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As France Picks Scribes for DRC Trip, Australia Won't Confirm, Of CAR, Leaks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 30 -- When outgoing UN Security Council president for September Gary Quinlan of Australia held his "wrap up" press conference on Monday, he twice referred to his country being the "pen holder" on items on the Council's agenda.

  Being the "pen holder" means the right to present the first draft of documents on the item. But has the Security Council allowed it to mean more than that, to the the extent of censorship?

  Earlier on Monday Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky to confirm how decisions were made on which media could accompany the Security Council on its upcoming trip beginning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  Nesirky replied that the decisions were made "in consultation with the lead mission from the Security Council for the entire trip." Video here, from Minute 13:10.

  That "lead mission, the "pen holder" on DRC, is France, which supported the genocidaire government in Rwanda and their post-genocide escape into Eastern Congo.

  So Inner City Press asked Quinlan to explain the goals of this upcoming trip, and how not only the goal but which media can go were decided on.

  Quinlan declined to answer, or even to confirm that there IS a trip. Inner City Press told him, and has since tweeted evidence, that the MONUSCO mission run by Herve Ladsous (the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping) has already been talking publicly about the trip: October 3 in Kinshasa, October 4 in Goma.

Here is an article quoting MONUSCO's spokesperson Madnodje Mounoubai, picked up by the UN's own Radio Okapi.

So there is no basis not to answer. We hope to have more on this.

  Inner City Press also asked Quinlan why there had been no action in his month on the Central African Republic. He cited a ministerial meeting which France sponsored at the EU offices. But, surprise, surprise, Inner City Press was not informed of or invited to cover there, either.

Inner City Press asks and reports about CAR, and has in the past routinely been invited to EU briefings, particularly those involving as this did Kristalina Georgieva (who even on Monday was sending replied to the new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info from the UNHCR meeting in Geneva on Syria, here.) But not this one.

Similarly for UNSC Africa trips in the past, in 2008 to the DRC and as it turned out Rwanda, and 2010 to Uganda and elsewhere, Inner City Press went after in one case it was explained that France tried to block or "veto" it (for noting France's history in the region), but then co-leader of the trip South Africa said it was not for France to censor the Press.

What happened this time? Actually, there are separate leaders for each leg of the trip, Inner City Press has learned and, after Nesirky's answer, has reported.

Also in his end of presidency press conference, Quinlan twice joked about the leaking of his draft Presidential Statement on humanitarian access in Syria, saying "WE didn't leak it" to Reuters. It is not hard to figure out for whom Reuters' UN Bureau serves as a pass through (and for whom it spies: click here for story, here for document, here for audio.) It was pointed out that Agence France Presse had it to -- natch. We'll have more on this.

Footnote: on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, Inner City Press thanked Quinlan for the relatively many stakeouts he did in September, noting that one on Abyei was somewhat needlessly delayed. It was a month more transparent than most, thought, to be repeated in November 2014. Watch this site.


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