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Burundi Hires Scribe, IPI Removes Press from Event with Tarranco & Italy's Cardi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- As in Burundi the crackdown on those opposing or even questioning a third term for Pierre Nkurunziza proceeds, there are now attempts to spin or ban questions in Washington and New York. In Washington, Nkurunziza has hired the lobbying firm “Scribe Strategies and Advisers,” whose Richard E. Sincere has invited amenable scribes to meet the foreign minister on June 24 for some informal Q&A.

  In New York, as Inner City Press tweeted yesterday, the International Peace Institute has set up an event with two UN officials on “lessons learned” from Burundi for today. Inner City Press, which has asked the UN spokespeople more questions about Burundi than anyone, heard about the IPI event from a diplomat who assumed IPI had invited Inner City Press among with the scribes and hangers-on. But no. 

  So Inner City Press wrote to the person to RSVP to, Amanda Murchison, and to IPI's head of communications Warren Hoge, previously the New York Times' UN correspondent, asking why it had not been notified of this event on Burundi, which involves. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Burundi, and as may be relevant, Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.

  On the morning of June 23 this was the (mis-sent, apparently) response:

"To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: Amanda Murchison [at]
Date: Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 9:02 AM
Subject: Event on BURUNDI AT IPI ON JUNE 23RD, question(s)
Hi Mary Anne,

What should I do in this instance when you had me remove this person?

  “Mary Anne” would seem to be Mary Anne Feeney who according to the organization's website “joined the International Peace Institute (IPI) in November 2007. She currently works as part of the Management Team as the Director of Events. In this capacity, she manages an event planning team and oversees the organization of all IPI meetings and events, including policy fora, book launches, conferences, seminars, and workshops.Before joining IPI, Mary Anne worked as the Executive Coordinator at Amnesty International USA.”
   But why was Inner City Press “removed” from this? We'll have more on this.

While UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson was at the African Union summit in Johannesburg where Burundi was discussed, Burundian independent media wrote to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the crackdown against them, sending to a copy to Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, which is now online here.

 On June 16, after first declining to confirm receipt, the UN said the letter was received or "logged in." But what will be done? FUNCA has asked again, after Ban's own security detail was used to eject Inner City Press from a speech by Ban to UN Peacekeeping, which continues to use security personnel of Burundi which have fired on unarmed demonstrators.

 On June 21, Ban issued this statement - Bathily to Bujumbura - no word on the third term, much less freedom of press and assembly:

"The Secretary-General continues to follow with concern the political crisis in Burundi, which threatens to undo more than a decade of work to consolidate peace and reconciliation in the country. In this respect, he welcomes the communiqué of the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council held on 13 June at the level of Heads of State and Government.  With the communiqué, the African Union provided a clear way forward towards peaceful and credible elections in Burundi.

"The Secretary-General has requested his Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, to offer good offices in Burundi in support of regional efforts to reduce tensions and help Burundians peacefully settle their differences. Special Representative Bathily will work closely with the African Union, the East African Community and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region.  He will arrive in Bujumbura on Sunday, 21 June.

"The Secretary-General wishes to express deep gratitude to his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, for his tireless efforts impartially facilitating the dialogue among Burundian stakeholders during May and June of this year.

"As elections draw near, the Secretary-General calls on all Burundian political leaders to address the current political crisis with the highest sense of responsibility. He urges them to resume political dialogue earnestly with a view to creating an environment conducive for peaceful, credible and inclusive elections."

On June 18, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: in Burundi, today there was a grenade attack in the capital that injured three and also a deadly grenade attack, I believe, yesterday.  And I'm wondering it doesn't seem like things are whatever the UNOCA [United Nations Office in Central Africa] individual is doing… calming down.  So, I'm just wondering is there any… what is the UN, what is the current status of the UN and other efforts to bridge the gap prior to an election that will have the current president on the ballot?

Deputy Spokesman:  We are continuing with our efforts.  As you know, our representative from the UN Office from Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, is in touch with the various parties and he is continuing with these efforts.  We are concerned about the violence, including the various incidents that you just mentioned, and we are worried about the situation on the ground, which is why we are continuing to work with the parties and see what can be done to make sure that if elections are held that they will be safe, that they will be inclusive, that people can vote without fear and that the elections will be fair.

