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On DRC, France Seeks UN Sanctions on M23, No Call on Kabila to Talk

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- After the M23 mutineers got to the gates of Goma and turned back, giving Congolese president Joseph Kabila 24 hours to negotiate, when French Ambassador Gerard Araud arrived at the UN Security Council Monday morning this is not what he raised.

  Instead, Araud said his instructions from Paris are to circulate a resolution to sanction the M23 leaders. Cynics wonder what this would accomplish: do they travel or keep their funds in bank accounts?

  Araud said the Council was united on Saturday to pass a press statement -- which he said the M23 ignored -- and so he expects this sanctions resolution "before you eat your turkey" -- that is, before American Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 22.

  Inner City Press on Saturday asked UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous who broke the ceasefire in the Kivus on November 9. Ladsous refused to answer, directing his spokesman to tell UN staff to keep the microphone away from Inner City  Press.

  So on Sunday, after a DRC representative replied that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had scheduled a conversation with Kabila that day, Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm it, and asked why Ban spoke Saturday with Paul Kagame of Rwanda, but not Kabila.

Another Ladsous spokesman replied, among other things, that "who broke the ceasefire" was a "distraction" -- no, it's a factual question that the UN, spending as it does in the Congo, should be able to answer, should HAVE to answer -- but declined to answer about any Ban call to Kabila.

  And twelve hours later, there is still no answer.

  Some say the UN has given Kabila a blank check, to the extend that his soldiers won't even fight the M23: he counts on the UN, largely Indian and now perhaps Pakistani troups, to do it for him. Most places in the world, the UN says "negotiate." But not in the Congo. This increases dysfunction.

  Speaking of dysfunction, Ladsous walked into the Security Council Monday morning, not on the DRC but rather on piracy. The sea is in his blood. More on this to follow. Watch this site.

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