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On Burundi, UN Entirely Silent As Opponents Face Arrest If Attend Entebbe Talks May 24-25

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 -- That Michel Kafando was being pushed as (part-time) UN envoy on - but not in - Burundi was first reported by Inner City Press on April 20. After repeated no-comments, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on May 5 confirmed the appointment. Inner City Press immediately asked, is it part-time? Yes: transcript below. He's had nothing to say about the dubious pro-Nkurunziza outcome of the "inter-Burundian dialogue." What will he say about William Mkapa going along with Nkurunziza's arrest warrants against his opponents, problematizing any trip to Entebbe in Uganda? On May 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: about Burundi.  There's two things have happened.  One, the intra-Burundian dialogue is over with a move to now amend the Constitution.  Some people say it would allow now for a fourth term for Pierre Nkurunziza.  And also, a group of the opposition members have written to… to Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa very upset that he's asked them to sign a legal waiver to go to the next round of talks, which would basically, they think, allow them to be arrested on what they call trumped-up arrest charges by Nkurunziza, the same issue that took place in Tanzania.  So, I wanted to know, do you… either does the Secretary-General's Office have a comment on this or his new part-time envoy, Mr. [Michel] Kafando…?

Spokesman:  I don't have anything on Burundi today.

  And six hours later as he left, nothing. From today's letter: "we were surprised to find that the invitation to the session scheduled from 24 to 25 May 2017 contains several clauses that exclude civil society leaders. In effect, it is not normal for the facilitator's team to request some associations to nominate representatives who are not under arrest warrants... The organizations concerned* urge the Facilitator and the Mediator in person to address the situation and remove all ambiguities and guarantee the effective inclusiveness and security of the participants in the dialogue session dedicated to civil society in exile in Entebbe as well as the future sessions."

   Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric if when Guterres met Yoweri Museveni he even brought up Burundi. No, was the answer. What happened to "preventative diplomacy"? What happened to the UN Security Council's resolution to send 226 UN Police to Burundi? When Security Council member Sweden's Permanent Representative Olof Skoog entered the Council on May 8 and Inner City Press asked him about Kafando being part-time, Skoof expressed surprise, saying "I think this is a full time job." UNTV boom mic video, put on YouTube by Inner City Press, here. So did the UN Secretariat (and penholder France) not tell Security Council members this important information about the When Actually Employed envoy to Burundi, a country where the UN says there is a risk of genocide?

* The signers: 1. ABR, Sé Patrick Nduwimana, President 2. ACAT, Sé Maitre Armel Niyongere, President 3. APRODH, Sé Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, President 4. FOCODE, Sé Pacifique Nininahazwe, President 5 .FORSC, Sé Maitre Vital Nshimirimana, President 6. OPB, Sé Innocent Muhozi, President

   On May 9, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you one more time about this… Michel Kafando as a "when actually employed" envoy on Burundi.  Yesterday, the Swedish ambassador expressed surprise that it's a part-time position and said he thinks it's a full-time position.  So, I guess it's not a “gotcha” on him or on you except to say, what is the protocol for the Secretariat informing the Security Council if an envoy is full time or part time?  Is it done in writing?  And is it material whether an envoy is full time or port time or is that…?

Spokesman:  I would refer you to the announcement, and it was, I think… I don't know exactly what the Swedish ambassador said, but I think everything is done in a very transparent way with the members of the Council.

Inner City Press: The announcement came out after they'd approved it. I'm going back to the same process that applied to Salam Fayyad, the idea of running a name through the Council.  Is that done in writing or by telephone?  How…?

Spokesman:  There are consultations, and then there's a letter that is sent by the Secretary-General to the Security Council.

Inner City Press:  And does that… does such a letter disclose whether it's a part-time or full-time employee…?

Spokesman:  The letter is as transparent as possible.  Thank you.

 Then Inner City Press asked for a copy of this "transparent" letter but Dujarric was already running off the podium. Transparently. Now the Pierre Nkurunziza government's Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro insists that Kafando was not named Special Envoy on Burundi but Special Envoy "in general who Guterres could send to Burundi or elsewhere." Photo of Shingiro's tweet here. This is a new low, on which we'll have more. From the May 5 transcript: Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about Kafando.  So, I guess, now that you have confirmed it, can you say… will you say whether it is, in fact, a part-time "when actually employed" appointment and whether the Secretary-General has agreed with the [Pierre] Nkurunziza Government that the office will close by the end of year, as some involved in the process say?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of any agreement to close any office.  What I can tell you is that his post will be "when actually employed".  He'll be based in Burkina Faso.  However, he'll be back-stopped and have office support, political staff based here in New York.

