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Kagame Rumor Shot Down, UN Truck in "Celebration" Left Unexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 10, updated -- Rumors of the death of Rwanda's Paul Kagame were quickly responded to and shot down by the government in Kigali.

  Across the border in the Eastern Congo, when a time-stamped photograph was tweeted of a UN truck full of people on the back, captioned "MONUSCO in Goma celebrating the death of Pres Paul Kagame," it seemed worth asking the UN mission MONUSCO and its chief, Martin Kobler, to comment on or explain the photograph.

Inner City Press first did so by Twitter, a medium in which Kobler has in the past responded. But not this time. And so, Inner City Press inquired by e-mail with all three spokespeople listed on MONUSCO's press releases, Charles Bambara, Félix Prosper Basse, Adèle Lukoki, as well as Kobler, in both French and English:

"Please comment on / explain this time-stamped photo, which is being described as a UN truck participating in "celebrations" of the rumor of the Rwandan president's death. Do you dispute that the photo was taken on January 10? To whom is the UN giving a ride in this truck / photo? In what context?"

If MONUSCO's and the UN's goal is to dispel online "rumors" -- MONUSCO even called reports of some of its "peacekeepers'" links with the FDLR militia rumors when Inner City Press published leaked documents later confirmed by the UN's own Group of Experts report -- then they should have responded, on Twitter or to e-mailed Press questions.

But they did not. One wag, not this one, joked that they were having their post-party smoke. But really, for a billion dollars a year, shouldn't the UN mission MONUSCO be expected to respond to this? Watch this site.

Update: After a time, UN envoy Martin Kobler did reply:

"@innercitypress Ceci apparait de toute évidence comme une utilisation frauduleuse d'un véhicule de la #Monusco. C'est inacceptable"

   Inner City Press thanked Kobler and asked, "And now, what?" Watch this site.


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