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On Explosive Abyei, Ladsous Refuses to Answer ICP Question, "He Should Go"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- Despite the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan, and the unresolved issue of Abyei where a UN Peacekeeping (DPKO) mission is based, on Thursday at the UN Television stakeout DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refused to answer a simple Inner City Press question: "On Abyei, what is the UN's role?"

  Ladsous' spokeswoman told the UNTV boom microphone operator not to give the mic to Inner City Press, and tried to convince the two other correspondents present to ask questions. But there were no other questions. Ladsous walked away from the microphone. Video here.

  Ladsous is hitting a new low. Beginning in late May, after Inner City Press ran an exclusive article about Ladsous' proposal behind closed doors that DPKO use drones, Ladsous had refused to answer any Inner City Press questions, no matter how simple.

Inner City Press asked Ladsous why his Department flew Congolese military officials to a meeting to recruit the Mai Mai militia to fight another group, the M23. Ladsous refused to answer.

But on Sudan and South Sudan, on which the member states which pay Ladsous' tax-free salary have spent billions, after millions of people have been killed, Ladsous' refusal to answer the basic question -- "on Abyei, what is the UN's role?" -- is particularly troubling.

By contrast, at the very same stakeout area earlier on the same day, Inner City Press questions were taken and answered by the foreign ministers of Jordan and Italy, Australia and the Netherlands. But Ladsous, ostensibly an international public servant, won't answer.

After Ladsous' September 27 performance, a number of UN diplomats told Inner City Press this has gone too far; it was suggested if Ladsous "can't handle it," he leave or have the Department of Field Support, which was split off from DPKO, actually answer questions.

Under Ladsous, missions like MONUSCO in the Congo don't explain their work with militia; in Sudan, UNAMID doesn't speak out about deaths of civilians unless asked. A fish rots from the head, as the old saw goes. And this old saw, more than one diplomat has said, should go. Watch this site.

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