UN Council Goes Soft on Chad, Child Soldiers Unanswered, Strange
Approach to JEM
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press in Africa: News Analysis
CHAD, June 6-7 --
The UN Security Council in a
convoy of 24 four-wheel drive vehicles moved Friday across the Chadian
from Goz Beida to the internally displaced persons camp of
. French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert
stopped to have his picture taken with IDP children, some of whom wore
t-shirts. Later he would close the
Council's meeting with non-governmental organizations to the press,
"they need to be protected." Since this is precisely what was said
Thursday in Sudan, one wondered the basis for France and the most vocal
of the Council saying that Chad's Idriss Deby is appreciably better.
appears to be the Council's party line.
before ejecting the press from his
NGO meeting, Ripert asked if "bilateral ambassadors" -- that is,
non-Council members -- could attend Friday evening's meeting with Deby.
course. Even though there are questions one expected the Council to get
answers to, it became then even clearer that unlike the meeting with
Thursday, Friday's planned session with Deby would be little more than
plane ride from Khartoum to Abeche, Amb. Ripert came back to speak with
press. When Inner City Press asked about France's agreement with the
government, Ripert said, we are not here to talk about that, I will
once, it is a cooperation agreement, for medicine, ammunition and
training. When asked if the two soldiers
on EUFOR patrol who went into Sudan and were shot were, in fact,
said, they were EUFOR, that's all. But
the UNAMID peacekeeper killed recently in the Zamzam camp was described
Ugandan, that's how news is reported.
Al-Bashir, Deby and UN's Ban in Dakar: those were the days
Chad the Council spent more time listening and looking than they did
in Darfur's Zamzam camp, still some of the interaction felt scripted.
separate meetings, UK Ambassador John Sawers said, "Yesterday we
President al-Bashir." In the first meeting, applause became before
had even finished the phrase. In the second, at the Chadian IDP camp,
only silence. In fact, sources in the Council's meeting with al-Bashir
Sawers, far from pressing Bashir, getting pressed by him, when he made
complaints in the name of NGOs. "We set up a commission for that,"
al-Bashir said. "Why are the NGOs raising it to you, and you to me?"
In Chad, the
Council ended up meeting not with Deby but only with the new prime
Saleh Abbas and a handful of others quickly dubbed the B Team. They met
looked like a living room, but for Deby's portrait on the wall of the
room and throughout the house. The Prime Minister left halfway through,
up Deby from the airport, saying he had just returned from Libya.
City Press asked if they had even mentioned the issues they had said
Sudan they would be raising here. Where
is the Chadian opposition leader who disappeared earlier this year and
are still unknown? Did Chad fund the Justice and Equality Movement's
Omdurman on May 10? Were child soldiers recruited and captured, as the
Mission in Darfur's own Rodolphe Adada told Inner City Press has been
Ambassador Ripert dodged
the questions, saying
they had discussed "human rights" and the "rule of law,"
and that Chad denied supporting the JEM attack on Khartoum. He did not
respond on child soldiers or the missing opposition leader. When the BBC's Africa hand asked if there was
any precedent for a president being in his country and refusing to meet
full Security Council delegation, Ripert claimed the Deby was still not
country, despite what had earlier been said about the purpose of the
Minister rushing to the airport.
reception on the spacious back lawn of the residence of France's
Chad, on which a small gazelle was on display, Ripert introduced
Male, and then walked away.
ask Deby to pardon the NGO workers from L'Arche de Zoe from their
for kidnapping children from Sudan and Chad? Were these the NGOs who
"needed to be protected"?
UK Ambassador John
Sawers declined to answer
questions, saying he thought that work had stopped.
For the journalists, it had -- the hotel the
UN put them in, with the highest room rate yet, had no Internet in the
and the lights went out even as the delegation turned in. UN sources
the Special Representative of the Secretary General had neglected to
UN room rate with the hotel.
Press asked this SRSG, Victor Angelo, to respond to criticism that
"international" action in Chad, particularly but not only EUFOR, is
mostly French interests dressed in the clothes of internationalism.
declined to comment on the record about EUFOR. Likewise when Inner City
asked if the Justice and Equality Movement is active in Chad, Angelo
answer was off the record. This was amazing, in context, given that the
claims to work for and not around its member states.
third of Inner City Press' three questions did he answer without going
record. Inner City Press asked about statements in the British
two of the UN's last top representatives in Zimbabwe were so close to
Mugabe that they took property from him. "She has retracted that,"
Angelo quickly answered, adding that she was probably referring to "the
Cameroonian" who came between himself and the present head of UN
operations in Zimbabwe. Yes I spoke with
Mugabe right to the end, Angelo said. Just as now he deals with Idriss
even certain rebel groups he supports.
promised to be open to the press, to take them everywhere that the
go. But as soon as the delegation got off the plane in Abeche, Ripert
Council got into 4 by 4s and sped off, leaving the press seeking shade
tree, under the watchful and at times leering eye of Chadian troops.
Council came back and poured into two smaller planes, the press was
told that there must be a pooling arrangement, leaving some under that
Abeche for the next four hours. Finally
Inner City Press was allowed on a helicopter marked "UN" but operated
by "Vertical T," the company which crashed one and perhaps two
copters in Nepal, killing at least ten.
smaller pool was then projected for the visit to Goma in the
eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the region where the UN is
systemically accused of wrongdoing, from sexual abuse to, as Inner City
has reported in detail, the trading by UN peacekeepers of guns for
gold. After some push-back, it's said that a second plane, that will go
and return early, is being arranged. We'll
see -- watch this site.
the majority of this column
was written on a UN helicopter from Goz Beida, back to Abeche, run not
T but rather UTair.ru. The article was ready to be filed from five p.m.
onwards, but the UN had not even made sure there would be Internet
the press. Victor Angelo had not renewed the UN room rate or booked a
room, as UNMIS had done in Sudan. The UN, it seems clear, wants there
criticism of Sudan, but not of Chad.
analysis: At least as to the Sudan and Chad,
the UN and its
Council do not appear to be working even-handedly to try to settle
They may even be exacerbating conflict, largely because the Council has
become a tool of some of its PermanentFive members.
Final footnote on
fruit: Friday morning at the Khartoum
Ambassador to the UN
vented to Inner City Press about a Costa Rica-sponsored draft
Statement introduced in the Security Council in New York in support of
International Criminal Court's actions on Sudan. We do not intervene in
affairs of banana republics, he said. Why are they intervening in
ours? Costa Rica's Ambassador, asked by a
reporter for a
response, said, "At least we are a
republic." After the wan meeting
with the Chadian B Team, many Ambassadors left. But we intend to
report, in spite of rather than with in the assistance of the UN, at
* * *
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