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July 2010 - Posts

Sudan’s NCP hints at delaying the 2011 referendum over border demarcation

July 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) today suggested that the 2011 referendum in South Sudan may have to be delayed until the border demarcation process is completed.

"That is a condition for all referendums around the world that might lead to the creation of a new sovereign state," Ibrahim Ghandour, a senior official of the National Congress Party (NCP), told Agence France Presse (AFP) today.

Ghandour added that failure to agree on a border could lead to a new conflict and in a separate interview with the BBC gave examples of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1991, but the two countries are still arguing and have fought over the precise border.

This week the Government of southern Sudan (GOSS) representative at the border commission Riak Degol said that it is impossible to complete the demarcation prior to the key vote early next year. He said that the panel will adjourn its activities until next October citing the rainy season which would affect the terrain and logistics.

The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) was quick to dismiss the condition set by the NCP to conduct the referendum.

"It is in the south’s interest, even more so than that of the north, to demarcate the border," SPLM leading figure Luka Byong told AFP.

"But we must not confuse what is desirable with what is required," underlining that it is not necessary to resolve the thorny border question before the vote.

Southern Sudan’s Regional Co-operation Minister Barnaba Benjamin told the BBC that linking the border issue with the referendum was "illogical and unacceptable".

He agreed that the border must be demarcated but said if this was not done by January, the referendum should still be held as planned.

The SPLM deputy Secretary General, Yasir Arman, said the NCP was not interested in holding the referendum on time.

In Washington, the U.S. administration said that the South is "entitled" to holding the referendum as planned.

"Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Sudan is entitled to a referendum in January. We are working hard with officials in Juba to prepare for that referendum. There is a lot of work to be done to create the right conditions for the referendum to be successful. Border demarcation is one of those issues. We are – we’ve been working hard on that for some time. We hope it can be resolved before the referendum. But South Sudan is entitled to a referendum in January, and we hope that it will happen on schedule" State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters on Thursday.

Crowley stressed that the NCP needs to cooperate with the South and the international community to complete the referendum.

"[R]ather than trying to put conditions on the referendum, it would be far better for Sudan to cooperate fully, resolve the issues – and there are a number of them – that need to be resolved prior to January. But we believe that these issues can be satisfactorily addressed so that the referendum can happen in January as is planned" he said.

The referendum on southern independence is a key provision of a 2005 peace deal which ended a more than two-decade war between north and south Sudan, a conflict in which two million people were killed.

Most observers expect an overwhelming vote by Southerners for independence driven by bitter memories of the civil war and feeling of marginalization by the Arab-Muslim dominated North.

NCP approves new “domestication” strategy on Darfur

30 July, 2010 (Khartoum) - The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has approved a new strategy on Darfur and promised to present it to other political parties in order to garner as much national consensus as possible for the strategy.

Sudan’s official news agency, SUNA, reported that the meeting of the NCP’s leadership bureau on 29 July, chaired by president Al-Bashir, approved the new Darfur strategy as presented by the presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen who is in charge of the Darfur dossier.

The strategy will be presented to the legislative councils of Darfur’s three states in line with the strategy’s direction of domesticating the solution to all issues related to Darfur problem, including security, development, reconciliations, humanitarian situation and political negotiations

Ghazi Salah Al-Deen declared that the strategy would be presented to political forces and national personalities in order to explore their views and muster as much national consensus as possible for the strategy.

However, two Darfur rebel figures excoriated the new strategy as a plan for “a new security and military campaign that include, among other things, dismantling the IDP camps.

"The regime now believes the international community gave them the green light to do whatever they want in Darfur since the focus now shifted to the South Sudan referendum" Justice and Equality Movement spokesperson Ahmed Hussein told Sudan Tribune.

"Their vision is to domesticate the Darfur peace by finding what they called peace from within and got [US special envoy Scott] Gration’s approval. They have tried this before in the South and failed" he said, adding that “Khartoum believes that resolving the crisis entails taking down the camps for the displaced and forcing their return to their villages.”

