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Mbeki Goes Holistic With UN Council, Tells ICP South Sudan Has One Story on Oil, Khartoum Another

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 27 -- After meeting with the UN Security Council for more than three hours on Monday, Thabo Mbeki stopped and spoke with Inner City Press. "It's an interactive session," he said, "first time since we've been coming here. You don't read your written speech, you discuss it. The idea is a holistic and integrated understanding of the Sudan issues."

  He might have said Sudans, plural, as the Permanent Representatives of South Sudan as well as the North waited outside during the meeting. The format was called "private interactive dialogue," so neither could attend.

  Mbeki cautioned against "responding to Darfur on its own, respond to Abyei on its own, respond to South Sudan," saying that the international community and Security Council should "look at the totality."

  Inner City Press asked Mbeki, on camera, about South Sudan stopping pumping oil because they can't be assured, the North Sudan will pay what it should.

  Mbeki said, "They will say that, the North will say something else." Video here and embedded below.

  During the closed door meeting, which included US Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman and his UK courterpart, Inner City Press spoke with South Sudan's Permanent Representative David Choat, whose counter question was what is it that Mbeki doesn't understand about Juba's decisions?

  The decision to stop pumping oil was criticized by the UN's Valerie Amos. But Choat asked Inner City Press, is the money supposed to be only for refugees? What about South Sudan's citizens?

  Sudan's Permanent Representative, on the other hand, pitched late arriving and early leaving media about South Sudan "confiscating" barges. South Sudan says it's Khartoum that wouldn't let them head South on the White Nile. Meanwhile it's understood that Sudan would prefer to deal one on one with South Sudan, while Juba likes or feels it need the UN.

Inner City Press asked Mbeki if he and the Panel wanted a statement. "They've agreed they will do some statement," Mbeki replied.

UK Permanent Representative told Inner City Press his country had proposed a Council statement supporting the Panel, and various Permanent Representatives told Inner City Press they supported the concept but would have to see a draft.

Pakistan's Permanent Representative Abdullah Hussain Haroon told Inner City Press, "this panel has done a fabulous job." He noted that Mbeki "footsteps of Nelson Mandela... All three of them, people of impeccable." He compared the panel favorably to that of the Arab League on Syria.

An unresolved note: more than one participants told Inner City Press that Mbeki warned against pushes for regime change in the North. But no one would confirm this on camera.

Summaries included that the goal is "two viable countries," that the problems of South Sudan involve converting a national liberation movement into a government and dealing with problems like in Jonglei, where the UN responded slowly, having remained without military helicopters. North Sudan, he said, has issues with "democratization" and representation of different regions.

The Security Council's president for February, Togo's Kodjo Menan, told Inner City Press, "the only thing I want to have both parties work together, apply the agreement they have already signed." And so it goes at 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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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