Friday, February 03, 2012

A diplomat, a dictator, a wedding, a hug: Ibrahim Gambari's faux-pas that wasn't

Advice to aspiring diplomats: Don’t hug war criminals, and especially don’t be photographed hugging them. That’s what happened to Ibrahim Gambari, the UN’s man in Darfur, when he ran into Sudan’s President Bashir at a glitzy wedding in Khartoum. But here’s the thing: hugs and socialising are part of diplomacy, and might be what’s needed to keep the faltering peace process going. By SIMON ALLISON. It was a sweltering night in Khartoum, as they all are, but that didn’t stop the very select group of guests from donning their finest for the occasion. Amani Musa Hilal, the bride, looked radiant in her white, western-style dress, and the exclusive Rotana Hotel was decked out (and in security lock-down) for her nuptials. Conspicuous by his absence was her husband-to-be, a certain Idriss Deby, the 60-year-old President of Chad. But he does have a country to run and the beautiful Amani is merely another addition to his stable of wives. But to make sure the wedding lost none of its glamour, another president was in attendance. Sudan’s Omar Al Bashir, the only sitting head of state ever to have been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court, didn’t look too concerned about the accusations hanging over his head as he danced and partied. Nor did he seem worried about the breakdown in relations with South Sudan, his government’s severe financial difficulties, the impending famine in certain border states or the smouldering rebellions in various parts of his country. In fact, he was positively beaming when he was photographed with one of the special guests, Ibrahim Gambari. Gambari is head of Unamid, the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur. His job is to mediate a solution between the various actors in that nasty little conflict, and do what he can to keep the very tenuous peace. His job is most certainly not to fraternise with its main antagonists. Involved in this particular party were three of them. Bashir, his foreign minister, Abduraheem Hussein and the bride’s father, the infamous Musa Hilal, known as the leader of the Janjaweed militias, which were directly responsible for much of the killing in Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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