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Cablegate: Moroccan Troops in Cote D'ivoire: Investigation Of

VZCZCXYZ0004
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #1238/01 2131222
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011222Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7072
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAB/AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN IMMEDIATE 0063
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0709
RUEHRY/AMEMBASSY CONAKRY PRIORITY 0076
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN PRIORITY 0021
RUEHMV/AMEMBASSY MONROVIA PRIORITY 0552
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA PRIORITY 3276

C O N F I D E N T I A L RABAT 001238

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2017
TAGS: PREL KPKO IC MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCAN TROOPS IN COTE D'IVOIRE: INVESTIGATION OF
MOROCCAN PEACEKEEPERS ON SEX ABUSE CHARGES

REF: STATE 102800

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas Riley for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

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SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) In response to the points conveyed reftel, MFA Chief
of International Organizations Section Nasser Bourita told us
on July 26 that the GOM takes the accusations of sexual
misconduct against its troops in Ivory Coast seriously, and
is sending a high level military delegation to join the UN
inquiry. He feels, however, that the GOM troops are
scapegoats for larger problems surrounding the discipline of
UN peacekeepers in Africa.

2. (C) Polcouns and poloff conveyed the USG's concern
regarding the recent allegations levied against the Moroccan
United Nations Operations in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) contingent
and urged the GOM to conduct a full and fair investigation.
End Summary.

-------------------------------
GOM CONCERNED AND INVESTIGATING
-------------------------------

2. (C) Bourita said the GOM takes these charges seriously
and planned on sending a high level military delegation to
serve as part of the UN inquest team in Cote d'Ivoire on July
30. The GOM will take decisive action to punish any
individuals against whom accusations are proven. The king
stressed military ethics when he ascended to the throne and
expects breaches by his forces to be quickly, vigorously and
transparently investigated at home and abroad.

---------------------------------------------
TROOPS SCAPEGOATS FOR LARGER UN DEFICIENCIES?
---------------------------------------------

3. (C) Bourita said, however, the GOM believes the UN is
scapegoating the Moroccan UNOCI troops to show new resolve in
the wake of damning reports of smuggling and rape against its
peacekeepers in Congo. He protested the sanctions levied
against the Moroccan troops now in Cote d'Ivoire stressing
that they arrived little over a month ago, while the
incidents for which they are being punished occurred over a
year ago. When reports of malfeasance first surfaced in
2005, the GOM removed its troop commander, repatriated him
for disciplinary action, and has cooperated with the UN
investigation ever since. Collective punishment for the as
yet unproven actions of individuals was unfair. "How can the
entire battalion be punished," he asked, "when the alleged
incidents took place in an area where only 250 Moroccan
troops were stationed?" He further argued that GOM troops
served with NATO in Kosovo and received no complaints.
Comment: He did not refer to problems Moroccan troops may
have had in Congo. End Comment.

------------------------------
Peacekeeping, Politics and PXs
------------------------------

4. (C) Bourita felt that the GOM troops are caught in a
political crossfire between Cote d'Ivoire's President Gbagbo
and some UN members, who oppose UNOCI and its French
leadership, and are seeking opportunities to discredit the
mission; and Cote d'Ivoire Prime Minister Soro, who supports
UNOCI. As a counter weight to accusations, he pointed to
press statements by Soro, who led rebels in the area now
under Moroccan supervision, lauding the GOM's troops. He
also mentioned a signed statement sent by civilians in the
Moroccan zone to the UNOCI Force Commander stating that the
GOM's troops had shown "irreproachable behavior." Bourita
expanded the scope of his complaint saying that there are
larger structural issues regarding UN peacekeeping command
and control in Africa that contribute to breakdowns in
discipline and degradation in troop effectiveness. Key
issues he focused on were:

-units are located far from their commanders with poor lines
of communication and little supervision;

-the UN has no, or insufficient, morale, welfare and supply
programs, which forces troops to look for incidentals and

entertainment in the areas in which they are posted,
increasing the opportunity for unsavory incidents to occur;

-six-month operational rotations (as opposed to one to two
month cycles for European troops) with frequent end-of-tour
extensions that lead to disgruntlement and breaches in
discipline.

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Comment
-------

5. (C) We will continue to urge a strong response to the
case as we track the Moroccan side of the investigation.
Bourita left the impression that the GOM will, in fact,
conduct a rigorous inquiry with UNOCI in Cote d'Ivoire. It
remains to be seen what type of punishment will be meted out
to troops against whom allegations are proven. End Comment.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

RILEY

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