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As UN Council Prepares Trip to Uganda & Sudan, DRC Report to Raise Peacekeeping Price?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1, 2010 -- As the modified Mapping Report on war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was issued today, at the UN in New York Ambassadors of the accused countries as well as the DRC scrambled to make their nations' complaints and addenda heard.

On the eve of the Report's release, Uganda's Permanent Representative Rugunda took congratulations from a stream of other Ambassadors for the alphabetically honor of assuming presidency of the UN Security Council of October. There was little to no mention of the UN's charge of war crimes.

Several well wishers noted that for the first time, a president of the Council would be leading a mission of the 15 members to his country, just as his month began. The phrasing was conditional, as Sudan had yet to issue visas for the second part of the already controversial trip.

  There is, however, a connection between the Mapping Report and the Uganda leg of the trip, on which Inner City Press has been told it will be included. Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa has in writing urged that the Mapping Report, which accuses UPDF troops of terrorizing civilians in the Congo, not be published at all, and implied that it may lead to a reversal of Uganda's peacekeeping role in Somalia.

This is a odds with a position taken in the closed door meeting at the UN in New York on Somalia, during which multiple sources tell Inner City Press that President Yoweri Museveni said that if he received funding for 40,000 troops in Somalia, he would clean the place up, “African style.”

After the UN's Somalia mini Summit, from which as Inner City Press exclusively reported Eritrea was at the last minute dis-invited, African Union Commission chief Jean Ping took Press questions. Inner City Press asked about complaints that the Ugandan and Burundian troops in Somalia aren't being paid enough.

Jean Ping said that even with a recent increase, the AU troops in Somalia are compensated at the level of $750 a month, rather than the $1080 the UN pays.

Uganda's Museveni & Rwanda's Kagame, Mapping Report fall out not yet shown

  This, Ping said, results in a situation in which “all the peacekeepers want to go to Darfur” to receive the higher pay. Of course, it is the troops' country which decide where they go, and which receives the compensation.

The Council, Ambassador Rugunda told Inner City Press on Thursday night, is slated to meet with President Museveni. How will the issue of the mapping report come up? Will commitments be sought or made about additional payments for Somalia peacekeeping? Watch this site.

Footnote: Not only is the Council trip to Uganda and Sudan, slated to begin October 4, still not confirmed as of 9 am on October 1 -- the terms of reference are not even being negotiated by the whole Council, but only the US and UK, the leaders of the Sudan legs of the trip, Inner City Press is told.

  Meanwhile, last minute questions were raised about how many journalists, and even which journalists, should be allowed to cover the trip. These should and must be resolved today -- watch this space.

* * *

On UN Sudan Trip, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” About Bashir, Darfur Stop Unmentioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 28, 2010 -- If 15 UN Security Council diplomats travel to a country run by an indicted war criminal but no one can take pictures of it, did the trip really take place?

That was a question being asked Tuesday at the UN, as details leaked out to Inner City Press about the Council's on again, off again and now on again trip to Sudan.

The sticking point had been whether Sudan would demand that the Council Ambassadors meet with President Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide, and secondarily whether the Council would first visit Khartoum or Juba in South Sudan.

Western diplomats bragged to Inner City Press on Tuesday morning that they had prevailed on both points. The trip would go to Juba, and in all probability to Darfur -- Darfur wasn't mentioned in the Council Tuesday, one participate said -- before going to Khartoum.

The Council won't ask to meet with Bashir, and he won't ask to meet with us,” one seemingly excited diplomat told Inner City Press about the trip on Tuesday, adding that Bashir might conveniently be out of the country, in Libya, he said.

The “don't ask, don't tell” trip, Inner City Press has dubbed it.

UN's Ban & Bashir, with some distance: don't ask, don't tell?

Bashir has also been invited to visit Cote d'Ivoire. Inner City Press asked the UN's envoy to that country K.Y. Choi about this on Tuesday. Choi's response, strangely, was to repeat that inviter Laurent Gbagbo and his two main opponents are all committed to a peaceful first round of elections on October 31.

This perhaps is the approach of the UN Secretariat to questions about war crimes and impunity: to repeat talking points again and again, even if unrelated. We'll see.

Footnote: Just how dysfunctional things have become between the Security Council and the Office of the Spokesman of the Secretary General, which has already been barred from the Council consultation meetings they for years attended and summarized, is exemplified by that the fact that less than a week before the re-scheduled trip, the Council has not told the OSSG about any arrangements for press.

