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On #KONY2012 Bandwagon, UN Ignores Darfur, Airbrushes Americans in Dungu

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 -- When the #KONY2012 video went viral and quickly garnered tens of millions of views worldwide, the UN at the highest level was caught off-guard.

Inner City Press asked the spokespeople for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for reaction and to state what they had been doing about Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.

At first there was no reaction. Then the spokesman sent Inner City Press the link to a report from Ban, from November 2011.

Finally on Friday the UN provided a video linked briefing by Ban's Special Representative for Central Africa Abou Moussa, the Deputy Force Commander of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Major-General Adrian Foster along with the Special Envoy of the African Union for the LRA issue, Francisco Madeira.

They described operations in four countries, without mentioning Sudan or the 100 military advisers the Obama administration has sent. Inner City Press then asked about both, and more generally about the impact of #KONY2012 and of illegal exploitation of natural resources, including by militaries in the region. Video here.

Abou Moussa acknowledged there is controversy about the film -- he did not mention the public masturbation charge against its lead creator -- but said two points remain, that the LRA maims people and that its leaders should be arrested.

Inner City Press asked about reports that the LRA had entered Darfur in Sudan, and asked why this military operation dealt at least on paper only with DRC, Uganda, Central African Republic and Sout Sudan. The answer was that even the "neighboring states" should be involved and if Kony enters their territory, should arrest him, under the International Criminal Court warrant.

But Sudan's Defense Minister, its President Omar al Bashir and governor Ahmed Harun have themselves been indicted by the ICC and not arrested. In fact, UN Peacekeeping offered free helicopter flights to Ahmed Harun, and Ban's Darfur envoy Ibrahim Gambari most recently partied with Bashir.

Could this undermine the UN's credibility in tracking down ICC indictee Joseph Kony?

Inner City Press asked twice about the 100 American military advisers and was finally told that two of them are in Dungu in the DRC. Where are the other 98 and what have they been doing?

The war in the DRC, described as Africa's World War, was fueled by militaries including from Uganda looting minerals in Eastern Congo. Inner City Press asked what safeguards were in place. First it was said, despite UN Sanctions reports to the contrary, that such looting of minerals is just a "perception."

Then Major-General Adrian Foster described a meeting in Kinshasa on March 15 between the defense chiefs of staff of DRC and Uganda, saying that the "atmospherics" were good.

  This was also meant to answer a question Inner City Press asked, including previously to Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, about the Ugandan army saying it has been blocked from DRC, apparently since just before the conduct of the deeply flawed (but scarcely UN commented on) Congolese elections.

 It emerged Friday that the Uganda army, the UPDF, still for now cannot or will not enter the DRC.

   There is a credible theory that Uganda's government and military have used the Kony issue for years, as a boogie-man and as a way to raise funds. With 5000 troops and 100 American military advisers, will Kony and a band of 200 to 700 fighters be caught? We'll see.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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