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On Burundi, UN Is Asked Why It's Been So Slow, Closed Door Meetings & COE Funds

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, May 15 -- When the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi held a closed meeting on May 15, Burundi's ambassador began by saying that almost all of the coup plotters have been arrested.

   Minutes later, Inner City Press is exclusively informed, Tanzania's Ambassador asked the UN's head of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman why the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had been so slow to condemn the coup.

   Inner City Press put the question to Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq at the UN's public noon briefing on May 15, to give the UN a change to publicly explain.

  But as on a scandal about Ban and his nephew being reported on here by Inner City Press and media in Vietnam and South Korea, where Ban Ki-moon is headed, Haq response was essentially that the UN is good, that is does not need to explain (in the case of Ban's nephew) or should be presumed to be always deeply engaged and deeply concerned. Some simply don't believe that.

   While Haq at the May 15 noon briefing said that Ban, who has yet to speak with Nkurunziza, spoke with Kenya's President Kenyatta, Inner City Press is informed that in the closed Peacebuilding Configuration meeting it was said that Ban called Rwanda's Paul Kagame as well. If so, why didn't Haq say that? (Click here for another exclusive story about Ban's office not disclosing Ban's call with US John Kerry about Yemen).

  Much of the Peacebuilding Configuration meeting involved indirect criticism of the European Union for getting “too involved” in Burundi's constitution, followed by a proposal that the Configuration should issue a statement on Burundi.

 The US, Inner City Press is informed, expressed opposition or skepticism of the latter; a draft should still be circulated by the configuration chair, Swiss Ambassador Paul Seger, but it can be blocked by one member.

  France, Inner City Press is informed -- that Mission responds to but does not answer its questions -- said that the Security Council spoke and that those (mere) Elements to the Press remain as valid today as the day before.

  The EU for its part said it is in discussions with the African Union about a human rights mission to Burundi. After the meeting, some expressed doubt to Inner City Press this will ever happen; at the noon briefing Inner City Press asked Haq if the UN would participate and was told that the UN has other more mediate focus right now.

  While Haq did not deliver the UN's best defense, in fairness Inner City Press will: it could say it was waiting for the East African Community and African Union to speak first, which the US - which quickly condemned the coup, even after criticism the possible third term - and EU don't have to consider, as much.

 (Click here for Tanzanian President Kikwete telling Inner City Press, a week ago, to "be patient" on Burundi, with video.)

  Feltman was asked if the US has better intelligence than the UN (he should know, having been with the US State Department). Of course, Feltman is said to have replied, the US has intelligence that works and the UN does not.

   Some in the meeting, including Brazil, said that uncoordinated statements can enflame. In this case, Inner City Press or the Free UN Coalition for Access would say it is good to have a configuration, so to speak, other than the Security Council which can speak. Watch this site.

Footnotes: as Inner City Press tweeted, the US pulled out non-essential personnel (Haq wouldn't confirm UN actions), and also the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa has gone into hiding, under death threats. (Sadly, seems it's true; you may read more on this.)

As Inner City Press reported yesterday, along with the response it got on Burundi from the International Monetary Fund, it has been exclusively informed of some $9 million in UN Peacekeeping “Contingent Owned Equipment” funds about which doubts are being raised. We'll have more on this.


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