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On DR Congo US Says Reconsider Travel Armed Conflict Kasai As UN Guterres Covers Up Deaths

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Hill DRC scope

UNITED NATIONS GATE, March 21 – In the DR Congo where the UN uses a "Force Intervention Brigade" but on which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has refused to answer questions from the Press he has banned for 260 days, audio here, voting was further postponed into official meaninglessness, it seems, in Beni and two other largely opposition cities, Butembo and Yumbi. Now on March 21 from the US State Department this: "The Department of State reaffirmed the Travel Advisory Level for the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Level 3 – Reconsider Travel, on March 21, 2019.  This replaces the previous Travel Advisory that was issued January 31, 2019.  The full text of the updated Travel Advisory follows:  Democratic Republic of the Congo – Level 3:  Reconsider travel          Reconsider travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk.  Read the entire Travel Advisory.  Do Not Travel To:  North Kivu and Ituri provinces due to Ebola. Eastern DRC and the three Kasai provinces due to armed conflict. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, armed home invasion, and assault, while rare compared to petty crime, is not uncommon.  Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime.  Be aware that assailants may pose as police or security agents.    Many cities throughout the country experience demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.  Police authorities have at times responded with heavy-handed tactics that have resulted in civilian casualties and arrests.  The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Kinshasa due to extremely limited infrastructure and poor security conditions.  Read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information Page.   If you decide to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo:  Avoid demonstrations. Use caution when walking or driving at night. Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.  Visit the CDC Travel Notice on Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has information on this outbreak. Visit the CDC Travelers’ Health Page for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which includes information on Ebola. Consult with a doctor for preventive medical advice. Many diseases present in the DRC have symptoms similar to Ebola.  If suspected to have Ebola, you could face travel delays. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. Follow the Department of State on Facebookand Twitter. Review the Crime and Safety Report for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist. North Kivu and Ituri Provinces  Sporadic but severe outbreaks of violence targeting civilians including killing, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Ituri, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele provinces.  A significant number of both confirmed and probable cases of Ebola have been reported in nine health zones of Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces.  The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Kivu and Ituri provinces as U.S. government travel to these areas is restricted.   Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.  The Eastern DRC Region and the Three Kasai Provinces  Parts of eastern DRC and the provinces of Kasai Oriental, Kasai Central, and Kasai Occidental are unstable due to armed group activity and military operations.  Major outbreaks of violence include the targeting of civilians in these areas.  The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in eastern DRC region and the three Kasais provinces as U.S. government travel to these regions is restricted." On February 10 from the African Union summit where Guterres praised the DRC election, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric issued this read out: "Of the Secretary-General’s meeting with Mr. Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of the CongoThe Secretary-General congratulated the President on his inauguration as Head of State of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He welcomed the President’s readiness to work in collaboration with the United Nations to address the challenges facing the DRC. The Secretary-General and the President exchanged views on the priorities for the partnership between the Government of the DRC and the United Nations, in particular MONUSCO." To this at the UN sunk.  Guterres' UN continues its shameful cover up, refusing to answer this written question from Inner City Press: On DRC and the killings in and disenfranchisement of people in Yumbi, what is the SG's comment and action on local complaints that a report prepared by the UN mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) a week after the events accuses the governor Ngobila Mbaka of having dispatched on the spot and to from Kinshasa, police and army officials (FARDC). Disguised as civilians, they would have framed the Batende in deadly attacks against Banunu.  Since then, the report has been buried by decision of the MONUSCO leader, Ms.  Leila Zerrougui.  Testimony of a leader of local civil society: The planning of the massacre would have been done at the level of the governorate of the province. Two teams formed by police officers and soldiers left Kinshasa and Inongo to join the city of Mansele inhabited by the Tiene tribe. The criminal group from Kinshasa traveled aboard the Kebakuni boat, owned by Ngobila Mbaka, governor of the province and leader of the Tiene tribe"? This was submitted at noon on February 1 in writing to Guterres and his deputy and two spokesmen despite the on camera promise of answers by lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, here. This is cover up, censorship - and corruption. We'll have more on this. In DRC the Internet was intentionally slowed or cut all together, as Cameroon's Paul Biya and others have also done. On January 9-10 after delay and a long read out Felix Tshisekedi was named provisional winner by the CENI with 38.57%, which said Martin Fayulu got 6,366,732 votes, amid doubts. Guterres is silent; on January 17 he held a closed door Town Hall meeting with UN staff and threw his own envoy to Somalia Nicholas Haysom under the bus, calling Haysom's human rights questions to the government there "impolite" and "arrogant." Banned Inner City Press has uploaded that video here. Presumably that's why he's been silent on Kabila's moves. On January 18 Guterres mistook Sudan for DRC, video here. On January 21 Guterres' spokes- / hatchetman Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres will be sending Felix Tshisekedi a letter of congratulations out after the inauguration.  