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Amid Darfur Force Build Up by Sudan, UK is Cautious, UN Cuts Off Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- The UK leads on Darfur for the UN Security Council, over which it presides this month. Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant what the UK is doing about the arrests which have followed the Council's visit to Darfur last month, and about reports of the Government of Sudan amassing forces for an assault on Darfur before the North - South referendum is scheduled on January 9.

  Lyall Grant said that it is “unclear who was arrested” and whether they met in preparation “for the Security Council meeting or actually met” with the Council members. He said it will be pursued, before the at the Council's November 16 session about Sudan. He did not address reports of a build up.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that tanks and troops have been seen in the North Darfur areas of Kutum, Kernoi, and Altina, while janjaweed gatherings have been seen in the West Darfur in areas of Geneina and Kulbus.

  When pro Government of Sudan volunteers reportedly landed in Kutum airport, one was asked by a Darfuri policeman, who are you and where are you going? The person reportedly answered, we are mujahideen and the government told us we have to fight the infidels and their supporters in Darfur. We came to clean Darfur.

   Some Arab tribes revolted and refused to participate in the operation. Sources say most of those revolted were in the army and belong to Bani Halba Arab tribe. The operation would start with aerial bombings with planes taking off from Dongola in the North Sudan (neighboring state to Darfur in th nile north) rather than from Darfur airports (due to the last noise regarding U.N.S.C. visit and arms embargo reports). The operation is timed to finish before referendum of Jan 2011. That's what sources say.

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN could confirm that its humanitarian coordinator in Sudan Georg Charpentier has ordered the cessation of all “non essential” monitoring missions and thus reporting, and if it could confirm the build up. Nesirky said that he will check and get back. He curtailed the Q&A session for Lyall Grant's briefing, and declined to continue it afterward.

UK's Lyall Grant & US Susan Rice stroll in Sudan, arrestees & Darfur build-up not shown

   During Lyall Grant's program of work briefing, Inner City Press also asked about the November 4 “horizon scanning” briefing by the UN's Department of Political Affairs, whether it was meant to be called “preventive diplomacy” but some countries opposed that. Lyall Grant did not directly answer, but said it should be free wheeling, as he said that evening's dinner and UK ship ride with Ban Ki-moon will be. We'll see.

Footnote: in setting the program of work, the UK service muffins and coffee, and gave each Council member a copy of a caricature of all 15 Ambassadors by artist Steve Nyman. Inner City Press asked UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham, said to have originated the idea of giving a caricature instead of, say, a clock, about the artist. It's said he has a web site. For the UK's knowledge, the names of two people arrested after the Darfur visit are Abdullah Ishaq Abdel Razek, the supervisor of the nutrition program of the camp’s schools, and Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Al-Haj. Their connections to the Security Council visit are also on the web. Watch this site.

The UK put out this statement, against which its month atop the Council may be judged:

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Foreign Secretary Statement: UK Presidency of the UN Security Council and Sudan

"I welcome the start of the UK’s Presidency of the UN Security Council which we hold for the month of November.

Our highest priority will be Sudan. On 16 November I will chair a Security Council debate on Sudan. It will focus on the importance of peaceful and credible referenda in January 2011 and progress on the political, humanitarian and security situation in Darfur.

We will use our Presidency to push for timely completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, giving strong support to the efforts of President Mbeki and the African Union. We will maintain the Security Council’s focus on Darfur and reinforce the importance of a lasting and inclusive peace settlement for the Darfuri people.

The UK will chair two other debates during this month on counter-terrorism and the protection of civilians. These will be forward-looking sessions to identify future challenges and global responses to an evolving threat.

The Council will hear updates on progress toward a settlement in Cyprus and in the Western Sahara. We also hope to discuss the situation in Burma/Myanmar following elections scheduled for 7 November.

The Council will also hold regular discussion of situations in the Middle East, Lebanon, Kosovo and Bosnia; and hear latest reports on Iraq and sanctions regimes in DPRK and Somalia."


