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Amid Questions on DRC Sanctions Chief Hege, UN Stonewalls on Leaks, Selection

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 17 -- Rwanda since the summer has publicly questioned the objectivity of Steve Hege, coordinator of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based on articles he published in 2009 dismissive of the threat posed by FDLR militia based in Eastern Congo.

   After Inner City Press linked to Hege's writing, it was removed from the Internet, still without explanation. Click here for Inner City Press' August 29 interview with Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo on this issue.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky, in the summer and now again on Wednesday, about Rwanda's charges and, where possible, about Ban's Secretariat's role. Video here, from Minute 18:38.

  On Wednesday, the day before Rwanda stands for election to a two-year seat on the Security Council, Nesirky took questions about what he called the leak of Hege's most recent report, saying it wasn't scheduled for release until November but repeating a call against outside support to the M23 mutineers.

   Inner City Press asked Nesirky about Hege -- "I thought you'd raise that," Nesirky interjected -- and about two other now controversial sanctions committee chiefs, that for Cote d'Ivoire and Somalia - Eritrea.

   In the latter case, chief Matt Bryden leaked his report and gave interviews about it, leading to criticism not only from Eritrea and Somalia, but even Western members of the Security Council like Portuguese Permanent Representative Cabral.

  To some, the current DRC - Rwanda "leak," as Nesirky called it, seems quite similar to Bryden's, "only better timed," as one source said on condition of anonymity.

   But Nesirky wouldn't answer this Hege question directly, or take any follow up on Wednesday. Inner City Press asked how Hege, like Bryden, was appointed, the role of Ban's Department of Political Affairs, and what his Secretariat's response is to Rwanda.

   Despite the role of Ban's DPA in appointing Hege, Nesirky would only reply, ""As you know the panel of experts reports to the SC so I suggest you speak to them."

Then as Inner City Press sought to ask a follow up, Nesirky said "thanks very much, thank you," and ended the briefing. Video here, at end.

And so it goes at Ban's UN. Watch this site.

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