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December 2010 - Posts

Sudan’s NCP warns SPLM against annexation of Abyei

December 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said it has received information showing a plan by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) to take unilateral actions on the disputed region of Abyei that lies on the North-South borders.

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Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed, who is in charge of Abyei file at the Sudan National Congress Party (AFP)

Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, who is in charge of Abyei file at the NCP, told reporters on Wednesday that the ex-Southern rebel group has contacted the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) to devise a plan that would call for an SPLM organized referendum that would only incorporate the Dinka Ngok.

Both parties have yet to find common ground on the oil district of Abyei which had supposed to be holding a vote on its own future next month that has been delayed by disagreements over who should be eligible to vote. Moreover, demarcating the region’s borders has been stalled by threats of the Arab Misseriya tribe who want to be part of the referendum vote.

Ahmed said that PILPG advised the SPLM that a unilateral referendum within a united Sudan would be considered an internal self-determination which does not require an approval from the central government in Khartoum or the NCP.

Once the South decides to separate as expected in next month’s referendum Abyei would become part of the new nation, he said.

The NCP official said that the Dinka Ngok have agreed to allow the Misseriya to take part in the region’s referendum after earlier opposition to the idea.

He warned that if the SPLM goes ahead with any unilateral measures in Abyei the NCP will reject the South Sudan referendum outcome.

In accordance with the 2005 peace accord, the population of Abyei is to decide on whether they want to be part of the north or a possible new country in the south. This vote was supposed take place simultaneously with the one in Southern Sudan.

Last week, the head of the United Nations panel tasked with monitoring the South Sudan referendum expressed concern over the lingering deadlock over Abyei.

"On Abyei, our grave concerns have not abated. As the negotiations continue, it is vital that everyone involved shows patience and does their utmost to reach a peaceful and permanent settlement acceptable to all" said Benjamin Mkapa, the chair of the Panel and the former President of Tanzania.

Sudanese president says no Darfur peace talks in Doha beyond Dec 31st

December 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM/DOHA) — President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir threatened to withdraw government delegation from the Doha peace process if no agreement is signed on Thursday 30 December.

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Omer Al-Bashir

Al- Bashir gave his ultimatum Wednesday from Nyala capital of South Darfur state where he witnessed a reconciliation conference between tribes in the region.

"If we reach an agreement tomorrow, praise be to God. But if there is no agreement, we will withdraw our negotiating team" stressing that the talks will be held in Darfur.

"The negotiation and dialogue will be inside Darfur and with the Darfur people. We will not negotiate with any person who carries a gun and claims that he is a leader of an armed faction," he emphasized.

"We will fight those who choose to take up arms, but we will sit next to those who want development," he further said.

In a process backed by the African Union and Arab League with the support of the United Nations, Sudan and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) agreed on February 17, 2009 to hold peace talks in Doha.

But the parties failed to hold direct talks and the process resumed in 2010 with a framework agreement signed in Doha one year later in February 2010. Meanwhile, another group formed by small factions, Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) started talks in March this year with the government.

JEM walked out of the process in May and returned last November to Doha where the rebel group is holding talks on ceasefire with the government delegation there.

On the other hand, LJM finalized talks with Khartoum delegation and the mediation is preparing a draft peace agreement but the two parties still disagree on power sharing file.

BASSOLE REGRETS

Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassole, regretted Bashir’s statements saying "the position of the Sudanese government to withdraw its delegation threatens the whole process".

"We will propose a number of steps to the Sudanese delegations and we hope the government can take part in these steps to reach a fruitful agreement in the interest of Darfur region."

Bassole said he will try to convince the government to not suspend its participation in the process as the parties have realized considerable progress.

He further told Sudan Tribune that a meeting with Sudan’s envoys five permanent members in the UN Security Council and European Union as well as African-Arab committee on Darfur will be held in Doha on 6th January.

The meeting will discuss the peace process and set the way forward.

Sudanese Presidential Adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen who is in charge of Darfur file arrived Wednesday evening to the Qatari capital where he will meet the mediation on Thursday.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTABLE AGREEMENT, LJM SAYS

Reacting to Sudanese president statements on the end of Doha process, the LJM said instead of "Inflammatory remarks" Bashir can instruct his delegation to soften its position on the outstanding issues to reach a peace deal.

"The government has the ability to make the necessary compromises to reach peace in Darfur. Our position reflects the just demands of Darfurians," said Tadjadine Beshir Niam, LJM chief negotiator.

