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On DRC, Hege and Rwanda, Hardeep Singh Puri Says UNSC to Deal With

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- The Democratic Republic of the Congo Group of Experts and sanctions regime both have expiration dates of November 30.

  The program of work released by the month's UN Security Council president Hardeep Singh Puri of India lists consultations on DRC Sanctions on November 21, and "adoption" a week later on November 28. But adoption of what?

   Inner City Press on November 2 asked Hardeep Singh Puri if these meetings will just "kick the can down the road," or if they will deal for example with Rwanda's questioning of the impartiality of the coordinator of the Group of Experts, Steve Hege. Video here, from Minute 22:03.

   Hege's 2009 writings dismissing the threat posed by the FDLR militia were taken off the Internet after Inner City Press identified and linked to them.

  Hardeep Sing Puri replied that in a sanctions committee that he chairs -- on Somali and Eritrea -- "the head was declared persona non grata both both countries concerned... That group continued until the group of experts was replaced."

  In that case, as Inner City Press reported, the "expert" as issue was Matt Bryden, who leaked his reports and even gave interviews about them, drawing the ire not only of Eritrea but also Somalia.

  Similar questions have grown around the Cote d'Ivoire sanctions committee, which leaked its report making the allegations, described as "pro French" by more than one Council member, that Gbagbo supporter were seeking to link up with groups from Mali.

  Hege's most recent report, or the portion of it without annexes, was leaked just days before Rwanda stood for election to a two-year Security Council seat. Rwanda won, without an opponent and with surprisingly few abstentions, 148 votes in favor.

   Now what of Steve Hege? Inner City Press has repeated asked the UN Secretariat to explain its role in vetting Hege, or to respond to the 2009 writings now taken off the Internet. Such response has not been forthcoming. Will it be, around the two November meetings?

  Hardeep Singh Puri told Inner City Press "I'm not inclined to say kick can down road... We have to assume responsibility on the kinds of issues you are discussing." By that, it sounds like the issues, including the DRC's requests, will be considered this month. Watch this site.

Footnote about lost footnote: Inner City Press also asked Hardeep Singh Puri about Guinea Bissau not appearing on the program of work for November, despite the most recent coup or counter coup attempt. He said the footnote had been in until last night, when the requester agreed it could come out. He said today's media calls what happened a "cocaine coup," but Guinea Bissau remains of concern. We'll see.

  Inner City Press also asked Hardeep Singh Puri about the pending Somalia resolution, after reporting on the maritime component issue and the EU's "cheapness," here. We'll have more on this.

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