagbo's weapons. But the precedent is clear: next time the Council is faced with a protecting of civilians draft that includes shooting at heavy weapons, the Presidential Palace of the country at issue is fair game.

Ban & YJ Choi, "destiny" talk not shown

Inner City Press asked Le Roy about the reports that forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara engaged in mass killings in Duekoue, and if that changed the way UNOCI coordinates or works with the Ouattara forces. We do not coordinate with them, Le Roy insisted.

Multiple sources have told Inner City Press that in the run up to Ouattara's final assault, on Duekoue and now Abidjan, UN envoy Choi Young-jin was “chewed out” for not being aggressive enough. The previously Bangladeshi force commander was changed for a more pro-Ouattara one from Togo. And so the fix was in.

Inner City Press asked Le Roy if Ouattara's forces had yet taken over the Presidential Palace, as reported. Not as of when I walked into the Council, Le Roy said. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Bamba of Cote d'Ivoire Takes 7 Questions on Video, France Partners with Nigeria, Invisible Commandos

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- At Friday's UN Security Council meeting on Cote d'Ivoire, the Ambassador sent by Alassane Ouattara to replace Laurent Gbagbo's Djedje spoke in the Council for the first time. Yousoufou “Joseph” Bamba, now Permanent Representative to the UN, came afterward to take questions on camera from Inner City Press. Click here for YouTube video.

  Inner City Press asked Bamba a range of question, from comparisons to the military enforcement action in Libya to reported killings by Ouattara supporters and the lack of medicine in Abidjan due to EU sanctions.

  Bamba did not dispute the impact of sanctions, saying only that if Ouattara were allowed to act as president these problems would not exist. He had said that the energy put into Libya, compared to that in Cote d'Ivoire, made up a form of “bias.” But he backed away from that.

  In fact, as Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin walked into the Council for the meeting, he was asked about requests for more action by the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire, ONUCI. “Another big war,” he said sarcastically. “Just what we need.”

  Inner City Press conveyed Churkin's remarks to India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri. who said, “You want another war? With clear objectives?”

Ban & Bamba, action on Invisible Commandos not shown

  In other comments, Bamba said that the helicopter ONUCI says Gbagbo forces are repairing is one of those destroyed by France in the past. He said that both Gbagbo and Ouattara have asked for International Criminal Court intervention and investigation.

  France on Friday circulated a draft resolution including the ICC, new sanctions and a call for Gbagbo to leave. Despite saying it was a joint submission with Nigeria, the French draft does not include things that Nigeria and ECOWAS want, like authorization for intervention.

The back story is the while the French mission at the UN had intended to confer with South Africa on elements of a resolution, South Africa was not going to join in at least until the African Union meeting. Since President Nicolas Sarkozy had announced on Thursday night that France was drafting a resolution for Friday, a new partner had to be found. Whether this serves Nigeria is unclear. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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