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CAR Idle at UN, No French Statement Emerges, Only Feltman & the Experts

By Matthew Russell Lee, Blog

UNITED NATIONS, January 4, updated -- The first crisis on the UN Security Council's agenda for January is the Central African Republic.

  On January 3, after a briefing by UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, French Ambassador Gerard Araud told the press France would circulate a statement that night and"I hope it will be issued tomorrow, I think there is unity of the Council, I guess there won't be any problem."

  Before 10 am on January 4, the French Mission to the UN issued bilingual tweets that the CAR press statement was "being prepared." But when Inner City Press got to the Security Council stakeout, where such statements are read out, there was no UNTV camera, tweeted photo here.

  The month's Security Council president, Pakistan's Masood Khan, worked throughout the day, meeting with humanitarians and UN Sudan envoy Haile Menkerios, who opined to Inner City Press about mediators the other party, South Sudan, would not accept.

  Council members' experts huddled to work on a statement for Pakistan's January 15 open debate on "a comprehensive approach to counter terrorism." But still: no statement on the Central African Republic.

  There are questions to be asked, for example about the teetering Bozize government's arrest of perceived supporters of the Seleka rebels, including on ethnic and religious lines.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about this on Thursday, as well as if Feltman would take questions on the topic.

  Feltman, who generally affable, did not take any press questions on Thursday as his entourage left the Council, back through the UN garage to their offices in the re-opened 38 story tower.

  What was the story, then, on the Central African Republic statement? Inner City Press tweeted the question at the French Mission, in English (4:15 pm) then French (4:25 pm), without reply.

Social media, increasingly relied on in diplomatic and UN circles, is supposed to be a two-way street. But still no answer. And at 5:24 pm the UN announced, "there is no balance, the lid is on." So what happened, France?

Update: And then past 6 pm, with no live UN webcast, there was the statement -- no reference to Bozize's arrests -- and a stakeout, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Khan two questions, click here.

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