Echoing a similar opinion, JEM’s top military commander Suleiman Sandal also accused the Sudanese government of seeking to launch a new military campaign in Darfur and in Kordofan, stressing that their target is "the marginalized people".

"The National Congress Party is lying and deceiving the Sudanese people. The fugitive president wants to start a new genocide campaign in Darfur" Sandal said.

Earlier this month, judges at the International Criminal Court issued a second warrant of arrest for president Bashir on three counts of genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s westernmost region of Darfur.

Thousands of Darfur IDPs flee violent clashes in camp

30 July, 2010 (Khartoum) - Violent confrontations between anti and pro Darfur peace talks Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in south Darfur’s biggest displacement camp, Kalma, have led thousands of refugees to flee the camp and seek refuge around the premises of the UN-AU Hybrid Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), according to a statement released by the mission.

Clashes between IDPs opposed to Darfur peace talks, currently held in Qatar’s capital Doha, and others supporting them erupted in the last two days in two IDP camps in Darfur, resulting in a total death toll of eight people and injury of dozens.

On 29 July, violent clashes broke out in Kalma IDP camp, the biggest camp in southern Darfur where some 100.000 IDPs live, leaving five people dead and three others injured. UNAMID issued a press release in which it said that many of the IDPs who fought in Kalma were “armed with sticks and machetes” and that sporadic shooting was heard throughout the camp.”

UNAMID’s release also reported that 7000 people, many of them are women and children, fled the camp and gathered around UNAMID’s Community Policing Centre.

A day before on Wednesday, 28 July, UNAMID said that three people reported to be supporters or members of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) were killed in an IDP camp in Zalingei West Darfur. UNAMID further said that the authorities had arrested four suspects on the case.

LJM is the only rebel group engaged in a floundering peace talks with the government in the absence of the two main rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement’s (SLM) faction of Abdel Wahid Mohamed el-Nur.

South Darfur’s governor Abd-al-Hamid Musa Kasha was quoted by the state-run Sudan News Agency (SUNA) as accusing Nur’s loyalists of attacking Kalma camp with heavy and light arms. Kasha said that the camp had become “a safe haven” for Nur’s followers, adding that the purpose of their actions was to scuttle the peace process in Doha.

In response, the SLM’s Nur faction had denied that its members shot gunfire in the camp and accused the government of infiltrating the camp through its agents along with weapons and ammunitions.

"This is a flat out lie. Our forces would never expose the life of our people by firing in the camp," Al-Nur told Sudan Tribune. "These are government elements that infiltrated the camp with the consent and knowledge of the UNAMID people. They are trying to intimidate the people there and pressure them to join the Doha talks under El-Sissi [Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) chairman]" he added.

Similarly, JEM’s spokesperson Ahmed Hussein told Sudan Tribune that Kalma camp incidents are “part of a plan by the [Sudanese] government to find an excuse to raid the camp on grounds of chronic insecurity and then seize the opportunity to take apart the camps because they think this is the road to making the Darfur conflict disappear."

"The IDP’s and refugees issued their verdict on the Doha process and rejected it so now the government wants to retaliate" Hussein said.

JEM has suspended participation in the Qatar-hosted peace talks despite a promising start which led to signing of a framework agreement earlier this year. The movement accused the government of breaching the temporary ceasefire agreement and attacking its positions.

The JEM spokesperson called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate these events and urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to intervene saying this constitutes “a war crime."

Furthermore, Hussein accused the UNAMID of "inefficiency", saying that they had failed in protecting the people.

"They just stood there and watched. They are part of the plan by Khartoum" he said.

Earlier today, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonexpressed concern about the situation in Kalma camp, urging all parties to “address their differences through political dialogue and to refrain from any action that could incite violence.”

UN chief voices concern about situation in Darfur IDP camp

30 July, 2010 (Khartoum) –

By Muhammad Osman

A spokesperson for the UN’s chief says that his boss is “concerned” about the situation in south Darfur’s Kalma IDP camp where clashes recently occurred between IDPs supporting Darfur peace talks and others opposed to them.

