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On Darfur, UN's Gambari Discloses Gration in Alaska, Opposes UNICEF, Dodges Genocide

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- The mystery of why US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration did not attend the UN convened summit in Darfur on July 5 was finally resolved on July 27. Previously, Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN why Gration did not attend, which was viewed in Sudan as a snub of the process, such as it is, led by Ibrahim Gambari.

The US Mission said that only Gration's spokeswoman and office could answer. But Gration's spokesperson Marie Nelson declined to return a series of detailed phone messages. The US Mission reiterated that only she could answer.

Not so -- on July 27, Inner City Press asked Gambari himself, and Gambari proudly said that “General” Gration had served in Alaska, and wanted to attend a Fourth of July parade in the state. There -- was it so difficult? US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice indicated that even she didn't know the reason. What was that, about the Obama administration's Sudan policy being clear and united?

Gambari also criticized UNICEF for reaching a child soldiers deal with the Justice and Equality Movement rebels in Darfur, saying that since they say they have no child soldiers, why reach a deal with them? The focus, Gambari said, should be on pressuring JEM to return to the Doha process.

Later, the UN's senior anti child soldier official acknowledged to Inner City Press that more should have been done in advance of the deal's announcement to prepare the ground. With the government of Sudan? No -- with the UN's mission in Darfur, UNAMID. We'll have more on this, from UNICEF.

Gambari on July 27, response on Al Sissi and genocide indictment not shown

Inner City Press also asked Gambari about the propriety of using a paid UN staff member, Al Tijani Al Sissi Ateem, to lead a “rebel” ground, the Liberation and Justice movement. Gambari said we wouldn't comment on that, but that even a deal with LJM wouldn't bring peace to Darfur. Video of all here.

As he tried to walk away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked about “the genocide indictment” against Omar al Bashir. We can continue informally, Gambari said. And to his credit he remained by the stakeout, and told Inner City Press that the Security Council may go to Darfur in October. We hope to be there. Watch this site.

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On Darfur, As US Gration Says Genocide Charge Makes His Job Harder, Rice Insists Policy is Clear and United: Or Is It AWOL?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- Days after Sudan's Omar Al Bashir was indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, UN envoy to Sudan Scott Gration said that the indictment “makes my job harder.”

  This not surprisingly gave rise to outrage among human rights advocates. Tuesday at the UN, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice if Gration's in the Obama administration's view. Video here, from Minute 2:49.

  Ambassador Rice responded,“No, the United States is very clear and united behind President Obama's policy towards Sudan.” Activists, on the other hand, say that the Obama Administration's policy on Sudan is drifting, or AWOL (Absent Without Leave) as one campaign puts it.

From the U.S. Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: Some say that the administration, sort of, that you have one message, and Scott Gration has another message. He was quoted recently as saying that the indictment for genocide of President Bashir makes his job more difficult. So I guess what I'm wondering is, is there something called Project AWOL that says the administration has sort of lost its way on Sudan policy? What do you make of that criticism and do you think that-is the administration moving with one voice to put pressure on President Bashir both on Darfur and on South Sudan having the referendum, or are there mixed messages, as some say?

Ambassador Rice: No, the United States is very clear and united behind President Obama's policy towards Sudan, which has multiple components as it was outlined by Secretary Clinton and I and others and General Gration in October. We are placing very strong emphasis on full and urgent implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as the referendum approaches and we attach great urgency to resolving the many issues that remain unresolved. At the same time, we are gravely concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Darfur, the need for accountability for justice for ending the violence and ensuring full protection of civilians. And so, the situation in Sudan is complex, there are multiple imperatives, and we're united in our efforts to meet those imperatives.

Susan Rice on July 27, Gration, AWOL

Inner City Press: Does the genocide indictment make your job more difficult, just one follow up. Is that actually what he said?

Ambassador Rice: I'm not in a position to say precisely what others have said. Suffice it to say that the United States stands firmly behind justice and accountability for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity in Darfur and elsewhere.

  Questions were also raised about the U.S. position on accountability for war crimes when Ambassador Rice issued a statement largely lauding Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government's own panel on “Lessons Learnt,” which was meant to forestall a advisory UN Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.

  UN envoy to Darfur Ibrahim Gambari, it was said, would speak to the Press after the Council's consultations. At the UN's noon briefing on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked a question about Darfur, to which spokesman Martin Nesirky said, you can ask Ibrahim Gambari. But Gambari left and did not do the stakeout. Later it was announced he would appear at 4:30. Questions about Scott "Alaska" Gration will be asked. Watch this site.

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On Darfur, Gration Skips El Fasher Summit, US Won't Explain, UN Won't Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- Why did the U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, not attend last weekend's El Fasher summit on Darfur including Gration's Chinese, Russian and EU counterparts? Inner City Press has asked the U.S. Mission to the UN, including Ambassador Susan Rice as she walked into the Security Council. But the question has not been answered.

A Rice aide told Inner City Press to ask Gration's spokesperson, Marie Nelson, that she would be waiting for the call. But despite three calls to Ms. Nelson, including a request for answer by voice mail or e-mail, no answer has been received. Nor did a re-request to the U.S. Mission get any answer, except the vague statement that Gration's reason is simpler than it was assumed Inner City Press would speculate.

Other press reports have linked Gration's non attendance to his disagreements with the UN's Ibrahim Gambari. It is not that at this point Gration appears any more committed to justice in Darfur than is Mr. Gambari. It's a turf war, pure and simple.

On July 7, Inner City Press told and asked the UN Mission to the UN:

I called Marie Nelson before and after the noon briefing (where I asked some other Sudan questions, including about crackdowns on free press and the youth group Girifna). I'm sending you the "Final Communiqué from JSR Retreat for the Special Envoys to the Sudan" and an article speculating about Gration's absence. They say Gration had agreed to the time and place - true? I'd like an on the record explanation of Gration's non attendance, etc.

Three days later, as of this writing, nothing. Watch this site.

Envoys in El Fasher, Gration not shown, explanation not given

At the UN's July 6 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: On this meeting that you gave a readout of, of Mr. Gambari, you said that various Member States went, but many people picked up on the fact that Scott Gration of the US, neither the UK nor French envoys went. Essentially it was Russian, Chinese envoys; you can give me, if there is a longer list, give it to me. Did Mr. Gambari invite the Western envoys on the Darfur issue, and what does the UN make of their failure to attend and participate?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, first off, the full text of the communiqué is available in the Spokesperson’s office. So, you can get a clear view of the parties and the discussions there. It’s, I think, a two-page readout. I don’t know the reasons for attendance or non-attendance of some of these.

The next day on July 7 Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: hree newspapers have been closed in Khartoum, and youth, with this Girifna, have been arrested by the Government, all for purportedly supporting separation or the referendum for the south to break away. Does the UN, I heard your statement of Mr. Bassolé, but what does either Mr. [Haile] Menkerios or the UN say about the north-south issue? And it’s related to that or not related to that, are reports that recent killings in Abyei are intended to drive the Dinka people out so that the vote would go Khartoum’s way. Is there any, what’s the UN doing on the north-south front rather than the Darfur front?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, certainly the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is working very clearly with all the parties trying to ensure calm on the north-south front. I don’t have anything in particular to say about the situation in Abyei right now. As for the crackdown on the press, these allegations we’ll check first and foremost with our Human Rights and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] colleagues whether they have anything to say on that.

Still waiting on that, too. Watch this site.

 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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