In Burundi, UN
Admits FNL Rebels Fired Katyusha Rocket, Provenance Left Vague
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 22 -- The FNL rebels in Burundi fired a Katyusha
during their most recent drive on the capital, Bujumbura, the UN
on Thursday. The FNL, Party for the Liberation of the Hutu
National Liberation Forces, are in on-again, off-again peace talks with
Burundi's government. Inner
Press had heard from Burundian sources that this rocket -- "we never
those rockets before in Bujumbura," one said -- was the basis for
a link between the FNL and the FDLR militia in the Eastern Congo. The FDLR, in English the Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, is comprised of ethnic Hutu from
when Youssef Mahmoud of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi was asked,
"we do not deny that the Katyusha rocket was fired," but we have no
credible evidence to link it to the FDLR. Video here,
from Minute 4:46.
enough. But where did the
rocket come from, then?
UN's operations in Burundi, which were requested to protect 46
parliamentarians on February 28, did not offer any protection before a
grenade attack on four of the legislators. Thereafter, the UN asked the
government to condemn the attacks, and checked up on the level of
the government was providing. Inner City Press asked if, between the
28 request for protection and the March 8 attacks, the UN had told the
that no help would be provided. We are in touch with the opposition,
FNL in Burundi, Katyusha rocket not shown
senior leaders of the FNL have been in Tanzania. Burundi officials says
the FNL is being squeezed out of Tanzania, and that many of the leaders
"can't live in the bush," and so surrender. The FNL's forces are
dwindling, they say. But Katyusha rockets can multiply forces.
When Inner City Press asked
Karen Pierce, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK, which hold
presidency this month, about discussions of FNL connections with the
FDLR, she acknowledged
it was discussed, but said that the link had not been proved. She said
issue of providing protection in Burundi had not been discussed, but
child soldiers and "woman, peace and security." Video here,
Minute 4:06. Asked about the repeated flaming up of conflict in
said that "a lot of visibility will help people adhere to their
commitments." But when will that lot of visibility come? Discussions of
Burundi at the UN take place on the margins.
May 21 on the sidelines of the General
Assembly's vote for members of the Human Rights Council, Inner City
Press asked Norwegian Ambassador Johan Lovald, the head of
the UN Peacebuilding Commission's Burundi "configuration" if he
thought the Peacebuilding Fund is putting enough money into Burundi.
answered that it might not be a question of too little money but rather
capacity to spend it. Burundian officials contacted on May 22 by Inner
Press not surprisingly disagreed. We have 17 projects, one of them
are not all funded. It was noticeable
that many Security Council delegation had their Permanent
Thursday's meeting on Burundi well before the end, leaving
it goes for Africa, or most of it.
Footnotes: now if
the Katusha rocket were alleged
to come from Iran, for example, more
senior officials would come to the Burundi meetings....
Amb. Lovald was asked about Carolyn McAskie's replacement as head of
Peacebuilding Fund. It's still a young entity, Lovald said, it needs a
leader. Inner City Press asked, Jan Egeland? Amb. Lovald only laughed...
* * *
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