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It's Khartoum or NY for Sudan's UN Rep, Trimmer of Ocampo, Ban's Darfur Drip

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 -- As the supposed peace deal between the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir and the Justice and Equality Movement rebels falls apart and the UN has no comment, Sudan's Permanent Representative to the UN Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad has faced his own rebellion back in Khartoum.

For the second time this year, his detractors have announced that he is losing his job in New York. On May 8 it was reported that

"The Sudanese government has relocated its ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Haleem in a surprise move after his tenure was extended on an exceptional basis last March by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir. The pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper said that Abdel-Haleem was summoned to Khartoum last Thursday and that he will likely be replaced by Dafalla Al-Haj Ali Osman."

Seeking confirmation, Inner City Press sent Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem a text message on May 9. He replied, "Will call you in a couple of hours as I am boarding a train to New York." Clearly, contrary to the report, he was not in Khartoum.

On May 10 and May 11, supporters of Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem who requested to be left unnamed told Inner City Press that it is his position he will keep the post at the UN or return to Khartoum "only as a minister."

  It is said that Omar al Bashir told Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem's opponent that he wants "powerful people" as ministers, and that Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem was "the only one who trimmed Ocampo," meaning the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Sudan's Rep and Ocampo, trimming not shown

  Meanwhile, when Inner City Press on May 11 asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about development in Sudan, Nesirky portrayed the events as routine, a "drip, drip" --

Inner City Press: On Sudan, the Government has called for the arrest of JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] leader Khalil Ibrahim, and JEM has responded by saying if he is arrested, they will renew outright war in Darfur. I wonder if Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari, UNAMID [United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur], Mr. [Haile] Menkerios, the Secretary-General, does anyone following this have anything to say about this deterioration of conditions?

Spokesperson: I’m sure my colleagues on the ground are following every twist and turn that is happening to the best of their ability, but we don’t need to comment on every single media report that comes out about the twists and turns that you refer to.

Question: I mean, it seems like the JEM is the major rebel group in Darfur, and when they threaten to go back to war…

Spokesperson: I’m familiar with who they are and what they are. But we can’t take a kind of a drip, drip approach to this, okay.

Drip drip, indeed. Watch this site.

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With US Silent on Sudan, Khartoum Brags of Victories at UN, Demands Gration Clarify

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- With the US and UN surprisingly quiet about ballot stuffing and deaths in Sudan, on Thursday Sudan's Ambassador to the UN bragged to the Press about changes made to the resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS. He said that a congratulations for the elections had been added, as well as various statements "against outside interference."

  Inner City Press asked him about a controversy concerning statements reportedly made by lead US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, about expecting the South Sudanese to vote for independence in the referendum slated for 2011. Sudan's Ambassador said that even on this, his country had sought clarification from Gration's Office, and that in any event Gration was soon traveling to Khartoum.

  Back on April 28, while US Ambassador Susan Rice was at the stakeout taking five questions on Iran, Inner City Press spoke up and asked, A question on Sudan? Ambassador Rice said no, the Iran questions had taken up all the time. Then she left. Video here, at end.

US' Rice at UN, declining Sudan question not shown

  So from the April 29 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press emailed Ambassador Rice's spokesman and one of his colleagues, asking among others these questions:

can you confirm that Sudan has sought clarification, from the Mission or Gration's office?

can you provide whatever clarification there is of Gration's remarks, or what he actually said?

Given that Amb Rice yesterday took five questions (from two questioners) about Iran, and did not take a Sudan question which was begun, can you provide Amb Rice's view of the now completed Sudanese elections, and of what Gration said?

Please confirm that Amb Rice is not going on the now rescheduled Council trip to DRCongo to try to keep MONUC in the country, and state who from the US Mission is going, and what they hope is accomplished on the trip.

  Despite Ambassador Rice on Monday having told Inner City Press to always seek confirmation from her spokesman about such matters as who would go in her stead to the Congo, and what their rank is, four hours later none of the above questions had been answered.

  That the US Mission is focused on Iran and the NPT is further made clear by the announcement that on Friday at 1 p.m., Ms. Rice will appear by video in New York from Washington DC, along with Ambassador Burke, to speak about the NPT. Why so little, at least in public, on Sudan and the Congo?

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Of UN Council, Rice on Sudan and Congo, S. Africa Running for Seat, UN Musical Chairs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 26 -- Promoting its candidacy for a Security Council seat in 2011-12, South Africa threw a reception at the UN Monday night. The news, however, came from current Council members. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice was there, meeting and greeting including with the Press. One of her answers, about the Council's Congo trip, she said was off the record. Other answers will be reported, diplomatically of course.

  Since on the day Sudan's Omar al Bashir declared electoral victory the UN had said nothing at its noon briefing, rebuffing a shouted question from Inner City Press on Sudan and from another journalist about the Balkans, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice if she thought the UN was being too quiet.

  Amb. Rice replied, as she would on Northern Congo, that she had spent the day immersed in something else, presumably Iran. These proposed sanctions, it seems clear, are the US Mission's and Administration's focus. But what about the outbreak of fighting between the SPLM and northerners, either tribes or Bashir's army?

  The focus, Amb. Rice said, the "big enchilada," is really on the referendum on South Sudan being independent. But if the process of these election was not credible, why and how would that one be?

  Still on Sudan, when Inner City Press told Ambassador Rice about reports of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meeting earlier in the day with Omar al Bashir, she smiled thinly. On the other hand, Sudan's Ambassador told Inner City Press he had called Gambari directly, and Gambari had gushed about the meeting, He said that in the pending UNMIS resolution, there is an attempt to give UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios a role up in Darfur.

  A Moroccan political coordinator, on the other hand, said the mixing of UNMIS and UNAMID would give Gambari a role in the South, "even if it breaks away." We'll see.

  Turning to the Congo, Inner City Press asked about the UN's strange failure to commit to investigating the alleged 11 civilian deaths caused in the re-taking of the airport in Northern Congo. When told that the alleged perpetrators are the Congolese Army, with which the UN works, Ambassador Rice said "good question." Inner City Press told her she is more likely to get an answer. "Thank you," she said.

US's Susan Rice, Gambari and "big enchilada" not shown

  There was chit chat, too. A reporter recounted that St. Lucia's Ambassador said Ms. Rice is part Caribbean. Ambassador Rice nodded. "All you need to know about me," she said, is I am half Jamaican and was conceived in Nigeria. She laughed. "My grand mother's maiden name was Daley [or Daly], as in Irish."

  Some reporters suggested she speak more with the press, contrasting her approach to that of the French. She shrugged. I can't do it every week, she said, adding that Americans are "not peacocks."

Menkerios, as it happens, will speak to the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon and then, it is promised, with the Press. An African Ambassador, requesting anonymity, told Inner City Press on Monday night that Menkerios' old position with the Department of Political Affairs will be filled by current Cyprus representative Taye-Brook Zerihoun. Then who would take Cyprus -- Atul Khare? Watch this site.

Footnote: as requested by the South African mission, Inner City Press would be remiss not to note that, with the African Union's endorsesment, South Africa is virtually assured of re-gaining a Council seat in 2011-12. When Inner City Press quipped that this fast return made the country the "Japan of Africa," a South African representative reminded that before what's now called the Dumisani Kumalo term, South Africa had not been represented. So welcome back -- the fix is in.

 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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