In a statement seen by Sudan Tribune today, the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said that he “urges all concerned to address their differences through political dialogue and to refrain from any action that could incite violence”

Several local media sources reported news in the past few days about clashes in some of Darfur’s IDP camps between IDPs in favor of the peace process and others rejecting it.

The daily newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on 29 July three IDPs were killed in Al-Humidya IDP camp in western Darfur when an altercation broke out between groups supporting Darfur peace talks in Doha and others opposed to the process.

The paper quoted a local official as saying that the group opposed to the talks is affiliated to the SLM rebel faction of Abd-al-Wahid Muhammad Nur.

Russian helicopter pilot freed in Darfur: UN

July 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today announced that a Russian pilot who went missing this week after a helicopter emergency landing was found and returned to their base in Nyala, South Darfur.

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"At 17:15hrs today a UNAMID helicopter carrying Sudanese and Mission Security Officers took off from Nyala. The team landed in Oum Sader, approximately 55 km north of Nyala and 50 kilometres east of Kass, for the pick-up of the missing crew member" the statement said.

"The aircraft touched-down in Nyala at 20:15hrs with the Russian pilot who is to be debriefed following a medical check-up".

The helicopter belonging to the Russian airline UTair and operating under a UN contract was transporting members of the Security Arrangements Committee of the Liberation and Justice Movement to locations in South Darfur.

Earlier reports by the Russian foreign ministry on Wednesday suggested that the helicopter belonging to the Russian airline UTair, which had four Russian crew members on board, was seized by Darfur rebels. However, this report was later denied by both the Sudanese authorities and UNAMID.

On the same day a U.N. spokesman said that the missing Russian pilot and the three rebel commanders who were on-board the helicopter were beaten "at the scene" when they landed off target in Darfur. Subsequently the crew and passengers, with the exception of the pilot, were taken to a government military camp.

Yesterday, the Russian special envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov revealed that pro-government militias abducted the pilot and expressed confidence that he will soon be released.

Margelov said that they did this to protect non-payment of their dues by Khartoum but emphasized that this was done without the knowledge of the Sudanese government.

Abdul Wahid Nur Group Attacks Kalama Displaced Camp in South Darfur, Says Governor

Khartoum, July 30 (SUNA) - The Governor of South Darfur State, Dr. Abdul Hammid Musa Kasha has affirmed that a group loyal to Sudan Liberation Movement, Abdul Wahid wing, had attacked Kalma IDP Camp in South Darfur State using heavy gunfire that resulted in a number of causalities and property damage

 

The Governor indicated that the rebels attacked the IDP representatives who took part in Doha negotiations and responded positively to the call of peace, adding that the aggression was part of the plot being woven by Abdul Wahid Group inside Kalma Camp

 

He stated that the rebels attacked their brothers inside the camp executing directives of the leadership of the movement which aimed at liquidating those who participated in Doha negotiations, affirming the government commitment to protect the children, women and the elders inside the IDP camps

South Sudan UDI can be "uncomfortable" option – Machar

July 24, 2010 (JUBA) — The second powerful leader in the regional government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has said that any Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by the South can invite “uncomfortable” situation in the region.

Southern Sudanese vice president Riek Machar (L) listens to Sudan's Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha during a meeting in Khartoum on July 10, 2010 (Getty)The Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, however told the region’s parliamentarians that such an option could only occur if it had to be forced on the people of Southern Sudan and their semi-autonomous government.

Machar made the remarks in his response to a question posed to him in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly during his presentation to the parliament on the work of the referendum Taskforce, which he chairs.

He was asked whether the South would unilaterally declare independence if Khartoum would not allow for the timely or free and fair conduct of the plebiscite in the region.

Machar told the lawmakers that UDI would not be a preferred option unless the South had to be forced to such a situation where unilateral declaration of independence would remain the only option.

He further explained that the best option is to conduct the referendum, as stipulated in the 2005 North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), where it will be the people to decide if they want independence.

