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UN Confirms Fighting in Darfur, Says JEM Not Exclusive, Deby Says UN Spies?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- After days of the UN saying it had no access to Jebal Marra in Darfur, and could not confirm the fighting there, late Friday top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy told Inner City Press that yes, we confirm confirm fighting between the SLA Abdul Wahid and the government.

Inner City Press asked for the response of the UN, which praised the deal between Khartoum and JEM, to JEM's later statement that it would renounce the deal if similar offers were made to other Darfur rebel groups. Video here, from Minute 3:19. Le Roy sputtered that JEM "has not repudiated the framework agreement."

Le Roy claimed that the Security Council was clear that "no one will have exclusivity of signing anything with the Sudanese authority." But who from the UN spoke with JEM's Khalil Ibrahim?

UN's Le Roy at stakeout, talk with JEM and oversight of Deby not shown

Inner City Press also asked Le Roy about his agreement with Chad's Idriss Deby, that the UN mission can remain only two more months and then must start leaving. How would this be possible, in the rainy season which begins in May? It will be difficult, Le Roy said. Video here, from Minute 11:40.

  Also on Chad, Inner City Press asked about Deby's anger at those who say he did not want any observers to his upcoming election. Le Roy quickly responded that elections observations were not in MINURCAT's mandate. Even in the most egregious cases?

So it's like the UN's UNAMA in Afghanistan, snarked one cynic.

  A Sudanese Mission source later told Inner City Press that the backdrop to Chad's President Deby ordering the UN to start leaving was his accusation that the MINURCAT mission was "spying." This was said with a certain glee.

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On Darfur, UN Won't "Second Guess" Motives of JEM Deal As It Falls Apart, UNAMID Still Out of Jebel Marra

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- Days after the UN praised the deal between Sudan's Omar al Bashir government and the Darfur rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement, JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim has threatened to pull out of the deal if Bashir signs similar pacts with other rebel groups.

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his envoy Ibrahim Gambari or mediator Bassole had been aware of JEM's position when they praised the deal. Video here, from Minute 17:50.

  Nesirky said "it's not for me or the UN to second guess what is motivating JEM people to say what they're saying." Perhaps not -- but if Mr. Ban called Darfur one of him major priorities, and he praised a deal which was based on excluding all Darfur rebels except JEM, it seems fair to ask what did Ban know and when did he know it? Otherwise, as many feel, it was just a fake announcement to give the false impression of progress and peace.

  In fact, since the signing of the deal, the government and the Abdul Wahid Nur faction of the SLA have been fighting in Jebel Marra. Doctors of the World say 100,000 people have been displaced; there are reports of over 200 dead.

  When Inner City Press asked at noon on March 2, the UN's deputy humanitarian chief Catherine Bragg said that the UN would be accessing Jebel Marra. But 24 hours later when Inner City Press asked again, Mr. Nesirky said the UN had not yet gotten in and therefore "can't confirm reports." Video here, from Minute 16:06.

  Why this wasn't said at the beginning of the briefing, but rather was relegated to an "if asked," is not clear.

UN in Darfur, JEM deal and Jebel Marra not shown

  In fact, Nesirky tried to avoid having the Darfur question asked. After Inner City Press asked a first questions about the Congo, Nesirky declined to allow a second question, despite offering just that to others. Near the end of the briefing, Inner City Press got the question in, and Nesirky read an answer from a script.

Footnote: on the Congo question, about a national staff job action against MONUC, Nesirky said to "ask MONUC." After he read out a response about UNIFIL Inner City Press asked about the difference. Video here from Minute 15:45. "It's very clear," Nesirky said. "There is a difference between speaking with colleagues in MONUC and having the guidance." Moments after the briefing, one of Nesirky's assistance emailed the MONUC guidance to Inner City Press. So what about the double standard? Watch this site.

 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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