Saturday, December 10, 2016

After Gambia's Jammeh Rejects Results, UNSC Speaks, Here, Ban Still Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 10 – As in The Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved on December 1 to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there was again a deafening silence from the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his “communications” chief Cristina Gallach. 
Now that Jammeh has reversed himself and denounced the results, Senegal has called for an urgent Security Council meeting, and the ECOWAS chairperson's plane was denied entry to The Gambia Ban Ki-moon is still silent, entirely focused on his own ambitions in South Korea.  (The US issued this, and the African Union this, with a strange comic font in the headline.)
Now the UN Security Council has issued this Press Statement:  
"The members of the Security Council commended the people of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia for the peaceful and transparent holding of elections on 1 December 2016.

In this regard the members of the Security Council strongly condemned the statement by the outgoing President of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia Mr. Yahya Jammeh on 9 December rejecting the December 1 official election results proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission and calling for new elections.

They called on him to respect the choice of the sovereign People of The Gambia, as he did on 2 December 2016, and to transfer, without condition and undue delay, power to the President-elect, Mr. Adama Barrow.

The Members of the Security Council urged the outgoing President to carry out a peaceful and orderly transition process and they requested that the security of the president -elect Adama Barrow, and that of all Gambian citizen be fully ensured.

The members of the Security Council called on outgoing President Jammeh to respect the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on democracy and good governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, notably the rejection of unconstitutional changes of Government, and recalled the relevant provisions of Article 23 (4) of the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The members of the Security Council urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from violence and remain calm.

The members of the Security Council called on the support by the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS) and international partners, especially ECOWAS, to preserve stability in The Gambia and work towards the installation of a democratically elected Government in the country.

They further expressed their commitment to continue to follow closely the evolution of the situation in The Gambia. "
 Where *is* Ban Ki-moon, after so many hours? Access to him on December 16 is being sold for $1,200.  
Senegal has been relatively quiet as a Security Council member. But for them, this is too close to home. We'll have more on this.
On December 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press:  today's election day in Gambia, and it has been widely reported the internet has been turned off, and no international calls are being allowed.  I know that the DPA [Department of Political Affairs] had some involvement previously or tried to have some involvement in Gambia.  What is the position on the UN? On the election generally, the President has said he'll stay in until Allah says differently, but also on the turning off of the internet to an entire country…

Spokesman:  Well, I think it's… we would like to see, as we would like to see anywhere, freedom of access to information, including freedom of access through the internet.  We're obviously watching the developments in the Gambia very closely, and then we'll have probably a bit more to say later on.

ICP Question:  How are you watching it if the internet's turned off?

Spokesman:  We do have a country office that's there.

ICP Question:  A related as to internet question, in Qatar, access to something called Doha News, which reports about Qatar, has been blocked in the country.  And I wanted to know… you might say just the same thing, but do you see this also --

