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Amid 100 Toyotas, UN Retread Speaks of Somalia Support, UNSC Oversight?

By Matthew Russell Lee

ENTEBBE, October 6 -- UN corruption and inefficiency echoed, at least for some, at the first stop on the UN Security Council's trip to Sudan. At the Entebbe Regional Center, the advance Press delegation was met by the former head of UN Procurement, Paul Buades, who left his position after controversies about favors done for contractors from his native France and other countries.

  Buades greeted Inner City Press, going on to say that he is happier in the field, and that his also controversial deputy Dmitri Dovgopoly has taken over in New York now that he has become Director of Mission Support for the UN's shrinking mission in the Congo, MONUSCO.

  Even shrunken, MONUSCO has a budget of over $1.3 billion dollars. Nevertheless when hundreds of women were being raped 20 miles from a UN Peacekeeping base in early August, the peacekeepers did nothing.

  Now, Buades told the Press, a new budget for “Community Liaison Interpreters” must be prepared. He said nothing about the cell phone service and repeaters that Assistant Secretary General Atul Khare told the Council about back in September.

  Inner City Press asked Buades how many international staff are are this Entebbe Regional Center, and how many national staff. The answers veered all over. Buades deferred to the Deputy Chief of the Entebbe Regional Center, Yury Cherep, who said 400 total, including 67 international and 143 national.

  But who then are the rest? Pressed, Cherep added that there are 40 UN Volunteers - whose costs are nevertheless paid by the UN -- and 16 “contractors.” While this still doesn't add up to 400, Inner City Press looked around the Entebbe base and found for example a locked trailer with a sign, “AMHOLD LTD Consultants.” Who are these people?

  Previously Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE), which is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, got a no bid contract to build “Super Bases” in Darfur, while pushing the UN around about the air field services contracts in Entebbe and what used to be MONUC in the Congo.

  At a UN press conference, Inner City Press asked UN good will Ambassador George Clooney -- currently in Juba, we're repeatedly told -- what he thought of Lockheed Martin's deal. “I don't like no bid contracts,” Clooney responded.

  Now Clooney is in Juba -- a Permanent Five Ambassador says he is with Ann Curry, others speak of some exclusive Tweeting deal with MSNBC -- where the Council is expected later on Wednesday. First, they were taken on a tour of the base, after a briefing by Buades.

  Inner City Press was told that the Ambassadors questions, and Buades' answers, were off the record. so they will not be reported here. To the Press, Buades made a pitch for help with “swamp ” land given to the UN by the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni.

Yury Cherep to Amb Susan Rice, Rugunda, Churkin, # of staff not shown

  “It will cost a lot to bring it up to level,” Buades said. One Ambassador said, don't pay to do landfill. A staffer replied that there was an environmental impact assessment going on. Another Ambassador laughed, pointing at the crane out on the swamp. They'll leave when the concrete is poured, he said. Indeed.

  The Press was taken to a big room where, after meeting with the Council, President Yoweri Museveni will hold a press conference. He is sure to be asked about his offer of 20,000 troops for Somalia. But what about the human rights violations of which the Ugandan and Burundian troops already in Somalia are accused? Will that be allowed to be raised? We'll see. Watch this site.

Footnotes: in a back part of the base, Buades and Cherep showed the Council and press a cafeteria for 100 peacekeepers, with a volleyball court outside. While one sign said UNMIS (South Sudan), there was another sign, “French Classes.” They described sending Toyotas down the Congo River from Kinangani to Kinshasa, while some Ambassadors shook their heads. It felt like Congressional oversight, without the oversight.

* * *

In Uganda With UN Council, LRA On Agenda But Not Present, Like Karamoja

By Matthew Russell Lee

KAMPALA, October 6 -- On its way to Sudan, the UN Security Council early Wednesday morning reached its first official stop in Entebbe, Uganda. Their UN-painted plane landed on the airstrip where in 1978 Israeli assault troops moved on a plane full of hijackers and hostages. This was barely comment on, however. It was the middle of the night.

  The Security Council's Terms of Reference for Uganda were released Monday in New York, after Uganda's Permanent Representative Ruhakana Rugunda had held a press conference about the Council's work.

  The five bullet point range from supporting the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army and the Uganda troops in Somalia to “examining... the Regional Service Center in Entebbe.”

