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On Burundi, UN “Thanks” ICP For Making It Aware Of Militia's Hate-Video, But What'll UN Do?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- After in Burundi a hate-video of the ruling party's militia calling for the impregnation or rape of opposition women was widely seen, when Inner City Press asked the UN about it on April 5 the UN said it had not been aware, ironically thanked Inner City Press - which it has evicted and still restricts - and said something would be done. What? From the UN transcript:

  Inner City Press: on Burundi, but there's a… a… a video has emerged of the ruling party militia talking about impregnating all the women of all people that don't agree with the militia's platform for pro… for Pierre Nkurunziza.  So, given things that the UN has said in the past, what's the response to this?  And what is the UN doing currently in the last, you know, two weeks or so on the situation in Burundi?

Associate Spokesperson:  Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We weren't aware of this video.  And, if true, that's very highly troubling.  And we have, as you know, a team on the ground that I'm sure is looking into this, and hopefully, will take some action.

  What action? When the UK held the wrap-up session for its month as President of the UN Security Council on March 31, at first no one on its team volunteered to speak on Burundi.  Then the month's weak Council Press Statement was cited, with no mention that of the non-deployment of the 226 Police the Council ostensibly mandated in a resolution. Also on March 31, Inner City Press asked Tanzania's Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga about the Arusha talks. His response is on video, here. Off camera, he told Inner City Press should be allowed to chose which country's or countries' police it would like deployed.

If the UN Security Council issues a Press Statement but the UN Spokesperson doesn't email it to the Press, and the Council's penholder doesn't even tweet it, does it make a sound? On Burundi that is the question, where a belated March 13 Council Press Statement was tweeted first by Sweden, then Japan, then the Council's President for March, the UK - but never that day by France. As Inner City Press reported, earlier on March 13 to the UN Peacebuilding meeting on Burundi, France did not send its number 1 or 2 Ambassador. Nor did the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, it seems, email out the Council Press Statement. There are echoes here of his non-answers on Cameroon's abuses including Internet cut-off, and French Ambassador Thibault congratulating Paul Biya for these. We'll have more on this.

  At the end of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' selected-press trip to Kenya, his plane stopped over in Tanzania. The news came not from the UN but from Tanzania, citing Burundi among other issues. So Inner City Press on March 13 asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  Tanzania has said that they made some appeal to António Guterres during a quote… during a stopover on his return from Kenya?  Is that the case?  And, if so, can you say… it was mentioned by the Tanzanian ambassador in a Peacebuilding Commission meeting today, but was the stopover specifically to get this?  It doesn't seem like it's that long… big a first jump.  Was this a formal meeting with the Tanzanian Government?

Spokesman:  No, what happened, on his way back from Nairobi, the commercial flight we were on had a technical stopover in Dar es Salaam for the hour that we were on the ground.  The Secretary-General stepped away and met with the Foreign Minister and that's it.  So, I mean, it was just… it was a meeting of opportunity because the Secretary-General happened to be in Dar es Salaam, literally for an hour at the airport.

  Here from Tanzania is video from the airport stop over, citing Burundi.

  When the Burundi configuration of the UN Peacekeeping Commission met on Monday, UN Human Rights testified that the country's SNR tortures people based on ethnicity, by making them walk on glass and pouring gasoline into their wounds. Then Burundi's Ambassador Albert Shingiro, who recent placed the UN or at least Ban Ki-moon into the "Axis of Evil," took the floor and denied it all. Periscope video here. The Special Adviser he and Pierre Nkurunziza are seeking to have removed was not on the podium. (We noted that Burundi has Persona Non Grata-ed or recused his predecessors, Abdullah Battily, Carolyn McAskie, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Youssef Mahmoud, Said Djinnit.)  The chair, Ambassador Jurg Lauber of Switzerland, is set to visit Burundi from March 27 to March 31, while others in the UN system are banned or delayed.

  Also speaking was France, but not through its top Ambassador Francois Delattre or even his deputy Alexis Lamek. It called the mind France's approach in Cameroon, where its ambassador Thibault last week congratulated Paul Biya for a non-existent dialogue with the Anglophone areas. Why isn't at least UN Peacekeeping working on these areas, where the Internet has been cut off by the government for 56 days and counting? Watch this site.

