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For South Sudan, Hilde Johnson Tapped as Ban's Envoy, UN Confirms to Press, “Like Susan Rice”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 22 -- Hilde Johnson of Norway has been tapped to head the UN Mission in South Sudan, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Wednesday.

  Inner City Press asked about Sudanese president Omar al Bashir's threat to cut off the oil pipeline from South Sudan, set for independence on July 9, and whether the UN would sent Ms. Johnson there.

  The oil pipeline threat is just one example of the foreseeable tensions between South Sudan and Khartoum that a UN envoy in Juba should work on.

  But well placed UN sources have told Inner City Press, which first reported Ms. Johnson's candidacy and confirmed it with her, that “heart-felt activist” Hilde Johnson may find it hard to be heard in and by Khartoum.

After reporting Ms. Johnson's candidacy for the post as far back at May 16, along with UN officials Ian Martin of the UK and “Fink” Haysom of South Africa, Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN to confirm that Ambassador Susan Rice was lobbying Ban Ki-moon to give the post to Johnson.

  US Mission spokesman Mark Kornblau replied to Inner City Press on June 14 that “we generally don’t comment on nominees until they are officially put forward by the Secretary General.”

On June 21, having confirmed from other diplomatic sources that Ban Ki-moon had acceded and tapped Johnson for the post, Inner City Press asked Kornblau, now that “she has the UNMIS job -- did the US / Ambassador Rice support her?” Twenty three hours later there has been no response. Now that the UN itself has confirmed, will Rice or her Mission now speak out?

Johnson, with Ms. Coomaraswamy & Rama Yade, mediation not shown

  Johnson recently chaired a UN session on how to help South Sudan. She is hardworking, having reportedly clashed while at UNICEF with other UN officials about the use of heightened security threat ratings by the UN during the Arab Spring.

  But as one well placed source put it, “Why not name, like, Susan Rice at the UN's envoy to South Sudan? Isn't the point of the UN to be able to talk to both sides of a conflict?”

  Some see this move by Ban as symbolic of the over-domination by the United States which even wire services have reported, much to the displeasure of Ban's communications team. The proof is and will be in the pudding. Watch this site.

* * *

As Ban Takes Darfur Deal from Bassole, IDPs & Rebels Ignored, Abandoned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 20 -- Ignoring complaints from Darfur itself, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday accepted a yellow bound peace agreement from Burkina Faso foreign minister Djibril Bassole and his Qatari counterpart.

  Bassole twice told Ban, even during the photo op, “congratulations on what will happen tomorrow” -- referring to the expected General Assembly approval of the Security Council's June 17 recommendation of Ban for a second five year term.

  At his June 6 press conference announcing he wants a second term, Ban was asked about his “failure” on Darfur in his first five years. As it happens, there is escalating fighting, reports of Zaghawas killed, and rejection of this so-called peace agreement by the Justice & Equality Movement (JEM) and others.

  JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim has been trapped in Libya for weeks. Inner City Press asked the UN about requests to it by JEM to help remove Ibrahim from Tripoli, as the UN did with its international staff. Apparently it was never done; Khalil Ibrahime was abandoned. 

Bassole, Ban and Qatar minister on June 20, 2011, (c) MRLee

 Radio Dabanga (June 8) reported that JEM

accused the Sudanese government of planning an attempt to assassinate its leader, Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, in Libya. Jibril Adam Bilal, the spokesperson of the movement, said in a press release that the movement managed to foil the plot to kill the chairman of the movement. The Darfuri rebels claimed that they were able to determine the source of the attempt and stop it by foreknowledge of the means of the attempt. Jibril Bilal affirmed that the movement knew which governmental entitities had paid 25 billion Sudanese pounds to an organization called Bijer B to carry out the operation and there is an investigation going on to know more facts. Jibril warned the National Congress Party that it is stupid to try these attempts which have unknown consequences and would lead the country to a path the country has never taken before.”

  Then again, the UN might just deny the Radio Dabanga report, as it did on June 20 when asked about reported failure to deliver food to IDP camps in El Geneina, Darfur:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about in Darfur, there is a report again by Radio Dabanga that food has stopped being delivered to the IDP camps in El Geneina. I tried over the weekend to write to both WFP [World Food Programme] and UNMIS - I mean UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] — to ask whether it is true and why this would happen. Is that something you can confirm?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I’ll see what the World Food Programme or our colleagues at the UN Mission have on that.

Three hours later, Nesirky's office sent this:

Subject: Your question on Darfur and Sudan
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 3:45 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The World Food Programme has confirmed that the food distributions to El Geneina are on track, and any reports suggesting that such distributions have stopped are inaccurate.

Here's what WFP then sent Inner City Press:

We are not stopping food distribution in any of the nine camps that we serve in El Geneina in West Darfur. Distribution plan is on schedule, very much within the 30-day cycle. We completed distribution in two camps (El Hujaj and Jaama) and today distribution will start in El Riyadh. In other camps (Abu Zar, Ardamata, Kirinding 1 and 2, and Dorti) distribution will start from the 22nd onwards. In Sultan camp, food voucher distribution started yesterday and so far we have not seen any trouble.”

And there's the key word: “voucher” distribution. Because the camp residents are opposing the use of vouchers and “traders” --

A sheikh from one of the camps said that the Program used to distribute the food rations every month but did not do so this month after they were informed by the displaced people that they, the displaced people, would not receive their food rations from traders. The sheikh said that they demand an explanation from WFP regarding the delay, stating that the representatives of the WFP who used to meet with the sheikhs after intervals have stopped doing so. The sheikh stated that diseases such as malnutrition and diarrhea have spread in camps because of the lack of relief materials.”

