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As Sudans Disagree on Abyei, France Talks Legislature, US Half on Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- Amid the happy talk Thursday at the UN about Sudan and South Sudan, the lingering issue of Abyei was dodged by the US and to a lesser degree France.

  Inner City Press asked Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman about the position expressed by his South Sudanese counterpart Francis Nazario: that the nomadic Miseriya should NOT be allowed to vote in Abyei.

  If he is repeating that position, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman told Inner City Press, then "it will not lead to any success in resolving the issue."

  The issue of who can vote in Abyei is one on which much rides. US Ambassador Susan Rice after the two Sudan sessions came out and took four questions; as selected, two of them were not about Sudan but rather Syria.

   After this Syria-heavy stakeout, Inner City Press went and asked Ambassador Rice which groups the US thought should be able to vote in Abyei. She smiled but did not answer.

   By most accounts, it was the US which prevailing on South Sudan to make the oil transfer fee agreement. What is the US thinking, and what will it do, about Abyei? The question should have been answered, or at least taken, on Thursday. But it was not.

 Ominously, another Council member told Inner City Press than many of the supposed "agreements" have yet to be signed, and Sudan's Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman told Inner City Press that nothing is solved until everything is solved.

   French Ambassador Gerard Araud, this month's Council president, did take and partially respond to the question, off camera in front of the stake out. Inner City Press asked him about Abyei, and he said the voting there is not up to France. (Some would say the position is not the same on Cote d'Ivoire, but that's another story."

  But Araud went out to note the disagreement about naming what he called the final "legislator," saying that once this is decided, the problem is resolved. That may not turn out to be entirely accurate, but at least he answered.

  Another major Council member told Inner City Press that yes, Abyei is "the big one," to be resolved only in the face to face meetings of Presidents Omar al Bashir and Salva Kiir.

   Neither Ambassador Francis Nazario nor the South Sudanese present on Thursday came to the stakeout to take questions. Earlier this week at the Cote d'Ivoire national day reception, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Nazario if the Kafia Kingi enclave in Western Bahr al-Ghazal is in South Sudan according to maps of Jan 1, 1956. We'll report the South Sudanese answer upon receipt.

   Inner City Press asked Sudan's Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, on camera, if the repair of the oil facilities at Heglig would be covered by the $3 billion lump sum (which may or may not ever be paid), or if Sudan is looking for separate compensation.

  Separately compensated, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said.

   Inner City Press asked, Do you have an estimate?

   Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said a team needs to go out and estimate it. South Sudan says that their role in the destruction still need to be proved.

  What does the US think? For a few days, Inner City Press has asked or tried to ask US Ambassador Rice, who should pay to fix Heglig? She has smiled but not answered. These then, and not always Syria, would seem to be questions for the stakeout after the Security Council meetings about Sudan.

   Or, for example, what does the US Mission think of the prospective use of US Tax Equalization Funds to cover the $400 million "associated costs" overrun of the UN's Capital Master Plan? In the past, Rice took a TEF question at the stakeout. In August 2012, would or will she? Watch this site.

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