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On DRC, ICP Asks Will State Dept Replace Feingold as Envoy, No Announcement

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- On a day when the UN Security Council conditioned further draw-down of peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the still-delayed neutralization of the FDLR militia, Inner City Press asked the US State Department if it intends to name a successor to Russ Feingold as US Special Envoy on the Great Lakes.

  From the State Department transcript (video here, from Minute 1:00:35)

Inner City Press: two things, and I apologize if you’ve answered either of them.  One is, earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to Libya sort of very publicly disengaged with Twitter, saying she’d received threats after having tweeted that there were eight Tawerghans killed there.  So I wanted to know, were they real – I mean, has any security change been made, and do you have any – is there anything that you want to say about the – what’s the policy of the State Department in terms of its diplomats using social media to communicate?

And just separately, have you – has the State Department decided whether to replace Russ Feingold’s – to name a new special envoy on the Great Lakes, and if so, by when?

MR. RATHKE:  I don’t have any personnel announcements to make.  With respect to the use of Twitter, of course it’s something that many U.S. officials use to communicate, but I don’t have the details of that particular situation, so I’m not going to comment more specifically on that.


QUESTION:  And on Feingold?

MR. RATHKE:  No, I don’t have any personnel announcements to make.

  But isn't the question whether the US intends to name a successor to Feingold, particularly given the failure to neutralize the FDLR, in which UN Peacekeeping's double standards have played a role? Watch this site and this embedded video, last question:

    Also in Washington on March 26 in a US Senate hearing, Ben Affleck was asked by the committee chaired by Lindsey Graham about US inroads and aid in Eastern Congo. He replied that there is an opening, there are suspicions against the former colonial powers. It was a good answer: see below, regarding long time French diplomat Herve Ladsous and MONUSCO.

UN Peacekeeping's refusal under Ladsous to support operations against the Hutu FDLR militia was exposed on March 19. On March 20, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: I want to ask you about this thing that arose yesterday around the Security Council meeting about the fact that the UN had granted a waiver to work with these two Congolese generals that are the reason given for not participating in the offensive on the FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda).  And  the Foreign Minister of the DRC said that in the previous case, on the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in Ituri, the UN had requested a waiver and it was granted. Who gives the waiver?  Does MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on its own reach a determination that it can waive its rules and work with generals that have these bad human rights records, or is it a request made by MONUSCO to DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) headquarters here?  Was the request made in the case of the FDLR?  And most fundamentally, if the generals are the same, what does it say that a waiver was granted to fight the LRA but not to fight the FDLR, in terms of the UN’s commitment to fight the FDLR?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  I believe that Mr. [Martin] Kobler was asked some of this at the stakeout.  I don’t really have anything to add to Mr. Kobler’s own comments on this matter.  He has given his views on this.  On the case of Generals Bruno Mandevu and Sikabwe Fall, the clear point is that in accordance with our human rights due diligence policy, we cannot extend the support if we believe that support will contribute to a course of action in which human rights will be violated.  And we do not want to be supporting anything that leads to gross violations of human rights.  And we’ll have to stick to that.

Inner City Press:  But the reason I’m asking is because you say that we cannot support them, but in fact, the UN did support them, knowing their records.  It granted a waiver.  That’s why it -- I’m asking you, how does the waiver process work?  Is it done by Mr. Kobler?  Is it done by Herve Ladsous?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Like I said, Mr. Kobler has spoken to this at the stakeout.  I just refer you to what he said. 

  But Kobler did not answer this question: Video here.

On March 19 Kobler told the Security Council that the UN suspended its participation and support against the FDLR due to the inclusion of "officers who formerly commanded units with a credible history of human rights violations."

  But then Congolese Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda told Inner City Press that the UN had in the past worked with the two generals at issue, in Ituri, and against the Lords Resistance Army.

 At the Security Council stakeout, after a question by Reuters that did not ask about this previous UN support of the generals, which undermines its coverage, Inner City Press asked Kobler directly if the UN had supported the two generals in the past.

  Yes, Kobler admitted, saying even that there was a UN waiver in those cases.

  Inner City Press asked the obvious question: if UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous claims despite history that it is committed to neutralizing the FDLR as it did the M23, why wasn't the case treated as important as Ituri, with waiver or otherwise?

  Kobler gave no direct answer to this. Given this and Ladsous' striking refusal to answer these or any other Press questions, the answer to many is increasingly clear: Ladsous himself and his history.

