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At UN on Eritrea Sanction, Russia Says Afwerki Should Be Invited Before Vote

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 -- After a closed door "showdown" in the Security Council between US Ambassador Rice and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin about when and how to vote on proposed new Eritrea sanctions, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice if she thought there would be a vote in the afternoon on Eritrea sanctions. Ambassador Rice did not stop or answer.

  Moments later, Russia's Churkin emerged from the Council. He spoke at length with the Press, recounting that "we had some people working on the sanctions resolution, on and off... All of the sudden last night we were told the sponsors were moving the resolution in blue, voting... today."

As Inner City Press exclusively reported Tuesday night, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the vote should take place Wednesday since Gabon, Nigeria and the regional IGAD group want the sanctions.

  Churkin on Wednesday disagreed, saying "there is a 48 hour rule.. but at least 24 hours" between putting a text into blue and voting on it. He also noted that "more than a month ago, the president of Eritrea asked to address the Security Council. We believe it is his right under the UN Charter."

Churkin said Afwerki's request was "consulted on by President of the Council. One delegation was objecting. We did not precipitate this issue, we were not sure, if they were not in a hurry on the resolution... But under those circumstances, we think it would just be wrong to act today on this resolution. We should finalize experts that were interrupted and give a chance to the President of Eritrea to come to New York."

Churkin said that Afwerki sent "another letter today that he wants to come and speak before the vote." About the draft, Churkin said, "we have two or three concerns, some other have more, some African countries... it's not some kind of an urgent matter because of some crisis."

The Council's stated agenda was a debate on its Working Methods. Churkin said on Eritrea this is "not a good method of work."

(c) UN Photo
Churkin in Council, Working Methods not shown

Inner City Press asked Churkin why no procedural vote had been called for after Ambassador Rice blocked granting Afkerki's request to address the Council. Churkin explained, "if we were told a vote is going to take place a week from now, we will go for procedural vote... Maybe this is why they rushed into blue, not to let him come. I think it is a ridiculous thing."

Moments later, Inner City Press spoke with Eritrea's Permanent Representative to the UN Araya Desta. But that's another story - watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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