   With Entebbe the first stop after sunrise Wednesday, some wondered why the Council members, staff and press were driven fifty kilometers in the middle of the night, past other hotels, past Kampala, to the plush “Speke Resort - Munyonyo.” The scuttlebutt is that the government wanted the Ambassadors to stay in this particular hotel.

  Inner City Press rode in a World Health Organization van, past tidy shops including the Jesus Cares Supermarket and branches of Tropical Bank and Post Bank, speaking with a Ugandan staff member of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UN Resident Representative had asked him to come to the airport at midnight and he had.

  He said his job is to monitor human rights, showing reports to the government, and to work with the local media. Inner City Press asked if his Office has received any push back about the wider OHCHR's Democratic Republic of the Congo Mapping Report, which accuses the Ugandan UPDF army of atrocities in the DRC. Not much, he said. Those complaints are directed elsewhere.

  Since the Lord's Resistance Army forms one of the Council's five bullet points for Uganda, Inner City Press asked what his office had to say about the LRA. Not much, he said, the LRA has long left, to the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan (where they Council's going midday Wednesday).

  In fact, the Council could order its mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, to do more to break up reported LRA camps there. Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda was his government's negotiator on LRA in 2006, and visited Juba as he will later on Wednesday.

To the UN plane, October 5-6, 2010, TOR not shown (c) MRLee

Inner City Press asked about the situation in Karamoja on which it has reported, specifically on UNDP funded involuntary disarmament of pastoralist Karamojong resulting in death and village burn downs. There are still incidents, he said. But what is the UN doing about them? It is not on the Council's agenda.

Footnote: in the VIP lounge in Nairobi, a request was made to Inner City Press on behalf of a unnamed Council member not to report that “nothing is being done.” There is, of course, one or more ways to avoid that. Inner City Press is here to cover the Council's trip and results through Uganda, South Sudan, Darfur and Khartoum. Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

* * *

P-5 Interests in Sudan & Darfur Reviewed, With Ambassadors in Nairobi Airport

By Matthew Russell Lee

NAIROBI, October 5 -- As the UN Security Council and its five Permanent Members mill around the Nairobi airport before belateding being whisked to a VIP lounge to wait for their flight to Uganda then Juba, the historic role of each P-5 member in Sudan seems worth surveying.

The British, of course, colonized Sudan until its independence in 1956. In Darfur, for example, the British sought local leaders, even defining which tribes were large enough to name their own nazir and have a formal tribal homeland. Arabs in Darfur who didn't make the cut more recently spawned Janjaweed and much destruction.

While the US has been more interested in the North - South, Muslim - Christian conflict, it's worth noting that the CIA as well as France backed Chad in 1987 in driving Gaddafi's Arabist forces back into Darfur, which also played its role in the more recent conflict there.

Now, France is the host to Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nur, as Inner City Press asked French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner about last week.

China's business relations with Khartoum are well known; why China did not use its Security Council veto to block the referral of Darfur, and ultimately Omar al Bashir, to the International Criminal Court is still not known. Some say China wanted to have additional leverage over Bashir. But now the indictment seemingly cannot be put off.

On October 4 in New York before he and Inner City Press left for the airport, Ugandan Permanent Representative Ruhakana Rugunda said that his country favors suspending the indictment for a year, under Article 16 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, but that there is not Council unanimity for this. It wouldn't require a unanimous vote, but any of the P-5 could stop it.

Just as one of the Western P-5 Permanent Representatives told the Press last month that it is impossible to imagine any of the Western P-5s taking a photo with Bashir, it is similarly difficult to imagine them -- much less all three of them -- voting to suspend Bashir's indictment for genocide and war crimes.

Seemingly the least implicated P-5 member is Russia. Their Cold War involvements in Africa notwithstanding, Russia's involvement today seems limited to dominating air transport. But this has led to at least two recent incidents of Russian pilots and crews being kidnapped and beaten in Darfur. While when Inner City Press asked him about it, Russia's Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin minimized these incidents, they may explain his personal participation on the trip.

Footnote: when the plane carrying the Security Council Ambassadors reached Nairobi, less planning than might have been expected had been done. The Ambassadors “sneaked” through a gate for another group's flight.

In future installments we hope to review the business interests of the P-5 members, and the wider interests of the Elected (or Temporary) Ten. Watch this site, and 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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