 And what now of Kobler (who remains genial, we must say)? Watch this site.

Back on February 6 after the UN claimed to be jointly fighting the FDLR rebels with the Congolese Army FARDC, then to be supporting the FARDC to do so, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric more questions, and he said "the military actual fighting has not, as far as we know, has not commenced." Video here.

  This has been reiterated repeatedly by the UN: no action has been take by the FARDC against the FDLR. Nevertheless once again on February 23 Reuters made it appear that the Congolese Army under Joseph Kabila IS fighting the FDLR, with no mention of UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous' history and seeming double game. With two editors, Reuters "reports" that

"President Joseph Kabila said last week that the operation had started without MONUSCO. A government spokesman said Congo "renounces, in the most official manner, the support of MONUSCO to track the FDLR. We are going to track them alone."

  So, did the operations start? On February 23, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On DRC.  The Radio Okapi which I understand is a UN-supported media in the Congo has reported abuses about the FDLR in and around Lubero.  Since I would assume that means that MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] is aware of them and it’s been said that they have a protection of civilians mandate totally outside of the neutralization of the FDLR, has MONUSCO done anything about these UN essentially reported —

Spokesman Dujarric:  Valid question.  I have not gotten an update from MONUSCO today, but we will try to extract one.

 Five hours later, nothing. On February 18, Inner City Press asked Dujarric the question of why Herve Ladsous' MONUSCO has not itself taken action on the FDLR:

Inner City Press: A spokesman for the Congolese Government, Lambert Mende, has said that MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] is free to do its own operation against FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda].  He says that the Government has nothing against that.  And I know that it's come up that, somehow, the UN, because of its stated human rights concerns is not going to work with the Government to go after the FDLR.  But, if the Government there is essentially giving its consent, what am I missing?  Why isn't the UN doing what was said it would do following 2 January?

Spokesman:  I would… I would check with the Mission itself.  I have nothing to say from here.

  The UN - and Ladsous, given his history - SHOULD have something to say.

  On February 17, Inner City Press asked again, "Are you aware of any action taken by the Congolese Army against FDLR? Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq replied, "I'm not aware of offensive military operations, no."

  Nevertheless Reuters on February 10, calling it an exclusive, quoted an unnamed UN official that the UN's support to this non-existent fight had been "paused."

  Then on February 14, still without reporting UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous' history with the Hutu rebels and FDLR, for example here, nor the more recent sale of UN posts in the DRC under Ladsous, Reuters without any of that context quotes anonymous UN official(s) on how committed to rights the UN is, here.

  It 'reports' that "'The next step is the dispatch of formal letters to the relevant Congolese authorities concerning the cessation of support to the FARDC in these anti-FDLR operations,' said the U.N. official."

  What anti-FDLR actions? Tellingly, the story doesn't even purport to give a reason for according the "UN official" anonymity.

   So what is Reuters' policy on granting anonymity? Shouldn't the reason be stated? Reuters has previously refused to explain basic policies - including on censorship like this.

  This Reuters series, praising the UN for "pausing" or suspending action against the FDLR that never even began, is affirmatively misleading. UN Peacekeeping hands faux secrets to Reuters in exchange for positive, uncritical coverage.

  On February 11, Inner City Press asked Spokesman Dujarric about this Reuters "exclusive" on a spoonfed quote: how can something that never began be paused? February 11 video here.  There is as yet no answer.

On February 17, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq

Inner City Press: I want to know whether the UN can say whether the FARDC has, in fact, begun any operations against the FDLR.  And you read the resolution and it says “unilateral”.  It says that the MONUSCO can take action as it did on M23 [23 March Movement], and so, I'm wondering, are there preparations to do just that?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, that same resolution 2147 (2014), also spells out the phrase “consent of all parties”, and that's an important phrase for us.  MONUSCO will act under the instruction of the Security Council, like I said.  It's got the technical capacities.  It has sufficient enablers and is well-trained and it has well-trained and well-equipped professional peacekeepers to conduct such an operation successfully.  If there's any UN operation to be taken against the FDLR, it would have to be taken in line with international humanitarian law.  In this regard, contingency plans are being reviewed...

Inner City Press:  And is there a FARDC action yet?  Sorry.  I just wanted to get back to that.  Are you aware of any action taken by the Congolese Army against FDLR?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not aware of offensive military operations, no. 

 In full disclosure, Reuters at the UN has asked Google to censor access to its anti-Press complaint to the UN, here.