He told MP’s that unless they did not trust the would-be decision or choice of the people they represented in their various constituencies, the preparations for and outcome of the referendum was what the people should be focusing on and looking forward to.

The Vice President also warned that a UDI option could attract a military situation which may invite intervention in both North and South by forces from foreign countries.

Machar, however, in a separate occasion earlier said that if the South was convinced that Khartoum was deliberately obstructing the conduct of the referendum, the members of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly would, on behalf of the people they represent, decide the future of the region.

He also said it was a debatable option whether or not the decision of the elected parliament would also be equally seen as an action amounting to a UDI, rather than a legitimate decision by the representatives of the people.

He expressed hope that the referendum would take place as scheduled on 9th January in a free and fair manner and that the outcome would be respected by the parties involved.

The people of Southern Sudan shall vote in the upcoming referendum in five months time to either choose to confirm the current unity of Sudan under the CPA arrangements, or opt to establish an independent country which could be the newest nation in the world.

Observers and think-tank groups warned that impeding the referendum could reignite civil war between the North and South. There are many post-referendum arrangements yet to be addressed particularly border demarcation raising fears that the key vote could be delayed.

AU chief challenges ICC to arrest Sudanese president

July 23, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping launched an unprecedented attack on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) saying he is insensitive to the impact of his case against the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on the peace process.

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Gabonese diplomat and chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping (AFP)

"We have to find a way for these entities to work together and not go back to war," Jean Ping told reporters in the Ugandan capital as quoted by Agence France Press (AFP).

"This is what we are doing but [Luis Moreno] Ocampo doesn’t care. He just wants to catch Bashir. Let him go and catch him" he added.

Bashir was indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur last year. This month the court added genocide to the charges, accusing him of presiding over rape, torture and murder in the remote west of Sudan. Ping has been one of the fiercest critics of the Hague Tribunal accusing it of targeting African nations only in his investigations.

The ICC is currently handling 5 cases consisting of Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) , Darfur and Kenya.

With the exception of Darfur all other cases have been referred voluntarily by their respective governments to the ICC for investigation. The Kenyan case was initiated by the ICC prosecutor after the government there gave the ICC a green light to do so yet declining to refer it for political reasons.

The UNSC issued resolution 1593 under chapter VII in March 2005 referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC. At the time Tanzania and Benin voted in support of the resolution while Algeria abstained.

The African continent makes up the majority of the ICC members with 30 countries ratifying the Rome Statute.

"We are not against the ICC. There are 30 African countries who are part of the ICC... But we need to examine their manner of operating. There are double standards," he added.

"There seems to be some bullying against Africa" the AU official said.

Ping also responded to allegations that the Pan-African body is condoning impunity.

"Now why do you not applaud us when we are trying to work with [former South African president Thabo] Mbeki in Sudan?" Ping asked. "Is it because people in South Africa were coming from Europe?"

The AU established a panel headed by former south African president Thabo Mbeki to look at justice mechanisms in response to the initiation of judicial proceedings against Bashir which started in July 2008.

The commission called for a hybrid court with participation of foreign judges to try war crimes suspects and changes to Sudanese laws. It took no position on the ICC warrant except to say that the Hague-based tribunal cannot try all the suspects, effectively supporting its work.

However, since the endorsement of Mbeki’s findings by the AU, no progress has been made on the justice track and it is not clear when implementing the hybrid court proposal would commence. Khartoum gave a cool reception to the proposed court with some officials suggesting it is an infringement on the country’s sovereignty.

The former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher who was one of the panel members said in an interview last year that the goal of the commission was to find a way out for the Sudanese president from the ICC charges. There was no official reaction from Mbeki though he has reportedly sent a strong worded letter to the Egyptian foreign ministry objecting to the statements made by Maher.

Ping also seemed to mock Ocampo for complications at the ICC’s first ever trial, which is in hand.

