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On Burundi, As Mkapa Invitees Picked By Nkurunziza, UN Claims Wants Inclusive

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 --  When self-styled Burundi facilitator William Mkapa drew up a list of participants, he allowed Pierre Nkunrunziza to in essence choose his interlocutors, making their participation contingent on Nkurunziza granting them provisional immunity.

 Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on February 13 how the UN can support this. From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: In Burundi, the talks that are re-beginning, there's a list out of the participants, but it says at the bottom of the lists that the… the opposition's attendance is contingent on discussions with Pierre Nkurunziza to grant conditional immunity.  Since the UN is supporting this process, is it really a process if one side gets to choose who from the other side can attend?  What is the role of the UN in ensuring inclusivity of the talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We have stressed and will continue to stress the need for all talks to be inclusive.  And we want, therefore, all people to be able to participate in a manner that is not conditional.

Inner City Press:  But, what is… I mean, conditioned on immunity.  This is a letter… this is a document from Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa, and he seems to be accepting that Pierre Nkurunziza can choose who can attend.

Deputy Spokesman:  We're in touch with the parties, and we're doing what we can to ensure that talks will be as inclusive as possible.

  So what is the UN doing?

  On top of Mkapa's attempt to up his pay to $1500 a day, and inclusion in his team of a person named in a previous UN sanctions report for DR Congo, there are more and more questions about this facilitation. But the UN, which "supports" it, won't even disclose the delay and blocking of its visas.

  Herve Ladsous, the fourth French national in a row to run UN Peacekeeping, overrode recommendations and continues to pay the Nkurunziza government for Burundian peacekeepers accused of 25 rapes in the Central African Republic. This is calling out for action and cuts, and a re-thinking of how and by whom UN Peacekeeping should be run. Watch this site.

While the UN claims, even now, that it vets the peacekeepers it deploys before it deploys them, it has already had to repatriate a number, from Burundi. On January 24 Inner City Press asked about another, but the UN in its transcript didn't even take down the name. Video here, UN transcript here and below.

On February 8, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Burundi. UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  Can you give, either now or maybe later today, the status of Burundi's actual cooperation with the UN system?  It was said in Geneva today that there's a need for more land because there are more people being chased out.  So my question to you is, we haven't heard for a while.  Have the visas been given to the Special Envoy's office?  Have… has there been any…

Spokesman:  I have no update on progress on those issues.

 And he closed his office six hours later with no answer, saying it may remain closed due to snow.

On February 6 Inner City Press asked Dujarric what his new boss, Antonio Guterres, had on February 3 told the UN Security Council about Burundi. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about this report put out about the… by the Special Rapporteurs about the closing of… of human rights NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Burundi, by Representatives Kaye and Forest and others.  And first I just wanted to know, is there anything from the Secretariat kind of reacting to it?  And also, could you give some either summary or indication of what Secretary-General António Guterres said to the Council on Friday?  There was sort a readout, sort of on South Sudan but very little said on Burundi.  What is… what are his plans going forward given that his Security Council resolution has not been implemented and now you have…

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the Security Council, I think, has a very important role to play in resolving the Burundi crisis, as all of the countries in the region do.  The Secretary-General, during his meeting with the Council, updated them on his discussions during the… at the African Union.  And on the report, we have nothing to add.  It's obviously a very important report, but we have no specific comment on it.

 On January 25, Inner City Press asked this same UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about deportations, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: extradition questions, not South Korea extradition but from DRC to Burundi.  There’s 150 Burundians that face extradition or deportation back to Burundi, and a number of human rights groups are saying that there are human rights implications to this.  And I’m wondering, given that the UN is interested in one country and has a big presence in the other, what is the UN’s position on this impending extradition…


Spokesman:  I’m not aware of these, of this report.  You could check with the mission directly, and obviously, we’d hope that all these things are done in accordance with full respect of international law.

  Not aware - typical, for this Ban Ki-moon holdover spokesman. From January 24:

Inner City Press: the deployments to the CAR (Central African Republic) from Burundi.  And there's now a guy called [inaudible] who was the deputy commander of the unit who burned down Radio Publique Africaine on 12 December.  So I wanted to know, are you aware of it?  And what are the standards…?

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  Are you saying that he's being deployed?

Question:  I'm saying he's being deployed using a false name.  That's all over the Burundian…

Spokesman:  I've not seen that report, but I will check.

 But Dujarric's office didn't include the name in the transcript, nor ask for it. It's Budigi. We'll have more on this.

   At the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, nominee as US Ambassador to the UN, on January 18 Haley three times said that countries whose peacekeepers abuse should not keep getting paid.

  Inner City Press asked the UN and UK about this, with the example of the UN having chosen to keep paying Burundi for 800 troops even after the UN's own inquiry charged 25 rapes by Burundian soldiers in the Central African Republic.

  UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft signaled agreement, that sexual abuse by peacekeepers should be met by repatriation. Tweeted video here. But simply to be replaced by troops from the same country, to get paid?

(During Rycroft's answer, there was a smirk at the mention of Burundi, from US state media that's had John Kerry on its Board - perhaps a flashback to Liberians, here. We may have more on this.)

 UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called it a "case by case" decision, tweeted video here. But who decided it, and why? Look to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

From January 17: Video here; UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: You may have seen that Burundi has announced it's going to withdraw 5,400 troops from AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia].  They're saying they're not being paid.  The European Union says that they, in fact… the soldiers are being paid, just the Government is not able to take a cut of it because they believe the Government is in violation of various human rights issues.  What has the UN, which itself has peacekeepers… what does it think about the standoff?  Does it believe that it's legitimate for a funder of a peacekeeping operation to say we'll pay the people directly so that the Government doesn't get a cut, particularly in the case of Burundi where the UN has decided not to use Burundian police officers in CAR [Central African Republic]?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the question of how these troops are to be paid, that's a matter that needs to be resolved ultimately with the European Union, which is responsible for the payment issue, and with the African Union.  So, that's not really something which we would comment on.  Of course, we believe that all troops performing such tasks need to be paid.