Inner City Press:  Was the Secretary-General… did he speak with Pierre Nkurunziza or attempt to?

Spokesman:  There was no phone call between him and the Secretary-General I can report...

Inner City Press: What would you say to people that's… how does this compare to the previous focus of the Secretariat through the Special Adviser on conflict prevention, including Burundi, to this?  Some people are saying this is a… the reason the Government was so quick to accept it is that it's… and I think it's public knowledge that the Government has been blocking visas and raising a lot… why… that they accepted it because this is actually a downshifting or downgrading of focus.  Is that… how would you respond to that?

Spokesman:  No, I think appointing someone who is as experienced as Mr. Kafando from… we all know from his time here, a former head… African Head of State, I would not interpret it as downgrading at all.

   But one can imagine former and current heads of state whom Nkurunziza would be quite happy with.

After publishing the exclusive, on April 21 Inner City Press asked French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre about it. He smiled and said "bonne question." Then Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who refused to comment. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you on Burundi.  Inner City Press has reported and I believe has some confirmation from the French Mission that there is a proposal by France and possibly the EU for an UN envoy to Burundi, specifically Burundi only, not conflict prevention:  Michel Kafando, the former transitional President of Burkina Faso, and I wanted to know from you whether the Secretary-General has discussed this proposal with the proponents and if he thinks given the urgency of the situation if it’s a good idea and what the next steps would be?

Spokesman:  I have no comments on that.

  But later on April 21 a UN official told Inner City Press that Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza has approved it. Another diplomat told Inner City Press that Burundi's Ambassador Albert Shingiro was summoned to the UN Department of Political Affairs. We'll have more on this. The UN has sunk so low that the lead spokesman for Secretary General Antonio Guterres Stephane Dujarric on April 10 refused to even take a Press question about Burundi, where the UN itself says there is a risk of genocide. When Inner City Press said "Can I ask a question about Burundi," where there increased hate speech amid a warning from other parts of the UN of a threat of genocide," Dujarric replied, "No, we're done." Video here, contrasted

 Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a delayed February 23 report says, of Pierre Nkurunziza, "an attempt by the president to seek a fourth term in office under the current circumstances would risk intensifying the crisis and undermining collective efforts to find a sustainable solution."

 Burundi's Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro, hitting back at even the use of the term "four term," tweeted: "With the intention of destabilizing #Burundi in 20 the same axis of evil that failed regime change in15,invents another magic word'4th term'."

  On February 27, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about this quote, and for a second time about the UN training Burundi security forces in CAR on drone usage. Dujarric said he didn't think of the UN as in an axis of evil. He didn't answer on the fourth term, word invention, or the UN providing drone training. We'll have more on this.

   Pressed, Shingiro has said he wasn't calling Antonio Guterres part of an Axis of Evil, since he wasn't UN Secretary General in 2015. But could hapless, corruption plagued Ban Ki-moon be a part? More like the Axis of Mediocrity.

 And did Guterres really "invent" fourth term as a "magic word"? Or wouldn't a Pierre Nkurunziza run for election in 2020 be a run for a fourth term? How will the UN react to this? For now, Guterres spokesman Dujarric - who has previously been the face not only for AoE Ban Ki-moon but also Kofi Annan before that - won't answer the most basic question. Dujarric too is a fourth term man. We'll have more on this -- and this, that Shingiro previously outed his own second Twitter account by tweeting a photo with the UN's evicter in chief Cristina Gallach, here. Axis of Evil, indeed.

 Now the UN is training the Burundi security forces in how to use drones; Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza -- himself repatriated from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic after Inner City Press questions (credited on here) bragged about it and refused to answer about Burundi's use of drones.

  So Inner City Press on February 24 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric why Herve Ladsous' UN is training this already problematic Burundi contingent in the use of drones. Video here from 25:50. Dujarric didn't substantively respond to that question and on Inner City Press next question about Ladsous, Dujarric ran off the podium and out of the room. UN DPI under Cristina Gallach produced a video with the audio of the question cut, see here at end. This is today's UN.

  In Burundi, government electricity and water authority (Regideso) employee Lydia Nibogora was murdered and dumped. Sources Inner city Press has come to trust say it is because she blew the whistle on corruption. There should be an investigation, but where is the UN? We'll have more on this.

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