1 October 2013

Sudan's FM Humiliating Incident in New York

Photo: Radio Dabanga
Protests in Almaraad St Burri Khartoum

Washington — The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti was exposed to a humiliating situation during his participation in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meetings in New York last week, a UN official said.

The official who spoke to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity described the incident which took place last Monday as Karti was heading from the offices of Sudan's UN mission on 47th street to the UN headquarters on the First Avenue.

Karti was accompanied by Sudan's UN ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman in a clearly marked diplomatic vehicle that also had a sticker indicating that it is carrying officials taking part in the UNGA meetings, the official said.

Due to security measures undertaken during UNGA meetings, several streets leading to the UN headquarters are closed to traffic from the general public except cars such as the one that had Karti and Osman on board.

Even though the car was cleared to pass through the first security checkpoint on the 45th street, it was ordered to stop by New York police officers shortly afterwards.

The officers asked all passengers to step outside the vehicle and stand away including Karti, Osman and the driver so it can be searched. Despite objections by the UN envoy, the police went ahead with an "extremely thorough" search of the car including the trunk and compartments using police dogs that sniffed through the interior, the official said.

Strangely enough, the Sudanese top diplomat did not raise the issue during his meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon the next day and it is not clear whether Khartoum intends to lodge a formal protest with the UN or the US.

The official declined to speculate whether the incident was deliberate though he did not rule it out.

Tensions between Khartoum and Washington resurfaced after Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir filed a visa application last month with the US embassy to attend UNGA.

The US has sought to discourage Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on genocide charges linked to Darfur conflict, through direct contact with Khartoum and through other African countries.

The US has kept the request pending without making a decision until Bashir eventually cancelled his scheduled appearance and according to a pro-government newspaper in Khartoum withdrew his passport.

The Sudanese foreign ministry summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires in Khartoum last Friday to protest the failure of Washington to grant Bashir a visa in accordance with its obligations under the UN headquarters agreement.

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