The UN as reported above refused to speak to the actual people in the camps, just as it ignores the actual rebels in Darfur. The plan to declare peace in Darfur appears to be to ignored and isolate the rebel movements, and hold photo ops in New York. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, As Ban Credits Bassole for Darfur “Progress,” He Left Post on June 8

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 9 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on June 6 for a second term, he was asked about failing on Darfur, one of his top two stated priorities in his first term. Ban replied that process is accelerating, and credited Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole.

On June 9, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: if I understood it correctly Mr. Djibril Bassolé was described as stepping down as the joint AU/UN mediator. But he has since been quoted as saying he remains a mediator. And he did go to these Doha talks. So, is he the UN’s mediator or not? It’s unclear. He says that he is, but it was said here that he is not. Which is it?

Spokesperson: I think it was also said here that he has a split role at the moment and will continue to — was continuing, I should say — was continuing to serve as one of the mediators in the run-up to the meeting that you spoke about. But there will be a change in that status, and I think I’ll be able to give you precisely what that change is after this.

Just after the briefing ended, Nesirky said he would look into it. Later this was added to the UN's transcript:

[The Spokesperson’s Office later said that Djibril Bassole’s contract as a United Nations-African Union envoy ended Wednesday, 8 June.]

So Ban's man on Darfur is no longer in the post.

Ban and Bassole, left Darfur post June 8 with a whimper

 And where do we stand? Rebels supporting Minni Minawai and Abdel Wahid al Nur did not sign onto the recent Doha process. The head of the joint UN - AU peacekeeping mission UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari,  is often in New York, most recently listed as giving a speech in Connecticut on June 4. What is the UN doing in Darfur? It is not clear. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Admits 2d Flight of ICC Darfur Indictee Haroun to Abyei in Sudan, Impunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4, updated -- The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press.

  On March 3 the UN Security Council met about renewed fighting in the disputed Abyei region. Back in January, Inner City Press got the UN to acknowledge they had flown ICC indictee Haroun from South Kordofan, where he serves fellow ICC indictee Omar al Bashir as governor, to Abyei.

  The UN has defended this controversial flight by saying that Haroun and Haroun alone could stop violence in Abyei. The UN never explained why the government of Sudan, which has an air force currently bombing civilians in Jebel Marra in Darfur, couldn't itself fly Haroun.

The UN said it was a scheduled flight, then UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios admitted to Inner City Press that it was a special flight. Inner City Press is told such flights cost $40,000, and the UN has confirm no reimbursement has been sought from the Bashir government.

But now the violence has continued, making the UN flight of ICC indictee Haroun harder to justify even by the UN's own argument.

  March 3 in front of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Council president for March Li Baodong of China if the UN Peacekeeping official who briefed the Council, Atul Khare, had mentioned if Haroun would again be flown in a UN helicopter. Li Baodong did not directly answer.

At the March 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that that the UN would once again fly ICC indictee Haroun to Abyei, even now that his work in connection with the first flight has proved ineffective.

Nesirky said he would check. Ten minutes later, Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq announced by speaker to all UN correspondents that yes, Haroun attended today's meeting in Abyei, and yes, “he was transported” by the UN.

  This UN promotes impunity, even for one of the few people indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon brags about the Security Council's partial referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC -- a referral that Ban Ki-moon did not even call for until after the Council voted to make the referral.

  This UN is promoting and enshrining lawlessness, with no transparency or accountability. Watch this site.

Update of 3:48 pm -- Human Rights Watch, via Richard Dicker, submitted this comment:

This is the second time in recent weeks the UN has transported Ahmed Haroun who is charged by the ICC with war crimes in Darfur. We have real concerns because the U.N. should not be in the business of transporting Haroun. There needs to be an extremely high threshold of urgency for such action by UNMIS.”

Responses have been sought from the Missions to the UN of France, the UK and the US, with the latter two asked if they knew in advance of the UN's new flight of ICC indictee Haroun. Given her statements this year about social media, & after hours of non-response by the US Mission to the UN,@AmbassadorRice has been asked directly as well. Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm -- Then this, from UK Mission to the UN spokesman Daniel Shepherd:

As spokesperson, I would only reiterate the message that my two Ambassadors have both said on the record (and published by Inner City Press) first time around: that we aren’t going to second guess how UNMIS fulfills its mandate to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) parties in efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations. I’d only add that this work is particularly important at this sensitive time, to contain any potential escalation after the recent Abyei violence.”

We could note again that violence has persisted despite the UN flying ICC indictee Ahmed Haroun in the first time, and that it is the role of UN member states to oversee the UN Secretariat, not to defer in this case to what some see as its promotion of impunity - but at least the UK would put its position on the record.

Update of 4:43 pm -- this too has come in, perhaps in response:

Date: Fri, Mar 4, 201
Subject: Haroun and Abyei
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

You guys ask great questions! Have you noticed perhaps that the United Nations seems to be unaware of who is causing the violence in Abyei. And yet "diplomatic sources" report seeing the burial of 33 bodies - all southerners.

The Arab nomads say the violence started when SPLM police shot at them (Hitler used a similar ploy to invade Poland) - and today thousands of civilians fled Abyei fearing another crisis like in June 2008. The Dinka Ngok villages north of Abyei, such as Maker, have been burnt to the ground. The end explains the means. There is a creeping ethnic cleansing going on in the Abyei region despite the agreements of 2005 and the Court of Arbitration ruling in 2010.

Why fly Haroun to Abyei - what is his cv? It is, as you correctly point out, that of arming arab militias to burn villages. I hope to see more of your questions pinning the UN to the responsibility to protect.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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