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On DRC, ICP Asks UN of Failing to Protect Miriki from FDLR, Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 20 -- After the UN had to admit its peacekeepers had once again failed to protect civilians, in the DR Congo from the FDLR, Inner City Press on January 20 asked the UN's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about DRC.  There were quotes today by the interim commander of MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), General Jean Baudrillard, that the UN did not… that South African peacekeepers, quote, responded inadequately during the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) attack on Mariki [sic], and where 17 people were killed.  So I wanted to know, I mean, he said there would be inquiry into how this happened; but I was surprised from this podium it was said there was a new force commander, Lieutenant General Mugwebe of South Africa.  When he is taking up the post and does this have any implications given it's the peacekeeping mission that is there that didn't react?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  It shouldn't have any implications.  Obviously, as you know, when we make announcements sometimes other people are in office for a while longer and then the replacement happens.  That was the case with this, where I believe we have even said in our announcement that the force commander would be around for several more weeks.  But, in any case, yes, the force commander of MONUSCO did say that he considered that the UN response to the attack in Mariki was inadequate. The UN mission reinforced the presence in the Mariki area following the incident.  Additional Congolese military and police units were also deployed to the area.  The UN Mission, local and provincial authorities are working together to help ease tensions between communities in the area.  And the Mission is also conducting investigations looking into circumstances surrounding the incident, as you have noted.

Inner City Press:  Does it change the UN's desire or willingness to take itself on and, quote, neutralize the FDLR, given they were the perpetrators of this event?

Deputy Spokesman:  You said what we said about operations against the FDLR and our position on that remains the same.

Back in December 2015 amid reports the UN in the DR Congo is fighting the ADF without the government's support, while refusing to similarly fight the FDLR, Innner City Press on December 2 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, transcript here:

Inner City Press:  there are very detailed quotes from South African military officials saying that the Government said, “Don't do it,” and that the Government is trying to use non-cooperation or orders against the attack on ADF as leverage to both reduce the troop strength of MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and to get the war… generals accused of war criminals to participate in UN war activities.  So, it seems like you should… like, is that not the case?  Do you maintain that the Government is fully cooperating with this…?

Spokesman:  I think what I'm telling you is that the UN operates its… fulfils its mandate in these particular instances in support of the Government.  As for operational or tactical details, I don't have those.

Inner City Press:  Just the one follow-up on that would be, if it's, as seems to be, at least, South Africa is stating, the UN feels comfortable taking military actions that it thinks is in support of the Government without the Government's full support.  Why hasn't it taken any of those against the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda], where the lack of Government cooperation is used as the excuse?

Spokesman:  I think each operation has its own… is sui generis, and I'm not going to second-guess the military decisions taken by the commanders on the ground."

 Inner City Press on October 7 exclusively reported the MONUSCO mission's use of 76 rockets and 400 rounds of ammunition near Pinga, which sources told Inner City Press resulted in civilian death, which Ladsous' DPKO then reflexively denied or covered up. Inner City Press raised this within the Security Council's P3 members as well, so far without effective response or reform.

 Now Le Monde belatedly chimes in -- with a story agreeing that MONUSCO is failing, but also trying to say that Ladsous' DPKO is being falsely accused. If so, they have only themselves to blame: rather than respond to Inner City Press' October 7 noon briefing question with details, the UN had a carefully worded statement which remains at odds with what Inner City Press is informed as said at the internal DPKO / DFS meeting about the incident.

  And why WAS Ladsous' DPKO deploying this amount of force against a "minor" group and not the FDLR? Inner City Press has previously noted Ladsous' role in 1994, including this memo. We -- but perhaps not Le Monde -- will have more on this.

   Sources tell Inner City Press of a DPKO meeting concerning an excessive use of force by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), through its Force Intervention Brigade, using 76 rockets or missiles and up to 400 rounds of ammunition near Pinga in Eastern Congo, ostensibly against the Mai Mai Cheka group.

   But at least one civilians was killed. There was no impartial investigation, the sources say. Rather, Ladsous' DPKO went in itself, and conveniently “discovered” a gun near the killed civilians, much like  some police departments “drop a piece” after a questionable shooting.

   Inner City Press is informed, by different sources, that this has been discussed among senior officials in Ladsous' DPKO, at the DPKO / DFS Directors' meeting on the morning of October 7.

   So why wasn't this said at the Security Council and stakeout where Kobler bragged to Inner City Press about the “zero tolerance” policy (while Ladsous has, on camera, linked rape to “R&R”)?

What is the mechanism to disclose the killing of civilians under Ladsous' DPKO? We'll have more on this - and on Ladsous including one of his meetings during UN General Assembly debate week. Ladsous' spokespeople, far from answering questions, go so far as to direct UNTV boom microphone operators to avoid Inner City Press, even preventing the Press from asking any questions to Mali's Foreign Minister Abdulaye Diop last week. We'll have more on all this.


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