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Seeking Peacebuilding Chair, EU Slowed Funding to CAR, Sources Say, Rebels & Nobel Ensued

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 20, updated twice -- As rebels drive on Bangui, what has the UN Peacebuilding Configuration for the Central African Republic being doing?

  Very little, multiple diplomats told Inner City Press on Thursday. Since Belgium's Permanent Representative Jan Grauls resigned, the chair of the CAR configuration has been vacant.

   The European Union wants to become the chair, in its own right. But this requires the consent of the government of the Central African Republic, which did not immediately agree.

   And so, well placed PBC diplomats tell Inner City Press, the EU slowed funding to the Bozize government of CAR.

  "It was to gain leverage," one Permanent Representative told Inner City Press. "But now Bozize couldn't make his DDR payments to the rebels, and they're trying to overthrow him." What was that again, about the EU Nobel Prize?

  An African Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press it had not been his understanding that the EU could get the chair of a Peacebuilding configuration.

Update of 4:15 pm: Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud about the EU's quest to chair the CAR Peacebuilding configuration. Araud said he heard only this morning that the EU "is not a volunteer" for the position and "will not get it." Video here, from Minute 5:20.

  Soon after this UNTV stakeout, several EU members told Inner City Press this is not the case. We can understand the question came up publicly very question - based on this expose - and will seek clarification.

2d update: an EU member with an embassy in Bangui tells Inner City Press they meet periodically with President Bozize and this hasn't come up - yet.

   Inner City Press asked the UN's envoy on sexual violence and conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura, who recently visited CAR for eight days, what the UN Peacebuilding Commission has accomplished in CAR. She was hard-pressed to list things, mentioned $2 million dollars, and doctors "without even a motorcycle."

Bangura said that of the eight armed groups in CAR, two are "foreign" - the Lord's Resistance Army and another led by a Chadian - and of the other six, some 60 to 70 percent of their fighters are Chadians.

Inner City Press asked why then the UN is treating CAR's rebels and Chad so differently than Congo's M23 and Rwanda. Bangura said she could not answer that question.

Footnote: Bangura was generally candid, and Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, thanked her for her answers. Video here, from Minute 16:48.

  It would have been fine then for a similar UNCA thanks to be given -- but the word "legitimate" was attached to the intervention. Video here, at Minute 24:04.

  As noted three minutes later (video here from Minute 27:08), an election was required by December 15, and the leaving of office by the executive committee on December 31. One deadline has been missed and other is threatened, by an e-mail that has yet to be explained. Legitimate? Not so much. Watch this site.

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