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After Jumping Gun on DRC Drones, UN Procurement Open Through March

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 31 -- The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and its chief Herve Ladsous have said that they need surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on an emergency basis.

  But, Inner City Press has learned in UN procurement records, it will be months before the UN can have even a single drone -- at least in the legally provided way.

  The "new" procurement that the UN described on January 30 in response to Inner City Press' questions of the two previous days remains open, the records show, through March 2013. Some emergency.

  As Inner City Press exposed on January 25, Ladsous' DPKO even started the procurement of drones back on November 28, 2012 -- fifty days before having a single approval to even try drones on a case by case basis.

  At the UN on Monday, January 28, Inner City Press asked about this discrepancy:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about drones. It was said here on Friday that the procurement had been launched by DPKO and in looking into it, it looks like the procurement began 28 November and ran through 11 January. So, it looks like DPKO started procuring drones for West Africa and Central Africa before they had any approval, even this most recent letter from the Council. So on what basis did DPKO begin procuring drones, and is it, in fact, the case that they intend to use them in West Africa, as the procurement document states?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: Well, I will have to find out on both issues for you.

  But 24 hours later, Del Buey and ultimately Ladsous' DPKO had provided no answer or information. So Inner City Press asked again at the noon briefing on Tuesday, January 29:

Inner City Press: yesterday I had asked you about this procurement of drones this year and I still haven’t heard anything back, I am not blaming you, maybe it is DPKO , but it seems like it is a straight forward question: Why did they begin the procurement before they had any approval?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, we have, we’ll have to speak with DPKO on that, but have you spoken with DPKO yourself?

Inner City Press: As you know, I have asked Mr. Ladsous questions a number of times that he refused to answer.

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: But, have you spoken with DPKO, the media people of DPKO?

Inner City Press: My last interface with them was them taking the microphones, so questions couldn’t be asked at the Security Council stakeout, so I am asking you.

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the media are there, but we’ll try and get the answer for you.

  The next day January 30 Del Buey after reading out an indirect denunciation of Inner City Press from the same DPKO whose chief Ladsous refuses to answer questions announced to the noon briefing:

I was also asked yesterday about the recent procurement process for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, and I have the following to say: On 25 January 2013, the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo launched the procurement process for UAVs, issuing a request for proposals that called for interested vendors to submit their offers.

What was issued in November 2012 was a request for expressions of interest, a common practice by the procurement division to expand its register of equipment-specific vendors. This practice helps ensure that, when the need for that particular equipment arises, the requirement is sent to the widest possible pool of vendors.

  This was re-reported, as such; further inquiry by Inner City Press finds this UN procurement


  But this remains open until the second half of March. What emergency? Watch this site.

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