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On DRC New HCHR Bachelet Cites Repression of LUCHA While UN's Guterres Still Bans Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS GATE, September 7 -- The UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been nearly silent on the DR Congo including on oil drilling in UN World Heritage sites. Even so Guterres has so little gravitas that the DRC rebuffed an attempted visit by Guterres, under whom the UN is spending more than $1 billion in public funds per year in the country.  On "the wish of the UN secretary general to visit the DRC… we thought it was inopportune at this time,” DRC diplomatic adviser Kikaya Bin Karubi said. After Guterres made his ban of Inner City Press permanent on August 17 in a ghoulish letter by Alison Smale, despite the last line in her ghoulish letter saying written questions would be answered, 24 in a row were not.  Guterres' spokes- / hatchetman Stephane Dujarric for days refused multiple written questions from Inner City Press about the DRC and about the undisclosed Africa business interests of Guterres' son Pedro Guimarães e Melo De Oliveira Guterres. The latter still remains entirely unanswered, but now Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq has sent Inner City Press this one answer: "Regarding tour DRC question, 5-7, we have some details about the 3 September incident from MONUSCO: MONUSCO reports that suspected ADF on 3 September ambushed a MONUSCO patrol in Ngadi, seven kilometres north of Beni (North Kivu), resulting in injuries to two MONUSCO peacekeepers. The Mission reports their condition as stable. Two MONUSCO armoured personnel carriers also sustained damage. Meantime, the mission reports the situation as tense in the Beni area." By contrast here is the September 7 statement from the Office of still new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet: "We are deeply concerned about the violent suppression of peaceful protests by civil society organizations and opposition political parties ahead of the start of the electoral campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite public commitments made by the Congolese authorities to lift the ban on demonstrations in place since 2017. While some improvements have been seen in crowd control and the maintenance of public order and security, the Congolese police has continued to use excessive force against political activists and demonstrators that has led to the killing of one political activist in the southeast of the country and the arrests of dozens of others.
On 1 September in Lubumbashi, Haut-Kananga province, one man was killed ahead of a planned political meeting of the opposition platform Ensemble pour le changement. At least nine other members of the organization were arrested. We understand one of these individuals was released, while some others have been charged with rebellion, criminal association, vandalism, insulting a public agent and arson.
Also in Lubumbashi, on Monday 3 September, police dispersed a demonstration by the citizens’ movement, Lutte pour le changement (Lucha) who were handing a petition to the provincial offices of the Commission Electoral National Independent (CENI) protesting against the use of the voting machine. This was part of a nationwide protest. At least 65 protestors were arrested in Lubumbashi, Kinshasa, Bukavu, Goma and Mbuji-Mayi. In other cities such as Beni, Butemboand Kananga, demonstrations took place without incident.
The September incidents follow the violent suppression of protests in early August in Lubumbashi and Kasumbalesa. On 2 and 6 August, security forces dispersed protestors using teargas and live ammunition, which resulted in the death of a woman and two boys aged 10 and 15. Three other people were wounded by live ammunition. At least 55 people were arrested in Kasumbalesa and at least 34 were arrested in Lubumbashi. Of these 89 individuals, 68 remain in pre-trial detention, and have been charged with robbery, malicious destruction, incitement contempt for authorities and rebellion. Ahead of the crucial national elections on 23 December this year, we urge the Congolese authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Any allegations of excessive use of force by the police and security forces must be investigated, with a view to holding those responsibleto account. Justice remains elusive for victims of past incidents of killings and injuries caused by the excessive and disproportionate use of force by defence and security forces in demonstrations since 2016. We reiterate our offer to support all initiatives contributing to bringing the perpetrators of these violations to justice." What and how will Bachelet do on this file, and on the UN's own censorship. We'll see - two requests were made to her and her team, on both human rights including in Cameroon and relatedly on UN censorship.

Earlier, Inner City Press asked the UN on August 8, banned from the noon briefing for the 36th day in a row, "August 8-2: On DRC, what is the SG's comment on the ruling party naming as its candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary who has been targeted by European Union sanctions and accused of a ruthless crackdown on activists?" Farhaq Haq wrote back on this, unlike on Patton Boggs and Cameroon: "Regarding your DRC question, what we can say is the following: We take note of the Government’s announcement that Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Permanent Secretary of the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD,) has been designated as the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC) candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.  We welcome the continued progress towards the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections on 23 December in accordance with the Constitution and the 31 December 2016 agreement."

