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On Sudan, Questions of Expulsion of Darfur Rebels & Ocampo on Bashir's Billions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 6 -- As the UN and Security Council engage in happy talk about the South Sudan referendum, events in Darfur get worse and worse.
   On January 6 Inner City Press put questions to the UN Permanent Representatives of the US and Sudan, and to the UN itself. On background, a number of Council sources said that the African Union - UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur is not pushing hard enough for access to civilians in harm's way. But the focus is on the referendum.

Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice:

Inner City Press: this agreement by Salva Kiir to eject or stop the rebel groups from Darfur from being in South Sudan. Is it a positive thing? Does it help resolve things in Darfur, the idea that they wouldn't have to go back? It was announced by Salva Kiir.

Ambassador Rice: Our view has long been that it's vitally important that both parties to the CPA refrain from, in any way, direct or indirectly supporting rebel or proxy activity against the other. And so we urged that, to the extent that that has been the case, that it cease.

  But if the fighting that's hurting civilians is by the government against the rebels, how is pushing the rebels back into Darfur going to make things better? Inner City Press asked the UN:

Inner City Press: yesterday during a background briefing, a senior [UN] official said — about Sudan — said of Sudan that there had been, during the fighting in Khor Abeche in Darfur, that a Tanzanian battalion had fed IDPs [internally displaced persons] with their own rations and had been unable to be re-supplied due to Government restrictions on the re-supplying, it seemed to be, of the peacekeepers. Can you confirm that there was a time during that fighting that even the UN peacekeepers were unable to get their supplies in? And if so, was that ever said publicly, and — it seems like in other countries, they complained when its peacekeepers were being in any way blockaded. Did that take place in Khor Abeche, as it seemed to be said yesterday?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Let me find out.

But seven hours later there was no answer. Inner City Press asked Sudan's Permanent Representative about Khor Abeche, if Sudan had blocked resupply of peacekeepers. The Sudanese Ambassador again offered praise for UNAMID, then said that when there is fighting, movement is restricted for the peacekeepers' own good.

    While top UN peaceekeeper Alain Le Roy had told the press that he requested a boost in UN troop levels but Sudan would not agree, Sudan's Ambassador said he was in a meeting with Le Roy on January 5 and Le Roy made no such request. The UN should clarify this.

UN's Ban & Sudan's Ambassador, Khor Abeche answer not shown

Inner City Press asked asked Sudan's Ambassador about the allegations by International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo that Omar al Bashir spirited $9 billion out of the country. He replied it was ridiculous, that Lloyds had immediately denied it.

(As Inner City Press reported at the time, Lloyds was in the news for violating sanctions in Sudan and elsewhere.)

Inner City Press asked about the meeting on this topic between Ocampo and Susan Rice and Alejandro Wolff at the US Mission to the UN, memorialized in a Wikileaked cable. (Ambassador Rice has twice said she doesn't recall the meeting.) Sudan's Ambassador said this showed that Ocampo was “taking his orders” from sources other than the ICC. We will have more on this.

* * *

UN Was Silent as Bashir Blocked Food to Khor Abeche in Darfur, Referendum Talk

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 5 -- The Sudanese administration of Omar al Bashir blocked even food resupply to UN peacekeepers near Khor Abeche in South Darfur last month, a senior UN official off-handedly told the Press on Wednesday.

  At a UN background briefing about the upcoming South Sudan referendum, Inner City Press asked the senior UN official -- who insisted on being identified that way -- about the lack of human rights reporting by the African Union - UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur under the command of the UN's Ibrahim Gambari.

  The senior UN official responded that a forthcoming UNAMID report, apparently after the referendum begins, will document restrictions on access and movement imposed by the government and the Darfur rebels.

 The official said there have been 39,000 additional IDPs since the Security Council's visit in October 2010.

  The official cited the Tanzanian batallion for using their own food supplies to feed displaced people in Khor Abeche, and running out of food due to governmental prohibitions on resupply. The official said, "They were not able to be resupplied for days on end because the government was restricting our movements of our supply trucks."

The question is, why wasn't this reported in real time by UNAMID? By contrast, last month both Ban Ki-moon and Alain Le Roy speaking about Cote d'Ivoire openly invited other members states to help break any blockade by Gbagbo forces on peacekeeper resupply. But in Darfur, the UN and Ibrahim Gambari stayed quiet.

On the referendum, Inner City Press asked the official about the status of oil and water sharing talks, the division and possible forgiving of Sudan's foreign debt, and the citizenship rights of Southerners in the North.

The senior UN official said that citizenship has still not be agreed on, predicting this will have to wait for a package deal including Abyei and the delayed popular consultation in Blue Nile state and South Kordofan.

The official admitted that the UN is not much involved in the important debt talks -- Inner City Press has previously asked the IMF about this -- and said that water is as important as oil in Sudan.

  Inner City Press asked the UN official about South Sudan's announcement it will push out Darfur rebels. The UN official praised this, naming in particular Minni Minnawi "who has been in Juba." It was the Minni Minnawi group the government was attacking in Khor Abeche.

UN's Menkerios in Khartoum, praise of Bashir after Khor Abeche not shown

A projected video hook up from UNMIS itself was not held. Inner City Press asked the senior UN official to explain UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios' praised of Omar al Bashir's “courage” and leadership.

  The senior official official essentially repeated the praise, calling Bashir's recent statements unexpectedly positive. He noted that "Senator Kery made some positive remarks." But what about the outstanding indictments for genocide and war crimes? Watch this site.

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.

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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

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