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Rice Says Abyei Mandate Is Now Clear, Sudan Denies Chad Is In Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- In Abyei after the Ngok Dinka paramount chief was killed by the Misseriya, along with a UN peacekeeper from the UNISFA mission, South Sudan Ambassador Francis Deng told Inner City Press that the UN wasn't implementing its protection of civilians mandate.

  Deng, a former UN official and also the brother of the paramount chief, told Inner City Press that the UNISFA force commander told him that it was his understanding the mandate concerned protecting civilians from the Sudanese Army, not from non state actors like the Misseriya nomads.

  Inner City Press repeatedly asked the UN about this, but has run into difficulties because the head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous outright refuses to answer its questions. (On May 29 he refused again, concerning the 135 rapes in Minova in November 2012 by 41st and 391st Battalions of the Congolese Army, with which the UN continues to work; video here).

  After the UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted a US-drafted resolution extended the mandate of UNISFA, click here for the text of the resolution put online by Inner City Press just after the vote, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about Deng's comments and the UN's mandate.

  In a longer answer transcribed by the US Mission, Ambassador Rice said that "We discussed in our consultations on the topic of UNIFSA a couple weeks ago the question of whether there was any ambiguity in the mandate about the nature and scope of the protection of civilians requirement. The Secretariat affirmed that it is their understanding and, indeed, it is clear to UNIFSA that indeed protection of civilians means protection of civilians against a threat from wherever it may materialize."

  The Secretariat means Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations. While Ameerah Haq of the UN Department of Field Support gave a long, suprisingly candid answer to Inner City Press' questions about the use of "soft skin" vehicles by the UN Mission in South Sudan, including in an incident in which five Indian peacekeepers were killed in Jonglei State, the military mandate and rules of engagement question should be answered by Herve Ladsous. But when?

  After Ambassador Rice left the stakeout, and much of the press corps also left to go hear Ladsous, Inner City Press stayed and asked Sudanese Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman a question it also asked Rice: are Chadian forces inside Sudan, chasing rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement through Darfur into Southern Kordofan?

  Sudan's Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said no, Chad is a "friendly country" but Sudan's army can take care of its business (as it perceives it). He criticized "a few Council members" for blocking any statement on rebel abuses in Abu Karshola. And he told Inner City Press that the US' blocking of the Islamic African Relief Association in the UN's NGO Committee was because of the group's name. We'll see.

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