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On Burundi, Shingiro Brags of Referendum, US Warns of 14 More Years in Power, Feb 12 Visit

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, January 29 – As the UN increasingly turns away from the crisis in Burundi, Inner City Press on January 17 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain the four month delay in investigating the killing of Burundi refugees in South Kivu, video here, UN transcript here and below. On January 29, the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi met, and after Ambassador Albert Shingiro bragged about the upcoming Constitutional referendum, the US representative said that is about allowing Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power for fourteen more years. She called it like an alarm in a fire house, and asked the Swiss chair of the Configuration to be sure to raise that issue, and human rights, during his February 12-15 visit to Burundi along with Shingiro and a new deputy at UN Peacebuilding, fresh in from the UN's successes such as they are in the Central African Republic. There was erudite push-back from outgoing Kenyan Ambassador Kamau, to whom the chair offered congratulations for his new post in Nairobi. We are also expecting to hear of a note verbale. The positions of the UN Secretariat were perhaps not surprising, given that only after Inner City Press asked did Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman later on January 29 confirm Guterres met with Omar Al Bashir, indicted for genocide by the ICC. Burundi's foreign minister is chairing a committee on the ICC - we'll have more on this. From the UN's January 17 transcript: Inner City Press: this announcement about an investigation into Kamanyola, where some 39 Burundian refugees were killed, that happened about four months ago, so can you explain what took so long, what triggered this decision four months after the fact to begin an investigation now? Spokesman:  The decision, I think, had been taken quite a while ago to put an investigation team together.  The security, the security factors on the ground did not allow for a rapid… a rapid employment." Inner City Press: I guess you’ve probably seen that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in meeting with, I guess, a UN team about the attack on the peacekeepers by the ADF, has said that, quote, the UN is preserving terrorism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It's a direct quote, and I'm just wondering, is there any response? Spokesman:  "Look, I don't know if the quote is true.  I haven't seen the quote directly.  This hasn't been said to us directly.  As a matter of fact, I think MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] is a positive presence in the DRC.  It provides protection to civilians, including vulnerable groups, refugees, displaced people, in what, I think, no one would disagree is an increasingly dangerous and complex situation on the ground.  We've seen it first-hand with attacks on… on UN peacekeepers. In addition to working with… with the people, for the people, and in support of the govern… the Congolese authorities, the UN is also mandated by the Security Council to conduct targeted offensive operations aimed at neutralising armed groups and continuing to reduce the threat posed by armed groups.  And I think they're doing just that. "So is the UN really protecting civilians? Back on October 26, Inner City Press put Burundi questions to the UN Commission of Inquiry, then to the Ambassador to the UN of France, the Security Council's "penholder" on Burundi. Video here. On December 14, amid more failure in the process, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi.  I tried yesterday, and it has to do with Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa, after the end of the most recent round in Arusha, has been quoted that the EAC [East African Community] process has failed.  And, in Burundi itself, Pierre Nkurunziza has launched a process basically campaigning for these constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in power up till 2034.  Mr. [Michel] Kafando… I was looking around to see if he said anything.  Does the UN have any response to the Mediator saying that the process has failed and the President basically seeking to further extend his term in office? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding that, what I can say is that the East African Community convened a session of the Inter-Burundian Dialogue in Arusha from 28 November to 8 December.  The Facilitator, former President Mkapa, was supported by the Joint Technical Working Group, comprising the East African Community, the African Union, and the UN.  At the end of the session, the parties submitted reports to the Facilitator, Mr. Mkapa, who will present them to the Mediator in the coming days.  The Facilitator plans to hold another session in January.  We reiterate that genuine, inclusive dialogue is the only sustainable solution to the political crisis and call on all parties to commit without preconditions.  Special Envoy Michel Kafando is currently in Bujumbura meeting with stakeholders, and he will travel to Tanzania in the coming days to discuss the situation with the Facilitator." Yeah. Will the UN Security Council and Secretary General review any role for Uganda's President Museveni in the Burundi "process," given the statement by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on November 20 that bribes were paid to him, through his relative (and UN PGA) Sam Kutesa? Click here for that and watch this site. On November 20, after reclusive envoy Michel Kafando briefed the Security Council in the open chamber then in closed consultation, there was still no read-out given at the stakeout. Inner City Press returned at 3 pm, and then at 4 after the India's Bhandari won the International Court of Justice election after the UK's Greenwood withdrew, still seeking a readout. And here, Inner City Press was told, is what the President of the Security Council for November had prepared