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At UN, Portugal Takes On P-5 Favorite Bosnia to Chair Reform Group, Austria's Song

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 17, updated Dec 20 -- The UN Security Council's handing out of chairmanships of its subsidiary bodies is stalled, Inner City Press has learned, by the Permanent Five members' attempts to give the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Procedure to Bosnia, rather than Portugal which wants it.

Portugal ran for the Security Council, beating out Canada, on a platform that included increasing the pace of Security Council reform and transparency. But their request to chair the Working Group on this subject is being opposed. The Permanent Five members -- the US and Russia more vehemently, Inner City Press is informed -- are proposing Bosnia, and a slower pace of reform.

The standoff has delayed the announcement of other Committee and Working Group chairs, including Germany over terrorism alongside South Africa for Resolution 1540 (which outgoing Mexico is giving up), and on Africa.

In terms of Documentation and Procedure, outgoing Council member Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria on Friday morning praised the reform of the “informal interactive dialogues” of the kind held on Sri Lanka, Chad and the Cheonan incident between the Koreas.

He noted that under current rules, while Switzerland for example chairs the Peacebuilding group on Burundi, they cannot come in to closed door consultations. Therefore all talk in out in the open, unlike for example on Guinea Bissau, on which current Council member Brazil takes the lead.

Portugal Perm Rep & DSG Migiro, reform in play

  Not all Council members chair a committee or working group. Gabon, for example, does not have one. “I have a small staff,” the country's Permanent Representative told Inner City Press. He has confirmed dressing down ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo for his talk of genocide in his last appearance. And so it goes at the UN.

Update of Dec. 20 -- the battling continues. Inner City Press questions to the principals about who is getting the chair of the Working Group on Working Methods are met with smiles and eye rolling. Now it's said the announcement will be in early January. Watch this site.

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At UN, Sudan Ignores Finding That It Bombed, Council Largely Ignores Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16 -- Fighting continued in Darfur on Thursday, as the UN Security Council met about Sudan, mostly South Sudan. The Council issued a press statement about the secession referendum scheduled for January 9, including condemning Khartoum's bombings in Western Bahr al Gazal State.

  Outside the Council, Inner City Press asked the Sudanese State Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Mutrif Siddiq about the bombings, and his government's fighting with the Minni Minawai faction. It's not with the whole faction, he quickly said, naming a subcommander who he said tried to “collect taxes after the harvest.” Video here.

  The fact remains that Minni Minawi, the sole Darfur rebel to sign a deal with Khartoum, has walked away from it. So what does the "Doha process" with the LJM really mean?

Despite UN confirmation of the bombing, Sudanese minister Mutrif Siddiq would only concede that it was under investigation, as if the investigation weren't finished. Inner City Press later asked Council president Susan Rice about this.

  She replied, "you heard Under-Secretary- General LeRoy in the Council speak very plainly to that as he also did in consultations."

  Southern Sudan's Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement came to the stakeout. Inner City Press asked about the bombing and Pagan Amum said it had already been condemned. He called for a peace agreement in Darfur. This seems a long way off.

   Inner City Press asked about comments attributed to Benjamin Mkapa that “some Southerns” were intimidating other Southerns in the North to not register to vote in the referendum.

  Pagan Amum denied that, saying that instead it was the National Congress Party which threatened Southerns with harassment if they voted for secession. Video here.

SPLM's Pagan Amum w/ Alain Le Roy, registration of Southerners in North not shown

  Inner City Press asked Mkapa himself who he blamed for the low registration in the North. He said that it was understandable if Southerners who have lived in the North for years didn't register. Video here. Then he was gone.

Footnote: The International Organization on Migration gave a press conference on Thursday as well. Inner City Press, along with questions about Sudanese refugees returned from Israel and elsewhere, asked about IOM's role in the Sudan referendum. It's in their law, was the answer. IOM was asked to run the process in North Sudan but declined.

  IOM says they didn't choose the sites in the eight diaspora countries. But are they observing for fairness? 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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