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UN Won't Say if Robinson Knew of DRC Deadline, Fiasco Alleged, Ladsous & AFP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 3 -- After UN Peacekeeping run by Herve Ladsous announced a 48 hour "ultimatum," in New York several Security Council members told Inner City Press that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon or at least his Great Lakes envoy Mary Robinson hadn't known of and weren't happy with the threat.

Inner City Press went to the August 2 UN noon briefing, after being "shut down" on the topic on August 1 by Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky, and asked:

Inner City Press: On DRC, the ultimatum or 48-hour deadline, questions have arisen, including here, among Security Council members, of whether the Secretary-General and Mary Robinson, were they given any prior notice of that? Thereís been some criticism of the way it was announced from the ICGLR [International Conference on the Great Lakes Region]. So, just to understand how these things occur, I know that missions may have total independence, but was the Secretary-General and was Mary Robinson, as his envoy to the Great Lakes, were they told in advance of this impending 48-hour deadline?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, missions donít have total independence. I think you understand that, Matthew. They operate under Security Council mandate, and the Force Commander and the Special Representative for the Mission have clear reporting lines, so I donít think that you should see this as some kind of autonomous decision-making.

Inner City Press: one follow-up on that because I understand that there is a reporting line, there is a mandate; I guess the question is, someone on the Council said that they donít micromanage these things, so my question to you is a decision such as to announce a 48-hour deadline to have all weapons out of that area, is that the kind of thing that gets checked at Headquarters before itís announced, or is that viewed as simply as implementation of a mandate given from New York and can be announced?

Spokesperson: I think it would depend on the circumstances. I donít think that I am in a position here to lay down the certain policy on how Force Commanders take decisions in the field. When I say that they have a reporting line to the Security Council, itís obvious that the Security Council is not sitting there giving instructions every day. I mean that there is a clear mandate provided, in this case, not least, for protection of civilians in part. Therefore, the need for the Mission to carry out the operation that itís carrying out is to ensure that civilians are better protected in an area where they have suffered enormously. Let me go to other people and I will come back to you.

  While appreciated, especially after the August 1 "shut down" (video here), it still didn't answer: were Ban Ki-moon and Mary Robinson told of the ultimatum in advance?

  Department of Peacekeeping Operations sources who, unlike Herve Ladsous actually answer Inner City Press' questions, said that Ladsous' spokesperson Keiran Dwyer "screwed up" by distributing the MONUSCO press release and map in New York, "making it a big deal than it was, and a fiasco."

  It's ironic, because Dwyer and the three people who work for him have not responded now in five weeks to Inner City Press' simple request for yes or no if DPKO supports units of the Congolese Army named in the UN Group of Experts report as supporting the FDLR, recruiting child soldiers, raping and looting.

One DPKO spokesperson said they would answer after that weekend, five weeks ago. Then, nothing. Finally Nesirky said that DPKO will not answer about unit numbers. But the numbers, like the 41st Battalion implicated in the 135 rapes in Minova, ARE listed in MONUSCO's own press conference documents.

Meanwhile Agence France Presse today ran a story citing the "UN panel of experts" report, the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online in June -- but only on M23 and Rwanda, no mention for example of its statements on Congolese Army units / commanders supporting the FDLR units.

  Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop DPKO, previously served on an AFP managerial board; at the UN, he summons AFP and a handful of others to hand out (false) answers to questions he refuses to answer when Inner City Press asks them.

Click here for the "Ladsous in the Hallway" (with AFP, Reuters and Voice of America) video. Recently at the Security Council stakeout, Ladsous' mic-grabbing spokesperson brushed off the head of the Darfur mission to insist that AFP be given the microphone, click here for that.

  Given that Ladsous was France's Permanent Representative at the UN during the Rwanda genocide, arguing for the escape of the genocidaires into Eastern Congo, and now (mis) manages an all-African Intervention Brigade there -- some question whether if should be recused from this whole matter. Watch this site.


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