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Now in S. Sudan, Kerry Will Meet UNMISS, Say More Legitimate Force Needed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 2 -- US Secretary of State John Kerry is in South Sudan, after a stop in Addis Ababa. Early on May 2 spokesperson Jen Psaki told the press that while in Juba, Kerry

"will reiterate the need for all parties to respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, to immediately cease attacks on civilians, and to fully cooperate with the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to protect civilians and to provide life-saving assistance to the people of South Sudan.  He will also meet civil society leaders, IDP representatives, and UNMISS officials."

   Will Kerry meet not only with Salva Kiir but also with Riek Machar, as outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay did?

   On May 1 in Addis, Kerry flanked by his counterparts from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia referred to a "legitimate force... to help make peace." Some wondered how far outside the UN would this be? If the UN used a Force Intervention Brigade in Eastern Congo, is that model being considered? At the UN on May 1 an ambassador from one of those countries told Inner City Press this is "just the IGAD force." The Security Council meets later on May 2.  Kerry said on May 1:

"it’s clear that everybody is in agreement the killing must stop; that humanitarian access needs to be delivered; most importantly, a legitimate force that has an ability to help make peace needs to get on the ground as rapidly as possible. And we agreed on both the terms and timing and manner and size, and we need to go to work to make sure that happens."

 After on April 26 Kerry spoke with Salva Kiir. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki gave this read-out:

Secretary Kerry spoke today with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to express grave concern about the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, including recent violence in Bentiu and Bor and the deliberate targeting of civilians by armed groups on both sides of the conflict. Secretary Kerry welcomed the Government of South Sudan’s decision to release the four senior political officials who had been in detention since December. He urged President Kiir to stop military offensives and to adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities agreement, and noted U.S. demands that anti-government forces do the same. Both Secretary Kerry and President Kiir expressed their support for the IGAD-led peace process. Secretary Kerry noted the important role played by the UN Mission in South Sudan, denounced recent attacks on UNMISS bases and personnel, and encouraged President Kiir to ensure full and unfettered access throughout South Sudan for UNMISS, the African Union Commission of Inquiry, and the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism.

   On April 24, Kerry aid he would travel to the country, as stateed at an event with Norway's foreign minister:

FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Also, our work in South Sudan is now in the top of our agenda and the troika work there. The UN Security Council will hopefully make clear statements on this, because it’s unacceptable what we’re seeing of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding. So thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well said. I forgot – I’ll be there next week, as a matter of fact.


SECRETARY KERRY: So we’ll talk about it. (Laughter.) See?

  Kerry's statement came after US President Barack Obama threatened sanctions against not only former vice president and now opposition leader Riek Machar's forces but also those of president Salva Kiir.

  The question arose: would Kerry meet not only Kiir but also Machar while in Juba? US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on April 24 said there could be more details about Kerry's Africa trip in the next 24 to 48 hours. After Kerry's statement beside Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende, that timetable became 24 hours.

  Inner City Press suggested that Kerry might also want to visit Burundi, where a leaked April 3 cable about the government arming a youth wing, published by Inner City Press on April 10, now appears in the process of being hushed-up in the UN, click here for that.

 But on April 25, the State Department put out an itinerary listing only Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. What does this mean?

Secretary Kerry Travels to Addis Ababa, Kinshasa and Luanda

Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Luanda, Angola, on April 29-May 5 to encourage democratic development, promote respect for human rights, advance peace and security, engage with civil society and young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future, and promote trade, investment and development partnerships in Africa.

The Secretary’s trip will also highlight U.S. investments in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In Addis Ababa, Secretary Kerry will co-convene the Fourth Session of the U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue and discuss a range of issues on which we partner with the African Union (AU). Secretary Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region, and strengthen important areas of bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia.

In Kinshasa, Secretary Kerry will meet with President Joseph Kabila and will discuss how the DRC government’s progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the DRC’s democratization and long-term stability, including through a timely and transparent electoral process.

