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At UN, Tale of Two Dengs at Southern Sudan “Feel Good” Meeting with Ban, No Answers on Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 10 -- With the results of the Southern Sudan referendum now released, Salva Kiir has invited Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and many others to the formal declaration of independence this summer.

   On Thursday afternoon in his third floor office over the UN's North Lawn, Ban met with Deng Alor Kuol, Minister of Regional Cooperation of the Government of Southern Sudan. Ban was not alone: Francis Deng, his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide among others was there.

  On Francis Deng's way in, Inner City Press asked him without answer if he is related to Deng Alor. Deng is a common name. Francis Deng previously told Inner City Press, in response to a question if he owns property in Sudan and Abyei, said that there are “many huts in Abyei” which could be said to be owned by his family.

None of this, however, is reflected in Francis Deng's purported Public Financial Disclosure. Ban on January 14 told the Press that 99% of his senior officials have made public financial disclosure. When Inner City Press showed this is not the case, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky insisted that Ban had merely been using a metaphor.

Journalists downstairs in the UN, monitoring Mubarak's speech from Egypt and a live stakeout by Ehud Barak, who met with Ban before Deng, wanted to know what new name Southern Sudan will take on, and what its capital will be.

Upstairs in the meeting, one imagines that the future of the UN's billion dollar UNMIS peacekeeping mission should have been discussed. Afterward, one of the participants told Inner City Press it was a mere “feel good” meeting.

UN's Ban, one Deng at left hand, another across the table

Also having sat down for the meeting were Department of Peacekeeping Operations deputy Atul Khare of India. The minister of external affairs of India, S.M. Krishna, has arrived in New York; his Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri will be holding another press conference about his program later on Thursday at the New York Palace Hotel.

As the Deng(s) photo op began, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky admonished Inner City Press that “this is just a photo op, I'm watching you.” The reverse is also true: it's metaphorical. Watch this site.

  Nesirky at Thursday's noon briefing dodged questions from Inner City Press about the UN in Darfur:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Sudan. There were reports that in the IDP [internally displaced persons] camps, including Hamadiya and Zalengei, that there is no, that food is no longer being distributed by WFP [World Food Programme] and the people inside the camp say that this was an attempt by the Government to disassemble the camps in this visit of this guy, Ghazi Salaheddine, who is in charge of the Darfur file for the Khartoum Government. First off, was the UN, is it a fact that food services in this IDP camp have stopped, and what is the UN going to do about it?

Spokesperson: Well, let’s ask our colleagues from the World Food Programme to let us know what the picture is there. And obviously, it is a clear priority for the United Nations to ensure that aid can be delivered to those people who need it.

Inner City Press: I actually had a follow-up. This guy, Ghazi Salaheddine, the Government Minister for Darfur, held a joint press conference with Ibrahim Gambari in which they announced a partnership, and Mr. Gambari said he was very positive. So what I was, I guess, trying to say is that people in Darfur say it was the visit of this minister that led to this suspension of services to IDPs. I wanted, I guess, some explanation of what it is that Mr. Gambari is finding so positive in the visit of this minister, the announced intention to “Darfurize” the peace process, which most people in the IDP camps are protesting. What… how do you explain Mr. Gambari’s positive statements in light of the reports of continued fighting, bombing and dislocation?

Spokesperson: I’d like to take a closer look at precisely what Mr. Gambari said, firstly, and secondly, as I already mentioned to you, I am sure our colleagues from the World Food Program can give us some details on precisely what is happening on the ground.

* * *

As UN Admits Transporting ICC Indictee Harun to Abyei, NGOs & US Have Yet to Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- The UN Mission in Sudan transported and assisted International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Harun, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Tuesday, because the UN finds Harun helpful in dealing with violence in Abyei.
   Nesirky implied that the UN will continue to transport Harun, saying that the UN "will continue to provide necessary support to key players."
Video here, from Minute 13:48.

  Inner City Press asked why the UN transported Harun, not only in light of his ICC indictment for war crimes in Darfur, but also of the capacities of the Sudanese Air Force, which has recently conducted bombing raids in and near Southern Sudan.

  If the Sudanese Air Force can bomb, Inner City Press asked, why can't it fly Harun to Abyei? Nesirky did not answer this question. Nor would he tell Inner City Press if UNMIS, led by Haile Menkerios, had checked with UN Headquarters' Office of Legal Affairs or Ban Ki-moon before transporting an indicted war criminal.

  It seems to some that the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has also been indicted by the ICC for genocide as well as war crimes, has no lack of capacity to transport its official Harun, but instead wanted to get the UN further involved in undercutting the war crimes indictments.

  Already, Haile Menkerios and his counterpart at the Mission in Darfur UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press asked Nesirky, without answer, if the UN would provide transport and assistance to other ICC indictees, including Joseph Kony of the the Lord's Resistance Army, widely thought to be in South Darfur.

UN Security Council in Sudan w/ Gambari, 10/10 (c)MRLee

  Earlier on January 11, Inner City Press asked representatives of non-governmental organizations active on Sudan about the UN's transport of ICC indictee Harun. David Abramowitz, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of the group Humanity United, said that he wasn't aware of the reports of Harun being transported, "I have not seen that report."

  Nor has the US administration, including its Mission at the UN, yet spoken on the matter. Some wonder whether they were consulted, even whether, in light of the offer to delink Darfur from the offer to remove some sanctions on Sudan in exchange for the South Sudan referendum, if the US agreed.

  Sam Bell, the Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition, said he hadn't seen the report confirmed, but either way it did not send a good message to the people of Darfur, where Harun was indicted for war crimes: "already Darfuri are suspicious of UNAMID and UN personnel."

  In fact, Harun was indicted for working with and organizing the type of nomadic tribes which are accused of the killings in Abyei, and now in South Kordofan state as well.

   Nesirky told Inner City Press that "Governor Harun was critical" to bringing the Miseriya tribes together. Video here, from Minute 15:58.

  So in this view, it is not only a matter of the fox guarding the hen house: the UN has taken to transporting the fox to the hen house. Where will there be accountability? Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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