to say: that the members of the Security Council support the EAC-led dialogue, William Mkapa and Michael Kafando (who left without doing a stakeout); that the remain concerned at the lack of progress and underline the importance of adhering to the letter and spirit of the Arusha agreement. But, Inner City Press would have asked the president if he had delivered these remarks, the Nkurunziza government is revising the Constitution inconsistent with Arusha. But, it seems, the Security Council and the penholder, France, don't care. On November 9 the ICC announced its judges' "decision authorizing the ICC Prosecutor to open an investigation regarding crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed in Burundi or by nationals of Burundi outside Burundi since 26 April 2015 until 26 October 2017." Later on November 9, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, on Burundi, as I'm sure you've seen, the ICC (International Criminal Court) judges have voted to open an inquiry into events between 2015 and '17 until recently.  Given that the Secretary-General has an envoy and is involved in it, do you have any comment on it?  And I'd sort of expect you to actually read it out.  I've seen you bef… in the past, although the ICC is a separate entity, you know, say…Spokesman:  The… as you say, the ICC is a separate entity.  What is important for us is that we welcome any steps that will bring some accountability for the crimes done against civilians. Inner City Press: Has the Secretary-General or Mr. [Michel] Kafando seen the statements by, I don't know which Nyamitwe it was, but calling this the last [d]ance for the West and really denouncing the decision to open an investigation. Spokesman:  It's… the decision was the ICC's and I say… and, as I said, we welcome any steps that would help us bring closer to accountability.  " Really? There is certainly a lot of evidence. Here is Inner City Press' exclusive on French Mission lawyer Beatrice Le Frapeur du Hellen leaking a Security Council draft resolution on Burundi, including mocking accountability provisions, to Luis Moreno Ocampo. We'll have more on this. On November 8 the UN Peacebuilding configuration on Burundi met, and heard Ambassador Albert Shingiro brag that everything is going well, no mention of the move to keep Pierre Nkurunziza in power through 2034. These constitutional changes, when subsequently raised ever so gently by other Ambassadors, were questions only with regard to Arusha, not Nkurunziza's attempt to stay on and on in power. What was that again, about the UN looking at underlying causes of conflicts? Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this would be his focus, so far UNseen in places like Yemen and Cameroon. He said he was for transparency, but keeps the Press restricted and even threatens again. We'll have more on this. On November 6, Inner City Press asked Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the fifth French chief of UN Peacekeeping in a row, why none of the 228 police the Council mandated for Burundi more than a year ago has in fact been deployed. Lacroix, who should speak more at the stakeout, to his credit answered, saying that this was due to the lack of responsiveness of Burundi but that efforts to deploy continued. How? Earlier on November 6, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi.  The President, Pierre Nkurunziza, had solicited a proposal for a constitutional amendment.  And, under this amendment, basically [he] would be able to now remain in power until 2034.  It would involve two seven-year terms, but it's not retroactive, so it would basically start the clock again for 14 years.  I know Mr. [Michel] Kafando… I've seen at least a photograph of him there with Mr. Foreign Minister [Alain Aimé] Nyamitwe.  Does he have any view given that a lot of the bloodshed has been about this contested current term, what about until 2034?  What'shis view on that? Deputy Spokesman:  "Well, Mr. Kafando was, in fact, in Burundi, I believe, last week.  We'll try to get an update about his activities there." Six hours later, nothing. The CoI's press conference at first had only one media: Inner City Press, whose accreditation is again being threatened by the UN of Antonio Guterres and Alison Smale, as the former mishandles Cameroon as well, and the latter runs interference. The UN called and emailed upstairs to those whom they haven't, as they did with Inner City Press, evicted from their offices. Finally a lone media, French, joined Inner City Press - and was called on first by the UN. When it was Inner City Press' turn - there was no one else to call on - Inner City Press asked about the failure to deploy the 228 police the UNSC mandated, about the "disappeared" journalist Jean Bigirimana, and about Pierre Nkurunziza staying in power back 2030, as the UN is also blessing in Togo. Commisioner Françoise Hampson said she was surprised by the failure to follow through; she said Bigirimana's disappearance is before the relevant UN Working Group. Reine Alapini-Gansou said the African Union human rights observers should be deployed. Fatsah Ouguergouz acknowledged that Guterres' part time envoy Michel Kafando hasn't even met with the Commission. Inner City Press ran to the Security Council and asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about Burundi- he didn't answer, despite answering on four or five other issues. Video here. We'll have more on this. Inner City Press on October 23 asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the reported extradition or abduction of Burundian opponents of Pierre Nkurunziza from Tanzania to Burundi. While at the noon briefing Haq had no answer, less than an hour afterward his office sent Inner City Press this: "Further to your question at noon, we have the following to add: We have learned of the reported arrest and extradition, still to be confirmed, of four senior leaders of the Popular Forces of Burundi (FPB) in eastern Tanzania on Saturday, 21 October 2017. We are aware of concerns over the circumstances of the arrests and extradition and are seeking further details.  