  But does that assume a run for a third term, and therefor a boycott of the parliamentary elections -- a set up for domination and even (further) constitutional change?

In a June 19 statement, the UN's expert on transitional justice Pablo de Greiff said Burundi's "authorities’ blatant failures to respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, the pre-conditions for any credible democratic society.” Again it seems the proposed third term was not directly addressed by the UN.

 On June 20 former head of UN Peacekeeping, now Crisis Group director Jean Marie Guehenno tweeted about de Grieff's statement. Inner City Press retweeted Guehenno's statement, asked about the continued use of Burundian security personnel by Guehenno's successor Herve Ladsous. Then Guehenno's tweet disappeared, so far without explanation.

   On June 16, Inner City Press asked about reports of the arrest and even torture of MSD leader Leonidas Nimpagaritse. UN Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said "we'll check;" Inner City Press asked what the UN's electoral mission is doing and it remains UNclear.

  As lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric answered Inner City Press on June 15, Haq said that UNOCA chief Bathily is in a sense replacing Said Djinnit for the UN on Burundi, to coordinate with the African Union. Transcript:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you two things on Burundi.  One is you had said that the DSG and Mr. [Said] Djinnit would be in the [AU] summit.  Do you have… what was the term, what, if any, progress was made particularly on UN involvement in either replacing Mr. Djinnit or trying to address the ongoing disquiet there?  And also there was a letter of five or more Burundi media that was directed to the Secretary-General on June 11th.  I saw a copy was sent to Ms. [Susanna] Malcorra basically asking for the UN to get involved because they had to flee the country because their stations had been burned and closed and they have been threatened with violence by the Government.  What is the response of the UN system?

Spokesman:  I will take a look to see if we received that letter.  On Burundi, the Secretary-General requested his special representative and Head of UN Mission in Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, to carry out consultations to ensure the effective participation of the UN in the international facilitation called for by the African Union Peace and Security Council to quote “to create conditions conducive to the holding of free, transparent and credible elections in Burundi, as well as on the matters on which the parties disagree” — which is what the African Union Peace and Security Committee issued.

  But when Inner City Press asked Haq for the UN's view of the AU sending (military?) observers to Burundi, Haq did not comment. So what of Nimpagaritse?

   Ban's UN has said little amid the closing down of independent media in Burundi, other than generalities when FUNCA and Inner City Press have asked about it. Now what will they do?

 The letter is from Bob Rugurika of Radio Publique Africaine, Patrick Nduwimana of Radio Bonesha FM, Anne Niyuhire of Radio Isanganiro, Innocent Muhozi of Radi-Tele Renaissance, Alexandre Niyungeko of UBJ and the Association Burundaise de radiodiffuseires, here.

 On June 12 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: In Burundi, documents emerged, a ruling, legal opinion by the ministers of justice of the East African Community states, and they read very closely the constitution and the Arusha declaration and they say that a third term would be illegal, that he’s not eligible, that it's clear the first term was under the Constitution.  I'm wondering, one, is there any response by the Secretariat, that it's been sort of not addressing this question?  And was Mr. Djinnit aware of this ruling during the time of this facilitation?  And if so, why didn't it speak more clearly on the subject?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think that Mr. Djinnit is one of our more experienced diplomats, experienced negotiator, mediator.  I'm sure he was aware of everything he needed to be aware of.  I don't have a response to that....

Inner City Press:  Is the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] aware of this document as he goes to the African Union Summit…?

Spokesman:  I think the DSG is fully aware of the situation in Burundi and would be looking forward to his discussion with Mr. Djinnit.

  We'll see.

Two days after civil society groups in Burundi wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon how his envoy Said Djinnit should be removed from the role, here, on June 10 Djinnit issued a press statement "taking note" of this position - and stepping down or back.

  On June 11 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric whose decision the resignation was -- Djinnit's, he said -- and if the UN is going to try to replace him as facilitator.

  Dujarric said that UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson is headed to the African Union meeting in South Africa on June 14, along with Djinnit, and will be holding discussion including on Burundi there. Dujarric mentioned it is a question of which organization a facilitator should represented.