Notes for Editors

1. A different permanent or non-permanent member of the UN Security Council holds the Presidency each month. It is an opportunity to shape the various discussions held and there has been an increasing tradition of the Presidency arranging a debate on an issue of concern or interest to it. The UK last held the Presidency in August 2009.

2. The UK is working with donors and both Sudanese parties to make urgent progress on preparations for the Referenda on Southern Sudan and the status of Abyei. The UK is providing over £10 million to support the Referenda processes. These funds will help to finance part of the voting process itself, for example providing ballot papers, ink, officials, logistics support and international technical experts to the Referenda Commission - as well as helping to provide civic and voter education and support to domestic and international observer groups. The UK also continues to support peacekeeping in Sudan, pledging over £100 million this financial year to support the work of UNMIS and UNAMID.

3. On 6-9 October the UN Security Council visited Sudan. During their time in Juba, Darfur and Khartoum, they met with a range of Governmental and non-Governmental interlocutors, including Ministers from the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan.

4. On 24 September the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosted a high level meeting on Sudan, attended by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham. A Communiqué was agreed by members from 40 regional and international organisations and country representatives. They confirmed their commitment to peaceful, credible and timely referenda in the South and Abyei that reflects the will of the people and to respect the outcome of credible referenda. On Darfur all participants reiterated their strong support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Darfur.

* * *

As Darfur Arrestees Named, UN Has No Comment, Gambari On Vacation in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- Following the UN Security Council's visit to Darfur on October 8, the UN has been asked to verify the arrests by Sudan of at least two people who were present in the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced people.

 On October 27, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm a report that the arrestees are Abdullah Ishaq Abdel Razek, the supervisor of the nutrition program of the IDP camp’s schools, and Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Al-Haj, who gave a speech to Council members on October 8. Video here.

  Nesirky replied that if top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy had been asked to look into the situation, he would. But previously, Le Roy was asked to obtain and provide a “full understanding of the facts” underlying the deadly violence this year in the Kalma IDP camp, without doing so.

  In the opacity that the UN allowed after the Kalma violence, Sudan had demanded that the UN turn over five sheikhs of the Kalma camp. As exposed by Inner City Press with leaked documents, the head of the UN - African Union mission UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari was close to an agreement with Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti to turn the five sheikhs over, in exchange for a promise not to execute by Omar al-Bashir, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

  On October 27, Inner City Press approached and asked ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo outside the UN Security Council for his view of UN turn overs to Omar al Bashir. I have nothing to do with that, Ocampo said. He said that Inner City Press' previous questions to the Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak were well placed. But what about the ICC?

  While Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Nesirky for Gambari's or the UN's view of Nowak's statement that to turn the sheikhs over to Bashir would violate customary international law, no response has been provided. On October 27, Nesirky belatedly told Inner City Press that Gambari is “on leave.”

UN's Ban & AU's Ping, Ibrahim "On Leave" Gambari and Kalma 5 not shown

Since according to Nigerian Mission sources Gambari had been in New York since Friday, October 22 -- but didn't appear at the UN Security Council for its October 25 session on UNAMID -- questions are mounting about the appropriateness of taking a vacation in the midst of Darfur's problems, and not even pausing the vacation to attend a nearby Security Council meeting about UNAMID. Watch this site.

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UN Sudan Debate Degenerates to Book Sales, In Empire of Deng, Genocide Forgotten

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- When the UN holds an event entitled “Sudan, a Vision for the Future” six weeks before the referendum on secession is slated to be held, it seems worth going to.

There were piles of books for sale by the event's entrance in the UN's North Lawn building. UN official Francis Deng, charged with preventing genocide but rarely seen these days, was speaking about his writings, including “New Sudan in the Making” published, strangely, by Third World Book of Trenton, New Jersey and Asmara, Eritrea.

The event was moderated by Kiyotaka Akasaka of the UN Department of Public Information, who intervened to cut short the response by Sudanese Ambassador Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman so that questions could be asked the audience, including those online.

