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S. Africa Disputes Any Link of Zuma's Run to Head AU with Eritrea Sanctions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- Whether Jean Ping will get a second term as head of the African Union or be replaced by for example South African minister Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma is a contest that was raised and then rebutted as part of the UN Security Council controversy over how and when to impose more sanctions on Eritrea.

  On November 30 while in the Security Council's closed door consultations Gabon's request, pushed by the US, to vote that day on the new sanctions ran into opposition, outside a representative of one of Eritrea's neighbors came and told Inner City Press "South Africa is pressuring us to vote" for Ms. Zuma, former SA Foreign Minister & current SA Home Affairs Minister, and "now it's just sour grapes on their part. They need to decide if they are with the BRICS or with Africa."

  Inner City Press published the quote, adding its opinion that it's not either / or, AU or BRICS.

  On December 1, South Africa's Doctor Mashabane came to Inner City Press and responded, on the record. He argued, "saying we are forcing them to vote for Madame Zuma. It's not true. [She was Foreign Minister for] 10 years, she is respected across the Continent. There's never been a woman chair of the organization. We are not forcing anybody, it has nothing to do with the Security Council."

  Eritrea's neighbor's pitch had been that South Africa was taking its positions in the Security Council either to promote Ms. Zuma, or as "sour grapes" against countries which support Jean Ping. Then there was the dig that South Africa should choose between the AU and BRICS.

  Mashabane told Inner City Press, "the issue of South African and BRICS is neither here not there, anyone can join BRICS, make a case. Nobody can make us choose, we are Africans. The whole year we have been in the Council, we have been the champion on African issues, I think all 14 members can agree."

  The Council fight on November 30, to be continued in public on Monday, December 5 is about new sanctions on Eritrea. Mashabane told Inner City Press, "This issue on Eritrea is an issue on an African country, there is no BRICS position. If it happens with other members, because share values with us, we can't tell them not to join us."

  Mashabane downplayed what some saw, especially November 30, as a split between Gabon and South Africa, occasioned by the US and Ambassador Susan Rice.

  Mashabane told Inner City Press, "we have worked with Gabon and Nigeria, we have been saying we must have it balanced, concerned about blanket sanctions effecting the innocent people of Eritrea. Our point is, this initiative is at the insistence of the West... You can't have sweeping sanctions to bring down an economy, in this case of an African country."

(c) UN Photo
Doctor Mashabane in UNSC, AU & Western on the record responses not shown

  Earlier on December 1, Brazilian Permanent Representative Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti told Inner City Press that Brazil too has concerns about these sanctions and prefers the "political" track. Mashabane referred to these similarity of views, telling Inner City Press that "anyone can approach the BRIC members and lobby them for their resolution."

  And as Inner City Press late on December 1 was finishing this, representatives not only of Gabon and South Africa, but also Russia and China, came out of the Security Council, still working on the Eritrea draft.

  Inner City Press has sought authorization to use as similar on the record quotes things said about the proposed sanctions by certain Western Council members, for now lacking in South Africa's, Brazil's and even BRICS' transparency. Watch this site.

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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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