This comes as Guterres has been silent on Kabila's crackdowns including on the media, and as Guterres himself has on July 3 ousted, and on July 5 and 6 and still banned from the UN, critical Inner City Press. Fox News story here ("UN roughs up, ejects, bans reporter from headquarters: Caught on tape"); petition to Guterres here; GAP blogs I and II (“Harassment of US Journalist Intensifies at the UN”).  On July 16, while awaiting the "investigation" the UN promised, Inner City Press e-mailed Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, In DRC President Joseph Kabila replaced the country´s army chief in a military shake-up at the weekend that included the promotion of two leaders accused of human rights violations. what is the UN's comment on this ongoing unrest and injustice, given the SG's "conflict prevention" and human rights claims?" First there was no answer - Haq couldn't have been busy, with Inner City Press banned there were only four questioners in the day's noon briefing. So Inner City Press asked again, cc-ing Guterres' Deputy Amina J. Mohammed and his Communicator Alison Smale, among others. Haq replied, "your email has been received and we are following up on answers." But by 4 pm, nothing. This is a pattern. On July 2 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo], the Virunga and another park that are both World Heritage Sites, the Government has just announced that they will be opening them up for oil drilling.  I wanted to know what is the impact?  What's the effect of something being a UN or UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] World Heritage Site, and also does the UN have any view of opening up these, you know, environmental treasures to oil drilling?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, obviously we're aware of the rights of, the sovereign rights of Governments to their territory.  At the same time, of course, we have concerns about World Heritage Sites.  I would refer you to UNESCO for their response.  They'll have to evaluate the situation following this report." Then nothing. On June 22, Guterres' armed guard ousted Inner City Press from the UN during an event Guterres spoke at.
Video here, story here, new petition here. Posters of DR Congo's holdover president Joseph Kabila as a candidate for the long promised election were seen and commented on by many, but not the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. On May 30 Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about them, Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you on the DRC. In Kinshasa, there've gone up posters essentially depicting Joseph Kabila as a candidate, seemingly contrary to various agreements, the Constitution.  The country team there, have they seen these posters?  And what do they make of them in terms of the…?

Spokesman:  I think everybody has seen the posters.  I don't have any analysis at this point.  And your last question?" Dujarric canceled the May 31 UN noon briefing, in exchange for Guterres taking a few (pre-selected?) questions at 5 pm. The UN is increasingly UNtransparent. In UN Procurement, the lowest bidder doesn't always win, the UN confirmed on March 26 in response to Inner City Press' March 23 question. Rather than e-mail the statement to Inner City Press which asked, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spoksman Farhan Haq waited to read it out at the March 26 noon briefing, and then refused to answer questions about it. See transcript, and below. Today's UN is corrupt. Now it's even clearer: after ousting the low bidder PPI, UN Procurement has let in a company, Aeronautics Ltd a/k/a Aeronautics Defense Systems, which is under investigation and had a contract canceled in Romania in 2017, like one in Poland in 2012, and Mexico in 2009. On April 27, after publishing the above, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before about the procurement of drones for MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] in the DRC, and I think the upshot of this back-and-forth is that the low bidder doesn't necessarily get the bid, but it's since emerged that a… a company has been allowed in as… as now, the presumptive front-runner, Aeronautics Defence Systems, which will actually banned from… had contracts terminated in Romania in 2017 and Poland in 2012, so many… the people that are… that are, you know, following this to see how money is being spent… what's the… the… it's one thing to say, you know, the low bidder, we can investigate them and not do them, but then how can a company be brought in…?

Spokesman:  Look, I don't have all the facts on the top of my head.  What I do know is that obviously, it's always the lowest… it's the low bidder with the best possible bid.  I mean, you know, what the process is.  All vendors go through a vetting process.  I have no information on this particular company or know whether or not they are, in fact, part of the bidding process.

Inner City Press: Is past… is past record of completion or termination of contracts part of the…?

Spokesman:  Everything is looked at in the procurement process." Really?  Inner City Press was exclusively informed that in the bidding for the UN's Democratic Republic of the Congo UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) program, the low bidder is being displaced by more favored companies, unilaterally, by UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly.

The story, exclusive to Inner City Press, goes like this: out to bid is a $50 million contract to provide Unmanned Aerial Systems services to the UN's MONUSCO in the DRC for a term of five (3 + 1 + 1) years. The present company, Leonardo, has a contract which expires in November. PPI beat out Leonardo, CAE, Thales, Qintetiq, Airbus and Trans Capital.

But shortly after our award, UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly refused to approve the agreed upon terms and demanded PPI perform a demonstration flight prior to contract signature. Inner City Press covered Dovgopoly and similar tricks back when he was at the “D-1” level, and received pushback and is currenty still restricted to minders in the UN for pursuing its anti-corruption coverage into the UN Press Briefing Room, its work space purportedly assigned to a no-show Eygptian state corresponent Sanaa Youssef who has not asked a question in ten years.