  On March 13, when the UN again refused to answer about Cameroon, Inner City Press asked about its Special Adviser on Conflict Prevention and Burundi, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: just this morning, the ambassador of Burundi said again that… that they reject and… and… and completely the Special Adviser… seems to be a big standoff between the Government and the Secretariat.  What's the status of the letters the President sent, that Mr. [Albert] Shingiro sent, and the Secretary-General, is he trying to speak to the Government to get them to… to… to allow people in or where's it stand?

Spokesman:  There's no update to what the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council not too long ago.

   Burundi now wants to change all of the UN staff in the country. Meanwhile, the UN's dysfunction on Burundi has reached the point where its spokesman can refuses to answer three Press questions in a row about the country, then run off the podium, saying "I'm lazy." Video here. On March 9, Inner City Press asked the Security Council's President for March Matthew Rycroft of the UK about a new threat:

Inner City Press: The first Vice President of Burundi has said that all UN staff in the country should be changed or rotated and also that they’ve been blocking visas, what was the Council’s feeling as to how to get staff in, what was their response to the country saying that?
Amb Rycroft: Jamal Benomar briefed us on that topic at the end of the session so we were aware of that but we didn’t have a discussion on it. He briefed us on that as an example of the challenges of engaging with the government of Burundi, so he wasn’t asking for our particular perspective on that. He was using it to brief us on how difficult it is to work with the government of Burundi.

  Burundi's Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro gave a speech, which we put online here, after he filed a six-page response with UN Security Council president Matthew Rycroft, purporting to rebut Antonio Guterres' or his Special Adviser's report. Inner City Press has tweeted photos of each of the pages, here and here. It says, for example, "there is not journalists in jail in Burundi" [sic]. The Security Council is set to meet about Burundi, but only behind closed doors for now, on March 9. Watch this site.

On March 3, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you a couple questions about Burundi.  One is just there… there was a letter sent in by Ambassador Shingiro dated 21 February, but it's only become public recently, saying that three politician… opposition politicians that had fled the country have returned and this is a good sign and should… should be circulated.  People there are saying that these people didn't flee under threat of a… of arrest at all.  It's kind of a misleading presentation.  Have you seen this?  Is…?

Spokesman:  If it's been circulated, I have no… I have no way of verifying what the ambassador said.

Question:  Sure.  There's also a… because of the UN's historical, I guess, work on the FDLR issue, an FDLR member Habi… [inaudible] has re… has surfaced in Rwanda, and it's said that he was… had been in training the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD.  And I wanted to know, which… in… both just in terms of the Sanctions Committee, who tracks this in terms of the FDLR, I guess, is looked at by the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] Sanctions Committee, but if, in fact, this group is in Burundi, does this fall within the mandate of…?

Spokesman:  That's a question for the Security Council, how they organize and how they follow their own sanctions.

Question:  And the other question… this is going to be now the third and, I'm hoping, last time that I'm asking you this, because I think it is in your mandate.  DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations].  Can you state why DPKO is — and, you know, you… it's been like about 10 days — training the Burundian contingent in CAR [Central African Republic] in the use of drones given what the Human Rights Council and others have said about the Burundian forces, how they operate in Burundi itself?

Spokesman:  If I can get some confirmation...

Question:  Have you tried?  Have you…?

Spokesman:  I do actually try.  But, If I can get some confirmation, then I will share that with you.

Correspondent:  They don't confirm that they're training…

Spokesman:  As I said, if I get some confirmation, I will share it with you.  Thank you.

New Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a delayed February 23 report says, of Pierre Nkurunziza, "an attempt by the president to seek a fourth term in office under the current circumstances would risk intensifying the crisis and undermining collective efforts to find a sustainable solution."

 On March 2, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Staphane Dujarric about the report, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Burundi.  I'd asked you about relations between the office of the Special Adviser in the country, and you said wait until the report is out.  So now that the report is out and I see in paragraph 67 that it says that even staff members in the country team are… are required to give ten days' notification for any in-country travel, delay in the processing of visas and staff facing intimidation, including arbitrary arrest, can you now… now that the report is out, can you say, is the Special Adviser Jamal Benomar free to travel to the country?  I mean, or have you received a PNG (persona non grata) determination?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware that we've received a PNG determination.  I think the report as you read out answers the questions that you raised.

Inner City Press: And are these things… I guess my point is I wanted to know they're in the report, obviously, saying that it makes the work of the office more difficult.  But are these violations of international law?

