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Amid Evacuations from Bangui, Politics But No UNSC Meetings, Echoes of Rwanda?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- As the Seleka rebels have closed in for the past week on Bangui, those fleeing from the Central African Republic have included nationals of the US, China, France as well as 100% of the UN's international staff in the country.

  But the UN Security Council has not had a meeting on the subject, since December 19, despite having maintained a political mission there.

  While notably smaller in scale, some have asked, how is this different in structure from Rwanda in 1994, where after having a Chapter 6 mission in Kigali it was mostly pulled out as violence escalated?

  (In the case of the US, the evacuation of the American Ambassador is seen as more triggered by the killings in Benghazi.)

  As to the UN, in a recent Q&A session across the street from the UN, outgoing UN Security chief Gregory Starr said that the UN shouldn't just flee places, that there are times were remaining in order to do the work, including mediation, is more important.

  Apparently someone in the UN, presumably not Starr, does not believe that applies to CAR.

  Inner City Press asked Starr about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the M23 rebels -- about which the Security Council has repeatedly met, and where UN Security in fact brought UN officials in, rather than only evacuating them.

  So what is the UN system's interest in CAR? As Inner City Press reported before Christmas from sourcing at the top of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, some were troubled to conclude that the European Union wanted to use CAR as its first change to head a Peacebuilding Configuration in its own name.

  Given the controversy about the EU trying to have a bigger role in the UN than other non-states -- one African Ambassador told Inner City Press flatly that the EU should NOT chair the Peacebuilding Configuration for CAR or any other country -- there has been delay. Has it helped?

  Inner City Press asked Gerard Araud the Permanent Representative of France, which "holds the pen" on CAR and has not called a meeting on it in the past ten days, about the EU's bid. He replied on camera that the EU is not a candidate. Others in the EU quickly told Inner City Press difference, expressing surprise at Araud's answer.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's three top spokesman, three separate times, and finally received in response a statement* including that "A number of candidate countries are under consideration by the Government. We are awaiting the Government’s decision, consistent with the principle of national ownership in PBC's peacebuilding efforts."

  Does the use of the word candidate "countries" then confirm Araud's response to Inner City Press, that the EU is NOT a candidate?

   More to the point, why hasn't France -- or any of the other Council members, particularly though which have pulled out their nationals -- called a Security Council meeting on the collapse of a country in which the UN Security Council had a political mission? Watch this site.

* -- UN's response to Inner City Press:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

On the Peacebuilding Commission's Central African Republic configuration:

H.E. Mr. Jan Grauls, Permanent Representative of Belgium, resigned his Chairmanship of the Peacebuilding Commission's (PBC) Central African Republic configuration effective 1st April 2012.

Subsequently and in accordance with established practice, the Chair of the PBC, H.E. Mr. Abdulkalam Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, with the support of the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), has been engaged in consultations with the Government of CAR, through its Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, on finding a new Chair for the configuration.

A number of candidate countries are under consideration by the Government. We are awaiting the Government’s decision, consistent with the principle of national ownership in PBC’s peacebuilding efforts.

On Monday, 24 December the Chair of the PBC issued a statement on behalf of PBC on the current disturbing developments in CAR. This is an indication that the absence of a Chair has not stopped the PBC from following closely and responding to developments in CAR.

Watch this site.

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