  Inner City Press has received a copy of the same civil society groups' which requested that Djinnit step down new letter to the East African Community for an emergency summit.

   Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Dujarric about the spokesman for the police and security ministry blaming ongoing demonstrations on journalists, at least 50 of whom have already fled the country.

  Back on June 10, Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access had asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Nkurunziza government's order banning entry into the studios of five radio and TV stations. Video here. Djinnit's statement claims there was consensus on May 28 on re-opening these:

"commended the Burundian parties, in particular, for the set of recommendations adopted by consensus at the May 28 dialogue session, on the right to information and the reopening of private radio and television stations damaged during the May 13-14 events."

 Here is the full text of Djinnit's statement, which Inner City Press earlier photographed and Tweeted in French and English:


The Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, and members of the facilitation team that joined and supported the dialogue between the Burundian parties, met today in Bujumbura with members of the diplomatic corps. During this meeting, the Special Envoy briefed the participants on the dialogue who [sic] he facilitated starting from 5 May 2015, at the request of the Burundian parties who had agreed, by themselves, on the agenda as well as the list of participants.

The Special Envoy recalled that during the dialogue, the parties maintained diverging views on the candidature of President Nkurunziza for a third term. He highlighted the progress made on the four agenda items, namely: the appeasement measures and mutual commitments; the management of the electoral calendar; guarantees for the holding of free, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections; and protection of Constitutional rights and freedoms. The conclusions of the dialogue are reflected in the attached May 29 press communique.

The Special Envoy commended the Burundian parties, in particular, for the set of recommendations adopted by consensus at the May 28 dialogue session, on the right to information and the reopening of private radio and television stations damaged during the May 13-14 events. He encourages the parties to implement these recommendations without delay.

The Special Envoy takes this opportunity to thanks all the Burundian parties for their cooperation during the dialogue that he facilitated with impartiality and, on which he reported faithfully to the Emergency Summit of the East African Community which took place in Dar-es-Salaam on May 31, and the relevant UN organs. The Special Envoy expresses his deep gratitude for the support extended to him in his role as facilitator by the East African Community, the International Conference for the Great Lakes region, the African Union and the UN including the Secretary General, the Security Council and the Peace Building Commission. He also thanks the external partners of Burundi including the European Union, the United States, France, Belgium and many others who came forth to help during the dialogue process.

Mr. Said Djinnit thanks all the Burundian parties for the facilitation role they entrusted to him on May 5. He duly takes note of the position expressed a few days ago, on his role as facilitator by some Burundian parties.
In his capacity as the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Djinnit remains committed, in collaboration with relevant regional organizations, to continue to work toward preserving and consolidating peace, democracy and stability in Burundi in accordance with the objectives of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, signed in Addis Ababa on February 24, 2013.

 The Special Envoy encourages the Burundian parties to continue their dialogue with a view to create conditions conducive to holding free, fair, inclusive and peaceful elections. He stresses the importance of preserving the legacy of teh Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement as enshrined in the Constitution. He reiterates his appeal to all parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from any acts likely to increase tension and violence.

  After the UN Security Council, the United States and the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi on May 15 issued statements urging calm in the country given the return of Pierre Nkurunziza to presumably run for a third term, on May 29 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous accepting an allegedly abusive Burundian police officer Godefroid Bizmama into his MINUSMA mission in Mali. Video here, and embedded below.

  On June 9, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about civil society opposition to the electoral commission proposing presidential polls for July 15, including it seems for a possible third term. What does UN envoy Said Djinnit think of a third term? Video here.

  Dujarric again refused to answer directly, while calling on Burundians to follow Djinnit. Follow him where?

  Inner City Press asked about Italy suspending inclusion of Burundian forces in its training program, see below: Inner City Press has learned that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA was rejected by vetting even in 2014.

  Dujarric replied that this is up to the Italian government. But what is the UN doing, including with respect to 1000 Burundian police slated to begin "peacekeeping" in Somalia on June 11? We'll see.

  Amid calls to replace UN enovy Said Djinnit as "pro-Nkurunziza," which Inner City Press has asked the UN about, on June 8 another letter went in, signed by Vital Nshimirimana. Inner City Press is putting it online here (it is in French, and translated by the Free UN Coalition for Access here); it explains the demand that Djinnit be replaced.