The rebel official said when the mediation submits an "acceptable peace deal" they will sign it.

The LJM and Sudanese government disagree on the issue of Darfur region status and the position of vice president. The rebels want a regional authority able to coordinate between the three states and the central government in Khartoum but the government refuses to concede to this request.

One of the options tackled to end this deadlock is to appoint a vice president from Darfur who will be the head of the regional authority there but this solution also was declined by the government.

Omar Adam Rahma, spokesperson of the government negotiating delegation rejected any discussion on the status of Darfur region stressing that Darfur people can decide a referendum on the future of the region.

He said that the establishment of one authority would lead to another war in Darfur through the struggle for power and resources.

GoS DRAGGING ITS FEET, JEM ACCUSES

Ahmed Hussein spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that the government delegation in Doha was dragging its feet for four days on attending talks on crafting a cessation of hostilities document that it is agreed on between two sides.

"We came to Doha in order to negotiate in good faith but it appears that the government has set its mind on withdrawing from the peace process well before Bashir made his statements today," Hussein told Sudan Tribune by phone from Doha.

"The government delegation was making unreasonable and impossible demands (during cessation of hostilities talks) that were clearly made for the purpose of sabotaging the negotiations so they can find an excuse to call it off and go home," he further said.

"Despite these tactics we have been very patient and objective in our talks because we want the process to move forward," Hussein added.

The JEM official describes Bashir’s ultimatum as a "serious blow to the peace efforts and hopes for reaching an agreement that fulfils the aspirations of the Darfuri people".

"This signifies his [Bashir] intentions to resume the genocidal campaign in Darfur. It appears he is receiving misleading information about the situation of his troops on the ground. The Sudanese army is in bad shape and Arab tribes in their militias are defecting," Hussein said.

"That is why it is in Khartoum’s best interest to reach a peace agreement with us. They will not win the war. The entire country is politically deadlocked and he will simply make things worse for him," he added.

Sudan’s withdrawal from the Doha process without reaching a peace deal with any of the rebel groups would hinder its initial strategy for the post Southern Sudan secession.

The government said it intends to sign a peace deal with LJM and open it for the other groups to join it.

In a parallel approach, the government said it would stage internal dialogue with the different tribal and civil society forces including the displaced persons and refugees to promote reconciliation and development.

The UNAMID and former South African president plan to play a role in the implementation of this strategy.

However, the growing insecurity following the renewal of fighting with Minni Minnawi the signatory of Darfur Peace Agreement is seen as new factor to increase violence in the region and a setback to the situation before 2005.

The growing violence in Darfur and political instability in Khartoum will complicate the implementation of a number of steps in the post referendum period and jeopardize the whole process engaged after 2005 peace process.

Taha: Government is Ready to Deal with coming Development

 Khartoum, Dec. 29 (SUNA) - The Vice - President of the Republic, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, has affirmed the government's readiness to deal with the up coming developments in the country

 

Addressing the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Sudan Radio, said that it should obtain the necessary technology to perform its mission successfully, calling for carrying out continuous projects for qualification and training of its cadres

 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Dr. Kamal Obeid, said that the Sudanese mass media will adopt a clear-cut policy to express the aspirations of the Sudanese peoples, lauding Sudan Radio, TV and SUNA.

 

Al-Bashir calls for aborting plots to split Sudan

Nyala, Dec. 29 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Omer Al-Bashir, has considered the signing of the code of hnour in south Darfur as the end of apainful chapter in Darfur history

 

Addressing the ceremony for the signing of the social reconciliation code of hnour in Niyala, south Darfur State, on Wednesday, President Al-Bashir urged the native administration, the political forces and civil society organizations to abide by the items of the code of honour and to implement them

 

President Al-Bashir called on the native administrations not to protect the criminals and to work for bringing them to justice, saying there is no reason for killing

 

President Al-Bashir called for vigilance and keenness to abort plots woven by the enemies with the aim to split Sudan unity, saying that the enemies of Sudan have planned to implement their plan in stages

 

He pointed out that the rebellion of the south had begun since the British rule to Sudan

 

He said that the rebel targeting to the development projects in Darfur is part one of the plots against the country

 

He renewed the keenness of the government to continue the development process in Darfur

’Lick your elbow’ Sudanese president tells opposition, reiterates move towards Islamic law

December 28, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir dismissed calls by the opposition for the formation of a national unity government following the likely split of the South in the referendum that is a little over a week away.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (AFP)

On Monday, the major opposition parties in North Sudan threatened to join ranks to topple the government of the National Congress Party (NCP) led by Bashir if the latter does not respond positively to its demands.