Inner City Press asked about the religious differences between South Sudan and the North, about how external debt might be divided, and the implications of a planned new oil pipeline to run south through Kenya. Only one of these questions was answered, and even then only by saying that debt is being negotiated in Addis Ababa, under the rubric of Liabilities.

Afterward, Inner City Press asked Mr. Deng what other countries he and his UN Prevention of Genocide are working on, including what he might think of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka, which has not even asked to visit that country.

Deng said “we don't like to single out countries” then said he was distracted due to an upcoming appointment. He was courteous as always and patrician -- of Abyei aristocracy -- but one wonders what is being accomplished.

Sources say that under Deng, the UN Prevention of Genocide office is largely devoted to producing and promoting Deng's writings, including the time of other staff members of the Office.

 “Nice work if you can get it,” one insider commented, while noting that a less distracted person might be better for the UN's Prevention of Genocide post, unless it is by UN design a no-show job.

Deng earlier at UN, book sales and Prevention of Genocide not shown

  If Deng's writings are being produced on UN time and with UN money, then shouldn't they be attributable to the UN? His “New Sudan in the Making” volume has a chapter by “Eltigani Seisi M. Ateem” -- the former UN staff member at the Economic Commission on Africa who was drafted, including by joint UN - African Union mediator Bassole, to lead the Darfur “Astroturf rebel” group the Liberation and Justice Movement. (Astroturf, the artificial surface in the now demolished Houston Astrodome, means fake grassroots.)

Also appearing on the panel was UN peacekeeping's Team Leader of the Sudan Operational Team Jack Christofides, who afterward briefed a Permanent Five Security Council diplomat about the “logistics” of the Security Council's recent trip to Sudan.

What is the UN accomplishing with all this book publishing and self- and Deng-promotion? As Deng concludes New Sudan in the Making?, “the question mark... is therefore pertinent.” Watch this site.

Footnote: as to UN DPI and Mr. Akasaka, having debates with Q&A is generally a good thing. But it was alleged by a panelist after Tuesday's session that the purpose was to promote sales of a UN official's book. This should be clarified. Mr. Akasaka at the end mentioned possible future sessions on Haiti or Pakistan -- perhaps Jean Maurice Ripert could lead that session, since he is still being paid despite being relieved of his Pakistan envoy position. Could there be a book deal in the works?

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At UN on Darfur Arrestees, Susan Rice Issues Skeptical Statement, Sudan Blames on NGOs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- So did Sudan arrest internally displaced people who spoke with the UN Security Council in Abu Shouk IDP camp earlier this month?

The US belatedly went public about the issue, first in background comments late last week. Then on Monday after a Security Council meeting at which Sudan denied the arrests, including after the meeting in a stakeout Q&A with Inner City Press, the US issued a written statement by Ambassador Susan Rice, who was not present at the Council meeting.

Rice's statement concluded that “the U.S. and the UK asked the UN to address this issue in today's UN Security Council briefing so that the full Council could hear directly from UN officials about this matter. We have yet to receive any information that alleviates our deep concern over this issue.”

Sources inside the Security Council's closed door consultations told Inner City Press that the UK and one non-Permanent member asked UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy to say what the UN knows about arrests, and to “not politicize” the issue. Le Roy's subsequent answer was described as “strange” and “not convincing.”

Inner City Press asked Le Roy, as he left the meeting, if the US or UK had provided him with names, on a confidential basis. No, he said, adding that the names were not known.

On camera at the UN stakeout, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador to the UN Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman about the arrests. He acknowledged arrests, but not of anyone who had met with the Security Council. Video here.

Dafaala El Haj Ali at stakout, Susan Rice not shown

A Sudanese diplomat scoffed to Inner City Press that “Susan Rice got a letter from the Enough Project and Genocide Intervention, that's all this is.”

   But did these two groups and the four other ones signing the letter think that Susan Rice would be at the Security Council meeting where it was discussed, to push on the issue and speak afterward to counter the defient denial of her Sudanese counterpart Dafaala El Haj Ali? Watch this site.

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 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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