In Luanda, Secretary Kerry will commend President José Eduardo dos Santos for Angola’s leadership of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and encourage the President’s continued personal engagement in the Great Lakes peace process. The Secretary will also discuss bilateral policy and trade issues with Foreign Minister Chikoti.

Secretary Kerry will also be accompanied by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russell Feingold, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issue Catherine Russell.

   Donald Booth going on the trip might indicate an unscheduled stop in Juba -- or just, talks in Addis.

 At the April 25 State Department briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki said, "trips are always subject to change, as you all know who have traveled with us.  But I don’t have any other stops to announce today."

   As to South Sudan, in the wake of the April 15-16 mass killing in Bentiu, UN official Mary Cummins said "we need the Ghanaian contingent to come soon."

  This was troubling and strange, since it was ostensibly to ship weapons to the Ghanaians that the UN moved trucks of weapons by road to Bentiu. Weapons without soldiers?

  So Inner City Press asked at the April 22 UN noon briefing and was promised an answer that never arrived. At the UN Security Council stakeout on April 23, Inner City Press put the question to UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous who refuses Press questions. Even at the April 24 noon briefing, when Inner City Press asked for a third time, there was no answer. Now this belated response:

Subject: Your question on South Sudan.
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that, as of now, 44 members of the Ghanaian Battalion are in Bentiu.

  But that doesn't answer about the Ghanaian Battalion's (non) presence during the April 15-16 killings. And shipping containers of weapons for a mere 44 members? Compare this to the 350 troops from Ghana's continent in Cote d'Ivoire that the UN told Inner City Press about in January, here. We hope to have more on this.

    The UN Security Council belatedly met about Bentiu on April 24. Afterward UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous came out and took three questions, curtly.

  The UN itself says that the Ghanaian battalion -- the shipment of whose weapons by land to Bentiu triggered an objection by South Sudan's government and a report by Ladsous' DPKO that has yet to be publicly released -- was not in Bentiu to even try to stop the April 15-16 killings.

   Inner City Press put this question to Ladsous both on and off UNTV's camera, but he refused to answer it. Video here and embedded below. Criticisms of his DPKO are spreading, but Ladsous refuses to answer them.

  Back on April 22 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Ghanaian contingent:

Inner City Press: on South Sudan, I saw that Mary Cummins, who is the acting Coordinator for Unity State, really sounded the alarm that they need more forces there. And she said, “we need the Ghanaian battalion to arrive soon”. I thought that was the battalion whose weapons that were found in the boxes--

Spokesman Dujarric: Let me find out.

  But more than 24 hours later Dujarric, or ultimately Ladsous' DPKO, had not provided any answer. So Inner City Press put the question to Ladsous at the stakeout. Ladsous refused to answer it, pointedly calling first on Reuters, then Voice of America, then on state-owned France 24.

  Then Ladsous lumbered from the stakeout microphone and up the stairs, with a retinue of DPKO staff, many of whom worked under Alain Le Roy and even Jean-Marie Guehenno but now enable this decay within UN Peacekeeping.

  From inside the closed consultation, the French mission's spokesperson tweeted that a film was being screened of Bentiu. This was confirmed to Inner City Press by an actual ambassador in the meeting; at the stakeout afterward Inner City Press asked Security Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria if the film was only about Bentiu and not Bor and she said Yes, only about Bentiu.

  The April 15-16 killings in Bentiu have been attributed to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Opposition led by former vice president Riek Machar, who has denied that his forces killed civilians. Likewise, the April 18 murders inside the UN peacekeeping camp in Bor have been attributed to supporters from the Dinka tribe of president Salva Kiir, and statements by his information minister bear this out.

  The UN has alleged that in Bentiu the victims were targeted based not only on tribe but nationality. One response was that Darfur rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement who were fighting along with Kiir's government forces were killed, but not civilians.

  In this environment, for UN Peacekeeping to be run by an official who can't even answer basic questions is a major problem. Watch this site.


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