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UN Inaction in Goma Blamed On Force Commander, Buckpass by Stonewall Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 20 -- After Goma fell to the M23 mutineers without the UN's MONUSCO mission doing anything, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain the inaction of the UN Peacekeepers under his or France's chief, Herve Ladsous.

  Nesirky was in Israel with Ban Ki-moon; he said he deferred the question to his Deputy Eduardo Del Buey whom he said had been briefed by Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Video here, from Minute 4:45.

  So Inner City Press asked Del Buey, who made the decision for MONUSCO to not fight, and when? Video here, from Minute 15:38.

  Del Buey replied, "the Force Commander on the ground decides what is best for safety of civilians, if to risk a firefight or hold fire" or "make sure you are observing and keeping records."

  Given the billions of dollars spent on MONUSCO and MONUC before it, one should be able to expect more than "record keeping."

  To many it is not credible that this decision, this glaring failure of the UN, was left up to the force commander on the ground. M23 had been advancing on Goma, this time, since at latest November 15. It pulled back and gave an additional 24 hours.

So where was UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous? Where is he?

   Since he won't answer Press questions, why not a video briefing by Ban's DRC envoy Roger Meece or the force commander Del Buey was referring to? The UN put Meece on a video teleconference, belatedly, after UN inaction on the mass rape in Walikale. Why not now?

   On Saturday when his native France called an emergency Security Council meeting to issue a press statement telling M23 to not take Goma, Ladsous outright refused to answer Press questions, including "Who broke the ceasefire?"

  Ladsous directed his spokesman to tell UN staff to keep the microphone away from Inner City Press, which has asked and written about Ladsous' role in the Great Lakes as France's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN during the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Rather than accountability or follow through, Ladsous calls this "insulting innuendo."

   In a reverse citation to real military leader Stonewall Jackson, some now refer to General Stonewall Ladsous.

   His DPKO has given Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office statements to read, including that MONUSCO is still conducting "rapid" patrols of Goma.

   Since on Saturday Ladsous, before refusing questions, had said there were 1500 peacekeepers in Goma and some 6000 in the Kivus, Inner City Press on Tuesday asked Del Buey why the peacekeeper count in Goma after three days and M23 advance and 24 hour notice was still 1500.

   Del Buey replied that there are problems and instability elsewhere in the Congo. But Ladsous refused to answer why his MONUSCO was not protecting Pinga, for example, from the non M23 Mai Mai militia.

  On Tuesday, France moved up the timeline on its draft resolution, to which "Innocent" Kaina & Baudoin Ngaruye are added, calling for a vote at 5:30 pm. But paper is not cutting it.

    On Tuesday, Inner City Press asked Del Buey about protests in Kisangani and Bunia; he said he had no information. Sources say the protests in Bunia are directed at MONUSCO and the UN, and similar protests are being prepared in Bukavu.

   Inner City Press asked Del Buey how many UN Peacekeepers are now in Bukavu.  Video here, from Minute 17:35.

  Del Buey said he didn't know and would have to check. Yesterday, he did not revert with any updated information about the withdrawal of helicopters. Watch this site.

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