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Kiir Says UN Troops Don't Move, Don't Protect, No Riek, Rights of Reply

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- When South Sudan President Salva Kiir gave his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 27, he said that UN Peacekeeping seemed to believe it can protect civilians just "by presence."

  Kiir said that's not true "if they don't move."  UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous is under fire, including by the UN's own Office of Internal Oversight Services, for not protecting civilians. In Darfur, it is charged with covering up attacks on civilians.

  But Ladsous as head of UN Peacekeeping refuses to answer Press questions on these topics, mostly recently on September 26 about the Central African Republic, video here. (On September 27, Ladsous tried to order Inner City Press to stop filming, then blocked the camera, video here.)

   Kiir also used his speech to trash Riek Machar. Kiir said that the violence from December 2013 was "plotted by my former vice president." Machar, needless to say, had no "right of reply" in the UN General Assembly.

  On the evening of September 27, the third night of this General Debate, the first right of reply took place, between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

   Azerbaijan said Armenia has “insolence” to talk about human rights, when it is not as developed - or endowed with hydrocarbons.

   Armenia shot back, mocking Azerbaijan for saying 1 in 8 Azerbaijanis are displaced, when it is oil rich.

  There are some other perennials for rights of reply: Iran and UAE about islands, the comfort women issue between Japan and the Koreas, and more. This year, one would expect more.

  Kiir on September 25 when the UN and Ladsous held a "High Level" event about South Sudan did not even attend.  

   A Senior US State Department Official, speaking on background, said that “there was a lot of disappointment expressed in the meeting that Salva Kiir who is here in New York did not attend the meeting. He sent his Minister of Foreign Affairs and some of his ministers to the meeting and several of the attendees made a point of noting that Salva Kiir was not at the meeting.”

  Inner City Press put some questions to the Senior State Department Official, on Ebola and here on South Sudan:

QUESTION: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press... On South Sudan, one of the sanctioned – sanctionees, Peter Gadet, is accused of having shot down a UN helicopter. And I wanted to know, is that – the UN hasn’t really sort of confirmed that. Is the U.S. concerned about getting to the bottom of that? And who do you think did it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We know – let me start with that first. We know that the UN is investigating and we’re waiting for the results of that investigation. But Gadet has been put on our sanctions list even before that happened. But the shooting down of the UN helicopter is evidence of how difficult it is to work in Sudan, but how committed the UN and others are to provide humanitarian assistance.

One of the commitments that came out of the meeting today with South Sudan announced by the foreign minister was that they would not stand in the way of NGOs and the UN delivering humanitarian assistance. And we have to hold them to that commitment because people are suffering.

Background: back on May 6, 2014, when the US imposed sanctions on Gadet, Inner City Press asked:

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you. Our next question is from the other Matt Lee, Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. Thanks a lot, [Moderator]. I wanted to ask, there was a – it was said that in Security Council consultations at the UN that senior government officials were named in a radio broadcast prior to the attacks in Bor on the UN compound in killing the civilians. I just wonder if you can say are these people – is that the case? Do you know the names of people that sort of called for that attack, and in which case, why aren’t they on this list?

And I also – this might for Senior Administration Official Number Two. Secretary Kerry was talking about a legitimate force to help make peace. And I just wanted to know, is the UN – is the U.S. thinking of that as part of UNMISS mission or as the IGAD force? And if so, would it require a Security Council approval? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: On the first, I mean, we typically do not comment on actors against whom we are – we have not yet – we have not yet acted, a clunky way of saying we don’t comment on those who are not part of our designation. But anyone who is contributing to the violence, whether that’s by directing violence, whether that’s by funding it, fueling it, contributing arms, can be a subject of designation in the future. And I’ll leave it to my State Department colleague to answer the second question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the question about the regional force and on UNMISS, we – it is something that conversations and discussions are ongoing between countries of IGAD, with New York, with ourselves and others on how best to create this additional force presence that we are working very much with UNMISS and see this as part of the same effort. But we do think it’s very important that the regional forces are able to join this effort in larger numbers and appreciate the efforts of, particularly, the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, who are leading the mediation and who are seeking to work with UNMISS in this regard.


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