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As UN Expels Sudanese Journalist from Flight, 3 Follow in Solidarity, Protests Brew

By Matthew Russell Lee

SUDAN, October 7 -- On the UN plane of UN Ambassadors set to fly from Juba to Darfur on Thursday, one of the four Sudanese journalists on board was ordered to leave and give up his seat.

While he argued that he was on the flights manifest, and had obtained the permit required to report from Darfur, his backpack was thrown on the floor. A UN Security official threatened to "forcibly" remove him from the plane as Ambassadors did nothing.

As he struggled to pick his backpack off the floor, the Sudanese journalist said to his colleagues, we are being assaulted, are you going to accept it? All four ended up leaving. Mohamed Nur Al-Deen, Al-Tayeb Sideeg, Fayez Al-Zaki and Mohamed Yousif.

  Ambassadors stared at the floor. One noted that the US has on the trip not only two staff members, but two additional personal security guards.

   The disparate treatment of the Sudanese journalists began earlier in the day, in the base of the UN Mission in Sudan. The reporters traveling with the Security Council including Inner City Press were told to disembark the bus for lunch. The Sudanese journalists were left onboard and only rejoined the group after the UNMIS sandwiches were eaten.

The incidents seem less than diplomatic.

UN Plane in Juba, exclusion of Sudanese journalist(s) not shown, (c) MRLee

 Discontent with the exclusions was widespread in the back of the plane, and in portions of the front. The traveling press, which had earlier in the trip complained of being slighted, "treated like baggage" as one reporter put it, was now chastened to see their local colleagues thrown off the plane. "We would sell each other out in a heartbeat," one of the traveling journalists said. A joint letter of complaint was discussed.

But to whom would a letter of complaint be directed? Who was really in charge of and during the journalist's exclusion? On the surface, it was the UN itself, UN Security. But it is a trip of Security Council Ambassadors, led by three Ambassadors. From whom would one request a copy of the manifest? Who is the UN, really? Sudanese and journalists in particular want to know. Watch this site.

Footnote / update: when the Ambassadors and Press arrived two hours later in Darfur, they were met first by a demonstration of women chanting pro-Bashir, anti-ICC slogans. At the gates of the airport, a much large protest had gathered, in which adults and children chanted anti-US slogans. In this context, the inartful expulsion of Sudanese journalists from the Ambassadors' flight seems particularly impolitic.

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South Sudan Accuses Bashir of Arming LRA as Susan Rice Smiles, Others Queasy

By Matthew Russell Lee

REJAF, SOUTH SUDAN, October 7 -- A military band greeted Susan Rice and 13 other Security Council Ambassadors on Thursday morning at this police training camp on the banks of the Nile River.

  The minister of internal affairs of the Government of South Sudan gave a speech, in which he accused the government of Omar al Bashir of supplying ammunition not only to cattle rustlers but also the Lord's Resistance Army.

  Susan Rice did not react to this accusation, rather smiling broadly as South Sudan military figures praised her.

As the Security Council delegation took a tour of the facility, compete with mock hijackings of VIPs in four by four vehicle, fought off by the just trained police, Inner City Press asked another Council Ambassador if he was comfortable with the tone of the visit to Rejaf, sometimes called and spelled Rajaf.

  “It's a very sensitive situation,” he said, going on to wonder what the government of Sudan in Khartoum would think of this show of readiness for independence and with what some call its Susan Rice “cult of personality” aspect. Others say it is merely Susan showing her passion.

  Still, the mood was hopeful, with young South Sudanese singing and marching around in robo-cop crowd control outfits complete with thigh and shin armor. Inner City Press interviewed a number of the trainees, who said they are only paid from time to time and have no toilets, having to “use the bush.”

A speech to the Council members asked for $50 million to take the training facility to the next stage. Afterward an Ambassador joked to Inner City Press, “Did they expect us to take out our checkbooks?”

Susan Rice and SSudan minister, status neutral and $50 million not shown

  One Permanent Representative was conspicuously absent: Russia's Vitaly Churkin. It led one to wonder how such a Council Mission to Kosovo would have looked, while UNMIK was running it, before the unilateral declaration of independence. There, the UN's watchword was “status neutral.” Was that only because Serbia had Russia taking its side in the Council? Watch this site.

Footnote: the last leg of the Susan Rice portion of the trip, a visit to Wau, was canceled when the UN plane, run by Swift Air, broke down on the Juba tarmac. The entire delegation moved to the Russian base of UNMIS. Things started friendly, but then a Russian commander ordered the Press to stop using the Internet.

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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.

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.

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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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