Spokesman:  Obviously, we always want to see cooperation with the countries that we work with.  The UN in any… is not in a position to enter forcefully.  This is a political process.  We need the cooperation of the Government, and I think the UN's position on the current situation in Burundi is pretty clearly outlined in the report, including the Government's lack of… failure to take the necessary steps to kind of reopen the political space.

Inner City Press:  I just wanted to know if it's illegal to impose these restrictions.

Spokesman:  It's not a matter of illegal or legal.  Countries control their borders.  We would like to see full cooperation.

Inner City Press:  And the last thing, just because it was also said that the meeting that's going to now take place, I think, on 9 March is, at the decision of the penholder, going to be a closed-door meeting.  Is it possible for the Secretariat or the Special Adviser to speak publicly? That's going to be a closed… entirely closed meeting, including the briefing.  If these restrictions are of such concern to the Secretariat, can someone from the Secretariat speak publicly about…

Spokesman:  We'll see if we can get Mr. Benomar to speak.  Obviously, whether a meeting is open or closed is up to the Council members.

 Burundi's Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro, hitting back at even the use of the term "four term," has tweeted: "With the intention of destabilizing #Burundi in 20 the same axis of evil that failed regime change in15,invents another magic word'4th term'."

  On February 27, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about this quote, and for a second time about the UN training Burundi security forces in CAR on drone usage. Dujarric said he didn't think of the UN as in an axis of evil. He didn't answer on the fourth term, word invention, or the UN providing drone training. We'll have more on this.

   Pressed, Shingiro has said he wasn't called Antonio Guterres part of an Axis of Evil, since he wasn't UN Secretary General in 2015. But could hapless, corruption plagued Ban Ki-moon be a part? More like the Axis of Mediocrity.

 And did Guterres really "invent" fourth term as a "magic word"? Or wouldn't a Pierre Nkurunziza run for election in 2020 be a run for a fourth term? How will the UN react to this? For now, Guterres spokesman Dujarric - who has previously been the face not only for AoE Ban Ki-moon but also Kofi Annan before that - won't answer the most basic question. Dujarric too is a fourth term man. We'll have more on this -- and this, that Shingiro previously outed his own second Twitter account by tweeting a photo with the UN's evicter in chief Cristina Gallach, here. Axis of Evil, indeed.

 Now the UN is training the Burundi security forces in how to use drones; Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza -- himself repatriated from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic after Inner City Press questions (credited on here) bragged about it and refused to answer about Burundi's use of drones.

  So Inner City Press on February 24 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric why Herve Ladsous' UN is training this already problematic Burundi contingent in the use of drones. Video here from 25:50. Dujarric didn't substantively respond to that question and on Inner City Press next question about Ladsous, Dujarric ran off the podium and out of the room. UN DPI under Cristina Gallach produced a video with the audio of the question cut, see here at end. This is today's UN.

  Not only Gallach, who is now set to be out on March 31, but Dujarric who is trying to hold on while refusing to answer questions, ill-serve new Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, who in a delayed reported sent to the UN Security Council on February 23 says of Nkurunziza "an attempt by the president to seek a fourth term in office under the current circumstances would risk intensifying the crisis and undermining collective efforts to find a sustainable solution."

  Likewise an attempt by Dujarric, who has become increasing abusive in defending corruption under Ban Ki-moon, to stay on will undermine the UN. Watch this site.

 On the morning of February 22, Inner City Press submitted questions including about Burundi to UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who had canceled the day's noon briefing.

  More than two hours later, having no response at all, Inner City Press posed a (UN cover up of) Burundi famine question to new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding audibly that his spokesman Dujarric is not answering basic Press questions. Video here; compare to footage of UNTV of Cristina Gallach, which at end cuts audio as Inner City Press is asking Guterres about UN leak on famine in Burundi.

 On February 23, Inner City Press at the noon briefing asked Dujarric about Burundi, video here, UN transcript here.

   The UN email lists famine in Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo and Ruyigi in Burundi.

  The UN is belatedly repatriating Burundi military figure Budigi from its Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, after Inner City Press twice asked the UN why it deployed a person who burned down Radio Publique Africaine.

