Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nikki Haley Calls to Defund Abusive Peacekeepers, ICP Asks UK of Burundi in CAR

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series
UNITED NATIONS, January 18 --  While Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza government says it is withdrawing its peacekeepers from Somalia because it can't take a cut from their salaries, the UN on January 17 wouldn't tell Inner City Press what percentage it is allowing to be taken from what it pays for the Burundians in the Central African Republic. See below.
   At the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, nominee as US Ambassador to the UN, on January 18 Haley three times said that countries whose peacekeepers abuse should not keep getting paid.
  Inner City Press asked the UN and UK about this, with the example of the UN having chosen to keep paying Burundi for 800 troops even after the UN's own inquiry charged 25 rapes by Burundian soldiers in the Central African Republic.
  UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft signaled agreement, that sexual abuse by peacekeepers should be met by repatriation. Tweeted video here. But simply to be replaced by troops from the same country, to get paid? 
(During Rycroft's answer, there was a smirk at the mention of Burundi, from US state media that's had John Kerry on its Board - perhaps aflashback to Liberians, here. We may have more on this.)
 UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called it a "case by case" decision, tweeted video here. But who decided it, and why? Look to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

From January 17: Video here; UN transcript here
Inner City Press: You may have seen that Burundi has announced it's going to withdraw 5,400 troops from AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia].  They're saying they're not being paid.  The European Union says that they, in fact… the soldiers are being paid, just the Government is not able to take a cut of it because they believe the Government is in violation of various human rights issues.  What has the UN, which itself has peacekeepers… what does it think about the standoff?  Does it believe that it's legitimate for a funder of a peacekeeping operation to say we'll pay the people directly so that the Government doesn't get a cut, particularly in the case of Burundi where the UN has decided not to use Burundian police officers in CAR [Central African Republic]?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the question of how these troops are to be paid, that's a matter that needs to be resolved ultimately with the European Union, which is responsible for the payment issue, and with the African Union.  So, that's not really something which we would comment on.  Of course, we believe that all troops performing such tasks need to be paid.

Inner City Press:  But, you have… I guess my question is, in the Central African Republic, the UN is still paying the Pierre Nkurunziza Government for the use of these 800-some peacekeepers, and you have another major, you know, admittedly, not the UN, but the EU saying this is a Government that would, you know, predictably use this funding to commit human rights violations.  Does the UN disagree?

Deputy Spokesman:  We… if we were to receive reports of problems with payments getting to our peacekeeping troops, we would act upon that accordingly.  Whenever we pay Governments, as a general policy, we do that on the assurance that those… that that money will go to the peacekeeping troops.

Inner City Press:  Just one final question.  What… what's the UN's understanding of the percentage that's kept by governments before they pass it through to… because it's not 100 per cent.  I think you know that.  So, what percentage of withholding is appropriate, according to the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  That not something that we calculate or advise on.  That a decision made by different Governments.
  So there are no limits at all? Except if a government takes 100% and the peacekeepers complain they got nothing? We'll have more on this.

As Burundi "facilitator" William Mkapa reconvened talks, the attendees list obtained by Inner City Press shows not only Ken Vitisia, of whom we're previously written, but also Francis Mnodolwa.
   Inner City Press previously on December 29 asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to comment on the inclusion of an individual listed in the November 2009 DR Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, without answer. (Dujarric answered only two and a half of the 22 questions Inner City Press submitted: and those only to defend Ban Ki-moon and himself.)
  Now, from Paragraph 74 of that report:
"The Group has been informed by several sources, including a source close to Mr. Ndagundi, that he has close links to the ruling Counseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party in
Burundi.. Mr. Ndagundi.s Burundian telephone records also show 27 communications from April to September 2009 between himself and the number used by Francis Ndoluwa, the ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, a former general in the Tanzanian military. A source close to Mr. Ndagundi informed the Group that he works closely with the Ambassador."
  So there is yet another of Mkapa's team that is close to the CNDD-FDD. 
On January 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhaq Haq, video here, UN Transcript here: 

Inner City Press: these Burundian talks facilitated by Mr. Mkapa, I'd asked this in December, I guess, in writing to you, but the… one of the… one of his team members that's being deported by the UN is a person that’s listed in the November 2009 DRC sanctions report as being a supporter of CNDD-FDD, and there's actually some allegations that he was involved in helping to arm them.

So I'm just wondering, what is the relationship between the UN's support of these talks and what many are calling a lack of inclusiveness and the inclusion of people that are… are, you know, listed in UN sanctions reports?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the sanctions are, remain in place, and it's a matter for the Security Council and its relevant sanctions committees to make sure that those sanctions are implemented.  We at the UN, of course, respect those sanctions.  That's a separate issue from the need for mediation.  Of course, we need to make sure that all mediation efforts, including those under former President Mkapa, are supported, and we're continuing to do so with our officials in the region.

Inner City Press:  But have you seen the response by large parts of the Burundian opposition that this… the most recent round is the least… the most one-sided yet and it's virtually… I mean, they're not really included.  What's the UN's role in these talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We're certainly aware of the objections by the various sides.  We're trying to make sure that, as the process continues, it can be as inclusive as possible.