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For Sudan With UN Council Trip, a Plan B if No Referendum, Bashir OK Unclear

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4, 2010 -- A mere four hours before the UN Security Council's trip to Africa and Sudan, the Council's “terms of reference” were still not ready.

  Council President for October Ruhakana Rugunda was asked by the Press what the Council is seeking to accomplish, in Sudan and Uganda, his country. “The terms of reference are still being finalized,” he answered.

  Inner City Press, which is going on and covering the trip, spent Monday morning inquiring into and reporting on these terms of reference. A Council member complaining that the United States and United Kingdom kept control of all of the planning of the trip and its goals said that “at least” some additional items were being added.

  While Ambassador Rugunda declined to confirm, Inner City Press is informed that the Council is looking into a “Plan B” if the referenda scheduled for January 9, 2011 for South Sudan and Abyei are not held.

  Also significant, until non Permanent members of the Council belatedly were consulted, human rights in Darfur and children and armed conflict were not among the trip's organizers' terms of reference.

  Ruganda was asked by the Press about Sudan's President Omar al Bashir, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes. Ruganda answered, as other Security Council diplomats have of late while adding their hope that Bashir will be in Libya, that “the Council has not asked to meet with President al Bashir, and he has not offered to meet with the Council.”

Inner City Press asked if al Bashir had personally been informed of and agreed to this trip, and to this construction. His senior adviser Rabie Adbelati Obeid has been quoted that al Bashir has not approved the trip. Rugunda responded that the trip has been discussed with “the authorities,” but declined to specify with whom.

Rugunda and Rice, two legs of trip, Bashir and Terms of Reference not shown

Rugunda mentioned the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, who began in Uganda but are now as far afield as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and, as may related to the Council's trip, South Sudan. Will the Council raise the issue while in Juba? Watch this site.

Footnote: While Rugunda will lead the Uganda leg of the trip, the Sudan legs will be led by Susan Rice of the US and Mark Lyall Grant of the UK. France's Permanent Representative Gerard Araud is not going on the trip; nor are the Permanent Representatives of Russia, Nigeria and Austria.

  Requests have been made not to publicize some of the logistics of and even some of the participants on the trip. But to still have not made public the terms of reference of the trip, less than six hours before the plane takes off from John F. Kennedy airport? We will report and Tweet on the trip, follow on Twitter on @InnerCityPress

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As Darfur Rebel Nur Says UN Nears Genocide, UN Silent, Council Visit Next Week

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 2, 2010 -- While Darfur rebel group of Abdel Wahid Nur has threatened to suspend any cooperation with the UN - African Union Mission UNAMID and the UN Security Council embarks on a trip to Darfur, Juba and Khartoum, the UN in New York has no comment.

  Last month Inner City Press published leaked documents indicating the imminent transfer of five rebels from UNAMID to the Sudanese government for prosecution but ostensibly not execution. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky refused to comment on the documents the following day, saying that negotiations were continuing.

  Then rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nur told Radio Dabanga that “if UNAMID agrees to a handover, its task in Darfur will have finished and it will have turned into an enemy and participant in the genocide with the National Congress Party... this would bring about an end to the cooperation between UNAMID and the movement.”

  This seeming newsworthy, Inner City Press on October 1 while awaiting a visa to enter Sudan to cover the UN Security Council's trip asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response:

Inner City Press: in light of those documents that emerged of Mr. Gambari preparing a letter and terms of, and additional terms to Ali Karti of Sudan — there has been a statement by Abdul Wahid Mohamed al Nur saying that if UNAMID agreed to the hand-over, its task in Darfur will be finished and will have turned into an enemy and participate in the genocide with the National Congress Party and will bring about an end to any cooperation between the Abdul Wahid Mohamed al-Nur faction and UNAMID. So I am just wondering what is, is the UN and UNAMID aware of this statement, and what do they make of it? Do they intend to go forward with its handover or do they not take it seriously?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I would refer you to what I said, I think it was earlier this week that this, as we’ve said, also not just earlier this week, as we’ve, said this is a topic that has been the subject of intense discussions and those discussions continue and they are confidential. And I don’t have anything further to say on it.

UNAMID appraoched, imminent turn over of Kalma Five not shown

Inner City Press: From those documents, things seem pretty close. I think that’s what they are, the, the…

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, Matthew, as I said, this is something that is confidential and continues. It’s important that it’s done in that way.

Inner City Press: But it doesn’t have, you don’t agree I would assume that if they turn them over it would mean that UNAMID is somehow complicit in genocide in Darfur. I guess I just want a response to this comment.

Spokesperson: I mean, I answer all kinds of questions, Matthew, but not hypothetical ones.

But is it hypothetical? Watch this site.

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Sudan Trip by UN Security Council and Press Set for Oct 4, Last Minute NCP Questions, Did Bashir Say Yes?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1, 2010, updated -- The trip next week to Sudan by the UN Security Council and media including Inner City Press has been confirmed, with the belated granting of visas by the Sudanese consulate in New York on Friday afternoon.

  To some, the trip is still in limbo. A senior official of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party Rabie Abdelati Obeid was quoted Friday afternoon that

We got to know of this information from the media that the United Nations Security Council will come to Sudan. But, up to now, I don’t think our government has received any information to coordinate, or to do the arrangement required for the U.N Security Council... I doubt that this U.N. Security Council (team) will be coming without informing our government. According to protocol, the president should be aware and should know because he is responsible for each and everything in the country. That is why I think such (a) visit will not happen unless this is (first coordinated with the president’s office) or through the proper channels.”

   As presented in New York, the Security Council will travel from Uganda to Juba in South Sudan, west to Darfur, then for meetings in Khartoum. Apparently not part of the meetings is President Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court.

   The US and UK said they could or would not meet with Bashir, and they said they were negotiating a mutually acceptable arrangement.

Don't ask, don't tell” is the compromise that has been worked out: the Council will not ask to meet with Bashir, and he won't ask to meet with them. But, Inner City Press points out, he could just show up. He is after all the president of the country.

NCP's Rabie Abdelati Obeid, Bashir's green light for trip not shown

   France had also expressed opposition to meeting with Bashir, but French Permanent Representative Araud will not be making the trip. Nor will Russia's Vitaly Churkin, nor Nigeria's Joy Ogwu.

  Churkin nevertheless used a Council meeting on September 30 to ask which journalists had asked to go, and why the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General needed to send anyone at all. Spokesperson Martin Nesirky has been seen rather desperately speaking Russian with Churkin. It does not appear that this has solved Nesirky's and his office's expulsion from Council consultations.

  Leaving New York on the evening of Monday, October 4, the Council will first travel via a UN plane from Nairobi to Uganda and meet with President Yoweri Museveni. The troops he has dispatched to the African Union mission in Somalia will be discussed, their compensation and whether in light of the UN's Mapping Report alleging war crimes by the UPDF in the Democratic Republic of Congo they will be withdrawn.

   Then on to Sudan, apparently. Outside the Security Council chamber on Friday afternoon, the Permanent Representative of a Permanent Five member of the Council said, of course we are going, they have given us the visas and we have the terms of reference. And at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Inner City Press received its visa.

  So what is the NCP's Rabie Abdelati Obeid talking about? Or does this reflect a split in the NCP, perhaps to reveal itself more while the Council is in Sudan?

As noted above, Inner City Press is going on the trip. The goal is to file five or more pieces a day, wireless permitting. Watch this site.

 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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