  The first time Inner City Press asked, the UN didn't even transcribe Budigi's name. So Inner City Press asked again. When the UN Spokesperson's office finally had an answer, it did not email it to Inner City Press, but rather waited to read it out at the February 21 noon briefing.

 Inner City Press then asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq why Budigi wasn't caught in what the UN claims its its routine first screening. Video here. This has not been explained. Watch this site.

  When self-styled Burundi facilitator William Mkapa drew up a list of participants, he allowed Pierre Nkunrunziza to in essence choose his interlocutors, making their participation contingent on Nkurunziza granting them provisional immunity.

  This and Burundi's request to Tanzania to have opponents arrested should be raised in the February 23 UN Security Council meeting about Burundi. But it will be behind closed doors, and penholder France's constant quote when Inner City Press asks is the vague "we never give up."

  In Burundi, government electricity and water authority (Regideso) employee Lydia Nibogora was murdered and dumped. Sources Inner city Press has come to trust say it is because she blew the whistle on corruption. There should be an investigation, but where is the UN? We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press on February 17 asked, video here, UN transcript here.

Inner City Press on February 16 asked, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the Government itself has said it's not going to participate.  So I wanted to know if you have any kind of update to what you said yesterday.  And, also, a Burundian minister has visited refugees in Uganda.  This has given rise to protests, because there's a sense that… that, by visiting people that fled the country in fear of their lives, there's essentially a threat to them to be repatriated or refouled back to Burundi.  I wanted to know if the UN has a view on that.   And, finally, I'd asked some weeks ago about a guy called Budigi, a Burundian military figure that was involved in the burning down of Radio Publique Africaine.  And it's, again, reported by Radio Publique Africaine that this Nicolas Budigi is part of UN CAR, the UN Mission in Central African Republic.   And so Stéphane had said he'd look into it.  I wanted to know, have you found out that this… whether or not… can you confirm that the guy is there?  And, if not, what does it say about the vetting that's being conducted by DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations)?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, our peacekeeping colleagues have been looking into this matter.  I think they're trying to gather details on this now.  Once we have that, we'll let you know.  Regarding the participation by the parties in the Arusha talks, we do regret the decision by any invited participant to decline attendance of the consultations to be held in Arusha under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC) and facilitated by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.  We urge the parties to demonstrate the necessary flexibility to make a negotiated solution possible, and the UN will continue to support the process led by the EAC.

  On February 14, after Inner City Press asked a second time (and about the constitution, here), the UN sent Inner City Press this response, which we publish in full: "Special Adviser Benomar is in Arusha at the invitation of the Facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa, to support his efforts. The Facilitator has invited both the government and opposition and offered assurances to those members of the opposition who are on a Burundian Government arrest warrant list that they will not face arrest or extradition while in Tanzania."

  Meanwhile, an Nkurunziza minister is "visiting" refugees who fled Nkurunziza into Uganda, giving rise to protests.

 Inner City Press first asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on February 13 how the UN can support this. With the answer UNclear, and just before Haq called Inner City Press an obsessive a*hole, Inner City Press asked him, from the UN transcript:

Inner City Press:  The other thing I wanted to ask about was on the Burundi talks is, you'd said yesterday that the UN is doing everything possible to make sure they're inclusive and that there shouldn't be preconditions.  And I wanted to get your response now.  The ruling party, CNDD-FDD, has said, quote, we are not going to sit with people who are under arrest warrants.  So this means that the peop… that… that exactly what you were saying yesterday you're opposed to will take place in these talks.  And I wanted to know, will Mr. [Jamal] Benomar nonetheless attend?  Will there still be UN funds to support a process in which large parts of the opposition are not allowed to participate?

Deputy Spokesman:  We'll check with Mr. Benomar what his intentions are on that.

From the February 14 UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: In Burundi, the talks that are re-beginning, there's a list out of the participants, but it says at the bottom of the lists that the… the opposition's attendance is contingent on discussions with Pierre Nkurunziza to grant conditional immunity.  Since the UN is supporting this process, is it really a process if one side gets to choose who from the other side can attend?  What is the role of the UN in ensuring inclusivity of the talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We have stressed and will continue to stress the need for all talks to be inclusive.  And we want, therefore, all people to be able to participate in a manner that is not conditional.

Inner City Press:  But, what is… I mean, conditioned on immunity.  This is a letter… this is a document from Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa, and he seems to be accepting that Pierre Nkurunziza can choose who can attend.

