UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- Amid human rights abuses in Burundi and the Central African Republic, on November 23 Inner City Press exclusively reported and documented that the United Nations has told the Burundian government of Pierre Nkurunziza it must replace, and cannot deploy to CAR, nine officers.
Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published the UN's confidential Note Verbale with the nine names, below. Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople questions about the note verbale in writing on November 25: no answer. On November 28, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press he would “take a look at it.” On November 29, he had nothing - but the paperwork for more deployments by and payment to the Nkurunziza government emerged.
On December 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Twitter video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: in Burundi, there's an attack on the presidential adviser, Willy Nyamitwe. And it's unclear sort of who did it. They accused Rwanda. There are pictures circulating today saying this was an intra-government thing by General Bunyoni's forces. Is the UN itself looking into who attacked him?
Spokesman: We have no way of knowing who may have committed the attack, but, obviously, regardless of who may have committed it, is something we condemn, as we condemn all forms of violence, especially political violence.
ICP Question: I'd asked, I guess, two days ago, there's a widely, at least in Burundi, reported letter by the opposition to the Secretary-General saying that… that the Mkapa/Museveni process has not worked at all. Today, [Benjamin] Mkapa put out another statement. I just wanted to make sure that the Secretariat has, in fact, received a request that that process be superseded. Is that…
Spokesman: I will check
And again, six hours later and counting, nothing.
On November 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, YouTube video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Burundi, on Burundi, you gave the readout of Prince Zeid's statement in Geneva about the pos… the problems in Burundi. And both… I… he and the panel of experts seem to both… to believe that the UN peacekeeping should… should stop using Burundian peacekeepers given the human rights issues both in CAR [Central African Republic] and in Burundi.
So given that I've now seen a deployment order for flights beginning on 10 December to… to, in fact, send more Burundian troops to CAR than are currently there, up to 800, and it's dated 28 November, I'm wondering, either from this podium or sometime today, can you… can the UN explain why the Secretariat and DPKO are… are… are rejecting this human rights recommendation to not take the peacekeepers and how that's consistent with Rights Up Front and consistency of the system?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, regarding that, following consultations with all relevant offices within the UN system, the Secretariat has decided to continue with the deployment of the Burundian battalion in the Central African Republic.
The deployment of the Burundian troops will remain under close review based on the evolving situation in Burundi and cooperation with the UN. The conduct of the Burundian troops in the Central African Republic will also be closely monitored.
And regarding what, what you've been asking about people's individual records, one thing I can say is that, following a review of the CVs of the proposed incoming battalion, nine individuals were excluded from the rotation.
ICP Question: And I… just one follow-up, because I've seen that letter on the nine and published it. But I wanted to ask you, I've also… since you've gone this far, since the letter, the note verbally, says it's based on cooperation by the Government of Burundi with the UN system, given this week… this past weekend's demonstration against the UN, and allegation by the ruling party that the UN is distributing weapons, and a memo that's come out showing that government employees were required to protest the UN, is that cooperation? And who… who's reviewing it under what time frame, given that they're going to fly 2 December?
Deputy Spokesman: We will evaluate all these developments, but regarding the weekend events, of course, you're aware of what my colleague Stéphane said at the start of this week.
In front of the UN Security Council on November 29 Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about the protests. midtown Manhattan. He replied that Burundi was one of the topics discussed by new Secretary General Antonio Guterres when he was in Paris. Video here. From the French Mission's transcript, this time included by them:
Inner City Press Q: What about the Burundi protests against the UN? Do you intend to do anything on Burundi, there were major protests against the UN. They said that the UN is trafficking weapons in the country, pretty much ignored the call...
Amb Delattre: We remain completely mobilized on Burundi. This was one of the topics of discussion when Antonio Guterres and then Ban Ki-moon went to Paris a few days ago. Thank you for mentioning it, this remains for us a key priority. And as we speak we work on the implementation of resolution 2303.
This is an attempt by outgoing UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to protect the Nkurunziza government and his CAR mission accused of sexual abuse from Human Rights recommendations that no more Burundian peacekeepers by used and paid by the UN.
But as even Ladsous' terms -- "full cooperation" with the UN - was immediately rejected by the Nkurunziza goverment with a mandated protest of the UN scheduled for November 26 - Ban Ki-moon's UN stayed silent.
On November 28, after Ban's spokespeople left entirely unanswered the Burundi questions Inner City Press submitted to them on the morning of November 25, a day on which they got paid, Inner City Press at the (next) noon briefing asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I have some questions on Burundi, many of which I sent to your office on Friday and were not answered. One has to do with this note verbale between the UN and the Government of Burundi, where it says that nine officials are not to be deployed, but says that the rest of the things can be deployed but will be subject to the full cooperation of the Government of Burundi with the UN system. And, as you know, on Saturday, there was a protest in Burundi at which it was mandatory to attend the protest if you're a Government official, and the UN has been accused by the chairman of the ruling party of having distributed weapons in connection with what they say is a plot against them. So I wanted to know couple of things. Also… finally, I just want to get your answer to this. There's a French company called OMP Solutions, which is online saying it sold uniforms and provided services for pay in connection with the Burundian deployment. So I wanted to know how many UN Missions this French compay, they're promoting it, and many in Burundi now allege that the fact that the head of peacekeeping is from France and that this company is openly selling services only to Francophone Africa deployments creates a conflict of interest. So those were the questions.
Spokesman: I don't know about the company. We can try to find out. You can look on the procurement website to see if they do any business with the UN. As far as any link between… conflict of interests between the fact that the head of peacekeeping may be… is French and that the company may be French, I think, is completely out of the question.
Inner City Press: My question is…
Spokesman: (cutting in) Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous is an international civil servant. There are a lot of the companies that do business with the UN where its nationals are also there. To me that's a non-issue. On the… we've seen these reports of accusing the UN of participating in weapons trafficking. I can tell you that we, obviously, categorically deny any allegations of weapons trafficking in Burundi, which are untrue, without basis, and extremely dangerous. The UN has been working to support the Burundian people, with extensive humanitarian development efforts, and has also been supporting efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Burundi.
Inner City Press: One follow-up on that. The reason for the follow-up is… is this, is that the letter… this note verbale, which was never announced from your platform, but we… Inner City Press obtained it and published it on Wednesday, said… it goes against what the Panel of Experts propose, which was to not use Burundian peacekeepers anymore be… due to the human rights issues. And so, clearly, somebody… and I'd like… I think you should be able to announce… to say this. Who overrode the human rights, given Rights Up Front and other things, who made the decision to continue the deployment?
Spokesman: Let me take a look. I haven't seen the note verbale. Let me take a look at it.
By the time Ban's spokesperson's office closed hours later, nothing.