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Amid Fraud in Sudan and Kidnapping by Bashir-Affiliated Militia, UN Cuts Off Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 21 -- With fraud exposed, on film, in the Sudanese election to which the UN provided technical assistance, and with four UN peacekeepers still missing in Darfur, apparently taken by a government affiliated militia, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky on Tuesday cut off questions about Sudan and the election in favor of a press conference on Guatemala. Video here, from Minute 11:28.

  On April 19, when Inner City Press asked for a response to the view that the kidnappers of the UN peacekeepers are from a government-aligned militia, Nesirky dodged the question. On April 20, he simply did not take the question.

  Meanwhile, "UNAMID spokesperson Noureddine Mezni said, 'The Sudanese authorities know the identity of the kidnappers.'"

Consider that on the UN's own ReliefWeb site, it is reported that

"NYALA – A new group calling itself the Movement for the Struggle of the People in Darfur claims to have kidnapped four South African UNAMID peacekeepers in South Darfur. They want a ransom of an amount equivalent to half a million US dollars (a billion sudanese pounds) and the release of their 'detained leaders'... the group is part of the Irada Hura (SLM Free Will), a mixed group that signed a Declaration of Commitment after the Darfur Peace Agreemnent in Abuja. Their leader prof. Abdelrahman Musa died. The new leader, Ali Majok, was apparently appointed with support of the government and became a minister. But a faction within the group disagreed with his leadership. Adam Salih, another member of the faction, called for a meeting to contest the leadership. He formed in the meantime a new Movement for the Struggle of the People in Darfur."

Adam Salih, aka "Ahmad Salah Abubakr Abdallah" was previously associated with the "SLA Free Will" movement. The leader of the "Sudan Liberation Movement - Free Will faction had joined the national unity government" in 2008. "Aid agency sources say that SLA-Free Will is the creation of the GoS delegation in Abuja, whose goal is to split the rebels along tribal lines" [source]

"Ahmad Saleh, a Birgid, is a former SLA-Minni commander who joined SLA-Free Will in September 2006 and is believed to be close to the GoS" [source]

Amnesty International has implicated Adam Salih in "Janjaweed militia attacks"... [source]

  So were the UN peacekeepers taken by a government-affiliated militia?

UN's Ban and Bashir, four "missing" peacekeepers not shown

  Is the UN not only "liaising" but negotiating with the government for their release?
Inner City Press, which has been asking the UN about its role in the re-election of indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir, sought to proceed with the question, or to have Mr. Nesirky return to the rostrum after the Guatemala presentation. While Nesirky said, "Let's do that," he left the briefing and did not return. But the questions will continue. Watch this site.

From the UN's April 21 transcript, Inner City Press' questions and OSSG's Nesirky's responses:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, the missing or kidnapped peacekeepers in Darfur, it is now being reported that South African Government has been negotiating with the group and the group has said that they will release the peacekeepers once the election results are released in Darfur. There are also reports that this group, both by the name of its founder and otherwise, are a somewhat Government-supported militia. What I wanted to know is whether the UN has had any involvement in these discussions between the South African Government and the hostage takers or, and whether, what it would say to a trail of evidence that seems to indicate that the hostage takers are in fact in some way initially created by or affiliated with the Government of Sudan?

Spokesperson: I have mentioned here before that the UN is concerned for the well-being of the four people, the four South African peacekeepers who are missing. And I have also said that the UN has been liaising with the Government of Sudan and, as in other such cases, it’s the responsibility of the host Government to ensure the safe return of people in such circumstances. And beyond that, I don’t have any comment at the moment.

Question: Of the concern that this liaising, that in fact, I mean, there’s also been, a UNAMID Spokesman has said that the Government knows who the hostage takers are, so that’s why I am assuming that that’s a UN-wide position.

Spokesperson: At the moment…

Question: Is that a matter of concern to the UN; that the host Government is aware of and allegedly is connected to the hostage talkers, is that of some concern?

Spokesperson: At the moment, there are two things. One is that the overriding concern is, again, for our people on the ground. And for that reason, I don’t have anything further to say.

Question: But you will, I mean once they’re released maybe you will…?

Spokesperson: The whole aim of the game is for our colleagues to be returned safely.

 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.

* * *

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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