Deputy Spokesman:  We're in touch with the parties, and we're doing what we can to ensure that talks will be as inclusive as possible.

  So what is the UN doing?

  On top of Mkapa's attempt to up his pay to $1500 a day, and inclusion in his team of a person named in a previous UN sanctions report for DR Congo, there are more and more questions about this facilitation. But the UN, which "supports" it, won't even disclose the delay and blocking of its visas.

  Herve Ladsous, the fourth French national in a row to run UN Peacekeeping, overrode recommendations and continues to pay the Nkurunziza government for Burundian peacekeepers accused of 25 rapes in the Central African Republic. This is calling out for action and cuts, and a re-thinking of how and by whom UN Peacekeeping should be run. Watch this site.

While the UN claims, even now, that it vets the peacekeepers it deploys before it deploys them, it has already had to repatriate a number, from Burundi. On January 24 Inner City Press asked about another, but the UN in its transcript didn't even take down the name. Video here, UN transcript here and below.

   At the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, nominee as US Ambassador to the UN, on January 18 Haley three times said that countries whose peacekeepers abuse should not keep getting paid.

  Inner City Press asked the UN and UK about this, with the example of the UN having chosen to keep paying Burundi for 800 troops even after the UN's own inquiry charged 25 rapes by Burundian soldiers in the Central African Republic.

  UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft signaled agreement, that sexual abuse by peacekeepers should be met by repatriation. Tweeted video here. But simply to be replaced by troops from the same country, to get paid?

(During Rycroft's answer, there was a smirk at the mention of Burundi, from US state media that's had John Kerry on its Board - perhaps a flashback to Liberians, here. We may have more on this.)

 UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called it a "case by case" decision, tweeted video here. But who decided it, and why?

As Burundi "facilitator" William Mkapa reconvened talks, the attendees list obtained by Inner City Press shows not only Ken Vitisia, of whom we're previously written, but also Francis Mnodolwa.

   Inner City Press previously on December 29 asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to comment on the inclusion of an individual listed in the November 2009 DR Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, without answer. (Dujarric answered only two and a half of the 22 questions Inner City Press submitted: and those only to defend Ban Ki-moon and himself.)

  Now, from Paragraph 74 of that report:

"The Group has been informed by several sources, including a source close to Mr. Ndagundi, that he has close links to the ruling Counseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party in
Burundi.. Mr. Ndagundi.s Burundian telephone records also show 27 communications from April to September 2009 between himself and the number used by Francis Ndoluwa, the ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, a former general in the Tanzanian military. A source close to Mr. Ndagundi informed the Group that he works closely with the Ambassador."

  So there is yet another of Mkapa's team that is close to the CNDD-FDD.

On January 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhaq Haq, video here, UN Transcript here.

  On January 11, long after the UN Security Council ostensibly mandated the deployment to Burundi of 228 UN Police, no progress had been made. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Has there been any progress in deploying the 226 police that the Security Council also mandated for Burundi to Burundi?  Do you have any update on that?

Spokesman:  No.  None that I can report.  Go ahead.  Last one.

   While corpses are found in Burundi and the government blocks the deployment of both the UN Police and UN Conflict Prevention staff ostensibly called for by the UN Secretariat and Security Council, the government's supporters try to side with either UN censors like Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who evicted and restricts the Press which reports on Burundi, or more generally UN staff.

It is more than a little ironic. UN staff are being PNG-ed and having visas denied from Burundi.

   While the UN says little and does nothing about this, they made a point of ordering Inner City Press to stop broadcasting on Periscope, with voice-over, a Town Hall meeting with new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which was on the UN's public UN Webcast website. And the government supporters, saying Inner City Press entered the meeting (it didn't) and picking up on the anti-Press maze Cristina Gallach of Spain and DPI has created, piled on. The UN of Gallach has brought this on; this is how the UN is perceived and to this has it sunk.

   There is also a strange announcement of a 500 Euros loan being arranged from a shadowy, seemingly dormant company “Biz Planners.” We'll have more on this.

 Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind, even as amid assissination of minister, closing down of NGOs. Well placed sources exclusively teold Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. Yes, we'll have more on this.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked about the Security Council's (lack of) Follow through on Burundi, to Ambassador Delattre of France, the "penholder" on Burundi. Tweeted video here.

More here.


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