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DRC Cited "Terrorist Attack," Soldiers Reported Looted, UNSC Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30 -- Just after the gunfire in Kinshasa, the spokesperson for Joseph Kabila's government Lambert Mende called it a "terrorist attack."

  But twelve hours later, the UN Security Council under its French presidency had not issues any press statement, as it routinely does for terrorist attacks and an attempted coup d'etat.

 Inner City Press asked Herve Ladsous, the fourth French head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, if after this attempted coup or terrorist attack it still made since to move a battalion of UN peacekeepers out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  Ladsous, who as France's Deputy Permanent Representative in 1994 argued for the escape of genocidaires from Rwanda into Eastern Congo, replied, "I do not answer you Mister." UN video here from Minute 4:34; Inner City Press YouTube video here.

  And Ladsous never did answer about events in the DRC.  The UN's envoy Martin Kobler belatedly tweeted his deep concern ("2013 has been the year of new hopes... I strongly condemn") -- but he had also re-tweeted photos of a Bangladeshi formed police unit which had signed on to preserve international peace and security in the DRC flying out to South Sudan.
  Later on December 30, even the French government owned France 24 channel reported that DRC soldiers had looted people's houses near the Army headquarters in Kinshasa.
  Inner City Press reported this, citing France 24 -- but Kabila defenders rejected it, blaming Rwanda even for this. Call it, dysfunction. And as to Ladous, call it FrancAfrique.

   The question remains: will France, which holds the UN Security Council "pen" on the DRC and controlled the Council's recent trip there now draft a Council press statement on the chaos?

  While this remains to be seen -- France has been silent in the Council of last on the breakdown in its former colony the Central African Republic, even as eight African peacekeepers have been killed -- it must be noted that the UN has proposed removing a full battalion of peacekeepers from its MONUSCO mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Click here for long form analysis on Beacon Reader.

  For a week since Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that he would move peacekeepers and "assets" including attack helicopters from DRC, Darfur, Abyei, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire to South Sudan, Inner City Press has asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about any UN analysis or recognition of the potential impacts on the places the peacekeepers would be removed from.

  Nesirky has not answered the questions. None of them. Another question Inner City Press asked, about tensions between South Korea and Japan including in South Sudan after Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a shrine for Japan's World War Two dead, Nesirky answered but first to other media on a regional or politicized basis, 13 hours before a more general "Note to Correspondents." These practices are being opposed by the new Free UN Coalition for Access.

  Mende's use of the word "terrorist" has significance: the Security Council routinely issues fast press statements condemning terrorist attacks. (See yesterday's Inner City Press story here.) So will France propose a press statement now on the DRC? And will it address, as the UN Secretariat hasn't, the pull out of a battalion from MONUSCO at this time? Watch this site.

Footnote: Meanwhile for hours after what Mende called the "terrorist attack," nothing has been heard from the UN's envoy to the DRC Martin Kobler. One wag wondered if Kobler was "pulling a Hilde Johnson" -- the UN's envoy in South Sudan said little in the days after the fighting and killing in Juba. Is Kobler now as aligned with Kabila as Johnson is with Salva Kiir?

  Kobler's MONUSCO mission was blithely tweeting out photographs of blue helmets holding hands with Congolese children... in Pinga in North Kivu, far far away. This is the Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous, who "has a policy" of not answering Press questions, video here, UK coverage here. This is the UN of late: no answers, just spin.


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