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With DRC "Unwilling to Discuss" with M23, It's up to Uganda, UN Won't Skirmish

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 -- More than two hours after the UN's Democratic Republic of the Congo briefing to the Security Council began Wednesday afternoon, Council president Gert Rosenthal emerged to take questions at the stakeout. There were only two.

  Inner City Press asked if any Council members spoke in the closed door session to a need for the DRC government of Joseph Kabila to engage in talks with the M23 mutineers about their claims that promises made about integrating them into the Congolese army were not kept.

   Inner City Press noted that Uganda offered to mediate but was rebuffed by Kabila. Do all Council members agree?

  Rosenthal replied thoughtfully that "the DRC has been unwilling to have such discussions for reasons of its own," so such an initiative would be up to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region through its current presidency, Uganda. Video here, from Minute 1:27.

  Yes, but Uganda was rebuffed. In order circumstances, the Security Council will urge parties to talk. Will it here, in the Presidential Statement that Rosenthal said he expects to issue early next week?

  France, whose Ambassador Gerard Araud left well before the meeting ended in order to give a speech at Columbia University about Syria, has said that there should be a dialogue between Kinshasa and Kigali, with no mention of the M23 and its stated grievances. So what will the Presidential Statement say?

  Inner City Press also asked Rosenthal if the UN has any access, humanitarian or otherwise, to the areas controlled by the M23. He replied that "there is a UN presence," MONUSCO, but it is limited to "urban areas." Apparently, that means Rutshuru.

  Rosenthal said that MONUSCO "is not looking for skirmishes with the M23 for obvious reasons." The reasons may be obvious, at least to some -- but just on the surface this seems to conflict with MONUSCO's supposedly robust protection of civilians mandate.

  This is another question that should be answered by the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions and Wednesday was not in town to give the briefing -- he is in another UN Peacekeeping mission of dubious accomplishment, or constrained by France related colonial issues: MINURSO in Western Sahara, while it was being discussed in the UN's Special Committee on Decolonialization. Watch this site.

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