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On M23, As UN Defers to Uganda Talks, France's Araud Scoffs at Sealing Border

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 -- The UN almost always urges parties to stop fighting and negotiate -- "it's call diplomacy" or mediation, as one diplomat put it to Inner City Press. But on August 9 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman to apply this to Eastern Congo:

Inner City Press: the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has said that it will not negotiate with the so-called M23 mutineers, people who were in the Army. They claim that the agreement to reintegrate them signed on 23 March 2009, was broken. Given its role with MONUSCO and otherwise, does the UN think that the Government should negotiate with these people or should not negotiate, and they simply disappear?

Spokesperson: Thank you. I would put this in a broader framework of the meeting that took place in Kampala and what’s going to transpire after that. Those discussions continue, but in the Great Lakes setting. And I would put it in that framework for now.

  But those talked ended without any agreement, and with Congolese president Kabila still saying he will not negotiate with the M23.

  On Friday August 10, Inner City Press asked this month's Security Council president, French Ambassador Gerard Araud, what the Council or France think of the Uganda talks (non) result.

  Araud said, "as president of the Security Council" that the "proposal of a neutral force has raised a lot of skepticism in the Council." He said it would be too slow and expensive, and that using the UN's MONUSCO mission would take them away from protecting civilians. (A job they've fallen down on, repeatedly, now in South Kivu at the Hotel Uvira.)

  The French Ambassador continued, as if in code, that the problem requires a political solution, not the sealing of the border. He said the M23 should stop its attacks and that "external" forces should reach an agreement.

But why would M23 simply stop? Watch this site.

Footnote: The UN has still not supplemented its vague answer to Inner City Press on how they vetted DRC Sanctions "expert" Steve Hege, or if they read his articles on the FDLR. Watch this site.

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