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In Burundi, Use of "Peacekeeping" Armaments UNclear, UN on COE

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, May 18 -- As the UN Security Council, the United States and the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi on Friday evening issued statements urging calm in the country, Inner City Press learned of a quite different trend, from within the UN itself.

   UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, multiple sources exclusively complained to Inner City Press, wrote a letter urging that Burundi's government be provided with weapons, ostensibly for peacekeeping, including grenades. One letter, they said, was to Montenegro.

  The sources asked Inner City Press what safeguards if any were in place that these grenades and other weapons are not used against democracy protesters in Burundi itself. They noted that Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations "let Nkurunziza take nine million dollars from the contingent-owned equipment fund," which one called "a variation on Rwanda in '94."

 And so on May 18, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq to explain any safeguards concerning equipment or weapons acquired by Burundi for "peacekeeping" being used domestically.

  Haq said that DPKO monitors this. Video here.

  Inner City Press asked, since countries use their own equipment for overseas deployment and charge the UN for it, how does the UN monitor how it's used when it returns to the contributing country?

  Haq insisted that DPKO monitors for this.  (When Inner City Press asked why Ladsous over the weekend chided Malians for not being thankful enough to France, Haq told Inner City Press to "Ask DPKO" -- what, Ladsous who does not answer? His spokespeople who grab microphones or use file folders to block the filming of Ladsous?

  On the afternoon of May 18, a well place African Permanent Representative told Inner City Press flatly, Ladsous should resign.

  Inner City Press asked Haq about Burundian security forces searching civilians phones for evidence they protested the possible third term. Haq said "if that is proved" -- if.

  Haq said envoy Said Djinnit might briefing the Security Council on Wednesday May 20, and might brief the press - might.

  Inner City Press asked if Ban had called any head of state beyond Kenyatta about Burundi. Haq said, Museveni of Uganda. We'll have more on this.

  Another noted that since Ladsous had, as French Deputy Permanent Representative in the Security Council in 1994 defended the escape into Eastern Congo of the Rwanda's Hutu genocidaires, this push to sell grenades to Nkurunziza was "not surprising." But why should such an individuals be head of UN Peacekeeping? Apparently it is up to France and France alone.

  Others noted a closed door session of the UN's budget committee set for next week in which Ladsous' intervention to try to force out the whistleblower who revealed French "Sangaris" troops' child rapes in Central African Republic would have to be defended, this time by Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Susana Malcorra.

   "Why don't they just fire Ladsous?" one well place diplomat asked Inner City Press, then answering the question: "because France." But for how long? Watch this site.

   During the UN Peacekeeping configuration meeting on May 15, 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).


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