One of them stories

It has just been one of those really irritating stories to write.

A fairly routine story, with which I am trying to do something a little bit different. Like speak to the folk that really matter, and not press / PR guys all the time.

It is, surprise surprise, a story about the UNAMID non-deployment in Darfur this month.

With my deadline looming large tomorrow, I was sort of panicking this morning over the lack of people I had successfully interviewed, and who had new stuff to say. I always have this last-minute panic just before a deadline of a feature article – and things usually work out fine. Fortunately, I had a key meeting this morning – with the head of the AU’s negotiation team.

I turned up in El Ryadh way ahead of the appointed time – didn’t want to take any chance – and started hunting around for the AU’s DPA office. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Everyone wanted to send me back to Amarat – varyingly to Street 49, Street 33 (I think where the AU headquarters are) and Street 41 (where AMIS is).

I took no-one’s advice and stayed put until I managed to get through to the chap I was meeting, twenty minutes after I was supposed to meet him. Turns out that he had spent the morning in the Ethiopian embassy and had completely forgotten about our rendez-vous. Nice to be so remembered. (I did talk to him briefly later in the day, but it wasn’t the same).

Then I have been trying to set up an interview with Abdul Wahid, prominent rebel leader who currently lives in France. But, despite my persistent calls, his wife had still not sent me his number. This was, apparently, because of the riots in Kenya and she couldn’t get to an Internet café to do so. Why she didn’t tell me over the phone I’m not sure. Still not sure if this interview is going to happen yet.

Then I have desperately been trying to get in touch with the Field Commander of UNAMID, who is pretty fundamental to my piece. I have been trying for days since he so fundamental, and every time the nice press people at AMIS give me cause for hope.

But, by the end of the day, I still had not been able to establish contact. So, by way of apology, I was promised a background briefing with the AMIS spokesman. Only trouble was the arranged time – eight-thirty – clashed with a football match, so our background chat was woefully short, though it did save me a few pennies on the phone.

Usually in these cases everything pulls together at the very last minute. For this story, Fate is cutting things a little damn fine.


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