On Congo, US Role Avoided
as Austria Pushes Call for
Planning Past France, UK and Uganda
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 17 -- In
the wake of reports
of hundreds killed in northern Congo by the Lord's
Resistance Army, following an offensive against the LRA partially
planned by the United States, and another hundred civilians killed in
Kivus, the UN Security Council members met Tuesday and afterwards
short statement of a "convergence of their views."
Council sources tell Inner City Press that the France, the UK and
initially opposed issuing even this statement, which called on "all
parties" to protect civilians, and for the "governments in the region
to coordinate with MONUC," the UN Mission in the Congo. A new Council
member so far little noticed, Austria, pushed to have the statement
issued, gained support from fellow non-permanent members like Mexico
and Costa Rica, and
after some back and forth the three opponents gave in. In the Council's
practice, France which initially opposed issuing a statement but which
history in the region ultimately was the sponsor of the statement.
The French-founded group Medecins Sans Frontieres
has criticized MONUC
for failing to protect civilians from the LRA. Inner City Press asked
humanitarian John Holmes about the critique, and he responded that MSF
not to criticize the UN, but only the LRA. He said the Council had done
part by authorizing 3000 new troops for MONUC. Inner City Press asked
of those will go to north Congo where the LRA continues rampaging.
up to the force commander," Holmes said. Video here,
from Minute 2:28.
So there does not appear
to be a
concrete plan in place to protect civilians from the LRA.
MONUC police, LRA and Council games not shown
the inclusion of
Bosco Ntaganda, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal
the Congolese army with which the UN work, Holmes said, "Let's see."
president Yukio Takasu told Inner City Press that while Bosco was not
name in the Council's closed-door consultation, there was discussion
who kill civilians should be prosecuted. Video here,
from Minute 7:46. As Holmes said, let's see.
Japan's Ambassador Takasu, who as president read out
the Council's statement, likewise
couldn't say how many of the 3000 troops would go to the north. He said
than troops are needed, mentioning helicopters and "planning." Inner
City Press asked about the U.S. having helped the Ugandan military with
planners, money and intelligence -- did Takuso or Council members think
the U.S. should have "coordinated with MONUC," as the statement
called on "governments in the region" to do? Did
the US' role even come up inside the
"Not specifically," Ambassador Takasu said. Video here,
from Minute 6:06. Council sources
confirmed this. Perhaps the new US administration is getting a
honeymoon at the
UN and Security Council as well.
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