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Amid Moves in Abyei, Sudan & US Disagree on Kordofan, Oil Fee Not on Agenda

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 -- While US Ambassador Susan Rice insisted Thursday that "all of the operative paragraphs" of the Security Council's Resolution 2046 on Sudan and South Sudan are mandatory under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, her Sudanese counterpart Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman disagreed ten minutes later.

  "No one can stop us" from combating rebels in our own territory, he said, especially when armed from outside the country. Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman cited the Geneva Conventions.

  It seems unlikely that the US agrees with this; take for example its position on what the Syrian government is doing in Homs, Hama and Houla.

  But in the Press Statement read out by the outgoing Azerbaijani President of the Council after Ambassador Rice spoke, there was no move to enforce or seek accountability for violations of Resolution 2046.

  This may simply reflect real politik, that while portions remain unfulfilled, South Sudan's then Sudan's pull out (mostly) from Abyei is more than was expected, and focus has shifted to Syria, if it was ever primarily on Sudan of late.

  This was reflected in the questions directed to Ambassador Rice after she spoke at the stakeout about Sudan: of the five first questions, by three journalists, four question were about Syria. When Inner City Press was called on, it asked about the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile paragraphs of the Resolution 2046, and about financial issues.

  Strangely, given the importance of the oil transfer fee issue to the dispute between the Sudans, it does not appear to be a topic in Addis Ababa. Ambassador Rice said "my understanding is that in this round thus far they have not gotten into the oil issues, the revenue-sharing issues."

   When Inner City Press asked if the US would support reducing Sudan's external debt at the IMF, Ambassador Rice said "I'm not prepared to answer that at this stage."

  Sudan's Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said more pointed that until they are agreements on security, South Sudanese oil cannot flow through Sudan. So the standoff continues.

Footnote: After the two stakeouts, Sudan complained that Ambassador Rice "broke protocol" by speaking at the stakeout before the President of the Council. (It may be that the President was moving slow: slow but sure, although he declined to take questions.)

  More substantively the Sudanese said they do not think Rice would ever do anything helpful for (North) Sudan. Given where Rice may be headed, they might want to hope that is not true.

Inner City Press recently asked a member of the Sudanese delegation why his country has not thought of running for a Security Council seat. (It would certainly make interesting news to report.) He shook his head and said the Sudanese have "too much pride," and would not be willing to bow down. And so it goes.

From the UN Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: On Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. There was a lot of back and forth in the Council when the resolution was passed whether the paragraph about these two regions are under Chapter VII. So, given what you've said, do you feel that Sudan is in any way not complying with or violating a Chapter VII mandate of the resolution, both to negotiate and/or to allow in access? And just one other thing I wanted to know.

In Addis- it seems like a lot of the-some of the basis of the conflict is financial. So I wanted to know, is it your understanding that they're actually negotiating things like the oil transfer fee or IMF debt relief or what Sudan asked for-reparations for Heglig- or is it all security or is the financial aspect-and can the U.S. play any role in solving those financial issues?

Ambassador Rice: Well, to your first question, all of the operative paragraphs of resolution 2046 are under Chapter VII, and what we know-indeed what was reaffirmed today-is that there are various aspects of the obligations-the Chapter VII obligations under that resolution-that are unfulfilled by both sides, including the provisions related to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. So both sides have done some things, both sides have not done everything, and that remains something of great interest to and focus by the Council.

Inner City Press: Financial. Whether the U.S. can play a role in-

Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, I'm not able to give you a detailed characterization of the discussions in Addis. Others who are there, both for the U.S. and for the UN, can do that more precisely. But my understanding is that in this round thus far they have not gotten into the oil issues, the revenue-sharing issues. But they have in the past, as you know, and we have been very active, along with others, in trying to encourage a fair and viable resolution to the revenue-sharing issues, including helping the two parties draw on international expertise to try to work through these quite complex financial issues.

Inner City Press: Reducing debt at the IMF? Would the U.S. support reduction of Sudan's debt at the IMF?

Ambassador Rice: I'm not prepared to answer that at this stage. Thank you.

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