"The ICC has just said President Bashir committed genocide in Darfur. On which basis, I don’t know. I simply want to tell you that while the ICC was accusing President Bashir of genocide, they were [being told] to release Thomas Lubanga," Ping said.

The pre-Trial chamber has ordered the release of Congolese militia chief Thomas Lubanga after the suspension of his trial after Ocampo refused to disclose the identity of an individual who played a crucial role in the investigation.

This is the second time Lubanga has been ordered to be released during the course of the trial. Today the Appeals chamber suspended his release while the prosecutors present their appeal.

Sudanese president returns from Chad trip

July 24, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir returned home from Chad after attending the summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan states (CENSAD), a trip hailed by Khartoum as victory against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, right, receives Chad President Idris Deby (AP)

Chad which is a full member of the ICC has refused to act on the court’s request to apprehend Bashir saying it has no obligation to do so recalling the African Union resolution last year instructing its members not to cooperate with the Hague based court on Bashir’s case.

This week the U.S. and the European Union said that Chad must honour its obligations under the Rome Statute. Human rights groups have blasted the decision by Chad to flout its obligations under the Rome Statute which is the founding text of the ICC.

"This summit... shows African solidarity and it also exposes the ICC and its agenda and it also exposes the agenda of some European countries and the United States in particular," presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen said according to Agence France Presse (AFP).

"We praise our relations with Chad very much. We have made very clear in previous occasions that we cannot see an end to the problem in Darfur without fixing the relationship with Chad.

"It is a victory in the profound sense of the word [and] we are happy," he added.

The landmark visit by Bashir ended years of bitter proxy war between the two neighbours as they both backed armed opposition groups on the other side of the border.

Bashir and Deby in a meeting held today agreed to continue implementation of an agreement signed in the past months and to start the development program along the joint border as well as exchange of visits between officials from both countries to discuss ways of cooperation in various fields.

A day before Bashir’s trip, the Sudanese government expelled three senior Chadian opposition figures sending them to Qatar which agreed to receive them. Last May, the Chadian authorities expelled Khalil Ibrahim who leads the powerful Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

South Sudan 2011 Taskforce approves preparatory document for referendum

July 23, 2010 (JUBA) — The Southern Sudan 2011 Taskforce has approved a preparatory document outlining activities that need to be carried out to make the referendum a success.

The Taskforce met on Thursday under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Dr. Riek MacharTeny, and endorsed after deliberating on the working document of the sub-committee number one on preparations of the conduct of the referendum in Southern Sudan.

The document was presented to the Referendum Taskforce meeting by the chairman of the sub-committee, John Luk Jok. It contained proposed activities in areas of civic education, registration of voters and security during the polling, among many others.

The meeting was also briefed by the Vice President on the work of sub-committee number two on the post-referendum arrangements, which is chaired by the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum. Machar informed the meeting that negotiations on the post-referendum issues are expected to begin on 27th July in Khartoum.

The meeting was also briefed by the minister of Cabinet Affairs, Kosti Manibe, who chairs sub-committee number three on the work of his group in preparations of the Government of Southern Sudan for 2011 governance. It was announced in the meeting that a proposed conference to discuss issues of governance which was previously scheduled to take place by the end of the month has been postponed until next month.

The Taskforce meeting was also attended by the Deputy Chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and head of the Juba-based Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau who was accompanied by his members where the importance of coordination between the Taskforce and the Bureau was discussed.

The Taskforce also resolved to organize meetings with various political parties, civil society organizations, churches as well as with international organizations to agree on coordination mechanism with the Taskforce.

Bashir receives African backing in ICC row, EU calls on Chad to carry out arrest

July 24, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir received regional backing on Thursday as leaders at the summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan states (CENSAD) meeting in Chad rejected International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants issued against him.

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir wearing the police uniform and waving his trademark cane, attends a ceremony honouring the Sudanese police force in Khartoum on July 20, 2010 (AFP)Bashir arrived in Ndjamena on Wednesday in defiance of the arrest warrant after receiving assurances from the Chadian government that he will not be apprehended on the territory of a country that is a member of the ICC and a signatory to its found treaty.