On past trips -- Inner City Press accompanied the Security Council to Sudan, the Congo, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere in 2008 -- the Council has let the OSSG invite the press, arrange for visas, and attend. Apparently not this time. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Council Trip to Sudan is Back On, After Obama and Taha Praise, US to Announce

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 28, updated -- The UN Security Council is, after delay and negotiations, going on a trip to Sudan, Inner City Press exclusively learned on Tuesday morning. “The US will take the floor and annouce it,” a well place source told Inner City Press.

The issue was whether Sudan would require the Security Council Ambassadors to meet with and even take photos with President Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide.

The US and UK, in charge of different parts of the long planned Sudan trip, have been trying to get Sudan to drop these demands, to avoid the photo op.

Now, days after US President Obama gave a speech about Sudan in which he mentioned neither the ICC nor Bashir, and Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Taha praised the new US approach, the impasse has been resolved.

Bashir with UN Ban, Obama speech and UNSC trip not shown

Multiple sources say the trip will be announced later at Tuesday. But at what cost? Watch this site.

Update of 11:23 a.m. -- while that the "lead country" -- the US -- has agreed to the trip is confirmed, other non Permanent Council members have still not been told the basis of the US - Sudan agreement. It is assumed to be that a meeting with Bashir will not be required.

* * *

In Darfur, UN Prepares To Hand Over Bashir's Enemies for “Blood Money- Exclusive

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, September 28, 2010 -- In Darfur, the Joint African Union - UN peacekeeping mission UNAMID is preparing to turn over to the government of Omar al Bashir five supporters of rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nur who have been “accused by Sudanese authorities of having committed crimes,” as shown by UNAMID documents obtained by Inner City Press.

  For two months the government of Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide, has demanded that UNAMID and the UN turn over the five, who “sought refuge in the Community Policing Center of the Kalma Camp for Internally Displaced Persons” after an outburst of violence in the camp.

  Bashir's government imposed a blockade on the camp, not allowing in food or fuel or medicine, and now seeks to close down the camp.

  A draft letter from UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari to Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti recites that Bashir's government “explained its position of principle that Sudan has the right to apply the death penalty as such a penalty is not illegal under international law and is part of Sudan's criminal code.”

  Nevertheless, Gambari writes, “without prejudice to its position of principle, the Government has undertaken to work in a co-operative manner with UNAMID... with a view to bringing the issue to a mutually acceptable conclusion.”

  Click here to see Gambari's letter, as obtained exclusively by Inner City Press.

  In the concluding paragraph of his letter, Gambari “propose[s] that the issue of the five individuals be brought to a conclusion... on the basis of the additional terms set forth in the attachment hereto... to ensure that the five individuals concerned are transferred to the relevant authorities of the Government.”

So what are the terms under which the UN, Gambari and UNAMID would turn over the five to Bashir's government?

Click here to see Gambari's and the UN's Additional Terms, as obtained exclusively by Inner City Press.

   Amazingly to some, under Gambari's Additional Terms, “blood relatives of the victims of the alleged crimes will be called upon to exercise their power to waive the death penalty and seek payment of compensation in the form of 'blood money' instead.”

UN's Ban shakes with Bashir, Kalma Five and blood money not shown

This in reminiscent of an incident in Geneina, multiply described to Inner City Press, in which UNAMID became involved in and even proposed the payment of “blood money” by IDPs to janjaweed who came into the camp beating up IDPs and demanding money for a person they said had been killed.

The “Additional Terms of the Government's assurances for the transfer of the five individuals from the Kalma CPC to the host country authorities” ends with assurances that “UNAMID's Human Rights Division” could visit the prisoners, and that Bashir's government will not “undermine UNAMID's ability to conduct its activities.”

But Bashir's government has restricted the movement of UNAMID peacekeepers and helicopters, as peacekeepers and civilians as in the Tarabat Market early this money lay dying. The UN's human rights divisions in Sudan have been accused by opposition leaders of failing even to come on a timely basis to examine the body of a slain Darfuri student.

   (The UN says it tried, but the Government stopped it -- even if true, hardly a basis for replying on the assurances in the Additional Terms. On September 27, Inner City Press asked a series of questions to Gambari, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier and Under Secretary General for Field Support Susana Malcorra, click here for article, here for video.)

In this case of the five, UNAMID would rely on “the Ajaweed traditional justice” and, again amazingly, that “the President” -- indicted war criminal Omar al Bashir -- “has the prerogative of mercy which he has confirmed he will exercise in the event that the death penalty is imposed on the accused.”

To many, this is a new low for the UN: accepting the promise of an indicted war criminal not to kill again as a basis to turn over more of his enemies to him. Watch this site.

 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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