ONUB finally responds to request for update on progress of corruption investigation
From Reuters, November 2005:
A senior FNL combatant, Aloys Nzabampema, and an aide were captured in Bujumbura on 8 November and helmets and uniforms belonging to ONUB's South African contingent seized from them. Other FNL combatants were also captured in Gihanga, in the northwestern province of Bubanza, with uniforms belonging to ONUB's Nepalese contingent.
Nzabampema, who was paraded before reporters on Thursday, said his aide got the uniforms from a Burundian working for the South African contingent.
During ONUB's weekly news conference on Thursday, ONUB spokesman Penangnini Toure said although the uniforms belonged to ONUB's South African and Nepalese soldiers, "how the uniforms got into the hands of the FNL combatants needs to be clarified".
Saying that the uniforms alone could not prove ONUB's collaboration of with the FNL, Toure said the UN had begun investigations to identify the UN personnel through which the uniforms passed to the FNL.
This was not first incident linking ONUB troops to the FNL. Niyoyankana said in July 2004, the army seized munitions made in South African from FNL combatants it had captured, "but the South African contingent denied any involvement".
From ONUB, January 11th 2006:
"As for the issue of the ONUB uniforms, it is true that we have been informed by the Burundian Armed Forces that they recently seized a couple of Troop Contributing Country (TCC) uniforms in the possession of alleged FNL rebels. We are still to obtain possession of these uniforms, which is a critical element in our investigation. It is, of course unacceptable that TCC uniforms be found with non-ONUB members, let alone FNL rebels. One or two old and unserviceable uniforms might have fallen into the wrong hands. This, I repeat is unacceptable and even condemnable, but it is unthinkable to conclude from that, that ONUB force has been deployed to Burundi to assist in preserving peace and security would envisage any kind of collusion with the FNL." - Nureldin Satti, Principal Deputy to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Burundi."
Comment: This response raises far more questions than it answers. Why has the UN not yet gained possession of the uniforms? Have they actually asked for them? If the UN hasn't yet gained possession of the uniforms, on what grounds do they suggest that they are "old and unserviceable"? If they were "old and unserviceable" why would the FNL be using them? Who allowed the uniforms to fall "into the wrong hands", and what steps are being taken to hold them accountable? The tone of the response now seems to suggest that ONUB only has the word of the Burundian army that these uniforms even exist. Are they saying that this might be a "fit up job"?
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