But the Sudanese leader categorically rejected the ultimatum saying that he and his party were empowered by the general elections that took place last April.

"The government is not a revolutionary council or any government that can be ousted but it is the Sudanese people," Bashir told supporters in Al-Gezira state where he inaugurated several projects on the occasion of memorial day.

"Whoever wants to overthrow the government can lick his elbow..... There will not be a national government," he said.

The NCP chief said that anyone who wants to rule "should head to their grassroots starting now rather than whine" and stressed that only polls will change the government with next elections due in five years.

The last general elections have given the NCP an overwhelming majority in the parliament while retaining the presidency. Most opposition parties boycotted the elections and even those that participated managed to gain only a handful of seats in the national assembly.

The international community while noting the flaws and logistical failures recognized its outcome.

Bashir lashed out at the West saying that they have persistently attempted to bring down his regime since coming to power in a bloodless coup in 1989. He said this was for the purpose of making Sudan back down on implementation of Islamic Sharia’a law.

"They [the West] have tried us and we tried them. They figured us out and we figured them out. They tried to make us kneel through sanctions, pressure and missiles but we will not backpedal on Sharia’a," he said.

He said that Western nations need Islamic Sharia’a law to cure "moral degeneration" which according to Bashir led these countries to legalize gay marriages.

This month the Sudanese president came under criticism domestically for announcing that he will no longer recognize ethnic and cultural diversity after the South goes away saying that Islamic law will be reinforced and that Arabic will become the state’s official language.

The current constitution recognizes the "multi-ethnic," "multi-cultural" and "multi-faith" status of the Sudanese state, and is based on both Shari’a, or Islamic law, and the "consensus" of the population.

Opposition claim that the NCP wants to suppress opposition through the cover of Islamic Shari’a law.

On the South, Bashir said that his government will respect the decision of Southerners in the referendum and pledged to assist the new state.

"The ball is in your court and the decision is yours. If you say unity, welcome. And if you say secession, also welcome, and welcome to a new brotherly state," he said.

"We are going to cooperate and integrate in all areas because what is between us is more than what is between any other countries" Bashir added.

Pagan Amum, secretary general of the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), welcomed Bashir’s comments.

"This is the positive outlook we are calling for ... This is precisely what we are saying," he told reporters in Khartoum.

"We are calling on the people of northern Sudan to be in solidarity with the people of southern Sudan as they begin to build their own independent state."

"They need their solidarity, while the people of southern Sudan need to give solidarity to the people of the north as they begin a new journey of building a new state in what remains after the separation of the south."

The NCP has recently resigned itself to the South’s split but accused the SPLM of intimidating voters during the registration process to ensure that independence is the outcome.

Sudanese officials have softened their stance on insisting that the referendum be transparent and credible for them to recognize it.

The Sudan constitutional court is expected to rule on legal challenges before it that seek to annul the voter registration process. The SPLM claimed that the NCP stands behind this court move.

Sudanese government and Darfur rebels start talks on cessation of hostilities

December 26, 2010 (DOHA) — Delegations from the Sudanese government and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) met today to discuss areas of difference in a draft agreement for a cessation of hostility to be signed before to start peace talks.

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A woman carries her child at her shelter during a visit by Qatar’s state foreign minister and Joint Chief Mediator to Kalma IDPs camp outside Nyala in South Dafur November 29, 2010. (Reueters)

Today’s discussion intervenes four days after a last-minute cancellation of an initial meeting by the government delegation on Thursday. JEM rebels accused the government of meaning to delay the talks.

The two parties clashed in Dar El-Salam and Shangilit Tobayi in North Darfur on Thursday and Friday.

The Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassole, called yesterday on the parties to stop fighting and resume talks on the cessation of hostilities saying the truce is indispensable for a suitable atmosphere before to resume peace talks.

In a three hour meeting attended by the chief mediator the government and the rebel delegations put out their positions from an initial draft submitted by the mediation. Every delegation also expressed its reserves about their respective positions communicated to the mediation.

