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In the Congo, Angolan Troops or Angola-Trained, Lost in Translation With the UN

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 10 -- Reports of Angolan troops intervening in the Congo to support President Joseph Kabila over rebel general Laurent Nkunda, while denied by the UN in New York, continue to proliferate. A senior Uruguayan officer with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Goma has been quoted that Angolan soldiers have been deployed in combat against Nkunda's forces: "They have been camped above our position and we have heard them talking Portuguese. We understand it because we speak Spanish, for sure they are Angolan," he said.

  The explanation provided Friday by Edmond Mulet, UN Peacekeeping's number two official was that these were Congolese troops who had been trained in Angola, and thus spoke some Portuguese. But why, Inner City Press asked, would Congolese troops speak Portuguese to each other?

  Since that article, UN officials have approached Inner City Press with another story, another spin, insisting it be not for attribution. They say that the Angola-trained Congolese troops were trying to communicate with the Uruguayan peacekeepers. Since the latter speak Spanish, the Congolese troops spoke the closest language they knew: Portuguese.

(One imagines diplomats from Paris chafing, why didn't they try in French?)

UN Peacekeepers in Goma, Angolan troops not shown

These UN spinmeister further state that two groupings of Congolese FARDC troops were sent to Angola for training: one from the Kivus, another from elsewhere in the Congo. They say it was this non-Kivu grouping, better equipped and more disciplined that the locals, who were mistaken for Angolan troops.  Whether the UN is telling the truth should become apparent in short order.

   Perhaps some are hoping that the question of illegal intervention will be become moot. In any event, the South African Development Community's Tomaz Salomao said of Angolan soldiers in the Congo, "If required, they will be on the ground soon."

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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