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Sudan Claims Media Lies about Bombs, Ladsous Spins SOFA, Refuses Haiti Query

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 11 -- Sudan's and South Sudan's Ambassadors traded accusations Friday at the UN. South Sudan's representative David Choat spoke of the bombing of the Yide refugee camp in Unity State.

  Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman denied the bombing. Inner City Press asked about reports by BBC and Reuters, of bomb craters in the camp and a white Antonov-like plane flying away.

  Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said these are "biased media." He counter-accused South Sudan of sending its "Battalion Number Four" to aid the SPLM-North in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

  He said the new UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous agrees that South Sudan is blocking access by the Miseriya herdsmen from the north. Video here.

  Inner City Press asked Choat about this, and he said that Ladsous praised South Sudan president Salva Kiir for saying that such blocking will not be a problem.

  When Inner City Press asked Choat about South Sudan's lock-up of journalist Ngor Garang for what he wrote about Salva Kiir's daughter marrying a foreigner, Choat said the case is being investigated. Video here. But investigated for what?

   When US Ambassador Susan Rice came out, Inner City Press asked her about Khartoum's crackdown in Southern Kordofan, and the lack of humanitarian access. Rice expressed concern about access in both Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State, and said she hoped those in the UN in charge of humanitarian affairs would take action. Video here, Q&A below, full transcript on US Mission website.

   Speaking of UN officials were are supposed to take action, it was said that the new head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous would speak to the press on Thursday, but he did not.

(c) UN Photo
Ladsous in suit in Sudan, answer on Haiti and to Haitians not shown

 By noon on Friday, after the two Sudans and US Ambassador Susan Rice had all spoken, Ladsous had still not taken questions. So Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky a simple question: why hasn't the UN put in place a Status of Forces Agreement for its mission in Abyei, the absence of which played a role in the death of peacekeepers who bled out from a landmine during a medevac delay?

  You can go ask Mr. Ladsous, Nesirky said, if you put your skates on. But when Ladsous arrived to speak after 1 pm on Friday, the stakeout lights and camera were off. A question was asked, "Who is that guy?" One wag, not having seen Ladsous since he was handed the job months ago, wondered if he was a tourist asking to have his picture taken in front of the Council members' flags.

  Finally it began, with Ladsous speaking softly about the "mutual" accusations of the two Sudans who he said had "consummated their divorce."

   Inner City Press asked why there is no SOFA in place in Abyei; Ladsous said there is no problem, it is nearly done. Inner City Press asked whether under Ladsous' Department's SOFA in Haiti, a standing claims committee had been established, for the claims of those injured by cholera alleged introduced to Haiti by UN DPKO.

   (Ladsous previously urged the departure from Haiti of elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide, click here for that coverage.)

   On November 11 Ladsous refused to answer on Haiti, saying "that is a different issue, I am talking about Sudan." He left the stakeout. For video click here, from Minute 3:09.

  This compares unfavorably to Ladsous' predecessor Alain Le Roy, who spoke to the Press and took question on topics ranging from Cote d'Ivoire to Lebanon to Congo and Haiti. But so it is going at the UN -- watch this site.

As transcribed by the US Mission to the UN:

Inner City Press: What about the fighting in Southern Kordofan? You spoke about North and South. You know, fighting that seems that a lot of this has to do with Sudan sort of blocking off the area, not allowing humanitarian access. What does the U.S. think about the fighting in Southern Kordofan? What should be done?

Ambassador Rice: We're gravely concerned about the fighting in Southern Khartoum and Blue Nile. We are particularly outraged that now, many months into the fighting, there is no humanitarian access, that some 300,000 or more people have been displaced, and that they don't have the ability to receive the food and the other support that they desperately need.

We have urged the government of Sudan to open up access, as has the United Nations and its humanitarian entities, and thus far they've refused. And I hope very much that the United Nations leadership who are most focused on humanitarian issues, as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the African Union, will continue their efforts to prevail upon the government in Khartoum to open up access and stop allowing their own people to suffer so much.

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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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