This will in DRC Martin Fayulu has said, "I now consider myself as the sole legitimate President-elect of the DRC. Therefore, I ask the Congolese people not to recognize any individual who would claim this authority illegally nor to obey orders that would emanate from such a person." Still Guterres is silent - looking at map? Finger in the wind? Kabila's Constitutional Court has ignored the AU Congo’s constitutional court confirmed Felix Tshisekedi’s presidential election win on Sunday, dismissing a challenge from another opposition leader who had accused him and the ruling party of stitching up the result.  RELATED COVERAGE Congo opposition candidate Fayulu declares himself president Congo opposition candidate Fayulu declares himself president Second-placed Martin Fayulu had rejected the provisional tally for Democratic Republic of Congo’s election released last week, saying it was the product of a secret deal between Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila to cheat him out of a clear win of more than 60 percent.  SPONSORED   Kabila and Tshisekedi’s camps denied making any deal.  The provisional results in the poll, which was meant to enable Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence from Belgium, showed Tshisekedi winning with a slim margin over Fayulu. Kabila’s favored candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came in a distant third.   Government spokesman Lambert Mende said by telephone that the ruling party had “taken note” of the court decision.  “Felix Tshisekedi will become the fifth president of the republic,” Mende said.  The ruling was unlikely to silence critics. Congo’s constitutional court is widely seen as beholden to Kabila, who has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001. It may also worsen the sporadic unrest that has already seen 34 people killed, 59 wounded and 241 “arbitrary arrests” in the past week. On January 17 from the African Union, this: "The meeting was chaired by the Chairperson of the AU, and attended by a number of Heads of State and Government or their representatives from SADC, the ICGLR, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, EAC, the African members of the UN Security Council, the AU troika, as well as by the Chairperson of the AU Commission.  The meeting was briefed on the electoral process in the DRC and subsequent developments by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DRC. The meeting also received updates from the Chairpersons of the ICGLR, SADC and the AU Commission, and had in-depth exchanges of views thereafter.  The Heads of State and Government attending the meeting concluded that there were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast. Accordingly, the Heads of State and Government called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections.  The Heads of State and Government agreed to urgently dispatch to the DRC a high-level delegation comprising the Chairperson of the Union and other Heads of State and Government, as well as the Chairperson of the AU Commission, to interact with all Congolese stakeholders, with the view to reaching a consensus on a way out of the post-electoral crisis in the country." On January 16, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino has said, "The United States stands with the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at this historic moment.  It is the people who should determine their country’s future through a fully transparent and constitutional process.  The United States recognizes the legitimate concerns over the transparency of the electoral process.  As the tabulation process continues, we urge the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to ensure that the final declared results reflect the will of the Congolese people, as expressed through the ballot box on December 30, 2018.   The United States supports the lawful right of candidates to file a legal challenge to the election results and urges the Constitutional Court to execute a lawful, fair, and transparent process for resolving electoral disputes.  The United States will hold accountable those who perpetrate election violence or undermine democratic processes.  Maintaining peace in the DRC depends on a fully transparent and legal process to resolve any concerns regarding election results." On January 15 the UN Security Council has issued a press statement: "The members of the Security Council took note of the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the provisional results of the presidential and provincial elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 10 January 2019 and of the legislative elections on 12 January.  They welcomed the peaceful holding of the elections, despite technical, logistical and security challenges on the day of the vote and the decision to suspend the vote in certain parts of the country for specific health and security reasons. They congratulated the millions of Congolese people who went to the polls with calm and determination to express their wish, and commended the Congolese people and political actors for the conduct of the presidential, national and provincial elections, which saw broad and inclusive participation of political parties. They further welcomed the important role played by national as well as the regional observation missions of SADC and the African Union and took note of their efforts in promoting transparent and fair elections among their members.  The members of the Security Council further congratulated all parties and stakeholders in the DRC for ensuring peace and stability during the election processes and urged all interested parties to refrain from violence. They stressed the need for all concerned stakeholders to act in a way that reaffirms the integrity of the electoral process and respects the outcome of the poll, upholds democracy and preserves peace in the country. They appealed for the pursuit of national unity and peacebuilding, including through political dialogue among all stakeholders.  