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At UN on Congo & M23, Doubts About MONUSCO, French Spin on Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- When Eastern Congo and the M23 rebellion was taken up by the UN Security Council on Monday afternoon, it was as if France had already taken over the Council Presidency from Colombia, which has two days left.

  While Ban Ki-moon and Herve Ladsous envoy Roger Meece droned on for fifty minutes, giving rise to complaints from some delegations, France spun the press on how it was going to be proposing a Council reaction on Monday.

  But as diplomats wandered out they said they were told it was not ready. One wondered if France was delaying so that its Permanent Representative Gerard Araud could read the statement out on camera, when he formally takes over August 1.

  There are other disagreements in the Council on the Congo and M23, sources told Inner City Press.

  There is a reticence -- "cheapness," one member called it -- to financial support the force proposed by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

  At the same time there are doubts that Meece's MONUSCO force can do the job, they who stood by during the mass rapes at Walikale, and almost let Goma be taken over.

Inner City Press asked outgoing Council president Nestor Osorio of Colombia how MONUSCO could protect civilians in areas controlled by M23. We want to avoid a confrontation, he said. So why NOT fund the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region proposed force?

Araud's deputy Martin Briens and lead spokesman were both back at the UN on Monday, getting ready for what, on paper at least, is a quiet month. Inner City Press last week obtained and put online France's draft Program of Work, click here for that.

  But already it is changing, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saying France will convene a ministerial meeting on Syria. The French Mission to the UN was the venue of a meeting on the Saudi Arabian draft General Assembly resolution. Saudi Arabia had said it would be introduced on Monday but it was not: bogged down at the French Mission? Watch this site.

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