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In Darfur, Gambari Criticizes Nur & Inner City Press on Video, Transcription Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

DARFUR, October 8 -- Peacekeepers were sent to Darfur after reports of a brutal campaign by the government of Omar al Bashir against opponents of his regime and civilians perceived as supporting them.

Now top peacekeeper Ibrahim Gambari, as shown by documents leaked to and published by Inner City Press, is near to turning over five supporters of rebel Abdel Wahid Nur to that same Bashir regime, in exchange for a promise by Bashir to commute any death sentence his courts impose.

Several members of the UN Security Council, which ostensibly oversees Gambari's actions along with the African Union, expressed surprise to Inner City Press once they saw the leaked documents, consisting of a draft letter and “Additional Terms” from Gambari to Bashir's foreign minister Ali Karti.

On the UN plane Thursday to El Fasher from South Sudan, US Ambassador Susan Rice told Inner City Press that she intends to inquire into Gambari's offers about the Kalma Camp Five while in Darfur. This echoed a statement of intention previously issued by another Permanent Member of the Council.

After a closed door meeting with the visiting Security Council members, Gambari and two of his military officials, in uniform, came to see the Press. Gambari called Inner City Press' publication of his draft documents “reprehensible” and told Inner City Press to “be careful... lives are at stake.”  Transcription below.

  Yeah, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. “Is this what the UN should be doing?”

Gambari, Lyall Grant, Susan Rice, Churkin- oversight not seen? (c) MRLee

  Gambari's statements to Inner City Press were caught on video and will soon be published online as such. For now, here is a transcription, prepared late Thursday night at a guest house in El Fasher outside of Gambari's UNAMID compound:

Inner City Press asked Ibrahim Gambari, “What's happen with the Kalma Camp Five that you are considering turning over to the government... or that documents indicate you are considering turning over?”

Gambari answered: “Here is the situation. We have these five sheikhs who have been accused of some very serious offenses. We have no means as UNAMID to try them... Down the line if ever there was a death sentence, the President has the prerogative of mercy. All has been discussed confidentially. I want to say how reprehensible it was that somebody leaked the confidential communication of the government of Sudan...endangering the lives of those in the camps. The recipient of such a leak I think should also think twice about what they do considering that they are endangering the lives.. We've lost 27 peacekeepers between UNAMID and UNMIS, I mean AMIS.”

Inner City Press asked about Abdel Wahid Nur saying that if the Five are turned over, it will make UNAMID complicit in genocide, and that his group would not cooperate with the UN any more.

Gambari responded, “you quote words Abdel Wahid was supposed to have said... I met Khalil Ibrahim yesterday, asked how about how someone said JEM wants Gambari to resign for Tarabat Market. [He said he] ever said that, never authorized this... I want to hear from Abdel Wahid. I've been to Paris twice, I went to Tripoli...What happened in New York I condemn it. Matthew I have known you a long time, you should be careful... You are a recipient of a leaked document... Journalism also is a responsibility. I regard you as a friend, I used to, I regard you as a friend, I am admitting that.”

Of Abdel Wahid Nur, Gambari said: “He wants all issues resolved almost before he comes.”

Matthew, I'm very angry with you , what are we supposed to do, keep people indefinitely?”

Inner City Press said, “Several Security Council members, when they saw the leaked documents, said they were not aware that you or UNAMID were in such discussions, and some expressed worry. How much is this Mission overseen by the Security Council?”

Gambari said “Ask them. Ask the S-G. I am responsible to two masters. You have the AU and you have the UN. The unity of the international community is key to finding a solution.”

Inner City Press said, as Gambari backed out the door toward his vehicle, “Transparency you can always say is dangerous, but I think it's probably a good thing.”

No,” Gambari said. “Believe me, lives are at stake.”

Or maybe jobs, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, adding that the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. Among other lives put at risk, without oversight, transparency or explanation. “Is this what the UN should be doing?” Watch this site.

Footnote: it's worth noting that even before Inner City Press obtained and published Gambari's draft letter to Sudan's Ali Karti, Gambari had already expressed anger at Inner City Press' publication of other leaked documents concerning his time as UN envoy to Myanmar.