If the events are confirmed, we call on the concerned authorities  to ensure that due process is followed and the rights of those individuals are respected. We also stress the need for transparency in this matter." Does the UN see no role for anyone but Nkurunziza forces, or the Tanzanians' allegedly involved, to investigate? We'll have more on this, while under the UN's October 20 threat to Inner City Press' accreditation for actually covering UN news with Periscope, here. When Guterres met on September 25 at 4 pm with Burundi's foreign minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe (as well as his brother Willy Nyamitwe, with whom Kenya Foreign Minister confused him, Ambassador Albert Shingiro and others), Inner City Press went to cover it. Attending for the UN was rarely seen or heard from part-time envoy Michel Kafando, as well as Department of Political Affairs boss Jeffrey Feltman. But there appeared to be no one from UN Human Rights, despite or perhaps because of attacks on the OHCHR in country. Inner City Press uploaded photos to Alamy, here - but waited to issue a written report until receiving read-outs. But the UN Spokesperson's Office of Stephane Dujarric called its end of day lid at 6:30 pm, having issued a read-out for a meeting that happened after Burundi, but still nothing on Burundi. Kafando got your tongue? It was 9 pm when the UN issued this: "The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi. The Secretary-General expressed condolences over the Burundian refugees recently killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and hoped that the authorities of both concerned countries will be able to shed light on the tragic incident. The Secretary-General and Minister Nyamitwe discussed the inter-Burundian dialogue process. The Secretary-General exhorted the Government to seize the current momentum to fully engage in an inclusive dialogue. He reiterated the full support of the United Nations, through his Special Envoy, to the East African Community (EAC)-led facilitation. The Secretary-General encouraged the Government to address the concerns related to human rights in Burundi and ensure more effective protection of civilians." In other photo op and read out news, days after the UN Security Council banned textile exports from North Korea, the country fired another missile over Japan's Hokkeido. On September 23, North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho delivered this speech in the UN General Assembly hall, then came to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, USg Jeffrey Feltman and others. There was a photo op, well attended by wire services and largely Japanese and some South Korean photographers - and Inner City Press. Periscope video here. Inner City Press asked the North Korea Mission to the UN if the international legal conference they have been asking for was discussed; the North Korean Mission to the UN told Inner City Press its “Foreign Minister raised that issue during the meeting. He also told UNSG to be most impartial, not to take one-sided.” We'll see. Back on September 21, this speech in the UN General Assembly Hall, by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as transcribed in English by Inner City Press: "The situation on the Korean peninsula is now a focus of international attention. The 19 September this year, that is two days ago, marks the 12th  anniversary of the 2005, September 19 joint statement of the 6 party talks. At that time, the 6 parties, China, the United States, Russia,  DPRK, RoK and Japan, with China being the chair, made concerted efforts, the two main parties concerned, the US and DPRK made the decision, and we had formulated the roadmap for denuclearization of the peninsula. The DPRK undertook to abandon its nuclear programs, and the US undertook to normalize its relations with the DPRK. All parties committed to setting up a peace mechanism for the peninsula. The statement opened up new vistas for regional peace and stability. 12 years have passed. Some think things have changed on the peninsula and the statement has become outdated, but we believe things following the progressing trend of the times never become outdated, and decisions on the right track never become obsolete. If there is any change, anything we need now, it is denuclearization that is more comprehensive, more thorough, and more irreversible. There should be no new nuclear weapon state whether it is in the north or the south of the peninsula, whether it is in Northeast Asia or other parts of the world. We urge the DPRK not to go further on a dangerous direction. We call ont eh US to honor its four no commitment, and we call on all parties to play a constructive role in easing tensions.  There is still hope for peace and we must not give up. Negotiation is the only way out. Parties should meet each other halfway by recognizing each other’s legitimate concerns. In China’s view, the day when the denuclearization of the peninsula is realized should also be the day when a peace mechanism is established. China is always a force for peace. We have made tireless efforts for a peaceful resolution on the Korean peninsula. Whatever changes may take place, however long it may take, China will stay firmly committed to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to regional peace and stability." Back on September 15 Russian Ambassador Nebenzia said, as transcribed by Inner City Press: "we made a statement, a press statement by the president of the Security Council condemning the recent launch, calling on the DPRK to stop it, and also, which is important, reiterating the need for political and diplomatic solution of the crisis, early... We’re discussing that we’re in a vicious circle. We have a provocation, a resolution, then another provocation. Many people raised the issue that we have to think outside the box.  