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Ban Meets Kikwete, Seeking Troops for S. Sudan, No Answer on FDLR, CAR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- To try to move to South Sudan five battalions of soldiers from UN Mission in the DR Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Abyei, Darfur and Liberia, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been working the phones.

Ban's Spokesperson Martin Nesirky has refused to hold a briefing for the past two days and ignored written questions for 72 hours. So when at 12:21 pm on December 24 the UN announced that Ban would meeting with Tanzanian president Kikwete at 12:30 pm, Inner City Press ran to cover it.

Upstairs in Ban's 38th floor conference room sitting across from Kikwete were Ban, his chief of staff Susana Malcorra and Department of Peacekeeping Operations deputy Edmond Mulet. Inner City Press tweeted photographs here and here.

(The head of DPKO, Herve Ladsous, was last seen given an artificially low death toll for South Sudan; then he disappeared from sight. In any event, Ladsous insists he has a "policy" of not answer Press questions: video here, UK coverage here.)

While it seems that the 12:30 meeting with Kikwete only came together at 12:05, Ban's spokesperson's office rather than hold a briefing sent out a list of countries and leaders Ban has spoken to about "bolstering the capacity of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS)" --

"Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Hailemariam Dessalegn, Chairperson of the African Union and Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda, President of Malawi; Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania; Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; and Khil Raj Regmi, Prime Minister of Nepal."

So Kikwete was included, 24 minutes after his meeting with Ban began. But not included, among Asian countries, was India -- one wondered, because of the two killed Indian peacekeeers in the Akobo camp last week?

It's one thing to ask the Troop Contributing Countries. But as Inner City Press reported yesterday, Cote d'Ivoire ambassador Bamba back in July 2013 said his government disagrees with pulling UN peacekeepers out of his country before 2015. Cote d'Ivoire is not listed among Ban's conversations; nor is the Kabila goverment of the DRC. There, pulling out a battalion may impact the pledged "neutralization" of the Hutu FDLR militia. But, Congolese sources suggest, maybe Kabila is OK with that -- he is sending 850 of his "elite" troops to the Central African Republic.

More than 24 hours ago, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky a series of still unanswered questions, including:

"Given that the SG said 'we are now actively trying to transfer our assets from other peacekeeping missions, like MONUSCO [the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and some other areas' -- which assets is he / the UN trying to transfer out of the DRC? How does this relate to the UN's pledge to now move to neutralize the FDLR?"


"In Central African Republic, please confirm civilian(s) killed by Chad troops in MISCA force, and state whether there is any UN support to this unit and if so how the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy applies."

Now, having still no answer to these, Inner City Press has asked Nesirky:

"In the Central African Republic, please confirm or deny that Chadian peacekeepers fired on protesters (and that the UN will do about it), and engaged in a skirmish with Burundian peacekeepers."

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