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UN Envoy and UK Bless 3 Nations' Attack on LRA, All Bets Off With Kony

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- The Lord's Resistance Army, after years of looting and kidnapping children, is now subject to military action by the governments of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Emerging from the UN Security Council chamber on Wednesday afternoon, UK Ambassador John Sawers named only two countries as part of the action, DRC and Uganda. Inner City Press asked him, isn't South Sudan involved? Ambassador Sawers said, "I'm not sure. Uganda has been cooperating the the DRC, I'm not sure of the involvement of South Sudan." Video here, from Minute 2:11.

   Amb. Sawers had just emerged from a briefing by Joaquim Chissano, the UN's envoy to the LRA-Affected Areas. Minutes later, Inner City Press asked Chissano if he had included South Sudan's involvement in his briefing to Council members. South Sudan is involved militarily, Chissano confirmed. So why did Amb. Sawers demur?

  The two also differed on the involvement of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in DRC, MONUC. Sawers, when Inner City Press asked if MONUC is involved, said that MONUC has its hands full. Video here. Chissano, on the other hand, said that MONUC supports the DRC army logistically.

Chissano at the stakeout, attack on LRA by 3 nations with MONUC support not shown

  Earlier in the week, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas

Inner City Pres: There are these reports that the governments of three countries have bombed the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including South Sudan.  Can you, what’s the UN’s understanding of which countries have participated in this bombing?  Have complaints been lodged with Mr. Chissano, and what was the UN’s involvement in deciding to try to resolve the conflict in this way?

Spokesperson Montas:  MONUC, as far as the contacts we had with them this morning, has not been involved in the planning and implementation of these joint operations.  The Mission has been supporting, however, the FARDC with logistics, such as transport, water and food, for the containment operation which the FARDC was conducting prior to this new operation by the regional forces.  And MONUC has also helped consolidate and widen the airfield at Dungu, which serves as operational bridgehead for the FARDC and Ugandan troops.  That’s really all I can say at this point.

  Since it appears that killing Kony and at least his adult supporters is one goal or at least possible outcomes of the action, Amb. Sawers' statement that the action is "well judged" seems to some to verge on a ratification of extra-judicial killing. Chissano explains the action as an attempt to drive Kony back to Uganda. Meanwhile he says that to lure Kony to Uganda, the International Criminal Court action against him might be suspended, at the request of Uganda. A reporter asked why Chissano was speaking of such suspension, given the charges against Kony.  It was not discussed in the Council, Chissano said. But we are discussing it out here, the reporter insisted. Chissano's handler led him away.

  It is hard to see Chissano playing any mediation or go-between role in this conflict anymore. Tellingly, he said the the anticipated extension of his mandate will be for work with the three governments.  

News analysis: the LRA are war criminals. But what about the accusations against Uganda's army? The ICC has let them off the hook, and now Chissano, it appears, works with and for them. Previously, UNDP channeled funding to the Ugandan Army to do forcible disarmament of pastoralists in Karamoja. What did the UK do about that? The UN's -- and the UK's -- record in Uganda is not pretty.

  Separately, if the UN's theory is that even the Devil must have someone to speak with or through, the question on the LRA is, who's next?

Footnote: There was other UK-U.S. intrigue, it emerges, in Tuesday's Somalia meetings. In a closed-door session of the Contact Group on Somalia, a participant tells Inner City Press that the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "got into it" with the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative Karen Pierce. We'll opine in this footnote that we like Ms. Pierce's spunk, if not the UK Mission's sometimes opaque exclusivity. But the tiff was continued up into the Security Council chamber between Ms. Rice and her British counterpart David Milliband. The Secretary General was unclear why things were being delayed, and launched into his prepared testimony. Only at the UN...

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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