"We said this ceasefire should serve the interest of civilians and displaced as well as political detainees," said Ahmed Hussein Adam in reference to JEM’s demand to ensure full humanitarian access to the needy population and the release of political detainees.

Ahmed further said the government refuses to fulfill its previous commitments in this respect adding such measures are crucial to establish a "conducive environment".

Sudanese government in the past, refused to free JEM prisoners of war before the signing of a ceasefire. The rebel group released unilaterally 272 solders detained following clashes with the army.

The government delegation also declined another demand by the rebel delegation to include the province of Kordofan in the cessation of hostilities deal.

The Sudanese army and the rebel fighters clashed last November in Northern and Southern Kordofan states. JEM also demanded to include Kordofan in the Doha peace process.

The rebel delegation rejected a proposal by the government to determine the geographic positions held by the rebel group in the cessation of hostilities deal, but the rebel objected saying such measures are only included in a final security arrangements protocol.

Based on Sunday’s meeting, the mediation is expected to submit a new draft to the two warring parties before to fly to Chad for a meeting with the President Idriss Deby on the peace process in Darfur.

Qatari state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud and JCM Djibril Bassole had to visit Ndjamena earlier this month at the end of their visit to the Sudan.

The hybrid peacekeeping mission, UNAMID reported that there were no clashes in the region on Sunday but underlined that the security situation remains tense in North and South Darfur following the recent fighting there.

Islamic clerics reject south Sudan referendum, demand Islamic laws

December 26, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A group of radical Muslim clerics on Friday overtly faulted the Sudanese government for accepting south Sudan’s referendum on independence, and demanded imposition of Islamic Shar’iah law in the entire country whether citizens of the mainly Christian region of south Sudan like it or not.

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Mohamed Abdel Karim (L) appears in a press conference held in Khartoum by Leadership of Association of Muslim Scholars on 22 Dec 2010 (Al-Sahafa.sd)

South Sudan, whose population mostly follows Christianity or traditional beliefs, is bound for secession from the Muslim-ruled north in a referendum vote due in January 2011, a plebiscite stipulated by the 2005’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which in 2005 ended nearly half a century of intermittent civil war between north and south Sudan.

Under the CPA, north Sudan maintained Islamic laws whereas the south was given extensive autonomy under a secular government led by the former southern rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM].

The legitimate League of Muslim Preachers and Clerics (LLMPC), a group of radical clerics existing in parallel to the official clerical body known as the Association of Muslim Scholars, marched in protest on Friday, 24 December, and held a press conference in which the group’s leaders declared rejection to south Sudan’s referendum on independence and called on the government to implement Shari’ah law in full.

The group’s prominent member Mohamed Abdel-Karim addressed the protestors and demanded the government in the north fulfills its long-standing promise to implement Shari’ah Islamic law regardless of what southerners want.

Abdel-Karim, whose name is often cited in association with Al-Qaidah branch in the Land of the Two Niles, said that the implementation of Islamic Shari’ah was currently incomplete in Sudan as evidenced by the fact that president Al-Bashir said he would adopt an Islamic constitution after south Sudan secession.

Sudan president Al-Bashir last week sparked a nationwide controversy when declared that the north would change the constitution to make Shari’ah the only source of lawmaking and Arabic the only language if the south decided to part ways with the north.

“If god forbids, the South separates [then] the constitution will be amended [and] a lot of things relating to the South will go away,” he said in a speech in the eastern state of Al-Gadarif.

“But the opaque talk [about] the Sudanese people I don’t know what…is multi-racial and multi-religious, the [Islamic] Shari’a will be the main source for lawmaking….and Arabic language will the official language of the state as will be stipulated in the upcoming constitution,” Al-Bashir added.

The group’s leaders declared south Sudan’s referendum on independence as “null and void” and part of a “Zionist-Western” plot to divide Sudan into five frail states, implying that the government was already aware that signing the CPA would pave the way for the south to secede.

“Those who say that the agreement [CPA] was consented by all sides and that they are surprised that the people of the south [will] choose secession have deceived the nation because the agreement works in favor of secession,” Abdel-Karim was quoted by the daily newspaper Al-Sahafah.

Abdel-Karim further warned that secession would reflect negatively on the Islamic gains in the south under a strong secular drive to boot Islam out of the region.

In August 2009, Mohamed Abdel-Karim and his group sparked concerns of raising religious extremism when they issued a Fatwa branding members of the Sudanese communist party as infidels and instructed that they should be divorced from their spouses and their children to be deemed children of adultery.

