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Amid Burundi Deaths, UN Kafando May 24,  French Ambassador Delahousse Says, Hippos?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo, Video

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 – In Burundi days before the May 17 referendum, at least 26 people have been killed in Cibitoke. Tellingly, Isanganiro journalist Pacifique Cubahiro and his cameraman were detained for looking into it, and their images seized. Meanwhile from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, whom the Free UN Coalition for Access has shown linked to UN censorship and from the UN Security Council, so far nothing. But France's Ambassador in Burundi Laurent Delahousse has seen fit to reply, "Hippos?" to a tweet about seven people reportedly killed and left floating in a river. See here. Burundians have called it shameful; Laurent Delahousse has doubled down saying he was protesting the use of inapposite photos on social media - this while France was speaking about the Rohingya in the UN Security Council, while seemingly unaware as penholder of Burundi meetings, or killings. Would France communicate this way about Syria? It seems more akin to French Ambassador Gilles Thibault's communications in Cameroon, ignoring or downplaying the Biya government's killings in the Anglophone zones, like the UN does. On May 14 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: In Burundi, as you… 26 people were killed in Cibitoke, which is a… on the border, and it’s a pretty large number.  And two journalists that were investigating it were detained.  Their files were seized. And I’m just wondering, the run-up to the election, given the UN’s role there, including Mr. [Michel] Kafando, what does the UN have to say about this murder of 26 people?

Spokesman:  Of course, we’re concerned about any violence in the run-up to the elections.  We wanted and have made clear the idea that voting needs to be held in a free and fair atmosphere where people can vote without fear.  Regarding the views of Michel Kafando, the Special Envoy, he’s expected to brief the Security Council later this month, I believe in a little over a week from now, around the 24th.  And so he’ll express his views at that point.  But, certainly, we are concerned about any violence and want it to be investigated thoroughly.

Inner City Press: And I wanted to ask, in Vienna, what he said…

Spokesman:  Hold on.

Inner City Press: Well, you just… I have another question.

