Not Mention Bashir, Whose VP Taha Praises Obama at UN Sudan
September 24 -- The open portion of the UN Sudan
as surprising for what was not said as for what was. US President
Barack Obama in his ten minute speech did not once mention Sudanese
President Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal
Court for war crimes and genocide.
President Ali Osman Taha on the other hand, or perhaps in
reciprocation, praised “the next direction and the emergent spirit
of the United States of America of positive and constructive
was allowed in the meeting for the first four speakers, and got the
first copy of Taha's prepared speech. That the praise of Obama was in
the prepared text may imply that Taha and his government knew that
Bashir would not be mentioned.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Taha earlier in the week,
Inner City Press asked her spokesman PJ Crowley if Bashir, and
specifically whether he would require a meeting and photo op if the
UN Security Council visits the country as initially planned on
October 4 to 11, Crowley said Bashir “did not come up” in the
to leave Friday's Sudan meeting after Ban Ki-moon, Obama, Taha and
Salva Kiir spoke, Inner City Press asked a Security Council
Ambassador if any progress had been made on scheduling the Council
trip to Sudan, which members such as Austria and Mexico want.
said, maybe after the meeting. Asked by Inner City Press about Obama
not mentioning Bashir, the Ambassador nodded and added, “it will be
interesting to see how many of the African heads of state present
mention Bashir and how.” Yes, it will.
Kagame left the meeting after the first four speakers, as did Nick
Clegg of the UK. The EU's Catherine Ashton left while Salvia Kiir was
talking, after having sat near the back of the room typing on a
laptop. It is expected that top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy will take
questions from the Press after the meeting is over and the Communique
Obama, UN's Ban and Le Roy on Sept 24, Bashir not
shown, (c) M.R. Lee
before the meeting -- Inner City Press published
a near final
of the Communique. A reader has quickly written in:
draft communiqué is the very embodiment of international
helplessness and lack of commitment to the cause of a just peace for
Sudan. In tone it barely rises to the level of mild exhortation. In
substance it is vacuous, or at least entirely redundant, given what
the UNSC and international actors of consequence have said
previously. And some of this is downright pernicious, e.g., the
celebration of the “Government of Sudan’s new strategy for
Darfur.” .. This “New Strategy” has been rejected by the rebel
groups, by the SPLM, and by Darfuri civil society; it has been
endorsed by Gration and Mbeki, and with this document, by the UN. It
is utterly shameless capitulation before a move that promises
explicitly to demote the peace process (Doha or elsewhere), and to
“domesticate” that process…such a “strategy” implemented
will be the peace of the dead.
“In this context, they took note of the Government of Sudan’s
new strategy for Darfur and the important role it could play towards
a comprehensive solution to the conflict in the region.”
a 'final solution.'"
briefing at the UN, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin
Nesirky to describe the role of the UN Department of Peacekeeping
Operations and Department of Political Affairs in the Communique.
Nesirky, who should answer this question, has yet to. Watch this
* * *
Meeting Has Weak Communique, Little Darfur Focus, “Big-Footing”
September 24 -- This afternoon's closed door meeting on
Sudan at the UN has been presented as a watershed, a highlight of
this year's UN General Assembly. US President Obama's “14 minute
speech” has been hyped by his Special Adviser Samantha Power, when
Inner City Press asked why
Obama had not mentioned Sudan in his
General Assembly speech.
The UN Secretariat has bragged to reporters
about its role in putting together the Communique to be issued after
has obtained a near
final draft of the Communique and it putting it
online here in advance of the meeting. Of its 14 paragraphs, three
deal with Darfur and one with Eastern Sudan. The Communique
surprisingly weak statement, human rights advocates say. “How could
this be the highlight of the US' involvement?” one asked Inner City
President Taha will participate in the meeting, and is slated to
speak to the Press afterward. The day before, Inner City Press asked
African Union Commission President Jean Ping what the AU hopes to
come out of the meeting.
Ping said the
AU takes a “holistic”
approach, which some view as a codeword for “drop or suspend the
International Criminal Court indictment of Omar Al Bashir for war
crimes and genocide.”
hours before the meeting, Inner City Press asked Nigerian president
Goodluck Jonathan what if he thought the meeting -- and by
implication, the Communique -- dealt sufficiently with Darfur, where
Nigeria has peacekeeping battalions controlled by former Nigerian
diplomat Ibrahim Gambari.
Obama & AU president, Sudan not seen in speech,
Darfur hardly in meeting?
President Jonathan spoke about Darfur but
also about the referendum, saying that the borders should be clear
before the vote, scheduled for January 9, 2011. It seems unlikely
that the borders, much less the division of oil revenue, will be
decided before then.
the US “big
foots,” as one advocate put it, nearly unilaterally stalling a
planned Security Council trip to Sudan due to a reticence for the US
Permanent Representative to meet or take a photo with Omar al Bashir,
smaller non-Permanent Council members try to do what they can.
is on record
as favoring the Council trip to Sudan, even if “some P-5
Ambassadors stay in their hotel rooms.” Austria has offered legal
expertise to both sides, in meetings Friday with Khartoum's foreign
minister Ali Ahmed Karti and two ministers from South Sudan.
told by Inner
City Press of this work and these complaints by non Permanent Council
members on Sudan, a senior UN official this week replied, “I'd hate
to be a small member state.” And so it goes at the UN. We will be
Tweeting and live blogging from outside the Sudan meeting: watch @InnerCityPress
* * *