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In Abyei, Sudan Balloting Panned, Referendum Lobbied For, Closed Doors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 14 -- When the UN Security Council's closed-door meeting about Abyei ended on October 7, UN Peacekeeping's Edmond Mulet walked briskly out and to the elevator.

  A Sudanese diplomat raced after him, catching him before the elevator door closed and speaking for a minute. The diplomat told Inner City Press there are “issues” on the ostensibly non-controversial technical roll-over of the mandate of the UN mission in Abyei, UNISFA.

  The mandate was unanimously extended a week later on October 14, after behind the scenes griping that, unlike on also unanimous Haiti mandate extension on October 14, did not give rise to explanation of vote by any Council member.

  (South Sudan Permanent Representative and former UN official Francis Deng said that those pushing to recognition of the Dinka's unilateral referendum in Abyei "might" be sitting behind him.)

   Inner City Press spoke with a number of Security Council members and learned one issue was this unilateralism  -- specifically, the Dinka held their own unilateral referendum, and now the Sudanese want to include Abyei in their own elections.

At least two Council members said behind closed doors that Sudan is within its rights on this, and others agreed afterward. But it was said such inclusion would fan tensions -- all this behind closed doors.

The October 7 Abyei meeting, and a meeting earlier that day on the tail end of the Syria chemical weapons mission, were both behind closed doors. This is when the Free UN Coalition for Access has asked that Council president's hold question and answer stakeouts. It did not happen on October 7, and there were no explanations of vote on October 14.

  At the October 7 noon briefing when FUNCA asked, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said his Office was to blame for the lack of notice to the press of October's UNSC President's read-out at the UNTV stakeout of multiple press statements. Issues sail through in this fashion. We'll have more on this.


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