Spokesman:  "Yeah, but it’s on a separate topic." We'll have more on this. With the Council presidency for May being taken over by Poland's Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, Inner City Press on May 3 asked her about the month's program of work, and to be kept informed. On May 9, this:  on May 10, after Darfur, "the SC will then proceed in closed consultations with Any Other Business on Burundi. Mr. Michel Kafando, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi will brief the Council" - behind closed doors, of course. Inner City Press asked Francois Delattre, UN Ambassdor of France which "holds the pen" in the Security Council on Burundi, about the consultations and though polite he seemed not to know. Video here. Inner City Press aims to follow up, even amid exclusion orders by Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Stephane Dujarric. The referendum, which the US and others say runs counter to Arusha, is set for May 17. Watch this site. Inner City Press on May 3 asked about UN sexual abuse and exploitation, with 54 new cases in just the first quarter of 2018, and about DR Congo interference in the investigation of the murders of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan. In response, she cited an Arria formula meeting on May 7 about Children and Armed Conflict, and as an issue of particular interest to her, stigmatization in Myanmar. She described the Council's recent visit to that country and to Bangladesh. For the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, Inner City Press asked that the Polish Mission send out daily emails about who has requested Any Other Business meetings and who the briefers are. Back on April 2 Inner City Press asked the then incoming UNSC President Peru's Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra about Haiti and the cholera the UN brought, and the Western Sahara letter filed with the Council on April 1.
Meza-Cuadra said the Peru had participated extensively in the UN's now defunct MINUSTAH mission; he acknowledged the need for the UN to raise more funds about cholera. Video here. On Western Sahara he acknowledged receipt of the letter alleging violations by the Frente Polisario which the UN says it has not observed. He said it has been circulated, and his political coordinator after the meeting denied reports of an "Any Other Business" briefing about Western Sahara before the consultations on April 17. There may be Council trips to Iraq and to Myanmar / Bangladesh. Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Meza-Cuadra to revert to the practice of at least purporting to answer questions after closed consultations of the Council. We'll have more on this. Back on March 1 with the Council presidency being taken over by Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, Inner City Press asked him about Burundi, where the Council's decision to send 228 UN Police was never implemented, and about the (lack of) transparency of the North Korea sanctions committee which he chairs. He replied that each sanctions committee has its own transparency procedures. Not explained is when the votes were taken, to make confidential requests for and rulings on exemptions such as that involving DPRK Foreign Trade Bank, see Inner City Press' credited scoop here. We'll have more on this, as well as on Burundi, where Inner City Press was told the day after the February 26 meeting that France, the penholding, is working on a press statement. Where is it? The four prior rounds of questions were mostly about Syria, n which the Council will meet March 12, 15 and 27, see Inner City Press' coverage here. Efforts to visit Myanmar continue. Western Sahara and MINURSO will be disclosed - behind closed doors - on March 21; the DR Congo on March 7 and 19 after OCHA's Lowcock and Sigrid Kaaf visit the country. Karel van Oosterom said he lived in Damascus for four years, and quoted Yogi Berra on the difficulty of making predictions, especially if they are about the future. He said the three non-European parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will sometimes be in the chair, but not for now during the month of presidency. The flame out of the country's previous foreign minister for misstating what he overheard in Moscow did not come up; afterward Inner City Press began to make a pitch that the Netherlands, when it deploys as in Mali, should share its protective equipment to avoid a deadly two-tier situation of night vision goggles for example among different contingents. We'll have more on this. On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked van Oosterom to come to stakeout after all closed door consultations, such as did not happen on Burundi. He said he'll try. Watch this site. Back on February 1 Inner City Press asked Kuwait's Mansour Al-Otaibi about Yemen and about Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with Sudan's President Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur. Photos, Periscope. On Yemen, Inner City Press asked if the name of Martin Griffiths has been circulated to Council members as replacement for Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed as UN envoy. He said it has not been circulated, adding that Kuwait will support whomever the Secretary General proposes. On Guterres' meeting, for which he'd have been required to inform the ICC Prosecutor in advance, Al-Otaibi said he had no information, that Inner City Press should ask Guterres. We'll try. Al-Otaibi said that there will be no Council trip to Myanmar this month - the government didn't say no, he said, but indicated it is not the right time. Jimmy Carter may or may not appear at an Arria formula meeting Kuwait is organizing. We'll have more on this - on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press asked Al-Otaibi to hold question and answer stakeouts after closed door consultation. We'll be there. Back in September to Ethiopia's Tekeda Alemu, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Alemu four questions, the answers to which sketch out the Ethopian government's worldview. Video here. In response to Inner City Press asking why Burundi, where even the UN says there is a risk of genocide, is not on his September Program of Work nor on the agenda of the Council's visit to Addis Ababa, Alemu said that you can't compare Burundi to Central African Republic, that Burundi has “strong state institutions.” But it is that very “strength,” which some say the country shares with Ethiopia, and with until recently military-ruled Myanmar about which Inner City Press also asked, that has led to the human rights violations. In this context, Inner City Press asked Alemu about the Oromo protests - and crackdown - in his country. He diplomatically chided Inner City Press for not having asked in private, saying that social media has played a dangerous role. On the other hand, when Inner City Press asked Alemu at the end about the murders of two UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, he replied that while the DR Congo is due to sovereignty the one to investigate the murders, the gruesome nature of the killings put a “great responsibility” on the DR Congo. We'l have more on this. Alamy photos here. Earlier on September 1 in Alemu's briefing to countries not on the Security Council, Bangladesh specifically asked that the Council remain seized of the situation in Myanmar. When Inner City Press asked Alemu about this, he said he still had to inform himself more about that situation. The Security Council is traveling to Addis from September 5 through 9, when alongside African Union consultations the Council's member will meet for an hour with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Alemu said. The Council will receive the “maiden briefings” late in the month of the new Under Secretaries General of OCHA and on Counter-Terrorism. There will be peacekeeping on September 20, during the High Level week of the UN General Assembly, and Yemen on September 26. But tellingly, there will not be Burundi. Watch this site.


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