Separately, the leader of the National Umma Party Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, who is also the leader of Al-Ansar religious sect, poured scorn on the LLMPC, saying that their demands would tear Sudan into pieces.

Obama urges Sudan’s Kiir to reach agreement with NCP

December 23, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The U.S. President Barack Obama held a phone conversation with South Sudan president and chairman of Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM) Salva Kiir on Wednesday to discuss the status of the outstanding items in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the White House said.

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U.S. President Barack Obama (Whitehouse)

The statement by White House spokesperson said that Obama underscored "the United States’ commitment to a peaceful and on-time referendum".

"The President underscored the importance of Vice President Kiir’s leadership during this volatile time period in Sudan’s history and urged Kiir to engage seriously with the National Congress Party in the coming days to resolve the outstanding issues related to Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation and take actions to prevent outbreaks of violence".

The largely Christian and animist south is to vote on January 9 on whether to remain united with the Muslim north or break away to form an independent country.

The referendum is the key plank of the 2005 peace deal that put an end to two decades of civil war between north and south.

Many countries in the region and other international powers such as the U.S. are concerned that any disruption to the referendum process might reignite the civil war in Africa’s largest country.

Last week it was revealed that Obama has written to Gaddafi, Mubarak and other leaders in the region stressing Washington’s desire to see a peaceful and successful voting process.

The NCP & SPLM have been discussing without success since July the key sticking points of future citizenship arrangements, the sharing out of natural resources — particularly oil — security and compliance with international accords, notably on water allocation from the Nile.

They have also yet to find common ground on the disputed oil district of Abyei which had supposed to be holding a simultaneous vote on its own future that has been delayed by disagreements over who should be eligible to vote and demarcating the region’s borders.

U.S. brokered talks held in Ethiopia last October dedicated to the Abyei issue have failed to break the stalemate.

Today, the head of the United Nations panel tasked with monitoring the referendum expressed concern over the lingering deadlock over Abyei.

"On Abyei, our grave concerns have not abated. As the negotiations continue, it is vital that everyone involved shows patience and does their utmost to reach a peaceful and permanent settlement acceptable to all" said Benjamin Mkapa, the chair of the Panel and the former President of Tanzania.

SPLM-North warns against attempting to omit diversity from Sudan constitution

December 23, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Northern sector of Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) warned on Wednesday the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) against any move aimed at removing the clauses in the constitution that recognizes the cultural and ethnic diversity of the country.

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Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) governor of Blue Nile state Malik Agar and Yasir Arman, SPLM North sector chief, speaks during joint news conference in Khartoum December 22, 2010 (Reuters)

The deputy governor of Southern Kordofan and the leading SPLM figure Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu said at a press conference in Khartoum that no amendments can be made "without the consent and participation of [South] Kordofan and the Blue Nile and Northern political powers".

"No one can cancel diversity in Sudan," Al-Hilu said.

Last Sunday, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir declared that the North will change the constitution after the South’s secession reinforce Islamic Sharia’a law and make Arabic the official language.

The current constitution recognizes the "multi-ethnic," "multi-cultural" and "multi-faith" status of the Sudanese state, and is based on both Shari’a, or Islamic law, and the "consensus" of the population.

“But the opaque talk [about] the Sudanese people I don’t know what…is multi-racial and multi-religious, the [Islamic] Shari’a will be the main source for lawmaking….and Arabic language will the official language of the state as will be stipulated in the upcoming constitution,” Bashir added.

In 16 days, the people of South Sudan will head to the polling station to decide whether they want to remain united with the North or establish their own state. The latter option is believed to be the likely vote by most Southerners.

The governor of the Blue Nile state and SPLM deputy chairman Malik Agar said at the same press conference, which was also joined by the head of the SPLM Northern sector Yasir Arman, that "diversity will be the basis of the new state in the North [after the South separates]".

In 2011, residents of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states will hold a popular consultation forum to get more autonomy on issues related to the local identity, culture and control of the land but they will nonetheless remain part of northern Sudan.

Agar and Al-Hilu stressed that they will not allow the NCP to take away the "gains" acquired through the protocols related to the popular consultation law.

They also threatened to call for self-determination in the two regions should the NCP not honor the agreement.

The former southern rebel group, is the ruling party in south Sudan and is overall the country’s second-largest party. It has supporters in the north, particularly in the border regions of Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan.

