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While UN Looks Into Western Sahara Death of El Wali, Silence at the Stakeout

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- When UN torture expert Juan Mendez  held a press conference after addressing the General Assembly's Third Committee on October 21, Inner City Press asked about the death in Moroccan custody of Western Sahara rights activist Hassan El Wali. Video here.

   Mendez, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, confirmed he has been asked to look into El Wali's death, and said that he is but can't speak about it at this juncture.

  So when the UN Security Council had one of its semi-annual meetings on Western Sahara on October 27, and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and envoy Christopher Ross went into the Council, Inner City Press waited outside with the expectation that afterward someone, at least, would speak at the stakeout.

  As the afternoon dragged on, Inner City Press was informed that the UN Secretariat was warned NOT to let the Frente Polisario representative speak at the UNTV stakeout. The Free UN Coalition for Access has asked why for example the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu can speak on UNTV -- last time he spoke, Ladsous to the side blocked Inner City Press' camera, Vine here -- but Polisario cannot. There has been no explanation. Click here for story from October 2013, hearkening back to the UN "pulling the plug" on Polisario in 2007.

  As it turned out the focus on October 27 was on NO ONE speaking on the UNTV stakeout. Morocco's current Ambassador Hilale, like his predecessor polite but noticeably more open, was present but did not speak at the stakeout. The situation outside the Security Council was, apparently, one of lobbying, or for some of spinning state media.

  A diplomat told Inner City Press, "they tell us the African Union is not part of the mandate, fine. But 'Referendum' is in the name of the mission. When is it going to happen?"

  The UN was supposed to hold a referendum and hasn't. Now the focus is on no one being able to speak about it on the UN Television stakeout. This is today's UN.

DC footnote: In further silence news, on October 20 US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli was listed as meeting with Western Sahara driller Kosmos Energy's CEO Andy Inglis. There has been no read-out.



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