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After ICP Scoop on UN Posts Sold by Cote d'Ivoire DPR, Bamba Ouster Mis-Linked to W. Sahara

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- In UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, positions in missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti were corruptly put up for sale, a 49-page “Strictly Confidential” UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press on February 7 shows.

  Despite the various UN answers to Inner City Press set forth below, the Cote d'Ivoire diplomat Bafetegue Ouattara depicted by OIOS soliciting and accepting the bribe is still inside UN headquarters -- now, as Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric without response, as "Charge d'Affaires" on charge of the mission.

  In a March 13 report (in French), BBC links former Permanent Representative Bamba's ouster to the Ivorian Mission saying Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa in a meeting of the UN General Assembly's Fourth Committee back on October 13, 2014. (That was, of course, the Cote d'Ivoire government's position under Laurent Gbagbo, contrary to France's position.)

 Unlike, for example, The Independent (here, crediting Inner City Press), BBC entirely misses the scandal of DPR Ouattara being exposed for selling UN positions but having more support in President Ouattara's inner circle, Ibrahim Ouattara (known as "photocopie" due to his resemblance to his brother, President Alassane Ouattara) and two ministers, Mamadi Diane and Roland Adjo-Lessing, see below.

 On March 6, when Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, held a press conference, she said her organization is involved in UN Peacekeeping missions.

  Inner City Press ran from the Security Council stakeout to the UN Press Briefing Room and asked if this Francophone connection in UN Peacekeeping should be cleaned up. Video here.

 Ms. Jean said it did not have to do with language. Perhaps not language - though other diplomats at the UN have asked why the damning OIOS report was only in French. But will it be cleaned up?

 In fact, he has gotten a promotion, to "charge d'affaires" with his putative boss Permanent Representative Yousoufou Bamba said on his way out. The question arises: why is Bamba and not the bribe-taker being removed?

 Who is protecting Bafetegue Ouattara?

 Inner City Press is infromed that Bafetegue Ouattara's defenders include Ibrahim Ouattara (known as "photocopie" due to his resemblance to his brother, President Alassane Ouattara) and two ministers, Mamadi Diane and Roland Adjo-Lessing.

 But what does all this mean for Ouattara's stated commitment to accountability, even for those in his party?

  What also is the position of France, which has run UN Peacekeeping the last four times in a row and holds the presidency of the UN Security Council this month -- though Ambassador Francois Delattre has said "I have to run" the first two times Inner City Press asked a question, on  Burundi and Mali; video here, Vine here. This will be a good one to answer. Watch this site.

  As to Bafetegue Ouattara, despite its own evidence showing the bribes and sale of UN posts, the UN's OIOS didn't make any recommendation about him, nor recommend any changes so it or the UN could.

  Now Inner City Press has learned that a replacement for the head of OIOS Carman Lapoint is being sought. The process to select the next holder of this lone UN oversight position should be transparent, so that real oversight can begin. We'll have more on this.

 On February 16 The Independent followed up, crediting Inner City Press and quoting an unnamed UN spokesman that "we cannot and should not pre-judge the results of the national investigation" and that "there are 36 UN police officers from the Ivory Coast deployed to the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 60 to the operation in Haiti."

 On February 17, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Question:  I wanted to ask about the OIOS [Office for Internal Oversight Services] report about acceptance of bribes for UN police posts that I asked about last week, yesterday The Independent published a story on it.  They quoted a UN spokesman.  I don't know if it was you or Stéphane [Dujarric].  But, what I wanted to ask you about was the substance of it.  It said, “We cannot and should not prejudge the international investigation.”  Since the OIOS report has bank records and you've already taken action, apparently, and repatriated 10 police officers, doesn't the UN think its own report is true?  So, what does it mean to say that… is Côte d’Ivoire supposed to reinvestigate the case before taking action on the Deputy Permanent Representative?  And, finally, they also mention there are 36 Ivoirian police officers in MONUSCO and 60 in MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti].  How many have actually been repatriated?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, regarding that, basically, once the OIOS report was received, we took decisive measures, including ordering the repatriation of all the UN police officers who were involved.  All those officers involved are either gone or in the process of leaving the peacekeeping operations on which they served, which is to say MONUSCO and MINUSTAH.  Beyond that, no police from Côte d’Ivoire will be extended beyond their current assignments and deployment of any subsequent Ivoirian police to UN operations has been suspended until confirmation from Côte d’Ivoire that action has been taken on the OIOS investigation.  And regarding… and regarding the quotes that you had referred to, yes, we're not going to prejudge the results of the national investigation, which the UN has asked the Member State to conduct.  We've insisted that the investigation be very thorough and comprehensive.  We've stressed that the UN should be kept fully informed of the results of the Member State’s investigation and that necessary action should be taken as a result.  But, saying that, now, of course, it's up to them to do it and we won't prejudge the results of their actions.

Inner City Press:  I guess it's actions versus investigation.  You stand behind your own report since you've already sent police officers home based on it, right?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Yes, of course.  The people who were found in the internal investigation to have received improper assistance in getting their jobs, those are… like I said, I've either all left or in the process of leaving.

