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On M23, Ban Spoke with Kagame But No Answer On or From Kabila

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 18 -- Amid reports that the Congolese army attacked then fled in the face of the advance of the M23 rebels, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday spoke by telephone with the president of neighboring Rwanda, Paul Kagame, but only the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Raymond Tshibanda.

  This was first announced by Ban's head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who then proceeded to refuse to answer any Press questions. There seemed an obvious absence in Ban's list of call: DRC President Joseph Kabila.

  Inner City Press tried to ask Ladsous two questions, but Ladsous had directed his Department of Peacekeeping Operations spokesman to make UN staff keep even the boom microphone away from the Press.

 It has been confirmed to Inner City Press that the order was to not let the boom microphone anywhere near Inner City Press. This is not the first time, nor for Ladsous to move for censorship on UN Television, see here.

   Nevertheless once Ladsous finished his prepared statement, which a UN diplomat later called "pure propaganda," Inner City Press clearly asked "Who broke the ceasefire?" Video here, from Minte 3:47 to 3:57.

  On Sunday, when a the press representative of the DRC embassy in Brussels tweeted at Inner City Press an insult of the M23, Inner City Press replied, "As rep of #DRC in Brussels can YOU say why Kabila didn't speak with Ban Ki-moon?"

  The DRC press representative responded, that his foreign minister "Tshibanda spoke with Ban Ki-moon yesterday! A call with Kabila was scheduled today."

  After replying, Inner City Press put the question to Ban's top three spokespeople:

Saturday at the Security Council stakeout USG Ladsous said SG Ban spoke with DRC MFA Tshibanda then Rwandan President Paul Kagame about M23. Since USG Ladsous refused, unlike Security Council President Hardeep Singh Puri and French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud, to answer or even respond to either of the two questions I asked him, I am asking you at least this, on deadline:

1) Why didn't Ban Ki-moon speak with DRC President Kabila yesterday, since he spoke with Rwandan President Kagame about the DRC?

2) What is MONUSCO's and Ladsous' knowledge of the facts alleged by M23, that FARDC violated the ceasefire on November 9?

3) Please describe, on this November 9 and thereafter, the military engagement of MONUSCO, including any impact on civilians, which FARDC units MONUSCO has supported, directly or indirectly including with air support, and whether these units were subjected to and passed the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy that ASG Simonovic has publicly described.

  Five hours later, while the UN had still not answered these questions or issued any notice or readout of a Ban Ki-moon phone conversation with Kabila, following Ban's talk with Paul Kagame, the UN put out a statement by Ban's spokesperson about the Congo.

  Did this mean that even a day after Ban spoke with Kagame, he could not speak with Kabila? Ladsous wouldn't answer not only about the ceasefire but also whether his Peacekeepers provided any protection at all to Pinga when the non M23 rebels of the Mai Mai attacked, and now not would the wider UN.
 Significantly, Ladsous was France's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN in 1994 during the Rwanda genocide. While there are many witnesses from this period, for now we will link to a report Ladsous submitted on August 4, 1994 to the Security Council at this time, here, UN document S/1994/933. We'll have more on this.

  As the saying going, a fish rots from the head. Watch this site.

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