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At UN, S. Africa Sangqu on Missions in Somalia, Mali & DRC, Fight for Fairness

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 3 -- After two years on the UN Security Council, South African diplomat Baso Sangqu held his wrap-up press conference on Thursday before taking up a new position in Addis Ababa.

Inner City Press asked Sangqu about the UN's relations with the African Union and African regional organizations, in Somalia, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  In Somalia, just before South Africa left the Security Council, it led the push for the African Union position that the naval component of the AMISOM mission, that is Kenyan ships, should be made a compensated part of AMISOM. But this was rebuffed or deferred by the UK, which "has the pen."

  Sangqu hearkened back to the push for African peacekeeping in Somalia begun in the Council by his predecessor Dumisani Kumalo, and said the force should still be "re-hatted" and properly compensated.

   He called on the Council's other African members to keep up the push. Inner City Press will be asking new member Rwanda.

  Likewise on Mali, Sangqu said that the AFISMA mission should be paid for out of UN assessments, not only on a voluntary basis.

   On DRC he quoted Uganda's Yoweri Museveni on the MONUSCO mission having turned into military "tourism," and said discussion are underway that might -- might -- see South African troops in DRC serving in an international neutral force.

  In his opening statement, Sangqu brought up Western Sahara, an issue on which South African like Uganda before it has taken the lead in pushing the African Union position: referendum with self-determination as an option. Will Rwanda take that banner up, this year with Morocco on the Council, and then in 2014 without?

  Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA, thanked not only Sangqu but the rest of the South African mission team for their openness over the last two years.

  From Deputy Doc Mashabane to political coordinator Zaheer Laheer, from Cedrick Crowley to spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota, from its able representative on the 1540 Committee to its legacy in the current President of the General Assembly's office, it's been a good run. To be repeated.

Footnote, inside baseball: After Inner City Press said this thank-you on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, the fill-in representative of the old, some say outdated group cut in rudely, "Jesus Christ." Video here, from Minute 7:34. There was no need for it: certainly there must be room for two groups, multi-party democracy, in any UN with South Africa in it.

   But for now FUNCA fliers announcing its principles (Freedom, Fairness) are torn down. As was said* in the first 15 seconds of the archived webcast, video here, UNCA or its representative are "normally antagonistic."

  In fact in 2012 at least three of them tried to dis-accredit the Press, and met with the UN about it. And so, South Africa style, a new party or movement is born. Thank you, South Africa.

* - this was not a blooper but refreshing and needed candor. But will the UN now try to edit it out? Watch this site.

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