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On S. Sudan, Does Obama's Threat of Sanctions Apply to Uganda?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- With the South Sudan talks stalled in Addis Ababa, US President Obama on April 3 issued an Executive Order threatening sanctions. The Executive Order has been put online here, by Inner City Press.

  Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney said "both the Government of South Sudan and Riek Macharís rebels must immediately engage in and follow through on the inclusive peace process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development."

   One issue has been that while Uganda intervened on the side of the government, it is also part of the ostensible mediator, IGAD. Obama's Executive Order refers to "international security presences" and "other peacekeeping operations" - does either term encompass the Uganda forces?

  Back on March 25, returning from South Sudan and Darfur John Ging, the Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and his Emergencies colleague Yasmin Haque spoke movingly of the need to reduce the number of checkpoints on aid convoys in South Sudan.

Inner City Press asked Ging if this increased checking wasn't a result of what even the UN has said was a mistake, the trucking rather than flying of weapons to the Ghanian peacekeepers in Bentiu.

  Ging acknowledged that this was the government's rationale for the checks but said, "We do not accept it."

  Time did not permit but there is an obvious follow up question: if the UN wants to put the arms-shipment scandal behind it, shouldn't it be more transparent? It has said its probe is finished, but no written report has been made public.

UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, speaking to the Security Council on March 19, chose instead to complain of a "vilification of the UN" including in "media articles."

  Inner City Press asked Ging and Haque if they had witnessed such vilification during their trip to South Sudan. No, Ging said, this was not directed at the UN's humanitarian side. So it's either limited to UN Peacekeeping of Ladsous and Hilde Johnson, or Ladsous has a lower threshold of getting angry at media coverage.

  At the third question, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Ging for doing Q&A when he comes back from trips, and expressed hope that this becomes a trend or expectation. Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions, video here - but even Jeff Feltman, back today from Ukraine, is said not to plan any press availability. Why not?

  The first question was given to Pamela Falk of CBS as head of the old UN Correspondents Association, which rather than push for example for Ladsous to have to answer has in fact come to his defense, grilling Inner City Press about an article about Ladsous until Inner City Press quit UNCA (and co-founded FUNCA).

  Now, will Falk with this automatic first question get a story about South Sudan onto CBS? If not, and even leaving aside UNCA becoming the UN's Censorship Alliance, how is this automatic first question justified?

  Having been given the first question, she left the briefing room while others were still waiting to ask. There wa a scheduled stakeout by the UN's Lebanon envoy Plumbley, which Inner City Press and others interested had to miss. UNmiss.

  Inner City Press also asked Ging about Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile; he said the UN still has no access to opposition held areas. He cited Jebel Marra in Darfur. Ladsous, in Pakistan, was quoted that the UNAMID mission in Darfur will shrink.

  Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about it and was told that if Pakistan's number of troops goes does, something will be said. But that wasn't the question. And while Ladsous was reportedly seeking women police and peacekeepers in Pakistan, when a woman who served in UNAMID in Darfur was disciplined for it, UN Peacekeeping has no comment, and has it seemed done nothing. UNmiss.

  The briefing ended with Ms Haque saying that more important than "donor fatigue" is the fatigue of children without food in South Sudan. Now that, is true. Watch this site.


 

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