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In DRC's Pinga, UN Did Nothing on Decapitation, Ladsous Covers Up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 26 -- Two day before Goma fell to the M23 mutineers as UN Peacekeepers fled, their commander Herve Ladsous openly refused to answer two Press questions: who broke the ceasefire, and did the UN defend Pinga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the non M23 militia of the Mai Mai Cheka.

  Ladsous had his spokesman ask UN personnel not to give the microphone to Inner City Press, but the questions were audibly asked anyway. Ladsous refused to answer or respond to them.

  As Inner City Press wrote at the time, Ladsous' MONUSCO had actually flown DRC officials to meet Mai Mai fighters and seek to recruit them to fight M23 -- he UN, not Ladsous, replied that they simply flew FARDC to the meeting, did not ask or know what it was about.

  Now, after more refusals by Ladsous to answer and a statement three days ago by his spokesman Kieran Dwyer that "I am looking into that," never followed up, TIME has published this on Pinga:

"Pinga, west of Goma, was taken over by a private militia and protection racket called Mai Mai Cheka (after its commander Colonel Cheka)... On his orders, two civilians from the town were abducted, decapitated and their heads thrown at the base gates, while Cheka shouted: 'Come out!' 'Do you think Monusco ventured out of the gate?' asks a senior aid worker with knowledge of the incident. “[They did] nothing. How safe did the population feel after that?”

   TIME quotes French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, as "France," that MONUSCO's and UN Peacekeeping's inaction has been "absurd," but TIME does not name the person in charge of both: Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold the position.

  Ladsous was in fact a last minute replacement foisted on the UN by the Sarkozy government for the vetted winning candidate Jerome Bonnafont, as Inner City Press exposed in September 2011.

   That exposure, followed by anti-Press events at the UN that Ladsous latched on to, led Ladsous to begin in late May 2012 to refuse any questions from Inner City Press, no matter how benign.

  During the UN General Debate in September 2012, at a stakeout where no other reported despite being prompted by Ladsous' spokesperson had any questions for him, Inner City Press asked, "What is the UN's role in Abyei," contested by Sudan and South Sudan.

  Ladsous said facetiously , "No more questions?" and walked away - captured by Inner City Press in a YouTube video, since Team Ladsous also orders UNTV to edit questions out of its archived webcast.

   Perhaps, some say, Ladsous is "crazy like a fox" -- normally, the top guy would have to take the fall for a failure like that of UN Peacekeeping at Goma.

   But if you refuse questions, and keep your name out of the media, maybe you can keep collecting this large and largely unearned taxfree UN salary.

   Clearly the French, so loudly concerned with the Congo and Mali just as colonial Cote d'Ivoire, know who they put in charge of the "absurdity."

   And Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has allowed Ladsous' stonewalling and other anti-press moves, is ultimately in charge. Watch this site.

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