By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 3 – As the UN Security Council met with Cameroon's Paul Biya, apparently without a word about the protests by and incarceration of Anglophones in the country, in New York the UN's reflexive evasion of Press question reverberated on the Council's next stop.
Nigeria's former Senate President Ameh Ebute wrote to the UN to urge sanctions against Cameroon and Chad. Inner City Press at the March 2 UN noon briefing asked the UN's holdover spokeman Stephane Dujarric to comment on Ebute's letter. Dujarric said he hadn't seen it.
Now The Guardian in Nigeria picks up on Dujarric's knee-jerk denial to Inner City Press: "Mr Stephane Dujarric, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the letter... 'I have not seen the letter.'"
For eight billion U.S. dollars a year, you'd think they could at least read their mail. Watch this site.
During the Paris stopover, Council members met with France's replacement for Herve Ladsous atop UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Will Lacroix addressed the disparities in protection for European and African peacekeepers serving ostensibly together in the UN's Mali mission?
And in Cameroon, will the dispute between the French and English speaking communities, and harsh prison conditions for the latter, be noted by the Council? Watch this site.
The day after UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said while the UK supports Martin Kobler as long as he is UN envoy in Libya, if he's to be replaced it should be quickly given momentum, Inner City Press asked Dujarric to describe the UN process and timelines. No details were provided. Again, typical.
With the United Kingdom taking over the Presidency of the UN Security Council for March, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft on March 1 took 20 questions from the media. Inner City Press asked him why the meetings on Burundi on March 9 and on Yemen on March 29 are both closed door. Video here.
On Burundi, Rycroft referred to France as the penholder. On Yemen -- on which the UK holds the pen -- he said sometimes there is a benefit to a closed door discussion. Fine: but what's the problem with an open briefing, then closed consultations? The Free UN Coalition for Access will continue to pursue this.
On Yemen Inner City Press also asked if the UK's findings as it looks into more than 250 incidents of the Saudi led coalition will be shared with the Security Council. It remains unclear.
At the end, Inner City Press asked Rycroft if Nick Kay is still a candidate to be UN Envoy to Libya. Rycroft said the UK supports current envoy Martin Kobler but if he is to be changed, it should be fast, there is momentum.
Rycroft said that civil society will be invited to participate in the month's wrap up session, a first. Boris Johnson will chair the March 23 meeting on South Sudan, and something on Somalia later that day. We'll have more on this.