Bashir was indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur last year. This month the court added genocide to the charges, accusing him of presiding over rape, torture and murder in the remote west of Sudan.

This is the first time Bashir sets foot in a country that recognizes the court. Chadian officials said they are not obligated to arrest the Sudanese head of state and recalled the African Union resolution last year instructing its members not to cooperate with the Hague based court on Bashir’s case. Chad at the time rejected the resolution and vowed to nab Bashir should he visits.

"Darfur continues to be a source of concern. CEN-SAD (the Community of Sahel-Saharan states) refutes all accusations against President Bashir. These accusations do not contribute to bringing peace to this part of Sudan," said CEN-SAD chief Mohamed al-Madani al-Azhari.

"We declare our total support and our solidarity to Sudan and its people," he added, speaking to an audience that included 13 heads of state including Bashir. The landmark visit by Bashir ended years of bitter proxy war between the two neighbours as they both backed armed opposition groups on the other side of the border.

A day before Bashir’s trip, the Sudanese government expelled three senior Chadian opposition figures sending them to Qatar which agreed to receive them. Last May, the Chadian authorities expelled Khalil Ibrahim who leads the powerful Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

JEM is one of two rebel groups that took up arms against Sudan’s government in 2003, accusing it of neglecting the remote western region of Darfur and marginalizing its population.

The movement is dominated by the Zaghawa tribe, who live in Darfur and neighbouring Chad. Ibrahim has close family links to Chadian President Idriss Deby. JEM also helped Deby fight back two rebel attacks on N’Djamena.

JEM has suspended participation in the Qatar-hosted peace talks despite a promising start which led to signing of a framework agreement earlier this year. The movement accused the government of breaching the temporary ceasefire agreement and attacking its positions.

At the CENSAD summit Deby called on all Darfur rebels to come to the negotiation table in Doha.

"Within its framework we must support the Doha process. As far as I am concerned, I appeal to all parties (involved in peace talks) to adhere to the Doha process in view of a fair and lasting peace settlement," he said.

ARREST BASHIR

Today the European Union (EU) high representative for foreign affairs Baroness Catherine Ashton said that Chad must meet its obligations under the Rome Statute and arrest Bashir.

Ashton "urges Chad to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC," her spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said in a statement.

The statement described her as being "concerned" by al-Bashir’s visit and "firmly recalls" the responsibility of ICC supporter states, such as Chad, to carry out the organization’s arrest warrants.

"The most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole - genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes - must not go unpunished, and their prosecution must be ensured by measures at both domestic and international level,".

In Washington a U.S. official denied that Chad was given a "pass" on arresting the Sudanese president but said they welcome the Chad-Sudan rapprochement.

"We recognize that there has been positive interaction in recent days and weeks between Chad and Sudan. There are – obviously going back, there have been a number of years that there have been individuals and groups that have flowed across their common border and the violence that has resulted has significantly affected people on both sides of that border" State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters today.

"We still have communicated to Chad that it has responsibilities as a signatory under the Rome Statute and needs to continue to fulfil its obligations under the – to the ICC" he added.

The Associations for the Defence of Human Rights (CADH), a collective of six organisations, demanded Ndjamena seize Bashir and urged Chadians "to oppose his stay by all legal means."

"Chad shows that it favours impunity in letting Bashir come to Ndjamena. We can’t ratify conventions and then trample them underfoot," CADH member Maxime Naguilem told Agence France Presse (AFP).

Opposition politician Toko Manasse, president of the National Convention for Peace and Development in Chad, said that welcoming Bashir "Chad is suggesting to international opinion that it is complicit in what has happened in Darfur and in eastern Chad," where some attacks have been blamed on Sudanese militias.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Thursday that Bashir will be brought to justice, in spite of Chad’s stance. "It is just a matter of time, he will eventually have to travel to The Hague and face justice.