On March 23, Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Antonio Guterres who had Inner City Press evicted from the UN Press Briefing Room then its office, and still restricted, about this, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on UN Procurement, I wanted to ask you something.  It… it seems like there's a… there's a contract for the drones, or aerial unmanned systems?

Spokesman:  Unmanned.

Inner City Press: And there was a declared winner, and… and somehow the winner… the… the… the low bidder is now being told that they're not getting the contract, and that Mr. [Dmitri] Dovgopoly of UN Procurement seeks to do sole-source negotiations with people that had higher bids.  I wonder if you can get a statement from them what the status of that is?

Spokesman:  I'll see… I'll see what I can get."

 But when Dujarric got UN Procurement's misleading line, he didn't email it to Inner City Press. Instead, on March 26 his deputy read out at the briefing: "Stéphane [Dujarric] was asked some procurement questions last Friday.  I can say that the requirement for unmanned aerial services was the subject of a request for proposals - or “RFP”.  Under RFP exercises, the Organization may award a contract to the proposer offering the best value for money.  This requires an evaluation of both the technical and financial offers of each proposer.  The lowest bidder, therefore, will not necessarily be successful.  In the MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] exercise, there was no “declared winner”.  One of the proposers, whose financial proposal was the lowest, had been issued a “notice of consideration of award”.  The award was subject to successful contract negotiations.  Unfortunately, no contract was concluded because the UN technical experts rescinded the original technical evaluation of this vendor after learning of information which rendered the technical proposal non-compliant.  Any suggestion of an intention to enter into 'sole source' negotiations is not correct."

   Then after more read-outs and questions about the expulsion of Russian diplomats (Inner City Press story here), Haq called on Inner City Press. Video here. Here's how the UN transcribed it, intentionally chopped -up,: Inner City Press:  I have other stuff, but I wanted… on the answer that you're reading to what I asked on Friday, my question, I guess, is this.  Is… is… the… the… number one, the low bidder says that… that they were subjected after they were deemed to be the low bidder, if not awarded the contract, to additional checks that the previous winners had not been subjected to, namely, Leonardo and Thales.  The main question… you seem… maybe sole source is the wrong word.  I've been informed that Mr. [Dmitri] Dovgopoly has sought permission from Mr.  Christian Sau… Mr.… excuse… Mr. Saunders to inform the… the losing bidders or the higher bidders of exactly how much money the UN has to pay for this service, basically instructing them on how to submit a winning bid so there can be done by… by November.  And it seems… that seems wasteful.  Beyond whatever the rights of the… of the initially low bidder was, it doesn't seem to… way to… to conduct procurement is if you're holding a bidding one to say here's how much money we have; tell us how you can spend it.  So, I guess I… I don't know if you're… maybe you're reading a statement, and I wish it could have been sent to me so I could have… could have narrowed down the issue.  But it… there seems to be irregularities in the procurement of these drones and… and the main question being, why is the low bidder in this case being subjected to tests that others weren't submitted to?

Deputy Spokesman:  Regarding what you said, like I said, the offer had been rescinded after we learned of information which rendered the technical proposal noncompliant.  And, regarding the process, this is a process that involves procurement and our Office for Legal Affairs, who have both reviewed this matter.

Inner City Press:  And are they informing the bidders of how much money there is for them to bid for the full amount, then?

Deputy Spokesman:  This is as much as I'll say about that procurement process at this stage." Today's UN is corrupt.

In this case, Dovgopoly is said to be lobbied by European interests, see the list of bidders above. As Inner City Press reported, the UN drone program was pushed by Herve Ladsous, the fourth of now five Frenchmen in a row to run UN Peacekeeping.

Dovgopoly's “ditch the winner” campaign has included two site inspections and the demand for a demonstration flight prior to deployment, none of which was performed with Leonardo or Thales. PPI tells Inner City Press it agreed to all demands and began manufacturing of aircraft with its contractors. Dovgopoly canceled the demonstration flight a month later. The manufacturing of aircraft has been suspended as a result.

Dovgopoly has reportedly since alleged that PPI misrepresented a relationship with one of its proposed vendors, which PPI denies. Dovgopoly has sent PPI notice rescinding the notice of consideration for award and requested permission to directly negotiate with competitors due to the urgent need to provide MONUSCO with airborne ISR capability as soon as possible. He has requested permission to inform vendors of the allocated budget, and allow vendors to revise their technical proposals to “accommodate the financial constraint.”

Inner City Press understands that the UN's Headquarters Committee on Contracts has ruled the losing competitors' bids no longer valid since the Request For Proposals was from October 2016. It seems Dovgopoly wishes to discloses how much money is available and allow vendors to inform the UN services they can perform and dictate the price. Paying more for less! But it has happened before, as Inner City Press. And now, under Antonio Guterres. We'll have more on this.


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