United Nations’jokes: Radio Okapi Calmed DRC Protesters, Of Drone Info Withholding

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By Matthew Russell Lee

After two Democratic Republic of the Congo question were posed at Friday’s noon briefing by Inner City Press, one was answered in writing by the MONUSCO mission less than three hours later (below).

While appreciated, this just further confirms that the UN Office of the Spokesperson could and should have done the same on Inner City Press’ July 31 question of who got the drone contract that UN Peacekeeping head Herve Ladsousbragged about signing.

On that, the UN Spokesperson’s Office waited a full 24 hours until the August 1 noon breifing and then read the answer out — Selex ES Falco — such that, for example, the stenographers at Reuters who didn’t even come to the briefing could put the information out without any background.

When did the Spokesperson’s Office GET the answer to Inner City Press’ July 31 question? Why did it wait, unlike here, until the next day’s noon briefing to read it out?

It has been noted that the Spokesperson used to work at Reuters. Also relevant is Ladsous’ refusal to answer Inner City Press questions — today’s answer is said to come “from MONUSCO.” Here it is:

Subject: Your question on MONUSCO
From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Date: Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com

Regarding your question at the noon briefing on Gama, we have the following information from the UN Mission, MONUSCO:

MONUSCO confirms that there were demonstrations in Goma today, with protesters calling for MONUSCO to extend the Security Zone announced earlier in the week, by which the Congolese Armed Forces are being supported by MONUSCO to protect civilians in a densely populated area around Goma and Sake.

The Mission confirms that the situation in Goma is now calm after talks with civil society groups, as well as extensive outreach through the Mission’s radio station, Radio Okapi, with the Governor of North Kivu and civil society leaders giving interviews and reaching out to the population.

One surmises that this is an answer that the UN likes giving: they could cite to it if they start shooting up the place in the north, saying that “civil society” asked them to do it.

It is also noteworthy that MONUSCO calmed things down by using “Mission’s radio station, Radio Okapi” — so much for the (false) claims of independence.

But mostly, for now, we take from this that the UN Spokesperson’s Office knows how to email an answer to the media which asked the question — but when the answer was important, news-making, it didn’t do so for Inner City Press, but rather services Reuters and others.

Reuters UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau has been shown to have leaked to the UN’s top accreditation official an internal anti-Press document of the UN Correspondents Association, three minutes after promising he would not. This is, in essence, spying for the UN.  Story hereCharbonneau audio heredocument here.

Ladsous made it clear, only if Press coverage of him was positive would he answer questions. Now in what we call a process of Ladsousification, this is spreading in the UN. For example, OCHA said nothing when MSF complained that the Intervention Brigade would undermine humanitarian independence.

A big question now is did Ladsous’ DPKO tell Ban Ki-moon (and / or Mary Robinson) before announcing the 48 hour ultimatum. This was asked, at Friday’s improved noon briefing, and we will have more on these questions.

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