  That time, before the UN's September 24 high level meeting on Sudan, Gambari didn't argue about lives being at risk. He claimed the documents were “old” (2009) and not newsworthy. “Just leave me alone,” he said, having in the past declined to respond to questions sentto his UN e-mail address by Inner City Press. Now, the claim that lives are put at risk. Is it just opposition to transparency?

* * *

In Darfur, Gambari Attacks Publication of His Kalma Turn Over Documents, Says Press Puts At Risk

By Matthew Russell Lee

DARFUR, October 7 -- Hours after the UN Security Council and accompanying media including Inner City Press arrived Thursday at the joint African Union - UN Mission in Darfur, the Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari came to visit the Press. Inner City Press asked Gambari about the turnover of five supporters of Abdel Wahid Nur documents obtained and published by Inner City Press show he is considering.

  Gambari responded angrily that the leaking and then publication of the documents puts people at risk. Inner City Press responded that others believe that the turnover would put people at risk, not only the five individual's turned over, who even as to execution would be relying on a promise by Omar al Bashir, already indicted for genocide - but also for UNAMID's own peacekeepers.

  As quoted by Radio Dabanga, Abdel Wahid Nur has said that if the turnover occurs, he and his movement will view UNAMID as complicit with the genocide Bashir has been indicted for.

  Inner City Press asked Gambari about what Abdel Wahid Nur told Radio Dabanga. Gambari responded that he does not believe quotes he reads -- Dabanga is, of course, a radio -- and gave as his example a recent talk with Khalil Ibrahim of JEM in which, Gambari said, Ibrahim said JEM had never called for Gambari to resign. Self-serving?

  Gambari said he was criticizing the Press “as a friend.” But to attack a publication for publishing a leak about the possible turnover of five people to one accused of genocide and war crimes seems strange.

  As Inner City Press said while Gambari left, several Security Council members had no idea Gambari was engaged in such negotiations. One Permanent Representative of a Permanent Five Council member told Inner City Press that, after checking with “the capital,” the issue would be raised on this trip. Susan Rice of the US said it would be looked into during the visit.

  “I have two masters,” he said, the African Union as well as the UN and its Security Council. So does Gambari confer with neither? Or with the African Union more than the UN?

  In the room in which Gambari meet with the Council Ambassadors, two hagiographic photographs are hung on the wall: the UN's Ban Ki-moon, and the AU's Jean Ping.

By having two masters, does Gambari answer only to himself?

Or as some say, to a resident of Khartoum, which Gambari reaches by Lear Jet?

* * *

Pro Bashir Protest Greets UN Council in Darfur, IDP Camp Visits in Play

By Matthew Russell Lee

DARFUR, October 7 -- Chants against the US and the International Criminal Court greeted the UN Security Council's 15 Ambassadors when they arrived in Darfur on Thursday. Inside the airport, a group of women chanted their devotion to Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and genocide.

At the airport gate, a larger crowd including children for a time blocked the Council's convoy, which ultimately broken through and rushed behind the barbed wire perimeter of the Super Camp of the joint African Union - UN Mission in Darfur, UNAMID.

 Once inside, the Ambassadors were whisked in to meet with Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari and other UNAMID officials. Inner City Press went in too, for the promised photo opportunity at the beginning of the session.

  But in the corner, Gambari and Security Director Reddy were in intense conversation with US Ambassador Susan Rice, accompanied by her UK and Uganda counterparts Mark Lyall Grant and Ruhakana Rugunda.

Out window of UNSC bus, children waving fists, bridging not shown (c) MRLee

  Rather than freedom of movement for UN Peacekeepers and protection of civilians, the discussion seemed to revolve around the next days program of work: either a close-by internally displaced persons camp and then a Saudi-funded hospital, or an IDP camp some 20 kilometers from Al Fasher. Inner City Press, upon request, is not publishing the name of either camp. The impact of the protest that greeted the Council at the airport is not yet known.

Footnote: inside the UNAMID Super Camp, the Press was led to a welcome Internet cafe. But in seeking to leave the air conditioned container, Inner City Press was told that “you're really not supposed to wander around... I'll go with you.” Essentially, a minder system.

  Nevertheless UNAMID has its beauty: a V shape of birds in the sky, lit up periodically by lightening. After the call to prayer, people dropped to their knees in a larger, carpeted container. A UNAMID staffer said he rarely leaves the base. That's what the rebels say.

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 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.

* * *

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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