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After Blaming S. Sudan, UN's Half-Retraction Leaves It Up from Nigeria to Lebanon

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- With fighting continuing in Southern Kordofan the day after shelling killed a UN peacekeeper in Kadugli, a statement co-blaming South Sudan made and then retracted by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations continues to circulate on the Internet.

  This seems like the opposite of "peacekeeping," like this.

  DPKO chief Herve Ladsous' spokesperson Kieran Dwyer put out a statement masquerading as a UN News article on June 14, that "'We condemn in the strongest terms this shelling. It is essential that the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan immediately cease hostilities and resume ceasefire negotiations,' Mr. Dwyer said."

  This statement including South Sudan, though corrected to "SPLM-North" without explanation by Reuters, remains online not only on Reuters' website, but also on the Daily Star in Lebanon;; the Premium Times in Nigeria, via NAN; Euronews and the Star in Malaysia, both again with the quadruple byline "Reporting By Michelle Nichols in New York and Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Michael Roddy."

  At the June 14 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: the attack on Kadugli, there have been shelling in the past by the SPLM-North [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army] of the city of Kadugli. So, is it possible to say either who did it or at least what type of shells were used? By the same token there is also some dispute about an oil pipeline that was attacked in Abyei that caught fire. But, the main one I wanted to know is on Kadugli since it is an attack that killed a peacekeeper. It seems like there is only two parties could do it, either the Government or SPLM-North, or may be another rebel group, but what type of shell was used?

Spokesperson: Well, I do know that there is already an investigation under way to look into this incident in which, as we have said, one peacekeeper was killed and two more were wounded. This was obviously a serious incident which the Secretary-General has condemned and which he also referred to at the stakeout in his remarks just a little while ago as well. The most important thing is that the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North suspend their hostilities immediately and resume ceasefire negotiations. As I have said, needless to say, after an incident of this kind, there is an investigation to try to understand and establish precisely what happened. And that is something that is under way. Therefore, we cannot really go into it any further about who may or may not have been responsible for it, okay.

There has been no update since by the UN. But the SPLM-North had said openly that they shelled Kadugli, and are moving in on it. So why did Ladsous' DPKO say South Sudan, then half-retract it, and now say nothing?

On World Press Freedom Day this year, Inner City Press asked Dwyer how DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refusing to answer Press questions, on topics ranging from the UN's introduction of cholera into Haiti to accepting advice from a Sri Lanka military figure depicted the UN's own report as engaged in war crimes to mass rapes in the Congo, is consistent with DPKO's claim to support free press where it runs missions.

  Dwyer defended Ladsous' stonewalling, then changed the topic to return to what he claimed DPKO is most concerned with: South Sudan. Video compilation here.

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