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In Juba, Chinese UN Trainer Down on Referendum, Criticizes UNMIS, Calling Li Baodong

By Matthew Russell Lee

SUDAN, October 9 -- A Chinese woman providing police training in Juba with the UN Mission in Sudan -- it had feel good story written all over it. But something was amis.

First, rather than staying in the UNMIS base, Xun Chen paid to live in the Beijing Juba Hotel. "The water and sanitation are better," she told Inner City Press.

  "The Mission is too disorganized. For example I am entitled to have a vehicle, but there are none. For forty of us police trainers, there are only three vehicles. So I often walk the half an hour to work, each way, then just crash and out go to sleep when I get back to the hotel."

  This is Xun Chen's second deployment to South Sudan, and third overall with the UN. Her other stint was in Timor Leste, which she calls “a better mission. UNMIS is badly run.”

  She is unable to contact the leadership. Thus she asked Inner City Press how to contact China's Ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, who was traveling with the Security Council delegation in Sudan.

  The context of Xun Chen's work is to train South Sudanese police to get them ready to provide security during the referendum on secession, scheduled for January 9 but some think to be delayed. But she is not upbeat, about either the referendum or secession.

Contrary to claims other made to Inner City Press, Xun Chen said a large portion of the South Sudan police she was asked to train were illiterate. “We should have started with that,” she said. Instead they are providing train that she is not sure is getting through.

  The next day at the ballyhooed training base at Rejaf, many claims are made about the training, including by US Ambassador Susan Rice. But when the press asked a European trainer on background if any human rights training is given, he scoffed. Many of them can't read, he said. Human rights laws are written. So rights are not really part of the curiculum.

  Back at the Beijing Juba Hotel, Xun Chen became agitated to track down Li Baodong.

The Beijing Juba, surrounded by UN cars, UNMIS reform not shown, (c) MRLee

  Where is he staying, she kept asking UNMIS spokespeople. The UN list Inner City Press had been given included a hotel called New York, New York. But the VIPs were at the Grand. Xun Chen disappeared into the night in a colleague's private car, not before telling Inner City Press not to venture out into the darkness.

  But it was irresistible, and hunger at the end of a long day can motivate. Down a long pitch black road, with signs sponsored by UK DFID and UNEP urging passersby not to litter, an Eritrean run restaurant called the Basilica beckoned, “past the red cell phone tower and the gas station,” the instructions were.

  Inside there was a big screen TV with European soccer, and a menu including chicken broast and chips. There was no Nile Beer but there was Tusker. Perhaps there was talk of Somalia. Was a new country being born?

  Near midnight at the Beijing Juba Hotel, Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong arrived with an entourage. He said he was staying here, and not with the other Ambassadors. The next day he told Inner City Press the hotel is an example of Chinese's cooperation with both South Sudan as well as Khartoum.

  Sadly it appears Xun Chen never found her Ambassador. UNMIS goes on unreformed. Watch this site.

Notes: The context, some might say, of Xun Chen's critique of the referendum and secession may lie in her very Chinese-ness. The People's Republic of China is historically against secession movements, facing its down in Tibet, Taiwan and sometimes Xinjiang. But Xun Chen's dissatisfaction seems more personal.

 Negative reviews of UNMIS extended to Khartoum, where locally-based reporters complained to Inner City Press that the Mission is not transparent, that UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios never speaks to the Press, and that they are not at all clear what UNMIS is doing. Maybe that's the way the UN wants it?

* * *

Kiir Won't Declare Independence, Susan Rice Says, Debt, Darfur & LRA Followup Unclear

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN PLANE TO DARFUR, October 7 -- Susan Rice spoke on the record to the Press on the back of the UN plane at the conclusion of her South Sudan leg of the UN Security Council's trip to Uganda and Sudan.

 The US Permanent Representative to the UN recounted how Salva Kiir gave assurances that South Sudan will not make a unilateral declaration of independence. Rather, if Khartoum delays the nationwide referendum, South Sudan will hold its own referendum.

  Inner City Press asked, what about the Southerns living in the North? Could they vote in this scenario? How many of them are there?

  "No one knows," Susan Rice said, adding that the South had accepted the count of 500,000 Southerners in the North in the last election, but now Khartoum has boosted the figure to 2 to 3 million.

  This echoed earlier on the record comments by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant. Neither Ambassador would answer what is being done to prevent registration fraud.

  Nor would Susan Rice answer what if anything the US plans to do about Sudan's nearly $40 billion in debt. She told Inner City Press that the US role on this is to support what the parties decide.

 But how could the South accept the transfer of more than its fair share of the country's overall debt without an assurance that it would be forgiven?

Pressed, Susan Rice said that there are "legislative constraints" to forgiving Sudan's debt, and that even an independent South Sudan might not be "HIPC eligible." But isn't most of the debt non-IMF high interest rate loans?

Salva Kiir & Susan Rice, UDI & debt relief not shown

Finally, Inner City Press asked her about the accusation by South Sudan Minister of Internal Affairs Gier Chuang Aluang, in front of the Council and media, that the Omar al Bashir government is arming the Lord's Resistance Army and cattle rustlers. We've heard that before, she said, including in UN reports. But his allegations were specific. What will be done? Watch this site.

