When the national media's conspiracy of silence over the disappearance of two Canadian diplomats in Niger ends, there best be a damned good explanation why?
It is now into the third week of the mysterious disappearance of Robert Fowler, a former Canadian Ambassador to the United-Nations and former Deputy-Minister of Defence, and Louis Guay a career diplomat with extensive experience in Africa, including former Ambassador to Gabon, along with their United-Nations driver near the Niger capital of Niamey.
The self-imposed Canadian media black-out encouraged, if not mandated, by the Canadian Government speaks volumes about deep rooted confusion about who is the "boss" at our Department of Foreign Affairs. A Ministry which is still recovering from the incompetence of Prime Minister Harper's first term "bosses": Peter MacKay followed by the even more hopeless Maxime Bernier.
The kidnappings of Canadians Robert Fowler and of Louis Guay in Niger is the..."sort of case best handled between the two Capitals (Ottawa & Niamey);" according to a Foreign Affairs expert speaking under the cover of anonymity. The statement however begs the question about the involvement, or lack thereof, of the United-Nations. The U.N. has several times confirmed that Robert Fowler was an emissary of the Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon and that he was on..."an official trip to Niger"; which contradicts Niger's version that Ambassador Fowler was on a private visit.
Of course at the center of the problem is the Tuareg Region's "Niger Movement For Justice", a rebellious group which wants to control the area's world largest deposits of Uranium. For some yet unexplained reason this appears of concern to the U.N's Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, while Niger's President, Mamadou Tandja, says it is a problem internal to Niger and the U.N. should mind its own business. And, right in the middle of it all walk-in Mr(s) Fowler and Guay.
At least two Canadian exploration companies have mining operations in this volatile region of the Sahara. When Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay were last seen, they were returning from a December 14th visit to one of those sites. Mr. Fowler is reported to have told Canadian engineers working at the mine that he wanted to visit..."a Canadian success story in Africa." Their United-Nations' vehicle was subsequently found abandoned near the River Niger ferry crossing heading into Niamey. The "Niger Movement For Justice" first claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. Then, within hours, denied its own claim. At the very least it appears that whomever arranged the kidnappings knew Mr. Fowler's plans or itinerary on December 14th.
In spite of the Canadian media's un-defensible, un-explained, self-imposed "cone of silence" into this matter, every conceivable effort to get to the truth and secure the Diplomats' release has been stymied. As such, our news media may be complicit in a political conspiracy of silence to cover-up a "showdown of will" between the Secretary-General of the United-Nations, Ban Ki Moon, and the President of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, in which two un-suspecting Canadians have been played as pawns.
There may be silence in Canada. There is growing speculation elsewhere that, as Niger has implied, the un-invited Mr. Fowler was sent to meddle in a matter President Tandja considers none of the U.N.'s business. And, that the nefarious kidnappings were hatched in high political circles to teach Ban Ki Moon a lesson of international diplomatic embarrassment that he will not soon forget.
The question for Canada's so far apparently complicit media is: At what cost?