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Congo Trip Canceled by UN Council, Volcano Leaves MONUC in Jeopardy

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 16 -- The UN Security Council's trip to Africa, already shortened and devalued, has now been canceled in full, French Ambassador Gerard Araud told Inner City Press on Friday morning. The rationale, he said, is the Iceland volcano which makes the Council's flight to Paris and then Kinshasa unpredictable.

  The trip was supposed to be for a week, Friday to Friday. Then once at least three Permanent Five members including the U.S.'s Susan Rice said they were not going, it was shortened to Friday to Tuesday, with side trips to Rwanda and Uganda -- about the Lord's Resistance Army -- cut off. Some said that was to lure Ms. Rice back onto the trip. But if so, it was unsuccessful.

  Now, as airline delays spread after the volcano's eruption, the already embarrassing trip has been canceled. One diplomat who had been slated to go told Inner City Press, "This makes it more difficult to extend the MONUC mission, we cannot convey the message to [DRC President Joseph] Kabila."

Kumalo in Council in the past, contrarian position missed

  With another perspective, as usual, South Africa's Dumisani Kumalo quipped to Inner City Press, "Thank God they're not going to the Congo." Kumalo, previously South Africa's Ambassador to the UN, now works on Great Lakes issues. He is less than impressed with the Council's and the West's work in the Congo. He told Inner City Press he had heard of the Alan Doss nepotism scandal. Click here for that. And watch this site.

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UN Council's Kinshasa Trip Omits LRA, US Rice to Skip, Disappointing Araud

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 -- Despite statements of outrage by Security Council Ambassador from the US, France and elsewhere about the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, the Council's shortened trip to Africa next week will now skip Uganda, where the LRA originated, and Congo outside of Kinshasa, where the LRA most recently slaughtered 300 civilians.

  Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who is leading the mission to Kinshasa, if these omissions and the decision by permanent representatives like the US's Susan Rice means that the LRA issues will not be addressed, and Congo's Joseph Kabila will sense lack of Council commitment.

  Araud replied that he and France are disappointed in these Ambassadors' decisions not to come, given the "millions" killed in the Congo. "Of course we would have preferred to have more Permanent Representatives for this visit," Araud said, as transcribed by the French mission.

  Regarding the LRA, he said that they are active in an area the size of Spain with only two million inhabitants. He mentioned unmanned aerial vehicles as a possible response to the LRA, but questioned whether the expenditure would be worth it.

  One reporter scoffed at the idea of a UAV seeing through the foliage of the Congo. If the US shoots drones in Pakistan, why not at the LRA?

  Araud said that only two Permanent Representatives of the P-5 are going, himself and the UK's Mark Lyall Grant. Give other non-permanent members are sending their number one ambassador: henceforth the Committed Five, the C-5.

    Inner City Press has asked for the list. Six other countries are sending their Deputy Permanent Representative, and two are merely sending "advisors," Araud said. The US is understood to be among these two. With all due respect to the US State Department, this is newsworthy and worthy of explanation.

US' Susan Rice at old stakeout, trip explanation not shown

  It has not been possible to ask US Ambassador Susan Rice or her spokespeople on the record why she is not going, even on the now abbreviated Africa trip. The rationale to skip the week long version of the trip was the greater importance of negotiating Iran sanctions. But it seems clear that with Gerard Araud and the UK's Mark Lyall Grant away, such serious meetings will not take place Monday or Tuesday morning. So what is the reason? We'll wait for an answer.

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In Congo Crunch Time, US Rice and Others Cancel Visit, Iran Prioritized, Post-Doss

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- With new violence starting up and being discovered throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 15 countries on the UN Security Council arranged to travel to the DRC starting April 13. One goal is to negotiate with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who has asked for the UN Peacekeeping mission MONUC to begin to pack up and leave.

  While Security Council members, particularly the United States, say that the issues in the Congo -- systematic rape of women as a weapon of war, exploitation of conflict minerals by rebels and rogue Congolese Army units -- are of much concern to them, on April 7 it emerged that only half of the Council member states are sending their Permanent Representative or lead Ambassador on the trip.

  US Permanent Representative Susan Rice, another Council Ambassador complained to Inner City Press on Wednesday, has dropped her initial plan to travel to the Congo, and will stay in New York for the beginnings of negotiations on a resolution to impose more sanctions on Iran.

  "She wants credit for cracking down on Iran," a source said, analogizing her calculus to that of her predecessors Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke when they wanted promotions from US Ambassador to Secretary of State.

Susan Rice, Secretary of State, UN meeting on women, Congo discussed, visit not shown

The UN's top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss, already the subject of a nepotism investigation by the UN for urging the UN Development Program to show him "leeway" and give his daughter a job, is said to definitely be out in June.

   To replace Doss several French names are being circulated, among them former UN Peacekeeping chief Jean Marie Guehenno and even former French Permanent Representative Jean Maurice Ripert, who while titularly employed as envoy on development to Pakistan is said to be in an office in the UN's nearly empty headquarters tower.

  There is also an American, the former U.S. Ambassador to Kinshasa, and current UN envoy to Cote d'Ivoire Choi, both of whom speak French.

  While the UN and its Security Council may show the Congo this idiomatic respect, sending lower level representatives on the upcoming trip at this time of crossroads is a bad sign. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

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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