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At UN on Sudans, Oil, Lies and Audio Tape, PSC Plan Put Online Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24, updated -- Amid the escalating conflict between Khartoum and Juba, the UN Security Council on Tuesday afternoon saw for the first time a communique on the topic from the African Union Peace and Security Council, which asks for UNSC endorsement under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

  Inner City Press obtained a copy of the AU PSC communique -- and it putting it online here -- and asked the Ambassadors of the US (Susan Rice, this month's UNSC President) Sudan and South Sudan about the communique.

  Susan Rice said it had only just come in, but was being sent to capitals -- in her case, Washington -- for study. She said that, at least legally, the UNSC could back it under Chapter 7 without any agreement by either Juba or Khartoum.

  Inner City Press asked Rice about the statement of anther UNSC member that Sudan should be paid reparation for the damage of its main remaining oil field in Heglig. Rice replied that it is not clear who damaged the oil field.

(Another Council member disagreed, telling Inner City Press that while a person might "shoot themselves in the leg" to play the victim, they would not "shoot themselves in the face.")

  South Sudan's ambassador Agnes Oswaha told Inner City Press that the SLPA withdrew only on the orders of Salva Kiir, and the Heglig "belongs to South Sudan" and thus the SPLA would not have sabotaged its own resources. She reiterated the Sudan has been bombing South Sudanese territory.

  Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman spoke last. Inner City Press asked him if his government agreed to the PSC plan. He replied that he hadn't yet seen it. He repeated what Inner City Press exclusively reported earlier, that Sudan has told the Council it has an audio tape "proving" South Sudanese intend to destroy the oil fields at Heglig.

Inner City Press asked if such an audio tape had been given to the UNSC. It will be, soon, he said. (Some note that even proof of intent wouldn't be proof that South Sudan carried it through, or was able to carry it through.)

Another UNSC member told Inner City Press maybe Sudan should take its reparation claim to the International Court of Justice.

But if the goal or effect is to deny the Omar al Bashir government income so it can be overthrown, what good would a slow ICJ decision be? Watch this site.

From the US Mission to the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, this PSC Communiqué seems to ask the Security Council to endorse at least parts of it under Chapter VII. I wonder, I mean, I guess as the U.S.-what do you think of the Communiqué? Is that something that you support? And it's-some are wondering whether, even though it's Chapter VII, this would require the prior approval of Khartoum and Juba or could be-you know-could be endorsed by the Council without their approval-and some, one member at least was talking about some either reparations or in some way compensation to Sudan for the damage to Heglig-what does the U.S. think of that?

Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, we think that the African Union statement, speaking for the United States, is a positive and constructive contribution. We are obviously going to study it carefully in Washington. I think most members of the Council saw it for the first time as we were sitting there in consultations, and have not had the opportunity to get reactions from their capital. But I can say from the U.S. point of view, that we view it as a constructive contribution, and we'll be consulting with Council members about their readiness and willingness to contemplate next steps that reflect the thrust of the AU Communiqué. I can't prejudge what other Council members will come back with.

With respect to whether the Council could act under Chapter VII without the agreement of either of both capitals, of course the answer to that is yes, at least in theory, whether-if Council members choose to do so. There's nothing from a legal point of view that prevents that. And with respect to Heglig, I think most Council members expressed, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, concern about the damage that has occurred in the Heglig oil area. We asked this question of the UN's personnel, and while some people are quick to say reparations, it's hardly clear how that damage occurred. It's not clear whether it was a result of the fighting on the ground, aerial bombardment, sabotage by the SPLA or retreating forces as some in Khartoum have alleged-we just don't know. And obviously, there are many who will be interested in the answer to that question-but until there's an independent assessment of what actually happened, its premature to talk about compensation or responsibility.

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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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