Arman said that should the South secedes, the SPLM’s Northern sector would become an independent organization.

"It is going to be a political force to be reckoned with ... The north is a very diverse place. It is a place that needs democratic transformation. It is a place that needs different policies from Khartoum to the different regions of Sudan."

He also echoed sentiments of Al-Hilu and Agar on the issue of diversity.

"If we travel this road, which we have traveled before ... it will incite hatred ...It is not about religion it is about dictatorship," said Arman, a northerner who was the SPLM’s challenger to Bashir in April presidential elections before boycotting the race citing fraud.

"There will only be stability and development if there is recognition of diversity and social justice and democracy."

Arman said the party would initially keep the SPLM name but remain independent from the party in the south.

"It will be like the relations between the green parties in Norway and in Britain. They are in different countries but they share the same vision

The Blue Nile governor called on Darfur rebels fighting in a separate conflict in Western Sudan to join the new SPLM party in the North.

"If they wish to be part of this, they will have to ... renounce their arms. We are for a political means, for a political mechanism."

LAST CHANCE FOR UNITY

Arman also said that while fading there is hope for unity if the North agrees to undertake radical changes to its policies.

He proposed "a rotating presidency [between the North and South], fair split of oil, keeping two armies [in North and South]".

"This offer helps raise the ceiling of unity and may form the seed to revive unity again and this is what we are working on even if the South separates" Arman said.

But a senior NCP official rejected the offer made by the SPLM.

“He also said that, if the north wants unity, the SPLM and the NCP should work together not to adopt the Islamic laws. This is an offer which is not considered to come from the SPLM’s leader because we only have one channel. Either such offer should come from Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is the chairman or through the presidential institution” Rabie Abdel-Aati who heads the NCP information bureau told Voice of America (VOA).

This month the Sudanese president said that the North will let the South take the entire revenue from the country’s oil wealth in return for a unity vote in the referendum.

However, the SPLM brushed aside the offer saying it is not enough to warrant a change in separatist mood.

Bank denies WikiLeaks' Sudan claim
  • (UK news) Press Association, Saturday December 18 2010
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    SudanPresident Omar al-Bashir

    A part-nationalised British bank has said there is "no evidence" to back claims exposed in leaked US diplomatic cables that Sudan's president may have stolen £5.8 billion from his country and deposited it in London.

    A document among tens of thousands released by the WikiLeaks website reported the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asserting that Lloyds Banking Group "may be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money".

    In the cable, a US official says that Luis Moreno-Ocampo discussed the possible stash of money days after issuing an arrest warrant for president Omar Bashir, who has been indicted by the ICC on several counts of war crimes and genocide.

    A Sudanese government spokesman told The Guardian - which has been publishing the WikiLeaks material - that the claim the president had taken the cash was "ludicrous" and attacked the motives of the prosecutor.

    Lloyds insisted it was not aware of any link with Bashir. "We have absolutely no evidence to suggest there is any connection between Lloyds Banking Group and Mr Bashir. The group's policy is to abide by the legal and regulatory obligations in all jurisdictions in which we operate," a spokeswoman said.

    In the cable reporting the conversation, the US official wrote: "Ocampo suggested if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at $9bn), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a 'crusader' to that of a thief.

    "Ocampo reported Lloyds bank in London may be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money," the cable said. "Ocampo suggested exposing Bashir had illegal accounts would be enough to turn the Sudanese against him."

    Dr Khalid al-Mubarak, spokesman at the Sudanese embassy in London, told The Guardian: "To claim that the president can control the treasury and take money to put into his own accounts is ludicrous. It is a laughable claim by the ICC prosecutor. Ocampo is a maverick, and this is just part of his political agenda.

    "Attempts to smear not only Bashir but Sudan as a whole are well known, and are clearly linked with anti-Arab sentiments and Islamophobia," Dr Mubarak added.

    Robert Palmer of anti-corruption group Global Witness said: ""If this allegation by the ICC prosecutor is accurate, it appears that a UK high street bank bailed out by the Government is holding billions controlled by an indicted war criminal, or at the very least would be able to help trace any funds. If this story is true, I'd like to know what controls Lloyds put in place to ensure that the funds were legitimate - and I'm sure the Sudanese people would as well."

