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From Rwanda, FM Mushikiwabo Replies to ICP on FDLR, France Ignores Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- After the UN Security Council's quick visit to Rwanda, after two days in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Inner City Press asked Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo what did Security Council members say of links between the FDLR militia and the DRC Army (FARDC), even with the UN Peacekeeping mission MONUSCO?

Minister Mushikiwabo replied to Inner City Press that the UNSC had told Rwanda that the FDLR's security threat to Rwanda is not a small matter and that dismantling it is very much an immediate priority.

 When Inner City Press noted doubts due to UN's robot-like support for the DRC Army, after not only showing of links with FDLR but even 135 rapes in Minova, Minister Mushikiwabo replied "@InnerCityPress Trust but verify!"

  Her responsiveness stands in contrast not only to this from the French Mission to the UN, which rejected Inner City Press' timely request to accompany and cover the Council's Africa trip as it did in 2010 and 2008, but other Council Missions on the trip, some of whom only tweet out, but answer no questions at all. (We're hoping to see that change with time and training, Commonwealth to Commonwealth cooperation except on Sri Lanka, with Alistair Burt moving on - but that's another story for now.)

  The UK's Lyall Grant is an exception, responding on logistics and even on having raised the FARDC's 135 rapes at Minova. US Ambassador Power, as Inner City Press reported from other sources more than 24 hours before Reuters copied the story, also raised the Minova rapes. But as we've noted, Ambassador Power did not tweet during this Great Lakes trip (unlike, for example, Ambassador Susan Rice during a previous Council Africa trip. More on this, more nuanced, another day.)

  UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky, when Inner City Press last week asked questions about the trip, told Inner City Press to "ask Council members."

  For those who don't tweet, and whose mission like the US have not responded to e-mail questions including about Minova, that is no substitute, and it is another reason that allowing France to decide alone which media could go on the UN plane was a colonial outrage, a new low.

  Those who France hand-picked to cover the trip, Reuters and Voice of America, have rewarded it with one-sided stories accusing Rwanda but not DRC of recruiting child soldiers, and promoting their connection with selfies with Western Ambassadors from Australia and France.

 Inner City Press has co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info to counter-act this climate, enshrined in the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association which first circulated the invitation for the Great Lakes trip to be decided on by France only to those who pay it money, and who have tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, even by spying FOR the UN (click here for that.)

 One UNCA board member, Tim Witcher of AFP, filed a complaint with UN Security leading with how Inner City Press asked a question to (French) UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. Trust and verify?

On Monday, Inner City Press asked Nesirky some new questions generated by the Council's French-led trip on which it will be following up:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the trip, there seems to have been a briefing by a MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) staffer, Dee Brillenburg Wurth, in which she is quoted as saying that the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], doesn’t recruit children, child soldiers any more. This is contrary to the Group of Experts report, which says in at least two paragraphs that they do. It was "said to reporters," is it possible to get a transcript or some audio file of what was said? And what would you say to a seeming total disparity between what MONUSCO told reporters, if not the Council, and what UN reports actually say about the recruitment of child soldiers by [the Democratic Republic of the Congo]?

Spokesperson: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say anything at this point until I check into it myself, Matthew.

Question: Okay, if you don’t mind, one more on the trip. I wanted to get an answer from you from the Secretariat side. It seems, on one hand in Syria you are calling that [Bashar al-]Assad should meet with any and all opposition, that this is the way to have a meeting. And, meanwhile the Council, with the Secretariat and MONUSCO accompaniment, attend a national dialogue in Kinshasa which the legally-elected opposition chose to boycott, and therefore legitimated or gave its blessing to an extremely limited dialogue. And so, how would you square these two? How can the UN, on the one hand, be calling for a broad dialogue in Syria, and in the Congobe giving its blessing to an extremely narrow one boycotted by the opposition?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as you will be aware, there is a framework for peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region, and specifically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that is a broad-based framework that includes the need for national reconciliation. And the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on this, Mary Robinson, has been working very closely to ensure that that framework in its entirety is properly implemented. And, I think it is in that context that the Security Council members were there. So, I think you’d have to ask the Council members themselves why they went to certain events. That is not for me to speak on their behalf, but simply to put the bigger picture there, that there is an overall framework, and that it was in that context that they were visiting the region. This will be last question, okay?

We'll have more on all this. Watch this site.

Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson Martin Nesirky on camera admitted that the decision on which media would be allowed to go on and cover the UNSC's Africa trip was made "in consultation" with the lead mission for the trip: France. Inner City Press YouTube channel video at

This was sent to Inner City Press:

From: Jerome Bernard [at]
Date: Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 6:46 PM
Subject: Re: Security Council trip to Africa
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress [dot] com
Cc: Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info

Hi Matthew,

I am sorry but because of the very limited number of seats in the UN plane it won't be possible for you to travel with the Security Council for this trip to the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

I am sure there will be other opportunities for travel in the future.

Best regards,

Jerome Bernard
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Inner City Press was told that Bernard would be providing information from the trip. Then not. Watch this site.


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