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For Ban's Great Lakes Trip, Focus Not on Rape But State Dinner, Sources Tell ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 21 -- Ahead of the arrival of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congolese Army was using attack helicopters just outside of Goma.

  At the UN noon briefing on May 21, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if the Congolese Army units involved in 135 rapes in Minova, the 41st and 391st Battalions, were involved in the fighting. Del Buey said he would have to check. Video here, from Minute 6:38.

  This seems like something UN Peacekeeping should know, and quickly, after its Herve Ladsous stonewalled on the rapes for four months. Click here for video of Ladsous refusing Inner City Press questions about the rapes.

  Ban Ki-moon speaking from Mozambique, his stop before the DRC, said the new fighting only proved the need for the Intervention Brigade. To some, it seemed like circular logic.

  But well placed sources have told Inner City Press of another, equally telling conflict. As Ban and World Bank chief Jim Kim prepared for their stop after the DRC, Rwanda, the sources say Ban was angry he was not being offered a state dinner.

  While the Ban's Jim Kim was said to be "more relaxed" about it, Ban was not. One source muses, "What are Ban's priorities?"

  There is certainly a lot of pomp and circumstance with Ban's UN, with retinues of body guards and protocol officers. "Style over substance," one of the sources put it.

  Also at the May 21 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Del Buey if there would be a state dinner -- he said he didn't know -- and if there had initially been on planned (he did not answer.)

  Del Buey ended the briefing even as Inner City Press tried to ask another question, on only its third topic of the day. Video here, from Minute 9:38. What was the rush? And so it goes in Ban's UN.

  Also, a lack of or only belated transparency. Even with regard to this trip, when Inner City Press asked if Ban would visit Mozambique, after UNICEF tweeted it, Ban's office of the spokesperson refused to confirm. Then of the DRC leg, the MONUSCO mission even announced it at a press conference, but Ban's office refused to confirm. Control freaks too, then, or at least less than press friendly.

  Inner City Press asked if Ban's UN has any comment on crackdowns on the media in Uganda, the Daily Monitor, Red Pepper, Dembe FM and KFM,  where Ban will be going next. I would not want to pre-judge, Del Buey said. Or would that be, predict? Watch this site.

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