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On Darfur, Gration Skips El Fasher Summit, US Won't Explain, UN Won't Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- Why did the U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, not attend last weekend's El Fasher summit on Darfur including Gration's Chinese, Russian and EU counterparts? Inner City Press has asked the U.S. Mission to the UN, including Ambassador Susan Rice as she walked into the Security Council. But the question has not been answered.

A Rice aide told Inner City Press to ask Gration's spokesperson, Marie Nelson, that she would be waiting for the call. But despite three calls to Ms. Nelson, including a request for answer by voice mail or e-mail, no answer has been received. Nor did a re-request to the U.S. Mission get any answer, except the vague statement that Gration's reason is simpler than it was assumed Inner City Press would speculate.

Other press reports have linked Gration's non attendance to his disagreements with the UN's Ibrahim Gambari. It is not that at this point Gration appears any more committed to justice in Darfur than is Mr. Gambari. It's a turf war, pure and simple.

On July 7, Inner City Press told and asked the UN Mission to the UN:

I called Marie Nelson before and after the noon briefing (where I asked some other Sudan questions, including about crackdowns on free press and the youth group Girifna). I'm sending you the "Final Communiqué from JSR Retreat for the Special Envoys to the Sudan" and an article speculating about Gration's absence. They say Gration had agreed to the time and place - true? I'd like an on the record explanation of Gration's non attendance, etc.

Three days later, as of this writing, nothing. Watch this site.

Envoys in El Fasher, Gration not shown, explanation not given

At the UN's July 6 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: On this meeting that you gave a readout of, of Mr. Gambari, you said that various Member States went, but many people picked up on the fact that Scott Gration of the US, neither the UK nor French envoys went. Essentially it was Russian, Chinese envoys; you can give me, if there is a longer list, give it to me. Did Mr. Gambari invite the Western envoys on the Darfur issue, and what does the UN make of their failure to attend and participate?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, first off, the full text of the communiqué is available in the Spokesperson’s office. So, you can get a clear view of the parties and the discussions there. It’s, I think, a two-page readout. I don’t know the reasons for attendance or non-attendance of some of these.

The next day on July 7 Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: hree newspapers have been closed in Khartoum, and youth, with this Girifna, have been arrested by the Government, all for purportedly supporting separation or the referendum for the south to break away. Does the UN, I heard your statement of Mr. Bassolé, but what does either Mr. [Haile] Menkerios or the UN say about the north-south issue? And it’s related to that or not related to that, are reports that recent killings in Abyei are intended to drive the Dinka people out so that the vote would go Khartoum’s way. Is there any, what’s the UN doing on the north-south front rather than the Darfur front?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, certainly the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is working very clearly with all the parties trying to ensure calm on the north-south front. I don’t have anything in particular to say about the situation in Abyei right now. As for the crackdown on the press, these allegations we’ll check first and foremost with our Human Rights and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] colleagues whether they have anything to say on that.

Still waiting on that, too. Watch this site.

* * *

On Darfur, UN's Questionable Role Paying Pro-Bashir Rebel UNaddressed in 4 Speeches

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- When Ban Ki-moon was named UN Secretary General by, in essence, the United States and China, he declared Darfur one of his top priorities. What has happened since?

Now, Darfur's largest rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement is out of the "final" peace process in Doha. It has been replaced by a formation led by former UN staff member Al Tijani Al Sissi Ateem, who drew UN pay while a self proclaimed pro government rebel leader.

Inner City Press, which exposed the double dipping or double service asked Mr. Ban if this did not violate UN rules and undermine the UN's credibility or at least impartiality. I'm not sure what you mean, Mr. Ban replied. Exactly.

On June 14, Ban's two envoys to Sudan, Ibrahim Gambari and Haile Menkerios, came to brief the Security Council. Ban had sent both to attend the celebratory inauguration of Omar al Bashir, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Asked if this didn't promote impunity, Ban said that their attendance was somehow necessary for them to carry out their work.

Joining the two envoys were joint UN - African Union negotiator Djibril Bassole, who recruited Al Tijani Al Sissi Ateem from his post at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa to come as a sudden rebel leader to Doha, all the while paid by the UN.

UN in Darfur, in the weed, payments to Astro-Turf rebel not shown

  The UN has referred all questions about this to ECA in Addis Ababa, which claims not to have known of his service of Bassole in Doha. The UN has refused to say who speaks for Bassole.

Perhaps we'll find out on June 14. A Council member's spokesperson said what's expected from the meeting are mere "elements to the press" -- less than a Presidential Statement, not even a formal press statement. To this has Darfur fallen in today's UN.

* * *

On US Attendance at Bash for Bashir, Sudan Dip Says Needs No Outsiders (But China)

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 -- With international justice being called for in Kampala and about Gaza, Inner City Press on Memorial Day asked Sudan's Ambassador to the UN which junior US diplomat attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for Darfur, and what it meant.

  "I am not that interested in that," Sudan's Permanent Representative said. "The Sudanese people celebrated, not waiting on any outsiders to come and give us legitimacy." Video here, from Minute 2:02.

  Off camera, he has bragged to the Press that "China sent a high level delegation... a minister."

The attendance by the U.S., however, has given rise to sharp critiques of the Obama administration and its envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration. The US Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice was not present for Monday's emergency Security Council meeting about the assault on the flotilla to Gaza, and so could not be asked.

  Last week, she walked away from the stakeout microphone as Inner City Press asked if the US would be represented at any level at Bashir's inauguration.

  During hours of milling around outside the Council about Turkey's draft Presidential Statement about the flotilla, Sudan's Ambassador tried to turn the focus repeated to the ICC. Israel, he said, is "writing the Kampala communique."

  Inner City Press pointed out that Israel is not a state party to the ICC. Nor is the U.S., despite sending a representative to the Kampala conference on the crime of aggression.

Sudan's Ambassador and ICC's Ocampo, flotilla and US in Khartoum not shown

The question of the day outside and inside the Council was who would investigate the assault on the flotilla -- Israel itself, or the UN? Some began talking of a "Goldstone Two."

 Sudan's Ambassador, responding to Inner City Press, brought it full circle. The UN's Ban Ki-moon, he said, should condemn the flotilla attack and should provide an update on earlier investigations, in the destruction of UNRWA premises and schools. Mr. Ban, of course, sent his two top Sudan envoys to Bashir's inauguration. So we'll see.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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