   On the last line, we're left assuming that "I've either all left" means "they've either all left." But how many have left?

   And why has the Cote d'Ivoire Deputy Permanent Representative who sold UN Peacekeeping posts not been declared Persona Non Grata by the US, which says it cares about peacekeeping and UN reform?

  The UN strip searched and PNG-ed Indian diplomat Khobragade for an employment dispute. Here an Ivorian diplomat has sold posts in UN Peacekeeping. Where's the PNG?

  Tellingly, after the Press' exclusive February 7 exposure of corruption in Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, its asking about it at the February 9 UN noon briefing and even the UN's long statement in spin and response at the February 10 noon briefing, UN insiders and Ladsous corruption enablers like Reuters and Agence France Presse reported not a word about the corruption.

  Reuters has been spoonfed lines about Ladsous MONUSCO refusing to act against the FDLR in the DRC, which is passes through with no analysis of Ladsous and MONUSCO's history, much less corruption. We'll have more on this.

  On February 12, despite the UN investigative report depicting in detail Cote d'Ivoire's Deputy Permanent Representative Bafetegue Ouattara soliciting and taking bribes to sell posts in Ladsous' MONUSCO and MINUSTAH missions, Inner City Press ran into Bafetegue Ouattara in the basement of the UN, by the garage. After an exchange of words, including a demand to know who leaked the report to Inner City Press (demand rejected), at noon Inner City Press asked, video here:

Inner City Press: the corruption one is as follows:  It has to do with that OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] report that was leaked showing the payment of bribes for peacekeeping posts.  I’d asked Farhan, but I wanted to ask you more because, this morning, I actually ran into the named deputy representative of Côte d’Ivoire, Bafetegue Ouattara, in the building, and since this report, which began in 2013 and was finalized in 2014, has banking records proof of the payment of bribes for peacekeeping posts, I just wondered what does the UN do?  I understand that the peacekeepers have been asked to return home, but the person who solicited and took bribes… does the UN have no recourse at all?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You know, as you well know… As you well know, diplomats are sent here by their Governments.  We have no authority over them.  It is up to national Governments to take action against these, against individuals.

Inner City Press: Is there nothing that a diplomat could do even inside this building that the UN would take action on?  This was soliciting bribes for UN posts.

Spokesman:  As I said, this person works for the Government of the Côte d’Ivoire, it would be up to them to take appropriate action.

  So again - there is NOTHING that a diplomat couldn't do at the UN? It cannot be said that this UN has zero tolerance for corruption - far from it. Later on February 12, UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous, who refuses to answer any Press questions, was hobnobbing with diplomats in the Delegates' Entrance to the UN General Assembly. We'll have more on this.

 On February 10 there was a partial answer, video here; transcript here, including

Inner City Press:  Do you think that this… the panel on peacekeeping operations under [José] Ramos-Horta, is this the type of obviously kind of hole in the system that was exploited for personal gain that should be reviewed?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  This is a clear-cut case of corruption which was found by our Office for Internal Oversight Services, and we're following up on that.  Clearly, quite a good measure of the follow-up also needs to be handled by the Member State involved.

   But there are many unresolved questions; watch this site.

 Two days after that exclusive, on February 9 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq for the response of UN Peacekeeping, whose chief Herve Ladsous since Inner City Press raised corruption has refused all Press questions, specifically what Ladsous has done in the ten months he has been on notice of this corruption, as shown by the leaked documents. February 9 video here.

 On February 10, UN deputy spokesperson Haq came to the noon briefing with a prepared answer, which he read out. February 10 video here. He said that further recruitment of UN Police for Cote d'Ivoire has been suspended pending that country taking action.

 Inner City Press asked if all ten police described as paying bribes have been repatriated, for the status of the Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara shown taking bribes, and if inquiries have been made with other countries which send soldiers or police to the UN.
  Haq said that the ten have left or are in the process of leaving. Six months after the final report? "In the process of leaving"?

 Worse, Haq said it is up to Cote d'Ivoire if the Deputy Permanent Representative remains in his post at and in the UN. Isn't collective bribes for UN posts a crime? And not only in Cote d'Ivoire?

 Inner City Press asked Haq if this obvious loophole allowing corruption will be reviewed by Ban Ki-moon's panel of Peace Operations, to which Inner City Press has already forwarded the OIOS report. Video here.

 Another question that has been raised to Inner City Press by diplomats after reading the exclusive is whether Ladsous had a duty, at least before the UN Security Council's trip to Haiti last month led by Chile and the US to tell Council members that bribes had been collected for positions in the MINUSTAH mission there.

 Inner City Press has raised the question to MINUSTAH's chief and spokesperson, as to DR Congo mission MONUSCO's chief Martin Kobler, separate story here (as Kobler runs to be Ladsous' peer atop UN aid agency OCHA.)

 Haq told Inner City Press that "this was corruption found by our own internal oversight." But the report says the UN's OIOS "received" information about these possibly corrupt practices on July 24, 2013. We'll have more on this.


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