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At UN, Salva Kiir Speaks on Sudan, Uganda and LRA's Otti Mystery

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 6 -- Salva Kiir, first vice president of South Sudan, began his trip to the U.S. with a UN stop on Tuesday. He met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and then spoke to the press. Aside from two mysterious answers he was generally upbeat, saying that just has he built bridges between Eritrea and the National Congress Party of Omar al-Bashir, he aims to do the same between al-Bashir and George W. Bush. ("I hope so," Sudan's Ambassador to the UN Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said with a smile when asked later about this comment by Inner City Press.) He said, in Arabic, that he has high hopes to get the Comprehensive Peace Agreement back on track upon his return to Sudan. On Darfur, he urged the rebel movements to re-unify, adopt a common negotiation position and a single delegation to what the UN has been calling the third and final stage of the talks in Sirte, Libya.

            Inner City Press asked Kiir, in his trademark black cowboy hat, about the Lord's Resistance Army's talks with Ugandan president Museveni, and the International Criminal Court's indictments of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and two other LRA leaders. Kiir said that there is almost peace in Uganda, that an LRA delegation is in Kampala, and that if a peace agreement is signed, "the local community" will ask the ICC to drop the indictments. Not addressed is whether the ICC could, should or would accept such a request, based on alternative local arrangements.

Salva Kiir in U.S. in trademark black hat, Vincent Otti not shown

            Inner City Press asked Kiir directly if he know if Vincent Otti is alive. There are reports that Otti is dead; some of these reports say that Joseph Kony killed him. Kiir said these are rumors, that someone can be sick and them become restored. Video here. While there was some laughter at the press stakeout at this line, a source with knowledge of the LRA process, Kiir and Northern Uganda tells Inner City Press that the answer only gives more credence to the reports of Otti's demise. We'll see.

            The other mystery in Kiir's answers concerned non-Sudanese now in Darfur. Kiir said there are "foreigners" in Darfur, brought there by the National Congress Party.  He was asked, who are they? Not necessarily from Chad, Kiir said. Mysteries, mysteries...

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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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540