"There is no victory where genocide is concerned. 2.5 million victims in Darfur are under attack. President Bashir should not be proud. He remains a fugitive suspect," Moreno-Ocampo told AFP.

President Al-Bashir Affirms Sudan Commitment to Achieve Just and Lasting Political Solution for Darfur Issue

Ndjamena, July 23 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, addressed Friday in Ndjamena the closed-door sitting of the Sahel and Sahara summit, affirming Sudan commitment to achieve a just and lasting peaceful solution for Darfur issue

 

He announced that the government has adopted a series of steps for normalizing the situation in Darfur, a matter which enabled holding free and comprehensive elections all over Darfur region

 

President Al-Bashir said that the recent elections in Darfur resulted in establishment of elected governments and legislative assemblies representing the people of Darfur

 

He said that the government has adopted a new strategy for dealing with Darfur issue which absorbs all the positive changes in Darfur and involving the society and the people in the formulation of the solutions

 

President Al-Bashir has affirmed the government adherence to the Doha forum as the single one for negotiation about Dafrur issue, adding that this forum is fully being supported by the African Union, the Arab League and the international community

 

He asserted Sudan welcome to the contribution of the African Union through the AU Panel which is headed by the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki. He also reiterated the government commitment to cooperate in full with the UN and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

 

President Al-Bashir said that Sudan is looking forward for support from its sister countries for achieving a lasting and comprehensive before the end year and holding of the referendum on the future of south Sudan

 

He affirmed Sudan readiness to open a new chapter in its relations with Chad, indicating the two countries have exerted serious efforts which culminated in the signing of the Agreement on Security and Border Control

 

He said the two parties will work to consolidate the relations and cooperation between to the maximum level

 

Meanwhile, President Al-Bashir said that Sudan is always working to render its borders with the neighbouring countries as bridges for the exchange of trade and benefits for the interest of peoples, a matter which is conducive to guaranteeing security and stability at the joint borders

 

President Al-Bashir has lauded at the outset of his address to the summit the role the Chadian President, Idris Deby, for holding the Sahel and Sahara summit and praised the efforts of the Libyan Leader, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, for steering works of the presidential council of the community

UN undersecretary General for Peacekeeping operations pledges to provide all possible assistance for the referendum and calls on international community to press Abdul Wahid into joining the Doha negotiations

Khartoum, July 17 (SUNA)- The UN undersecretary General for Peacekeeping operations Mr. Alain Le Roy, has pointed out that the United Nations stands ready to provide all possible technical assistance and consultation for the successful implementation of the referendum

 

Addressing the opening session of the Sudan Consultative Forum Meeting held in Khartoum on Saturday, Le Roy ha underlined the importance of the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement beside the popular consultation for south Kordufan and the Blue Nile as they constitute important steps towards the implementation of the referendum

 

Le Roy said the Forum was a good and important opportunity to follow up the strategy for the support of the Sudan and for concerting efforts to help the Sudan implement the agreements

 

Le Roy welcomed formation of the referendum commission , expressing hope that it would find the needed support so as to carry out its work in the best possible manner

 

He also welcomed the memorandum of understanding signed between the National Congress Party and the SPLM in Mekelle town in Ethiopia on the referendum arrangements and measures

 

He urged the international community to provide the needed assistance to southern Sudan

 

He stressed the importance of the on going Doha negotiations and called on the international community to cease every chance to push Abdul Wahid Nur to participate in the negotiations

African Union chief criticizes genocide charges against Sudan president

July 17, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping issued a statement on Friday criticizing the addition of genocide charges against the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir this week by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Chairperson of African Union Commission Jean Ping (Reuters)

The court on Monday accused Bashir of three counts of genocide, saying there were "reasonable grounds" that he masterminded a plan aimed at exterminating Darfur African tribes of the Fur, Masaalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

Over a year ago, , the ICC issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, its first ever for a sitting head of state, but stopped short of accusing him of genocide. An appeals chamber overruled exclusion of genocide and ordered the Pre-Trial Chamber to review the case again.