The members of the Security Council noted that disputes have been lodged before the Constitutional Court. They encouraged all concerned stakeholders to preserve the generally peaceful climate of the elections, and to take up any reservations or disputes through the proper mechanisms and processes provided for in the constitution of the DRC and its electoral law. They reiterated their full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC, in accordance with the UN charter.  The members of the Security Council reiterated their continued support and commitment, in collaboration with regional actors and international partners, for the consolidation of peace, stability and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo." The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a 12-member group including even Angola and Republic of Congo, has said, "We suggest that the competent structures consider counting the votes in order to guarantee the transparency of the results." Guterres' UN is, typically, pro-Kabila as it was in covering up his government's role in the killing of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan - the order to murder was given in Lingala and not the purported murderers' dialect; the interpreters worked for the government. Guterres' UN's role is almost as shameful as so far in Cameroon - almost. On January 11 when the Security Council met, penholder France was quick to urge acceptance of the results, and its media wrote it up this way. But in covering the meeting, even from outside banned by Antonio Guterres and with the UN's app / ironically entitled "Audio Now" call-in service run by USG Alison Smale not working or off-line, it was significant for example that Germany brought up the cut Internet and the need for transparency, as did Belgium. AFP, of course, did not cover this. And Guterres had roughed up and banned the Press that asks about it, and him. How very Kabila. On January 10 the US State Department issued this: "  State Dept website  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE  Office of the Spokesperson  For Immediate Release   STATEMENT BY ROBERT PALLADINO, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON  January 10, 2019  The Provisional Election Results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  The United States takes note of the National Independent Electoral Commission's announcement of the provisional results of December 30 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We congratulate the millions of courageous voters who went to the polls across DRC to cast their ballots after two years of delay. Many of these voters waited long hours for the chance to make their voices heard.  Many other voters were unable to vote due to challenges with the organization of polling stations, missing election materials, or the cancellation of elections in the Ebola affected areas of Beni and Butembo, yet still found creative, peaceful, and inspirational ways to express their desire for a more peaceful and prosperous Congo.  The United States stands with the people of Congo at this historic moment and it is they who should determine their country’s future.  The United States also notes the importance of President Joseph Kabila's decision to abide by his constitutionally mandated term limits and transfer power to a successor.  The National Independent Electoral Commission has announced provisional results, but we await clarification of questions which have been raised regarding the electoral count.  The United States notes that stakeholders have the option to request a review of the announced provisional results to ensure they reflect the will of the Congolese people as expressed through the ballot box. We urge all stakeholders to remain calm as the process continues. Violence is unacceptable, and the U.S. Government will hold accountable those who perpetrate election-related violence or impede the democratic process." For days, Inner City Press has asked Guterres and his spokesmen, "On DRC, what is the SG's action and comment on the reported slowing and cutting of Internet, FM radio and text messaging services by the government, as well as on what should be done with the votes from Beni and the other excluded areas." There was, typically, no answer despite the promise of answers by Guterre's USG Alison Smale to UNSR David Kaye. And now the UN Security Council meeting that had been set for January 8, and of which Council "penholder" France through its Ambassador Francois Delattre made so much on January 4 has been canceled. Some pen-holding. Kaye has issued this, on the DRC: "A general network shutdown is in clear violation of international law and cannot be justified by any means,” said David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.  “Access to information is crucial for the credibility of the ongoing electoral process. Shutdowns are damaging not only for people’s access to information, but also for their access to basic services,” the expert said.  A senior government official said that internet and SMS services were cut to preserve public order after “fictitious results” began circulating on social media, and that the disconnections would remain until the publication of results on 6 January.  Reports indicate that the shutdown is hindering electoral observers and witnesses in relaying information from rural polling stations to the local centres for compiling results. It is also hampering the UN mission’s (MONUSCO) ability to communicate with its partners in the field, including with protection mechanisms.  “I urge the authorities to restore internet services as a matter of urgency and to ensure the integrity of a fundamental democratic exercise such as this one,” the Special Rapporteur said.  In 2016, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution which unequivocally condemned measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law, and called on all States to refrain from and cease such measures.  This followed the 2015 Joint Declaration of UN and regional experts in the field of freedom of expression, which stated that network shutdowns or internet “kill switches” are measures which can “never be justified under human rights law”.  The UN Special Rapporteur will continue to closely monitor developments in DRC and is at the disposal of the authorities to provide assistance as required." On January 4 this was filed with the US Congress: "United States Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Libreville, Gabon, to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This deployment of approximately 80 personnel is in response to the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in reaction to the December 30, 2018, elections there. The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft. Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes. These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed." After the Security Council's closed door 3 pm meeting, there was no agreed statement only French Ambassador Francois Delattre telling the correpondents whom Antonio Guterres has NOT had roughed up and banned that December 30 allowed the Congolese to express themselves. What about the at least 1.2 million disenfranchised people in Beni, Yumbi and elsewhere? Inner City Press, banned from entering the UN for the 184th day, was not allowed to enter and ask. This is today's UN. Earlier on January 4, the UN sleight of hand: concern outsources to Michelle Bachelet (sometimes) in Geneva, who owes her job to Guterres. Here's the UN's storyline:  "SOUNDBITE (English) – Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “What my colleagues have told me and they have observed is that the situation remains calm but tense ahead of the announcement of the results of the election. There are preliminary reports of some pockets of violence and people being injured.” Medium shot, journalists. SOUNDBITE (English) – Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “Intimidation and harassment against journalists, opposition candidates and human rights defenders continues to take place. This being a very sensitive, as I said, a very tense period we are concerned that these efforts to silence dissent could backfire considerably when the results are announced. We are watching carefully and we are calling on all sides to refrain from the use of violence.” Close-up: hand typing SOUNDBITE (English) – Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “The internet is cut off, the signal of Radio France Internationale RFI has been tampered with, as well as Canal Congo Television, which apparently belongs to the leader of the MLC, Jean-Pierre Bemba.”
But Bachelet has said nothing about Guterres roughing up and banning Inner City Press for 184 days and counting, allowing him to do it even from her own event in UN Headquarters. This type of go along to get along (and be able to use public money for personal travel) is killing the UN and we will not stop reporting on it. The UN refugee agency that Guterres used to run has issued an entire statement about Yumbi and inter-communal clashes there, without even mentioning that was the stated rationale to not hold voting for the residents. Some say, this is so "de-politicized" as to be, in fact, political, and pro-Kabila. Now that penholder France has belatedly set up a UN Security Council meeting for this Friday afternoon, is trying to justify the disenfranchisement in Beni and Yumbi on the agenda? Inner City Press is banned by Guterres from even entering the UN, for the 184th day. But we will cover it. Watch this site - if you can: the Kabila government turns off Internet and text messaging, and even FM radio reception. Several countries issued a statement calling for it to be restored. But will they use their positions including on the UN Security Council to address what's happening in DRC, including in Beni? So far, the Security Council hasn't met or issued any statement. Instead, on January 3, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino issued this: "The United States stands by the millions of Congolese voters who went to the polls across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on December 30 to participate in presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly elections.  Since independence in 1960, the DRC has never experienced a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.  The December 30 election was therefore one of the most important elections in DRC history.   The United States was deeply concerned by the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) decision to deny accreditation to several international election observers and media representatives.  We also noted that confusion on election day over the location of polling stations, the posting of voter lists, the late delivery of some election materials, and CENI's unfortunate decision to cancel elections in Beni and Butembo in eastern DRC disenfranchised voters.  Nevertheless, despite these challenges, millions of Congolese citizens turned out peacefully across DRC on election day to cast their ballots and make their voices heard. ‎ CENI must now ensure that these voices and votes are respected.   As the Congolese people, the region, and the world await patiently for the results of these elections, the internet must be restored and the media allowed to report freely.  We strongly urge the CENI to ensure that votes are counted in a transparent and open manner, with observers present, and that the results reported by CENI are accurate and correspond to results announced at each of DRC's 75,000 polling stations.  We support the African Union Election Observation Mission to DRC’s expectation, expressed on January 2, that the announced results align with votes cast by the Congolese people.  As official results are tabulated and reported, we continue to urge DRC government officials, leaders of the DRC security forces, opposition party leaders, civil society representatives, and stakeholders from all sides to respect the law and reject violence.   There are moments in every nation’s history when individuals and political leaders step forward and do the right thing.  This is one of those moments for the DRC.  Those who enable a peaceful, democratic transfer of power out of respect for DRC’s constitution and the results of this election will be hailed, while those responsible for undermining democratic institutions and processes, threatening the peace, security, or stability of DRC or benefiting from corruption ‎will be held accountable.  Those who undermine the democratic process, threaten the peace, security or stability of the DRC, or benefit from corruption may find themselves not welcome in the United States and cut off from the U.S. financial system.    On December 30, millions of Congolese went peacefully to the polls.  Now is the time for CENI to affirm that these votes were not cast in vain by ensuring the accurate reporting of election results."  Watch this site.


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