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UN Council Meets Many UK-based Somalis, Dodges Requests for Human Rights Prosecutions

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press in Africa: News Analysis

DJIBOUTI, June 3 -- Many of the Somalis meeting at this luxury hotel in Djibouti with UN Security Council members from New York came in not from Somalia but from the UK. That the Transitional Federal Government is top-heavy with UK citizens has recently been exposed, as discussed here.  But it emerged on June 2 that even the vice-chairman and spokesman for the ostensibly Eritrea-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia,  Abdulrahman Abdishakur Warsame, lives in London.

   When Inner City Press asked him about reports that the town of Baidoa is surrounded and about to fall, he replied, "I am not in Baidoa, you should ask the Transitional Federal Government." That he was not then physically in Baidoa was obvious. But the disconnect is more fundamental. The A.R.S. delegation in Djibouti is distant both from compatriots still in Asmara who demanded the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and from the insurgents on the ground who are fighting the Ethiopians.

  UK Ambassador John Sawers was seen meeting Monday night with some of the A.R.S. delegation, after a liquor-less reception thrown by the Saudi Arabians. Earlier he had encouraged the traveling UN press corps not to freeze the A.R.S. into a hard-line position about the withdrawal of the Ethiopian, which apparently would be accomplished by quoting what they actually said.

   Tuesday before the Council and press headed to Juba in South Sudan, they received a "Statement by Somali Non-state Actors and Civil Society" which read suspiciously like a production of the UN's Ould-Adballah. The statement called Ould-Adballah's Office "the best institution to lead the current International supported peace process."  Inner City Press has asked about how the Somali delegations' hotel bills at the Djibouti Palace Kempinski, with its $90 buffet, are being paid. "Half by the E.C.," was the beginning of an answer.  If and when we get more information, it will be reported on this site.

  Afterwards, Inner City Press asked the Somali Peace and Human Rights Network's Abdinasir A. Osman who, in his view, has been committing the human rights violations in Somalia, only the insurgents or also the Ethiopians and the Transitional Federal Government? He answered by referring to Amnesty International's reports, and said that the Security Council should consider referring perpetrators for criminal prosecution, presumably by the International Criminal Court, to which the Council can and has referred cases, such as in Darfur.

UN's Ould-Adballah at Council, Djibouti hotel bills not shown

   At the Council's close-out press conference in Djibouti, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador John Sawers if the Security Council is going to act on the civil society request that the Council "establish a commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights." Amb. Sawers said that will be up to the Somali parties. This is not the approach the Security Council has taken toward Sudan, to which the Council members were headed, on their special UN plane.

Curtain-raising footnote: Three weeks after violence emptied the southern Sudanese town of Abyei, the UN Security Council headed to Juba, to meet with the president of the South Sudan region, Salva Kiir. They were also slated to visit -- and render "homage," one Ambassador said -- at the tomb of John Garang. We will report from there, or from Khartoum after that. President al-Bashir has traveled to the food summit in Rome, and so the Council will wait to speak with him.

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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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