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Congo Trip by UN Security Council Planned, Blindness to FDLR UNexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- With even a canceled UN Security Council consultation on Syria making news worldwide, on Tuesday afternoon more junior Security Council diplomats gathered in the Council, "on another topic," as one told Inner City Press.

  Further inquiry found that the topic was Africa's Great Lakes region, and not just tomorrow's briefing. Rather, Inner City Press can now report, the Security Council is planning a trip in October to the Great Lakes region.

  The itinerary, Council sources tell Inner City Press, will be Kinshasa, Goma, western Rwanda, Kigali, Kampala then Addis Ababa, seat of the African Union.

  This comes after the Council approved an unprecedented "Force Intervention Brigade" with a mandate of neutralizing armed groups in Eastern Congo. To date, the FIB has only targeted the M23 rebels, and not the FDLR which is linked to the genocide in Rwanda.

Inner City Press reported over the weekend that the UN's summary of a swing through the region by a grouping of its envoy Mary Robinson, US envoy Russ Feingold and counterparts from the African Union and European Union mentioned the M23 but not the FDLR, while that grouping's statement mentioned neither.

  It hasn't yet been possible to ask the UN to explain, as Monday's UN noon briefing was canceled for a five question press conference by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about Syria, and Tuesday's briefing was "Syria-only" to stop at 12:20 pm for a photo op by UNDP's Helen Clark and Ban Ki-moon, who spoke but did not take any questions.

  At the Security Council stakeout on Tuesday, September's Council president Gary Quinlan of Australia said of the September 12 briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo that there has been fighting there, twice mentioning the M23 but not the FDLR.

  Inner City Press asked Quinlan why that would be, and if he understood the Intervention Brigade's mandate to be directed at the FDLR (and other armed groups) as well.

  Quinlan replied that he'll have more to say on September 12. So will we. Watch this site.

Footnote: coverage of the Great Lakes has largely (beyond the obvious AFP) been spoonfed from France and others. One source well-placed about the planned trip exclusively told Inner City Press that's a goal of this voyage too. But will it work?


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