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At EU, Delay of Sudan Referendum Predicted, Of Darfur & “Difficult” Kalma Turnover

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 15, updated -- With the scheduled Southern Sudan referendum a mere 55 days away, voter registration has only now begun. On the eve of a UN Security Council meeting on the topic, the European Union invited the Press to a discussion of its work in Sudan including Darfur, and then said it was under “Chatham House Rules,” with participants not to be identified by name.

  The lead EU observer to another African election this year said 55 days was clearly not enough, that registration should begin many months before a vote. Answers admitted what several Security Council diplomats have been saying for some time, that the January 9 date is “not realistic” and that efforts are being made to convince the South not to hold its own referendum.

  Inner City Press asked if the EU agrees with the new United States position, that a referendum in Abyei is not necessary as long as Khartoum and Juba agree on some other disposition. The answer was that no such agreement is in the offing, not even close, and that this is an issue that Omar al Bashir and Salva Kiir will discuss directly.

  A human rights organization's representative asked if the EU would be avoiding any meeting with Bashir or another International Criminal Court indictee, Ahmed Haroon. Here the answer was cagier: the EU “Mission will be aware” of the issue.

  It was recounted that UN envoy Haile Menkerios has estimated 5.5 million eligible voters, 4.5 million of them in the South. So the rest are in North Sudan and the eight countries in which diaspora polling will be held. But what about the earlier census of Southerns in the North? And the provision that if 60% of those registered do not vote, the referendum is invalid?

Gambari & UK Lyall Grant, US Rice, French DPR in shades - Abyei not shown

  Earlier on November 15, Inner City Press asked the UN's Valerie Amos about a directive by UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier banning all non essential Darfur travel until February. Ms. Amos said this was so that UN staff did not leave Darfur, while other sources say it concerns limiting travel within Darfur. At the EU meeting, it was said there was no access to Jebel Marra in Darfur for seven months, and that things are getting worse. That's not been the UN's message.

Ms. Amos also played down her quote that she hoped there was not fear, that kept internally displaced people in the Al Salam IDP camp from meeting with her. She said that was only a hope, that the cancellation of the meeting had to do with IDPs not agreeing who would come, and say what.

For Tuesday's Security Council meeting, it was finally said that the Sudanese foreign ministry has been invited, but might not come. The Southern Sudanese representative, the Secretary General of the SPLM, is in New York, already meeting with Council members. Thabo Mbeki may appear by video, but perhaps only in the closed door consultations. And Menkerios? And Ibrahim Gambari? [see update below.]

Inner City Press asked for the EU position on Gambari's move to turn over five sheikhs from Kalma Camp to the al Bashir government. The answer was with minors now sentenced to death, the issue is “very difficult.” How could such a turn over be consistent with humanitarian or UN principles? Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm, Nov 15: Inner City Press is reliably advised that Thabo Mbeki will brief the open meeting by video, and that Messrs. Gambari and Menkerios will briefing the closed door consultations, also be video. But will Sudan's Ali Karti come?

* * *

On Sudan, Susan Rice Defends Decoupling Darfur from Terror Sanctions, Karti Not Invited

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 10 -- With killing in Darfur escalating and internally displaced people arrested and harassed for providing testimony, United States Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was asked Wednesday by the Press why the US has told Sudan that if it allows the referendum in South Sudan and “addresses” Abyei, the Obama administration will move to take Sudan off the state sponsors of terrorism list.

This was called “decoupling from Darfur” by an Obama administration official who asked to not be named; human rights advocates have called it “de-emphasizing” or even selling out Darfur.

  When Ambassador Rice came to speak about blocking Iran from the board of UN Women at the stakeout in front of the UN Security Council, which will host a November 16 ministerial level meeting on Sudan, mostly on the South Sudan referendum, Inner City Press twice asked that she take a Sudan question. To her credit she did, offering an explanation -- unconvincing to some -- of the administration's thinking. Video here.

  In essence Ambassador Rice argued that since there are other US sanctions regimes on Sudan, taking the country off the state sponsor of terrorism list in exchange for allowing the South Sudan referendum should not be read as de-emphasizing Darfur. Said otherwise, the US is offering a “carrot” for something other than Darfur.

Inevitably, Sudanese diplomats see in this a de-emphasize of scrutiny on Darfur. Something that they went -- off of the terrorism sanctions list -- could be obtained regardless of escalation of killing and harassment in Darfur. Some might even call this, intentionally or not, a green light.

Regarding the November 16 meeting, a Sudanese diplomat complained to Inner City Press on Wednesday that while “it is a ministerial meeting and the Council is supposed to send formal invitations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs” Ali Karti, no invitation has been sent.

This seemed strange, since other Council sources have already described to Inner City Press statements in an open session of the Council by Thabo Mbeki and diplomats from both Khartoum and South Sudan, following by closed door briefings from the envoys on South Sudan and Darfur, Haile Menkerios and Ibrahim Gambari respectively.

Inner City Press asked this month's Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, about the Sudanese complaint that Ali Karti had yet to be invited. Lyall Grant acknowledged this is the case, saying that the format has yet to be decided. But why the talk already about the attendance of South Sudan? Lyall Grant said that he understands they (South Sudan) will already be in New York that day, November 16. But will Ali Karti?

At the November 10 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq to confirm a report by Radio Dabanga, the closure of whose Khartoum office has been denounced, that UN Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos “apologized” to IDPs in Darfur for the UN's failure to protect them, including after some spoke to the Council and Ms. Rice on October 8.

  Haq pointed to canned (and confusing) statements issued by Amos' office, while indicating she may speak to the press upon her return to New York. Video here.

Here is the US Mission to the UN's transcript of Inner City Press' question and Susan Rice's answer:

Inner City Press: I wanted to know about the decoupling Darfur from the state sponsorship of terrorism, with a State department official quoted, unnamed saying that the Obama administration would move to take Sudan off the state sponsored terrorism list if the referenda go forward, but that Darfur is being decoupled... I just wanted to understand, how is one to read that in terms of the importance of humanitarian and the escalating violence in Darfur?

AMBASSADOR RICE: Well first of all the United States, as you've heard me express on many occasions, and so have my colleagues and counterparts in Washington, is very much focused on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. We're very concerned about it. We're focused on it. There are a number, frankly a large number, of sanctions in U.S. law that relate not only to the situation between the north and the south, but also to Darfur, and they will not be alleviated [unless and] until the situation in Darfur is adequately addressed consistent with U.S. law. What we have also said to the Government of Sudan is that were it to take the steps that it's committed to and allow the peaceful and on-time conduct of the referendum in the South, and resolve all of the outstanding issues that remain between the two sides, including Abyei and borders and security and citizenship, to name just a few, as well as respect the outcome of the referendum, then that could initiate a process of improved relations with the United States. We've communicated to them what that process might look like, and we think it's in the interest of the Government of Sudan and the people, all of the people of Sudan, to fulfill their commitment to implement the CPA and choose a peaceful resolution to this longstanding conflict. Thank you very much.

  On this last, another Permanent Five member of the Council's Permanent Representative has said, on condition of anonymity, that it is increasingly unlikely that even the South Sudan referendum will be held on January 9, and that focus has turned to convincing the leaders in South Sudan not to hold their own referendum. Watch this site.

* * *

Here is the table of pledges and actual contributions to the Basket Fund for the south Sudan Referendum, followed by the UN's transcript of its November 5 noon briefing:



Amount             ($ million) Committed

Amount           ($ million) Received












Canada (CIDA)









European Union




























 Source: UNDP response to Inner City Press 11/10 question

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 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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