Footnotes: the reception Wednesday night involved not only Rice and the Council but also George Clooney, being followed around South Sudan by tele-journalist Ann Curry. Clooney joked that he wouldn't take a photo with a South Sudanese who was "too tall."

  On the plan, while Susan Rice said she would leave UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant to speak about Darfur, Inner City Press asked her a question: what is the US' position on UNAMID's proposed turn over to the government of Omar al Bashir of five supporters of rebel Abdel Wahid Nur, which documents obtained and published by Inner City Press exposed as being immanent. Susan Rice said she wants to find out more about it during the Council's time in Darfur. We'll see.

* * *

UN Council Hears of S. Sudan “Slavery,” Sees Call for Separation, UNMIS Off Hook

By Matthew Russell Lee

JUBA, October 6 -- The Juba airport in South Sudan was jumping as the UN Security Council arrived late Wednesday afternoon. “Separation = Peace,” as one sign put it. If the welcoming party is any guide, the mood for secession in Sudan Sudan cannot be contained.

On the way to Juba, a senior Western official emphasized that the program for the Council and press is to show South Sudan outside of Juba -- just as the meeting earlier in Wednesday with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was not, in fact, about Somalia peacekeepers, but rather an Afro-centric view of Sudan's North - South conflict.

In the meeting, the official said, Museveni had repeatedly said that the Southern Sudanese had been treated like slaves. Rebecca Garang, it emerges, met with the Council minutes before Museveni, and spoke movingly of the death of her husband John, who stands to be the father of a nation. She asked why his death was not investigated as Lebanon's Hariri's has been.

She said that the Southern Sudanese missed the first time they tried to kill the gazelle -- this meant winning freedom, the official explained -- but now the reference will be the second change to kill the gazelle, and won't be missed.

Vans of the UN Mission in Sudan whisked the Ambassadors, staff and Press to the Government of South Sudan Conference Hall. Tall security guards with wrap around sunglasses asked, “You from New York?” Well, yes. This was the magic word to be whisk in for the photo opportunity of President of South Sudan Salva Kiir with three Ambassadors. Then the Press was told to leave, and also disinvited from an event event between the Ambassadors, the Government of South Sudan and civil society.

  Comparing this building to 2008, when Inner City Press was last in it, things have been progressing in South Sudan. But have they progressed enough, in terms of institutions? Museveni told the Council that ready or not, South Sudan can not be slaves anymore.

Juba, Oct 6, 2010 (c) MRLee Separation YES (games not shown)

Chosen as the place to stay was the Beijing Juba Hotel. Inside behind a counter with Chinese lanterns and a mural of the Great Wall, one African and three Chinese women distributed access codes to use the Internet in the lobby, and ask that rooms be paid in cash.

  Certain years or vintage of bill “are a problem here,” it emerges. The color of money is green, as are the fields outside of Juba. And freedom, by all accounts, is coming soon.

Inner City Press asked the Western diplomat if there are concerns among the Council about Khartoum's accusation that Salva Kiir has violated the CPA by saying he would vote for independence. I didn't see the quote, the official answered. Salva Kiir is free to express himself.

  But what about the North's plans to delay, stop or frustrate the referendum? Is the Council making plans? Is UNMIS up to it? Those on the trip won't know: the meeting with UNMIS and Haile Menkerios was canceled and won't be rescheduled. The plan for Thursday is in the air, literally--

Helicopters to Rejaf to see the training of police, prop planes to Waw or Wau, to visit a Catholic mission, and then on to Darfur. Watch this site.

* * *

Museveni Pressed on Killing of Civilians in Somalia, Disfavors Shelling, Cites Mao

By Matthew Russell Lee

UGANDA, October 6 -- President Yoweri Museveni took questions from the Press after meeting with the Security Council on Wednesday. Inner City Press asked about calls to investigate the killing of civilians in Mogadishu by Ugandan and Burundian troops. President Museveni said that those his forces killed “in June, July, August” must have been combatants, since they were assaulting a fortified position.

But what about killings of civilians in markets? President Museveni said he does not favor the shelling of such areas. Inner City Press posed similar questions last month to Jean Ping of the African Union Commission, who responded angrily that Al Shabab insists on using human shields and even fighting from mosques. He did not speak about disfavoring response.

Uganda's Ambassador to the UN Ruhakana Rugunda said that the Lord's Resistance Army was discussed in the meeting with the Council. Inner City Press asked if Uganda thinks the UN mission in the Congo MONUSCO is doing enough against the LRA bases in the Congo.

President Museveni said that the LRA is degraded, so degraded they had to go to “the Central African Republic and Darfur.” He praises his “revolutionary” forces, citing Mao about a people's army not taking a needle from the people without paying for it. Three times he praises Tanzania for sending 45,000 to throw out Idi Amin.

About the UN's Mapping Report on the Congo, President Museveni said he hadn't read it, but it must be fiction. There are fiction writers, he said, in international organization. US Ambassador Susan Rice sat stonefaced. What is the US view on what happened in Rwanda, and the Mapping Report? Watch this site.

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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