Inner City Press:  But, you have… I guess my question is, in the Central African Republic, the UN is still paying the Pierre Nkurunziza Government for the use of these 800-some peacekeepers, and you have another major, you know, admittedly, not the UN, but the EU saying this is a Government that would, you know, predictably use this funding to commit human rights violations.  Does the UN disagree?

Deputy Spokesman:  We… if we were to receive reports of problems with payments getting to our peacekeeping troops, we would act upon that accordingly.  Whenever we pay Governments, as a general policy, we do that on the assurance that those… that that money will go to the peacekeeping troops.

Inner City Press:  Just one final question.  What… what's the UN's understanding of the percentage that's kept by governments before they pass it through to… because it's not 100 per cent.  I think you know that.  So, what percentage of withholding is appropriate, according to the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  That not something that we calculate or advise on.  That a decision made by different Governments.

  So there are no limits at all? Except if a government takes 100% and the peacekeepers complain they got nothing? We'll have more on this.

As Burundi "facilitator" William Mkapa reconvened talks, the attendees list obtained by Inner City Press shows not only Ken Vitisia, of whom we're previously written, but also Francis Mnodolwa.

   Inner City Press previously on December 29 asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to comment on the inclusion of an individual listed in the November 2009 DR Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, without answer. (Dujarric answered only two and a half of the 22 questions Inner City Press submitted: and those only to defend Ban Ki-moon and himself.)

  Now, from Paragraph 74 of that report:

"The Group has been informed by several sources, including a source close to Mr. Ndagundi, that he has close links to the ruling Counseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party in
Burundi.. Mr. Ndagundi.s Burundian telephone records also show 27 communications from April to September 2009 between himself and the number used by Francis Ndoluwa, the ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, a former general in the Tanzanian military. A source close to Mr. Ndagundi informed the Group that he works closely with the Ambassador."

  So there is yet another of Mkapa's team that is close to the CNDD-FDD.

On January 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhaq Haq, video here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: these Burundian talks facilitated by Mr. Mkapa, I'd asked this in December, I guess, in writing to you, but the… one of the… one of his team members that's being deported by the UN is a person that’s listed in the November 2009 DRC sanctions report as being a supporter of CNDD-FDD, and there's actually some allegations that he was involved in helping to arm them.

So I'm just wondering, what is the relationship between the UN's support of these talks and what many are calling a lack of inclusiveness and the inclusion of people that are… are, you know, listed in UN sanctions reports?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the sanctions are, remain in place, and it's a matter for the Security Council and its relevant sanctions committees to make sure that those sanctions are implemented.  We at the UN, of course, respect those sanctions.  That's a separate issue from the need for mediation.  Of course, we need to make sure that all mediation efforts, including those under former President Mkapa, are supported, and we're continuing to do so with our officials in the region.

Inner City Press:  But have you seen the response by large parts of the Burundian opposition that this… the most recent round is the least… the most one-sided yet and it's virtually… I mean, they're not really included.  What's the UN's role in these talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We're certainly aware of the objections by the various sides.  We're trying to make sure that, as the process continues, it can be as inclusive as possible.

  On January 11, long after the UN Security Council ostensibly mandated the deployment to Burundi of 228 UN Police, no progress had been made. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Has there been any progress in deploying the 226 police that the Security Council also mandated for Burundi to Burundi?  Do you have any update on that?

Spokesman:  No.  None that I can report.  Go ahead.  Last one.

   While corpses are found in Burundi and the government blocks the deployment of both the UN Police and UN Conflict Prevention staff ostensibly called for by the UN Secretariat and Security Council, the government's supporters try to side with either UN censors like Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who evicted and restricts the Press which reports on Burundi, or more generally UN staff.

It is more than a little ironic. UN staff are being PNG-ed and having visas denied from Burundi.
   A list of some recent finds:

On 2 January 2017, two( 2) persons namely Gilbert Bandika aka Juma and Nestor Nkeshimana were killed in Nyamaboko in the District of Kanyosha;

On 4 January 2017, a dead body of a person identified as Donatien Ndereyimana was found at the edge of Lake Tanganyika;

On 5 January 2017, a teenager was shot dead and another wounded as police quarreled with farmers in Mahwa in the District of Ryansoro;

On 8 January 2017, a dead body of a 50 year-old Habonimana Cyrille aka Mujos was found in an abandoned house in Musaga, 1st street. Testimonies suggest he was tortured and several parts of his body amputated before his remains were dropped in an abandoned house.

   While the UN says little and does nothing about this, they made a point of ordering Inner City Press to stop broadcasting on Periscope, with voice-over, a Town Hall meeting with new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which was on the UN's public UN Webcast website. And the government supporters, saying Inner City Press entered the meeting (it didn't) and picking up on the anti-Press maze Cristina Gallach of Spain and DPI has created, piled on. The UN of Gallach has brought this on; this is how the UN is perceived and to this has it sunk.

   There is also a strange announcement of a 500 Euros loan being arranged from a shadowy, seemingly dormant company “Biz Planners.” We'll have more on this.

 Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind, even as amid assissination of minister, closing down of NGOs. Well placed sources exclusively teold Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. Yes, we'll have more on this.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked about the Security Council's (lack of) Follow through on Burundi, to Ambassador Delattre of France, the "penholder" on Burundi. Tweeted video here.

More here.


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