  Some note that Ban Ki-moon, now on travel in Central Asia but still quiet on human rights there too, gave in to requests to replace his Yemen mediator Jamal Benomar and ask, why not here? But those requests were from Saudi Arabia. Watch this site.

  On June 8, Inner City Press asked Maman S. Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia, about Burundian forces serving in AMISOM.

  Sidikou replied that their "morale" remains high, and that one thousand are coming into Somalia from June 11 to 18. So is there no human rights due diligence for this?

  The UN claims due diligence but gives no details at all. On June 8 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On Burundi, I asked you before about Godefroid Bizimana.  Now I'm going to ask about Jérôme Ntibibogora, who is a Burundian police officer who, civil society there, say was involved in an attack against a hospital and firing at protesters.  He's set for deployment in the Central African Republic after being trained by an Italian centre known as CoESPU, a Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units.

Spokesman Dujarric:  As much as I have everybody's files and names under my fingertips, I will check…

Inner City Press: I've actually heard from the Italian mission that they've put some of their training on hold, but likewise has the UN put anything on hold of deployment of police officers from Burundi?

Spokesman:  I think we'll… you know, there is a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy and people are being screened.

Inner City Press:  But, Godefroid seems to…

Spokesman:  Has he been appointed?

Inner City Press: That's why I'm asking [about

  Early on June 8, based on more information from Inner City Press' sources in Burundi, Inner City Press asked Italy's Mission to the UN:

"In covering the crisis in Burundi, multiple sources there have informed Inner City Press that a Burundian police officer named Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA, implicated in the crackdown in Bujumbura, is now set to be deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA -- but only after he is “trained” by / in Italy.

"This a Press request for your Mission to confirm or deny that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA / NTIBIBOGORA Jérôme or any other Burundian police or military personnel involved in putting down protests to Pierre Nkurunziza's attempted third term is scheduled or considered for training or any preparatory work in Italy prior to a deployment with UN Peacekeeping.

"For your information in responding on deadline to this, Inner City Press' sources in Burundi said that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA / NTIBIBOGORA Jérôme has so far been involved in at least two recent troubling incidents: killings at the hospital of BUMEREC (in Bujumbura) on May 14, 2015 and firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters on June 5, 2015, resulting in the death of a protester named Theogène who was a student at University of Burundi. Overall, what due diligence does Italy do in its work with UN Peacekeeping?"

  The UN Mission of Italy, running for a seat on the UN Security Council against Sweden and the Netherlands, answered also on the morning of June 8:

"Dear Mr. Lee, while at this stage I do not have any information on specific officers from Burundi, I can nevertheless confirm that any training activity by the COESPU (Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units) in Vicenza, Italy, with officers from that country, is currently on hold, due to the ongoing situation in Burundi.
Giovanni Davoli, Spokesperson, Italian Mission to the UN"

  It's appreciated. But are there Burundian officers "in the pipeline"?  Inner City Press asked: "Does “on hold” mean there are no Burundian personnel in the pipeline of your training program, to be deployed to peacekeeping missions? And, once you check in across the Atlantic, can the state the status of any of the individual named, and describe Italy's due diligence policy more generally?"

  Italian Mission spokesperson Davoli replied:

"Dear Matthew, in general, single participants, before being accepted into the courses, are screened trough the resources available to us and to our partners in COESPU, to make sure they are compatible with the values of the Center.

On this particular individual, we are checking with Italy if we have any record, which means we won’t get any more details before tomorrow. In any instances, the participation of officers from this particular country is on hold, therefore there is no Burundian in the pipeline, until further notice.

Giovanni Davoli, Spokesperson, Italian Mission to the UN"

  Inner City Press renewed its questions on June 9, and got this reply:

"Dear Matthew, I can confirm that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA has never attended nor is expected to attend courses at CoESPU. His candidature was submitted twice and rejected twice by COESPU.
On the first occasion, in 2014, this officer did not pass the vetting in place for these courses (as per mail yesterday); on the second occasion, already in 2015, all Burundi candidatures were already on freeze.

Giovanni Davoli, Spokesperson, Italian Mission to the UN"


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