Thursday, January 12, 2017

On Burundi, ICP Asks France If Any UNSC Follow-Though on UNdeployed Police

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, January 4 -- Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind, even as amid assissination of minister, closing down of NGOs. Well placed sources exclusively teold Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. Yes, we'll have more on this.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked about the Security Council's (lack of) Follow through on Burundi, to Ambassador Delattre of France, the "penholder" on Burundi. Tweeted video here; here as transcribed by the French Mission to the UN:

Inner City Press: Burundi is in the footnotes in the program this month, Sweden said that it was just a matter of choosing the date. What do you intend to try to do this month as the pen holder on Burundi, given the failure to deploy the police that were agreed on and to implement the resolution?

Amb Delattre: Against the backdrop that we all know, we are more than ever committed to the full implementation of the resolution that we adopted under French leadership a few weeks ago now.  And for us, as I told you, respect of human rights, inclusive political dialogue but also reaffirming the Arusha Agreement as our compass are the key priorities.

On January 3, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric - set to hold over for a full six months - the Burundi questions he refused to answer between Christmas and New Year's. Video here.  From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: on Burundi I wanted to ask or re-ask some of the things I’d asked you between Christmas and New Year’s.  One is, has… there was an order by the Government to severely crack down on any “foreign NGOs” (non-governmental organizations).  And then today there’s an order that a longstanding Burundian NGO, ITEKA, has been outlawed.  So I wanted to know if the UN has any comment on that.  Also the President [Pierre] Nkurunziza statement that he may run for President again in 2020.  And, finally, in the budget committee on 23 December, the posts that were proposed by Ban Ki-moon for the Special Adviser in Burundi were, in fact, not funded, nor the police, and I wanted to know, what was his comment on that?  And what will the new Secretary-General do to follow through?

Spokesman:  What I can tell you on Burundi that we, obviously, deeply regret the decision by the National Assembly of Burundi to adopt a law restricting activities of international non-governmental organizations, including the imposition of registration and reporting requirements, as well as limitations on the ability of such organizations to hire and pay staff.  We’re concerned that the enactment of this law could impede or even threaten the continued free operation of important organizations that are working to assist the Burundian people.  On the statements by President Nkurunziza, we have no specific state… comment at this time.

Inner City Press: it seems like you may be a couple of news cycles behind, because today this longstanding forum by a former leader of the country, a group called ITEKA, has itself been outlawed so…

Spokesman:  I think we… obviously, as you could tell from what I’ve just said, we are obviously extremely supportive of civil society and the need for a civil society and NGOs to operate freely.

Inner City Press:  What about the post…? [inaudible: this is how the UN transcribed about its failure to follow through on posts or positions, police, that it itself proposed. Total failure.]

Spokesman:  I don’t have anything on that.

  Meanwhile the day after the Washington Post story reviewing the UN deployments of Burundi human rights abusers to the Central African Republic, Inner City Press on the morning of December 27 asked three UN spokespeople in writing:

"Yesterday the Washington Post reported among other things:

“The U.N. human rights office “has raised serious concerns about alleged human rights violations committed by the officers during the violent demonstrations which started in Burundi since April 2015,” said a memo obtained by The Post dated Feb. 5, 2016, and issued by Lt. Gen. Maqsood Ahmed of the U.N. peacekeeping office in New York. The memo, which ordered the repatriation of Niyonzima and the two other men, was first disclosed by New York-based Inner City Press.”

Given your Office's response to Inner City Press at a noon briefing on August that Mayuyu has not on any roster, please explain who in the UN was responsible for providing this false information."

  A week later, there was no answer at all.

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.  It said the UN would closely review Burundi's cooperation. But is the UN doing that?

On December 21, Inner City Press witnessed PR Albert Shingiro's long talk with France's Alexis Lamek then was told to "be balanced."

In the UN budget process, Burundi not only fought to cut funding even for the small UN presence “mandated” by the UN Security Council -- police and Special Adviser's team -- but proposed over the top language. Inner City Press, Banned from access to the General Assembly by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach's eviction order, still through sources got a copy of the draft and exclusively tweeted a photo here.

   Burundi proposed that the “residual activities” -- many of which have never begun -- be downgraded to the UNCT (UN Country Team) in September 2017 since, Burundi said, “the political agreement is planned for signature in June 2017.”  It wants a 50% vacancy rate, and “reminds” the UN to stay impartial, an echo of Shingiro's “be balanced.” It praises the EAC (headed by a Nkurunziza loyalist) and the “Inter-Burundian dialogue.”

   The UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon, as established, did nothing to fight this. For the US (non) role, and a Periscope video, see here. But it has not for now passed. Still, the budget remained the same as the year before, despite what was supposedly mandated by the Security Council. No follow through by France - nor by US (Samantha) Power. We'll have more on this.

On December 23 at the last noon briefing of Ban's era of ignoring genocide, from Sri Lanka to the current risks, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman, who apparently will stay as UN spokesman, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: there are reports that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the FARDC engaged with and fired on and killed some Burundian soldiers who had crossed in.  And I’m… since there’s a billion-dollar peacekeeping mission there, does the UN have any information…

Spokesman:  I’m aware that the peacekeeping mission and its cost.  I’ve just not received an update here from them.  It doesn’t mean that they’re not aware or just means I have not been given an update.

  And twenty hours later, no update either. We'll continue on this.

On Burundi 21 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: on Burundi.  There’s reports that in a place called Kagaragara, some 500 families were… were forcibly and without notice moved out of their homes.  The Government said it’s because there are rebels nearby.  So these people are in tents.  And I’m just wondering, one, is the UN coun… team there aware of that?  And what do they say about it?  And, two, in the Fifth Committee, which is a… you know, going to come to a vote, the Government of Burundi is arguing against any deployment of this Special Adviser’s team beyond the capital, and I’m wondering, is the Secretariat aware of it?  Are they… are they somehow making their views known?  Do they believe that these people should be deployed to places like Kagaragara?

Deputy Spokesman:  Certainly, the Secretary-General believes that the team should be able to go wherever they need to go in terms of carrying out their mandate.  If there are places where we have specific human rights concerns, they need to be able to carry out their responsibilities.  Of course, the Fifth Committee’s proceedings are its own business, and we leave the matter [to] the Member States.  But we are always prepared to clarify questions for Member States on their request. And you had also asked about the incident in Kagaragara.  We don’t have a reaction to it at this point, but certainly, the monitors and our team are able to follow up as needed.  If there’s anything further that they need to say, we’ll let you know on that.

On December 15 in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee meeting in basement Conference Room 3, Burundi's representative - once again, not its lead Ambassador Albert Shingiro - said Pierre Nkurunziza opposes any deployment of the UN Special Adviser mission outside of the capital.

While France in the Security Council on the second floor was drafting a resolution to demand deployment of UN observers in Aleppo, Syria, it has done nothing to even seek compliance with Security Council resolution 2303. Call it Upstairs, Downstairs.