"This decision, which confirms AUJs previous concerns, came at a particular time marked by progress in the democratic transformation of the Sudan, following the April 2010 general elections, and renewed efforts towards the completion of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including the holding of the self-determination referendum in South Sudan and negotiations on post-referendum arrangements, as well as towards the search for a lasting and inclusive political solution to the crisis in Darfur" Ping said.

The decision also comes at a time when the AU, through the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), is carrying out consultations with the Government of Sudan and other stakeholders on how best to proceed with the implementation of the recommendations put forward by the AU High-Level Panel on Darfur (ALIPD) on justice, reconciliation and healing. These efforts are informed by the AUJs commitment to fighting impunity, in line with its Constitutive Act and other relevant instruments".

The AU established a panel headed by former south African president Thabo Mbeki to look at justice mechanisms in response to the initiation of judicial proceedings against Bashir which started in July 2008. The commission called for a hybrid court with participation of foreign judges to try war crimes suspects and changes to Sudanese laws. It took no position on the ICC warrant except to say that the Hague-based tribunal cannot try all the suspects, effectively supporting its work.

However, since the endorsement of Mbeki’s findings by the AU, no progress has been made on the justice track and it is not clear when implementing the hybrid court proposal would commence. Khartoum gave a cool reception to the proposed court with some officials suggesting it is an infringement on the country’s sovereignty.

Ping noted that "neither the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry, nor the former AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) upheld the accusation of genocide in Darfur".

The U.N.-appointed inquiry in 2004 found no genocide but found that some individuals may have acted with genocidal intent.

In 2006 the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo urged Sudan to accept a UN role in its troubled western Darfur region, saying that "genocide" was developing there.

"The Chairperson of the Commission notes that the AU is of the conviction that this new and untimely decision by the ICC and its action in general on Sudan are counterproductive, and will complicate the ongoing efforts and increase the risk of instability, with far-reaching consequences for Sudan, the region and Africa as a whole".

"It is against this background that the AU, once again, urges the United Nations Security Council to assume its responsibilities and act on the call for the deferral of the process initiated by the ICC against President Omar Hassan Al Bashir in the interest of peace, justice".

The AU angered by UNSC refusal to freeze the warrant, adopted a resolution last year stating that no country in the continent will cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese president even if they have legal obligations under the Rome Statute under which the court was formed.

The decision drew outcry from Darfur rebels and rights group who accused the pan-African body of being complicit in human rights abuses on the continent.

“The AU should lead by example, but in certain situations it has become part of the problem,” said the London-based Amnesty International group in a report released last May.

U.S. special envoy begins a visit to Sudan

July 17, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The U.S. special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration is scheduled to have arrived in Khartoum today in the first leg of a tour that will take him to Uganda and Qatar.

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US special envoy Scott Gration (AFP)

State media said that Gration will take part in the international consultative meeting on Sudan organized by the African Union (AU) that will witness attendance by regional and international delegates.

The participants will discuss the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and stalled Darfur talks in Doha.

The U.S. official will meet during his stay with Vice President Ali Osman Taha, presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie, presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen and Salah Gosh who is the presidential adviser for national security in addition to other senior officials in the foreign, defense ministry and South Sudan referendum commission.

The State Department said this week that Gration will meet with officials from the UN and the AU, and consult with the Sudan envoys from Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Norway and the European Union.

Gration also will travel to El Fasher to visit a camp for internally displaced persons in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, which has been gripped by a civil war since 2003.

"He will also meet with tribal leaders, United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) officials, and representatives of the local government," the statement said.

In Kampala, Gration will join the US delegation to the African Union Summit which begins July 19.

"Following Kampala, the special envoy will travel to Doha in support of the ongoing Darfur peace negotiations," the State Department said.

Two major Darfur rebel groups, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) headed by Khalil Ibrahim and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur remain outside the talks.

An umbrella group of smaller rebel movements known as Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) is currently in Doha at the talks which has not been formally launched amid disagreements between the two sides.

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