From the February 6 transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask on the Democratic Republic of the Congo,  a self-described senior UN official had said they have laid down an ultimatum as to two generals that are leading the Congolese stated fight against the FDLR [Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda].  And today Lambert Mende, spokesman of the Government, has said that they reject these ultimatums and so I wanted to know, the way it’s described is that the UN — I’ve been asking you here, but obviously something was said elsewhere in the building to some that the ultimatum is until 13 February or they would forfeit MONUSCO’s support to the operation.  So I wanted — I don’t think it’s an operational detail.  I want to know:  Has the UN been providing support to units of the FARDC [Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] engaged with the FDLR?  Which units are those?  And would it, in fact — will it now, given this statement, be suspended?

Spokesman Dujarric:  A couple of things.  First of all, my understanding from here is that the FARDC operations have not commenced in terms of the military operations.  The discussions regarding the human rights issues that we’ve raised about the two generals are ongoing and they’re ongoing in Kinshasa.

Inner City Press:  Right.  But can you react — the spokesman for the Government has said we will only replace them if there is…

Spokesman:  Well, I did hear your question.  My reaction is that the discussions are ongoing in Kinshasa.

Inner City Press:  One last thing because I’ve seen there have been various statements about the actions have already started.  “We welcome the action.”  “We are fleeing the action.”  Do you know…  [overlapping talking]

Spokesman:  I’m just saying, my understanding is the military actual fighting has not, as far as we know, has not commenced.  The operation is under way.  But obviously, we understand that the actual — there’s been no actual fighting reported as of yet.

Inner City Press:  Why can’t we get DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) on the record to speak about this matter?

Spokesman:  Well, I think as I said this is a — this operation is being led from — our support for the operation is being led from the field, and I think the questions will be answered there.

Inner City Press:  Was a senior official here in the building or—

Spokesman:  You know what?  The one thing we do have a lot of here are senior UN officials.  Thank you.

On February 5, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq when Inner City Press asked if ANY support from the UN is being given, did not say Yes. Video here.


 The UN has been dissembling for some time about its role in the Congolese Army's stated attempt to "neutralize" the FDLR. While refusing to answer Press questions publicly, Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping on February 4 once again used friendly scribes to appear to be strong on human rights - in this case, to explain NOT fighting the FDLR.

  Ladsous did this on the Congolese Army rapes in Minova, using the same scribes; he is preparing the same scam to explain his mission's covering up of rapes in Tabit in Darfur, Sudan (more on this to come).


transcript here

  Reuters has again misrepresented the UN's and Herve Ladsous' (non) enforcement of the human rights due diligence policy. The anonymously trolling Reuters correspondent -- reviving that on January 26, after Reuters' Stephen J. Adler et al were told but did nothing -- "reports" that

"The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo threatened in 2013 to withdraw support for two Congolese battalions accused of involvement in the mass rape. The mission decided to keep working with the battalions after 12 senior officers, including the commanders and deputy commanders, were suspended and about a dozen soldiers were charged over the rapes in Minova."

  This is propaganda -- only two lower ranking soldiers were convicted. The Reuters implication is that Ladsous' DPKO is tough on human rights: false.

  On January 22  Ladsous made a speech about freedom of the press in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Thursday to the US Security Council, and made excuses for not acting to “neutralize” the Hutu FDLR rebels as the UN did the largely Tutsi M23.

Then Ladsous came to the Security Council stakeout, ostensibly to take questions.

  Inner City Press asked, “On the neutralization of the FDLR, what is the hold up?”

  Ladsous said "I don't respond to your questions, Mister." Video here and embedded below.

    Inner City Press asked if any of the countries in the UN's Force Intervention Brigade are well than willing to attack the FDLR, as senior diplomats at the UN have told Inner City Press.

   Ladsous refused to answer this question, and gestured that Ban Ki-moon's envoy to the DRC Martin Kobler, standing behind Ladsous at the stakeout, shouldn't answer it either. Reuters took or was given another question, distancing the FDLR from genocide.

   Finally Inner City Press asked both men what if anything UN Peacekeeping has done as the Kabila government has frozen the accounts of the Panzi hospital for rape victims.  Ladsous waved this off -- for months he waved off Press questions about mass rape in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army, video here -- and walked away with this spokesman.

 (One can only imagine the advise this “communications professional” is giving Ladsous. Perhaps he can help Ladsous address his history with Hutu groups as evidence in this memo. These are Press questions.)


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