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On DRC, After UN Misled on Flying FDLR Leader, Rome Flight Alleged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14, more here -- Amid reports on June 27 that the UN flew a sanctioned militia leader of the FDLR on a UN aircraft in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujurric about it at the UN noon briefing on June 27:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] fly him to Goma to Kisangani and then to Kinshasa when, in fact, I think there’s an arrest warrant for him?

Spokesman Dujarric: I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.

  Dujarric that day, and in the subsequent times Inner City Press asked, insisted that not only Mary Robinson (who today left her post as the UN's Great Lakes envoy) but also US envoy Russ Feingold requested the waiver, and that the FDLR leader Gaston Iyamuremye a/k/a Rumuli had not traveled to Rome, arguing that only that was important.

  Inner City Press disagrees -- why would UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous given his history on Rwanda, representing France in the Security Council in 1994 arguing for the escape of the genocidaires into Eastern Congo, fly a sanctioned FDLR figure linked to the genocide around?

 But now the Italian publication L'Indro reports that even after the Security Council sanctions committee stopped Herve Ladsous' request for Rumuli to fly, he nevertheless "embarked on a areo dell'Etiophian Airline landing at Fiumicino airport with regular tourist visa" and staying until June 30. Click here for the L'indro article.

   One would expect to be able to trust answers or denials from the UN spokesperson's office. But of later, not only did that office apparently withhold answers on this situation -- they also doctored transcripts, about Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir and then, for the second time, censoring even the name of the Free UN Coalition for Access from "its" transcript, click here for that.

 In this context we summarize and link to the L'indro article, and will pursue it.

Back on June 30, when other sources indicated to Inner City Press that this flying service WAS provided by MONUSCO, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again at UN noon briefing:

Inner City Press: I asked you on Friday a pretty straightforward question, which is whether MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] used its helicopters to, prior to the denial by the Security Council’s 1533 Sanctions Committee, to transfer this… the FDLR’s [Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda] leader within the [Democratic Republic of the Congo]? And I’m wondering if you have an answer on that?

Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t have anything to add.

Inner City Press: Does that mean --

Spokesman Dujarric: If I had something to add, I would tell you. Yes, in the back?

So Dujarric had nothing to add to his June 27 statement that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.” So did he still think that was true? Had he even asked UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous -- who sitting beside Dujarric had refused Press questions on the DRC, video here -- or MONUSCO under Martin Kobler?

On July 1, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO undertake to fly to Goma, to Kisangani and Kinshasa? And the reason why I keep asking about this is it seems like it’s a use of UN resources, just knowing why this flight took place.

Spokesman: Sure, if I have something on that I will share it with you

  For Dujarric to have nothing to supplement his statement of June 27 that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” he either did not ask Ladsous' DPKO or they lied to him.

  On July 2, after Martin Kobler belatedly disclosed that yes, under him MONUSCO flew the FDLR leader, Inner City Press asked Dujarric. Laughably, given Ladsous' refusal to answer Press questions, Dujarric said, you could pick up the phone. UN Video here, from Minute 7.

Dujarric first said he never denied the flight. But he's said, even according to the UN's own transcript, “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” and then said nothing when asked twice more about this.

Inner City Press asked, can we assume that when a question is asked in his briefing room, you at least try to get an answer? When did you get this information? Dujarric did not answer this.

Footnote: Dujarric was asked if he will participate in the softball soccer game of the UN Correspondents Association, to which Dujarric sets aside the first questions in briefings and has defended in meeting(s) with the new Free UN Coalition for Access -- which, to put it mildly, is “deeply concerned” by inaccurate answers in the UN Press Briefing Room. Softballs with scribes? We'll have more on this.


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