Spokesman:  Let me check on those reports. 
 Six hours later, nothing. Meanwhile Gallach has most recently complained about the “difficult” role of social media in the November 8 U.S. election -- as she has evictedInner City Press, given its office to an Egyptian state media which never comes in, and restricts Inner City Press to minders.
   Even so-restricted on November 30, Inner City Press followed, if only from the small “focus booth” to which it's been reduced by Gallach's and Ban's censorship, a debate elsewhere in the UN in which Access Now - click here for their joint letter on Gambia - cited investigative journalism and UN Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression David Kaye. 
  Kaye and his colleague on human rights defenders Michel Forst wrote to Gallach about her no due process eviction of Inner City Press. Her response implied there was a physical fight, of which there was none, only Inner City Press stated it would leave a widely attended event in the UN Press Briefing Room once it was shown it was Closed or if UN Security said to. 
Ban's and Gallach's UN is one of censorship, and for now they are silent on Gambia. Others aren't - watch this site.
Back in July as Jammeh locked up the opposition, the UN Secretariat which has previously dabbled in the issue with no follow through said nothing on May 10 (nor on May 11 or 12). This despite the emergence of what's said to be audio of Gambia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Sam Sarr saying he would shoot the protesters. 
On July 21, Inner City Press asked Ban K-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here
Inner City Press: in Gambia, the opposition leader, Mr. [Ousainou] Darboe, has been sentenced to three years for participating in a demonstration, and I wanted to know, I know previously the UN and the UN Office of West Africa and Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman had been trying to engage with Gambia; what has been done since and do you have any comment on this prison sentence?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we need to look into what the process is and make sure that due process has been followed in this particular case.  But I'll also check up and see whether there is any other reaction about this.
Eight hours later and counting, nothing.
On May 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the crackdown, and audio. Vine hereUN transcript here and below.
From May 11:
Inner City Press: There’ve been reports of kind of a crackdown in Gambia in the last few days of opposition people locked up, and I know that the UN had previously worked on it through DPA (Department of Political Affairs).  So do they have any comment?  One of the reports involves an audio clip of the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN here in New York saying, if I were in charge, I’d shoot all the protesters… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I don’t have anything on Gambia for you today.
(The audio includes the F-bomb, in vogue this year in the UN Press Briefing Room, on January 29 when Spokesman Dujarric and his Deputy Farhan Haq threw Inner City Press out of the room where it was pursuing the UN corruption scandal story, and since, deriding a question concerning the Department of Public Information which ousted and then evicted Inner City Press, video here.)
   So where is the UN's Department of Public Affairs on this? Ban Ki-moon has been on another tour gather honorary degrees and talking about the Sustainable Development Goals, while his Spokesman Stephane Dujarric refuses to answer Inner City Press twice asked question about Ban's and his UN's engagement with the “Global Governance for the UN Sustainable Development Goals” group, and its links with the ongoing Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal. Inner City Press is now under restrictions, including minders, not imposed on other more UN-friendly media. To this has the UN descended. Watch this site.
  Back on April 17 after Gambia killed three opposition figures in jail after locking up many more during an April 14 protest, the US and Ban Ki-moon UN both issued statements. 
  Tellingly, while the US statement cited the "United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," Ban Ki-moon's did not. This is because Ban's UN is lawless, as shown on Haiti cholera and, right at Headquarters, on April 16 when Ban had evicted the investigative Press without any process, video here.
  Ban's UN pretended to care about Gambia in late 2014 and early 2015, but never followed through.
Back in late December 2014, the UN has said the coup attempt in Gambia was important to it, even as it was mis-reported. On February 4, the UN told Inner City Press its official Jeffrey Feltman was going to the country.
 On the morning of February 10, Inner City Press learned that the visit had not taken place, that by some accounts President Yahya Jammeh had canceled it, after publication of an article online.
 Inner City Press looked online and found an article that might have triggered this, calling the previous visit of the UN's Mohammed Chambas a failure, and saying "This time the UN is dispatching United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman to visit Banjul on 4 February 2015 for an audience with the country’s leader Yahya Jammeh, according to a press statement from the UNDP."
  So Inner City Press went to the website of the UN "country team" in Gambia, run by UNDP, but when one clicks "news" it leads to a message of "404." Failure.
 At the February 10 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about all this. Video here.
  Back on February 4, having seen mention in the African press, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujaric:
Inner City Press: Can you confirm that Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman is going to Gambia on a follow-up to Mr. [Mohammed ibn] Chambas' visit?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I do believe he is in Gambia, and we will get more details.

Inner City Press:  And is there some reason that his schedule is not public? I mean, this was reported in the press there.  It seems when he goes places, he's representing the Secretary-General.

Spokesman:  I think we try to share his schedules.  Sometimes things fall through the cracks.  But, we try to be as open and transparent as we can

Inner City Press / FUNCA: Can you ask [the Department of Political Affairs] to put it online?

Spokesman:  Thousands of [Department of Political Affairs] staffers are probably watching this briefing.
Inner City Press:  I’m sure.
  Not only are Feltman's schedules not made public, as now formally requested by the Free UN Coalition for Access - just after this exchange, Ban Ki-moon held a lunch with scribes the Q&A of which has not been released. Click here for that.
The Gambia coup attempt was discussed for a second time in the UN Security Council on January 8, but discrepancies emerged.
On December 31, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he “encourages the establishment of a transparent investigation into the events of 30 December, in compliance with due process and respect for the rule of law.”
  The call for a transparent investigation was missing from the January 8 briefing by UN official Chambas, who told the Security Council  “I am planning to visit Banjul on 14-15 January and meet with President Jammeh. I will reiterate our firm condemnation of any attempt to seize power by unconstitutional means, and encourage the Gambian authorities to work with the support of international partners, to ensure the credibility of judicial procedures and the respect of human rights.”
  Afterward Inner City Press asked Chambas about the different, and on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access about radio station Taranga FM, shut down during the coup bid and now told to play only music.
   Chambas told Inner City Press he had not heard of the station -- Inner City Press in the hallway urged him to tune it in while he is in Bangui, to see if it is only music -- and spoke of trying to liberalize West Africa. We'll see.