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On Sudans, Deng Makes Abyei Claim, Ladsous Stonewalls on Kadugli

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- With the issue of Abyei outstanding at least until the African Union Peace and Security Council meets with Thabo Mbeki on October 22, the UN Security Council was briefed Tuesday afternoon not by envoy Haile Menkerios, but only the Department of Peacekeeping Operations' Herve Ladsous.

  The Sudan - South Sudan issues are political, not in Ladsous' shop. South Sudan's new Permanent Representative Francis Deng, until recently the UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, waited outside the Council's closed door consultations and then came to take Press questions.

Inner City Press asked Deng about reports that Abyei might be partitioned, rather than have a referendum in which the sides cannot agree if the Miseriya can vote.

  Deng, who is also an author, hearkened back to Abyei agreements of 1972 and even 1905, calling it absurd that the Miseriya would vote.

On the topic of the oil facilities at Heglig, Inner City Press asked Deng if it is true that the sides are negotiating for some form of compensation. Deng did not directly answer, noting that the Dinka have another name for the area.

Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman had been by the stakeout earlier, and Inner City Press asked him if it is true that Thabo Mbeki will visit both Khartoum and Juba before the AU PSC meeting on August 22. He denied it, saying that there is no concrete information about any such visit "yet."

US Ambassador Susan Rice, outside the meeting, congratulated Ambassador Deng on South Sudan's ratification of the Addis Ababa agreements with Sudan -- there were, we note, some protests, about Mile 14 and other issues -- and invited Deng to come to the US Mission.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice whether the DPKO Peacekeepers in Kadugli in Southern Kordofan could or should do anything if they witnessed killings there on their way to the UNISFA mission in Abyei. Rice considered the questions and called it "difficult... in a contested area."

  Later Inner City Press put the question, short and simple, to DPKO chief Herve Ladsous as he left the meeting, in the same way Ladsous' predecessors Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno always answered questions: what can the DPKO base at Kadugli do in these circumstances?

  Ladsous refused to provide any answer at all, just as he pretended in September that an Inner City Press question about the UN's role in Abyei had not even been asked -- video here -- and then had his DPKO try to get the audio record of the question stricken from UN Television's web cast. This in Ban Ki-moon's UN. 

  Draw your own conclusions.

  Finally this month's Security Council president Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala emerged and provided a summary. Inner City Press asked about the Kadugli issue -- Rosenthal proffered an answer, but of course it is not him in daily charge of DPKO, and paid for it, that is Ladsous -- and a question about Syria. And then he left.

  The next UN Security Council news on Sudan, one supposes, will be after Mbeki goes to the AU PSC, whether through Khartoum or not. Watch this site.

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