There is the China Russia road map of the 4th of July, which is at the moment the only political proposal on the table... Take away this morning’s Secretary of State Tillerson’s statement, our  American colleague said that Russia and China should quickly implement the sanctions measures provided for in 2375. To which we said that we are responsible members of the international community and we honestly implement resolutions that we adopt in the Security Council but this resolution also provides for political measures that should be implemented equally in that sense we called on our US partners and others to implement the political and diplomatic solutions that are provided for in the resolution and without implementing this we also will consider it as non-compliance with the resolution, not fully implementing the resolution. We were considering what elements we might include in a resolution that would be on a political side.. One way or another, we are including them in the resolutions we have already adopted. We would possibly like more. We’ll see what happens. I think people are keen to discuss it during the high level -- one way or another it will come up, both in the debates and in the meetings. We think that threats, tests, launches should be stopped and we should engage in meaningful negations. Many serious American actors are saying there is no way but to sit at the table and come to think how to resume the six party talks. I think it was Madeline Albright who was referring to it recently and some others as well. There are serious analyses in the American press of the issue, which came out in the last few days before we adopted resolution 2375. Many people around the world understand that there’s no alternative to this in the end."  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the day before said, "North Korea's provocative missile launch represents the second time the people of Japan, a treaty ally of the United States, have been directly threatened in recent weeks. These continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take.  We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime. China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor. China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own." When Nikki Haley spoke on North Korea's hydrogen bomb test in the UN Security Council on US Labor Day, she called for a vote on new sanctions on Kim Jong Un's government on September 11. They passed 15-0, after reducing the cut into North Korea's oil and dropping a proposal travel ban and asset freeze on Kim Jong Un. Now on September 14 North Korea has fired another missile, right over Japan's Hokkeido. And the UN was holding... a fashion show, in its General Assembly lobby, introduced by its new head of "Global Communications" who has yet to even respond to emails about her Department's imposition of UN minders on the independent Press. We'll have more on this. Back on September 11, spinning on background, a US official familiar with the negotiations said, before the vote, that "Kim Jung Un doesn’t have that many assets that are out there and vulnerable anyway." Now you tell us. On September 6, the US draft came out, saying it would among other things BAN oil exports to North Korea (see language below); CNN is still using that term (but see new draft and language below). The vote is slated for 6 pm on September 11; mid morning when Inner City Press asked Italy's Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi about the oil provisions, he said he wouldn't comment on the "details." Video here. At 3 pm, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "The bottom line is simple: the threat of DPRK has changed in scope, scale, and its very nature. We’re facing not a regional but a global threat, which unites us. We fully support the resolution proposed by the US. We think it’s a robust resolution, a needed step towards the firmness I was just referring to. Our deep belief is that only a firm reaction of the Council can open the path to a political res. Our firm attitude today is the best antidote to the risk of war. I think the conditions are met to go for a vote. We completely support the resolution as it is. By definition this is a compromise to get everybody on board. We believe we have a  strong, robust resolution and it is a needed and important step with respect to the firmness that is the condition for a political solution tomorrow." On their way in to the morning Security Council meeting on Colombia the Ambassadors of the UK and Sweden spoke to the press. The UK's Matthew Rycroft said, This afternoon on North Korea we will be voting on a draft of the US circulated last night, it’s a very robust resolution and the UK supports it wholeheartedly. [Watered down?] "It’s called negotiations, and that’s what we do. There’s a significant pride in keeping the Security Council united, and I hope today’s vote will be united. The version on the table is strong, robust." Sweden's Olof Skoog said, "We certainly support the draft as it stands now." The US proposed asset freezes on five individuals including Kim Jong Un and seven entities; now it's one person (not Kim Jong UN) and three companies. On oil, here is what the September 10 revised draft says: "Decides that all Member State shall not supply, sell, or transfer to the DPRK in any period of
twelve months after the date of adoption of this resolution an amount of crude oil that is in
excess of the amount that the Member State supplied, sold or transferred in the period of
twelve months prior to adoption of this resolution, unless the Committee approves in advance on a case-by-case basis a shipment of crude oil is exclusively for livelihood purposes of DPRK nationals and unrelated to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or
other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094
