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On DRC, UN Expected Agreement, Now Vague, Kiwanja & Bunagana Reprisals?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 11 -- Now that the UN has used attack helicopters to drive out the M23 rebels, and the Congolese Army is reported arresting and even robbing civilians in the area, the government of Joseph Kabila declined to sign the peace agreement on Monday in Kampala.

  Back on November 6 when Inner City Press asked, UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq replied that "our expectation remains that the parties will be able to deal with each through an actual agreement."

  But now that Kabila and his foreign minister Raymond Tshibanda say they want only a "declaration," Ban's two envoys, Mary Robinson and Martin Koblers, along with the US' Russ Feingold and his EU and AU counterparts called on both sides to be flexible on "format." So much for the UN's expectations.

  And what of the UN's inquiries, which took so long (and still without effect) on the 135 rapes by the Congolese Army in Minova a year ago? On November 11, Inner City Press asked:

Spokesperson Nesirky: Thank you, last question, please?

Inner City Press: I want to ask you about DRC ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) and also Lebanon. In the DRC there are these reports--

Spokesperson Nesirky: I said last question, so choose.

Inner City Press: I’ll go with the DRC, but… There are reports of people being arrested by the Congolese army in Kiwanja and in Bunagana for suspected collaboration with M23 (23 March Movement), these are apparently civilians that weren’t part of the armed group. What is MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), is MONUSCO aware of this? Are they tracking this and what do they say about it?

Spokesperson Nesirky: We’ll check with the Mission. Thanks very much. Have a good afternoon.

  Later on Monday, as Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly of "good news from the Democratic Republic of the Congo" where he said it is "essential that the Government quickly restore its authority," his spokesperson sent this to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question at noon on the DRC
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 3:24 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question on reports about reprisals in Bunagana and Kiwanja, the UN Mission, MONUSCO, is aware of the allegations and is trying to verify them.

  Verify like Minova? And then what - continue to support the FARDC units even while no one is prosecuted?

From the November 6 transcript:

Inner City Press: Laurent Mende, the Minister of Information and Communications, has said the DRC Government may not sign the Kampala agreement and instead just issue some kind of a statement, a unilateral statement. They are saying now that since they were defeated militarily, there is no reason to sign an agreement and I wondered, since the announcement by M23 seemed tied to a signing of an agreement, does the UN believe that the understanding is that an agreement will actually be signed by the two parties?

Deputy Spokesperson Haq: I am not going to speculate on what may happen in the coming days, but our expectation remains that the parties will be able to deal with each through an actual agreement.

And now, even that UN position changes. Watch this site.


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