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Facing Congo Election Questions, UN Uses Excuse of the East, Defers to Kabila

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 28, updated below -- When the UN spoke Monday at noon about the Democratic Republic of the Congo elections, which have seen complaints about lack of ballots, prohibitions on campaigning and a call for the UN to remove its envoy Roger Meece as biased for the incumbent Joseph Kabila, all Deputy Spokesman Eduardo del Buey did was read a Ban Ki-moon statement that had been circulated on Friday.

  Inner City Press asked del Buey what the UN's response was to after-arising events, for example to the blockage of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi at Kinshasa's airport during a time he should have been able to campaign. Video here from Minute 27.

  Del Buey read again from Ban Ki-moon's pre-blockage statement, that security is the primary responsibility of the government: that is, incumbent Kabila and his allies.

  There are reports of polling places without ballot in Beni, five dead in Lumumbashi, no electrical power in Bas Congo, gunfire...

  The other excuse offered by del Buey was that the "bulk" of the UN's forces in the Congo are concentrated in the East. First, there are reports of irregularities there, too, including involvement of nationals of Rwanda across the border. Second, UN helicopters have flown over Kinshasa while campaigning was blocked. What is the UN's role?

(c) UN Photo
Ban and
Tshisekedi, response to call to remove Meece not shown

  Earlier on Monday, Inner City Press asked this month's president of the UN Security Council, Portuguese Ambassador Cabral, if events of the weekend in the Congo would be discussed by the Council.

"I don't know," Cabral told Inner City Press. "Obviously there's concern about the situation there. The situation is not a quiet one to say the least... We had consultations last week on it."

But things have changed in the past week. Both answers seem to reflect the lack of focus on the UN on the Congo elections, the lack of follow through, or perhaps a deference to Permanent Five members of the Security Council's views. But how can these, or the UN, in the future criticize similar moves in other elections? What level of irregularities does the UN accept? Watch this site.

Update of 3:15 pm -- outside the UN Security Council for a meeting about Libya, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about the DRC elections, about Tshisekedi saying Meece should leave. "That tells you more about Tshisekedi," she answers. Still nothing from the Security Council. Watch 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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