(2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) or this resolution; (New)" And here was the US original draft: "Ban exports of crude oil, condensate, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids tothe DPRK: Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, of all crude oil, condensates, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids; (New)." Would Russia, for one, vote even for this? Haley had at the begin of the September 4 meeting recounted 24 years of history. (Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft on his way in about Myanmar and the Rohingya, here.) Russia's Ambassador Nebenzia called Haley's an "excursion" into history and reiterated his country's and China's freeze for freeze proposal. China's Liu Jieyi said, as transcribed by Inner City Press: "The Chinese government resolutely opposes and strongly condemns the nuclear test of the DPRK in violation of the UNSC resolutions. Achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation system and peace and stability in Northeast Asia, this is the firm stance of the Chinese government…we strongly urge the DPRK to face up swuarely to the firm will of the international community on the issue of the denuclearization of the peninsula and earnestly abide by the resolutions of the council…The situation of the peninsula is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a  vicious circle. The situation must be resolved peacefully. China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula. The parties concerned must strengthen their sense of urgency…take practical measures, make joint efforts together to ease the situation, restart the dialogue and talks, and prevent further deterioration of the situation on the peninsula. The proposal by China and Russia of a 2 track approach, which promotes the denuclearization of the peninsula and establishment of a peace mechanism in parallel, the suspension for suspension initiative, which calls for the DPRK to suspend its nuclear and missile activities and for the US and the RoK to suspend their large scale military exercises and step by step concession from Russia are the basis on which brought countries jointly proposed a road map to resolve the issue.…we hope the parties concerned will seriously consider this and actively respond to it. China calls upon the International Community to jointly and comprehensively and fully implement the relevant resolutions of the SC on DPRK, firmly push forward the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula." Earlier, Haley said, "Kim Jong Un's abusive use of missiles shows he is begging for war. War is never something the US wants. But our patience not unlimited.... The idea  of "freeze for freeze" is insulting. When an ICBM is pointed at you, do not lower your guard. Enough is enough. The incremental approach has not worked. We must "quickly enact the strongest sanctions here in UNSC. We have kicked can down road long enough. There is no road left." Two days before today's reported North Korean nuclear test, incoming UN Security Council president for September Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia held a long press conference at the UN and only mentioned North Korea once, per the UN Department of Public Information's summary, here. Will the Security Council and its president still leave New York for five days?
This as some on the UN Security Council, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres or at least his spokesman Stephane Dujarric have no problem with or comment on the UN's own World Intellectual Property Organization helps North Korea with a patent application for social cyanide (WIPO site here).  On Capitol Hill on June 28, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) urged US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to act on WIPO, including its retaliation against whistleblowers. Haley spoke about reviewing peacekeeping missions, which is needed - as is a review and reversal of the UN's lack of protections for free press, and continued restrictions on investigative Press. At the day's UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN Transcript here. The UN Secretariat also backed up WIPO on May 26 when Inner City Press asked, transcript here and below. Inner City Press on May 16 began to ask US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley about it (video here). On May 17, Nikki Haley replied to Inner City Press' question: "All parts of the UN system need to support the Security Council in its efforts to respond to the grave threat of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs. Sodium cyanide is banned for export to North Korea by the Security Council. A common sense reaction would be for WIPO to inform the Council of such patent applications. Its failure to do so may have dangerous consequences.” Inner City Press on September 1 asked Ambassador Alemu four questions, including on Burundi (on the Council's agenda) and the Oromo Protests, a major human rights issue. Video here. But when the UN Department of Public Information wrote up the press conference, it did not even MENTION Burundi, much less the Oromo protests. See UN document here. What is wrong with UN DPI, a corrupt UN Department which spends $200 million a year in public funds, but doe not even has any rules, content neutral or otherwise, on how it accredits and/or restricts the independent press which covers the UN? Where is the new head of DPI, Alison Smale?   In response to Inner City Press asking why Burundi, where even the UN says there is a risk of genocide, is not on his September Program of Work nor on the agenda of the Council's visit to Addis Ababa, Alemu on September 1 - not covered by the UN - said that you can't compare Burundi to Central African Republic, that Burundi has “strong state institutions.” But it is that very “strength,” which some say the country shares with Ethiopia, and with until recently military-ruled Myanmar about which Inner City Press also asked, that has led to the human rights violations. In this context, Inner City Press asked Alemu about the Oromo protests - and crackdown - in his country. He diplomatically chided Inner City Press for not having asked in private, saying that social media has played a dangerous role. Meanwhile the UN brags about its (propaganda) social media work. We'll have more on this. Alamy photos here.


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