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Ignoring FDLR Flights, DW Promotes Kobler, Of SG Race & Robinson

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 3, more here -- On the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN envoy Martin Kobler has appeared on Deutsche Welle, from Germany. The interviewer didn't ask but told Kobler, the UN used to work with war criminals but now it doesn't.

  But why didn't the DW interviewer do cursory research to find and ask why his MONUSCO mission flew the FDLR leader, charged with war crimes, from Eastern Congo to Kinsasha?

   This is a question that Kobler dodged in June, picking up the habits of UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous -- who refuses to even respond to Press questions. 

 On DW, Kobler said it is important to address mistakes, which is a good thing to say. And certainly Kobler and MONUSCO staff do some good work in DRC, which the UN itself daily promotes. But as another example, what about at least checking out allegations, by the imprisoned rights defender Mbonimpa and others, that Burundi's ruling party is training its youth wing in Kiliba Ondes in the DRC? Isn't that MONUSCO's job?

   Now there's talk of a "Great Lakes" event in August, a sort of last hurrah for Mary Robinson as she leaves it to replace Jen Stoltenberg (who is NATO-bound) as climate envoy.

   An Irish betting site has included, among candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General, Mary Robinson. Like with Helen Clark, this would be on the theory that the need for a belated female SG would trump the Eastern European Group's dibs on the post. But by what logic Martin Kobler? We'll have more on this.

 Background on the FDLR flight(s) -- Back on June 27 amid reports that the UN flew a sanctioned militia leader of the FDLR on a UN aircraft in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujurric about it at the UN noon briefing on June 27:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] fly him to Goma to Kisangani and then to Kinshasa when, in fact, I think there’s an arrest warrant for him?

Spokesman Dujarric: I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.

  When other sources indicated to Inner City Press that this flying service WAS provided by MONUSCO, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again at UN noon briefing on June 30:

Inner City Press: I asked you on Friday a pretty straightforward question, which is whether MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] used its helicopters to, prior to the denial by the Security Council’s 1533 Sanctions Committee, to transfer this… the FDLR’s [Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda] leader within the [Democratic Republic of the Congo]? And I’m wondering if you have an answer on that?

Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t have anything to add.

Inner City Press: Does that mean --

Spokesman Dujarric: If I had something to add, I would tell you. Yes, in the back?

So Dujarric had nothing to add to his June 27 statement that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO.” So did he still think that was true? Had he even asked UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous -- who sitting beside Dujarric had refused Press questions on the DRC, video here -- or MONUSCO under Martin Kobler?

On July 1, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again:

Inner City Press: why did MONUSCO undertake to fly to Goma, to Kisangani and Kinshasa? And the reason why I keep asking about this is it seems like it’s a use of UN resources, just knowing why this flight took place.

Spokesman: Sure, if I have something on that I will share it with you

  For Dujarric to have nothing to supplement his statement of June 27 that “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” he either did not ask Ladsous' DPKO or they lied to him.

  On July 2, after Martin Kobler belatedly disclosed that yes, under him MONUSCO flew the FDLR leader, Inner City Press asked Dujarric. Laughably, given Ladsous' refusal to answer Press questions, Dujarric said, you could pick up the phone. UN Video here, from Minute 7.

Dujarric first said he never denied the flight. But he's said, even according to the UN's own transcript, “I’m not aware of any other services provided to him by MONUSCO,” and then said nothing when asked twice more about this.

Inner City Press asked, can we assume that when a question is asked in his briefing room, you at least try to get an answer? When did you get this information? Dujarric did not answer this.

Footnote: Dujarric was asked if he will participate in the softball soccer game of the UN Correspondents Association, to which Dujarric sets aside the first questions in briefings and has defended in meeting(s) with the new Free UN Coalition for Access -- which, to put it mildly, is “deeply concerned” by inaccurate answers in the UN Press Briefing Room. Softballs with scribes? We'll have more on this.


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