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After Central African Republic Happy Talk, Press Asks of Kony, UN Nepotism

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- When the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera briefed the press at the UN on Thursday, it was mostly happy talk about disarmament. Touadera said that all armed groups are ready to stand down, and he was asked light questions about the technicalities of so-called DDR.

  Inner City Press then asked Touadera about the Lord's Resistance Army, how big a problem it is, how his country works with the 100 US military advisers sent by the Obama administration, and whether he thought the Kony 2012 film and phenomenon is helpful, or a problem has Uganda has said.

  Touadera adroitly turned the question around, saying that countries should help finance disarmament so that the Central African army can focus on the LRA. He thanked the African Union, and the US for its 100 militaires.

  Already Touadera had answered that most of the LRA is in the Central African Republic, but then he got asked by the original light journalist if he thinks Joseph Kony is there. The focus of the briefing shifted and again one wondered, it is helpful?

  Inner City Press asked Margaret Vogt, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), if the UN is yet in Obo, and if she has acted to reform the critique of the UN in CAR as a "family operation" -- specifically, of DPA's Sammy Buo (for background see here and below).

  Vogt responded at length about the "UN family," saying she has created task forces and a "cell" in her office about protection. She said "we are given mandates but not money," and appeared to say the UN has yet to have an ongoing presence in Obo. The UN now has a plane, she said, and so flies back and forth to Obo.

Here, however, was the part of the critique:

  Inner City Press formally asked the director of DPA's Africa II Division Sammy Kum Buo the following questions:

Mr. Buo -- I am writing a story about this morning's Security Council session on BONUCA / Central African Republic. I am also covering management issues in BONUCA and DPA and am writing for you to confirm or deny on deadline each of the following [about BONUCA staffers]

Is Gabriel Buh Kang a relative of yours? A cousin?

Is BONUCA staffer Ekei a relative of yours? Your niece?

What is the status of Brindou Germain Kabran ?

When in CAR, have you stayed with Brindou Germain Kabran?

Did you still collect DSA? Please provide records.

What can you say about the case of Gozo Tshamala?

On deadline, Matthew

   Mr. Buo is also accused of hiring a former mercenary from Executive Outcomes, in violation of UN rules. While Mr. Buo has refused to respond, Inner City Press has discussed the matter with other Mission officials and finally with Mr. Buo's then-boss in DPA, Haile Menkerios. Mr. Menkerios confirmed he is aware of the issue. Inner City Press asked Mr. Menkerios what DPA's response would be. It is a management issue, Mr. Menkerios replied, that will be responded to in a management way.

  But has it been?  It is still not sure. Wach this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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