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Darfur Deal Followed by Bombs, UN Silent, Chad Pollution

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- After Sudan's President al Bashir cut a deal with the Justice and Equality Movement rebels, then began bombing the remaining SLA rebels in South Darfurf, messages of congratulations kept on rolling in. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed, through his spokesman, the JEM and Bashir deal. Inner City Press asked, but what about the bombs continuing to fall upon Darfur? Ban's spokesman had no comment.

  Inner City Press asked a permanent five Security Council Ambassador, do you think the deal's a scam? The response first dealt with Chad and Sudan, the Deby - Bashir peace deal that preceded the JEM deal. Maybe they both realized it was in their interest to stop fighting, the Permanent Representative said. Both are facing elections, Bashir in April and Deby after that.

  But why is Deby moving to throw out the UN mission? Deby "never wanted it," the Ambassador explained. Deby took offense when it was suggested he wanted the UN out before he cooked his upcoming election. "MINURCAT has no election watching mandate," Deby pointed out, as did his UN Ambassador Allam-mi. A skeptic noted that even if it did, just like Hamid Karzai, Deby need not worry.

Sudan show and tell of JEM weapons at Omdurman

Top UN Peacekeeper, Frenchman Alain Le Roy, is in Chad meeting with Deby. The P-5 Ambassador said it cannot be all or nothing. The Mission was supposed to leave in March 2011 anyway, the Perm Rep argued. What we want is an organized withdrawal, say in nine months instead of three. And Deby takes over all the infrastructure built there? But of course.

Inner City Press has been told, during the hand over from the European Union to the UN, that France asked the UN to "indemnify" it for pollution it caused, in Abeche and elsewhere. What is the purpose of the UN and its blanket immunity, but to further shield of the P-5 from their own pollution? The UN did quietly agree to pay for much of what it used for its mission in Eastern Chad. Watch this site.

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As Chad Says UN Destroys Airstrips, Logjam on Shakedown Street

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 17 -- In Chad, the "traffic" of the UN's peacekeeping mission is "destroying our infrastructure," Chad's Ambassador to the UN Ahmad Allam-mi told the Press on Wednesday. Inner City Press asked him about landing and other fees that Chad's Idriss Deby government had been charging international peacekeepers, and to respond to the idea that Deby's threat to throw the UN out is just a ploy to get more money. Video here, from Minute 28:41.

  Ambassador Ahmad Allam-mi replied that there are "taxes for services rendered by state companies." He called these a "royalty" and said that "there is an agreement that we signed."

  But the UN, like the European Union force before it, has never wanted to disclose how much it agreed to pay Deby. Even at Wednesday's UN noon briefing, when Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe, she did not provide an answer, or even promise one in the future. Video here.

After the noon briefing, when the Security Council suspended their meeting on Chad for a lunch break, Inner City Press asked top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy about the alleged "destruction" of Chad's infrastructure, and whether the UN might now agree to pay more in order to keep the MINURCAT mission in place.

  "We are not there yet," Le Roy said. But are "we" getting there?

  In December 2008, Inner City Press exclusively covered a closed door meeting of Troop Contributing Countries at which European countries with notable exception of France, Chad's former colonial power, complained about high landing fees charged by Deby. Click here for that Inner City Press story.

As the mission was handed over from the European Union to the UN, it was said, Deby tried to charge the UN for infrastructure built by the EU. Now, informed sources say, Deby is at it again.

UN's Ban and Deby, payments for MINURCAT not shown

  Humanitarian groups are demanding that MINURCAT stay in place to protect their operations and civilians. As top UN Humanitarian John Holmes told the Press on Wednesday, while some NGOs won't accept escorts from armed peacekeepers, others do.

  Inner City Press asked Holmes if it would be possible to keep the mission in the Central African Republic, which it also serves, even if Chad kicks it out. No, Holmes answered. It would have to be a separate mission. He said he thinks the Central African Republic wants to keep the UN Mission.

  Ironically, if Deby's gambit results in higher payments from the UN, the Central African Republic and other hosts of peacekeeping missions would be foolish not to also try the shakedown. Watch this site.

Footnotes: in mid 2008 when Inner City Press and other UN correspondents accompanied the Security Council to Chad and elsewhere in Africa, Deby skipped a scheduled meeting with the Council. Many questioned why Deby would rebuff France, whose then Ambassador Jean Maurice Ripert was in charge of the Chad leg of the trip. Sources tell Inner City Press that Deby was four sheets to the wind, en flight back from Libya.

  After Wednesday's briefing, Ambassador Ahmad Allam-mi told Inner City Press, you try to get me in trouble by quoting my president to me. But President Deby, it appears, contains multitudes.

 Chad's press conference was stopped for two minutes as the headphones for translation did not work. Video here, from Minute 25:53.  Echoes of French Ambassador Gerard Araud's melt down at the beginning of February when the translation headsets weren't available. He demanded to konw, where are the helmets? Now some question, as Chad shakes down the UN as it did the EU, where is France?

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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.

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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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