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UN's Radio Okapi Now Notes Group of Experts Report, After DRC Denies It

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 4 -- Since putting online exclusively the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operation and its mission on the Congo MONUSCO for a response. For five days there has been been nothing but stonewalling.

  This despite the fact that the questions have been entirely factual: have DPKO and MONUSCO provided support to the Congolese army units depicted in the report as engaged in rape, child soldier recruitment, looting of village and UN compounds, conflict gold mining and, not least, supporting and arming of the FDLR militia.

  DPKO, three of whose four spokespeople reported being out of the office, confirmed receipt of the questions on June 29. But still, no substantive response.  This is a pattern: Ladsous video here.

  Likewise to questions sent to MONUSCO in precisely the way they invited, send your questions to MONUSCO. Nothing.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access, which beyond fighting for freedom of the press in the UN and for example in the past two days in Somaliland is assessing UN “social” media and ostensibly independent media like Radio Okapi in the Congo, twice asked Okapi when it would be covering the Group of Experts report.

  No answer, but finally five days after it was published, Okapi weighed in -- with the DRC government's denial. Unlike for example even Bloomberg News, which reporting from Kinsasha credited Inner City Press for putting the report online, Okapi said nothing until DRC spokesman Lambert Mende denounced it.

   The denunciation itself is strange, given that Mende and the Kabila government made much of the previous Group of Experts report on outside support to the M23.

  While many good people work for Okapi, this sequence is telling. MONUSCO, one of two “partners” in Okapi, supports the DRC government. So, when in January 2013 Inner City Press reported on support for the FDLR by the Congolese Army FARDC, the response was a MONUSCO press release denouncing Inner City Press.

  Now that the UN Group of Experts report confirms this support and even arming, will MONUSCO retract its bogus January 30, 2013 press release? We have asked DPKO -- which has refused to answer the most basic questions. Watch this site.

Footnote: One point here is that it is absurd to claim that Radio Okapi is entirely independent, with MONUSCO as a partner, just as it is absurd to claim that Voice of America, with John Kerry on its Board, is independent from the US State Department. We'll have more on this.

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