    Sudan’s former PM warns NCP that he will support regime change if demands not met

    December 19, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The former Sudanese prime minister and leader of the opposition Umma Party Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi sharpened his rhetoric unexpectedly against the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) saying that they have to respond to a set of demands by late January.

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    former Sudanese prime minister and leader of the opposition Umma Party Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi (AFP)

    Al-Mahdi was quoted by local media as saying that the ruling party headed by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir must accept the proposal of a national broad-based government that will be tasked with carrying out specific agenda.

    According to the prominent opposition figure the interim administration would write a new constitution, conduct new general elections that are fair and free, resolve the Darfur conflict, craft a brotherhood agreement with the south should it opt for independence in next month’s referendum, allowing for unrestricted political, tackling economic crisis an dealing with the International Criminal Court (ICC) row.

    He warned that the NCP wants to get rid of the South so it is left to rule the North in the manner they please after the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) is no longer part of the national government.

    The former prime minister said that the secession of the South will cause a significant change in the political landscape of Sudan making the status quo “impossible to sustain”.

    Al-Mahdi outlined his options should the ruling party refuses to respond to his demands by January 26.

    “I personally at this stage of life, seeing with my own eyes the dismantling of Sudan will contemplate two decisions: join the stream of those who want to overthrow Bashir’s rule or the final relinquishment of political role and let the [Umma Party] General Assembly elect the party’s new leadership” he was quoted as saying.

    It is not clear what prompted Al-Mahdi’s remarks but many Sudanese analysts have written extensively about the political deadlock in the country as a result of the NCP’s complete control over the decision making process in the North, leaving out all the other major parties.

    The Umma Party have had ups and downs in its relations with the NCP that went as far as signing bilateral agreements that have angered other opposition parties and even many figures within Al-Mahdi’s ranks.

    The last general elections in April have given the NCP an overwhelming majority in the parliament while retaining the presidency. Most opposition parties boycotted the elections and even those that participated managed to gain a handful of seats in the national assembly.

    In a related matter, the head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi warned that both the North and South will suffer after the likely breakup of the country. He also cautioned that further splits may occur in other parts such as Darfur and the east.

    The opposition Islamist leader blamed the people in North and South for not doing enough to change the explosive situation through a popular uprising, according to statements carried by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

    Sudan President stashed billions in secret bank accounts, says ICC prosecutor

    December 19, 2010 (NAIROBI) – Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has squirreled away billions of dollars into personal bank accounts overseas, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) claimed - according to a leaked US report.

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    Sudan President Omar al-Bashir (FILE – Getty Images)

    A US diplomatic cable published by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has revealed that the chief prosecutor at the ICC, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, told US diplomats on March 20, 2009 that president Al-Bashir had siphoned off as much as 9 billion US dollars into foreign bank accounts.

    The ICC has issued two warrants for the arrest of Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, where a seven-year conflict between Al-Bashir’s regime and rebels fighting against perceived neglect of the region has killed 300,000 people and displaced more than 2 million, according to UN figures.

    Al-Bashir denies the charges and denigrates them as a Western plot to overthrow him. The Sudanese government also maintains that the number of those who died in Darfur stands at only 10,000.

    Confirming the information contained in the leaked cable, Ocampo told Reuters on Saturday that investigations carried out by his office had shown that Al-Bashir is holding a fortune of up to 9 billion US dollars.

    "I am investigating the financial aspects and we have information about Bashir’s money. I can confirm that it is up to $9 billion," Ocampo declared.

    In the leaked cable, Ocampo told the US diplomats that exposing those accounts would turn the Sudanese public opinion against Al-Bashir, changing his image from “a crusader to that of a thief.”

    The leaked cable quoted Ocampo as suggesting that the London-based Lloyd’s Bank “might be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money."

    Quoted by Reuters on Saturday, a spokesman for Loyds has strongly denied the prosecutor’s claims, stating the bank had no evidence of any connection with Al-Bashir and that it is the bank’s policy “to abide by the legal and regulatory obligations in all jurisdictions in which we operate."

    Ocampo himself on Saturday denied that Al-Bashir’s money was in the custody of Loyds Bank, saying that his leaked statements were based on the fact that the bank holds accounts of some Sudanese officials. "The money is not in Lloyds, the connection is that they (Lloyds) have some official accounts with the government of Sudan," he told Reuters.

    In January 2009, the bank was forced to forfeit 350 million US dollars to the US Administration to settle an investigation which proved that it had altered wire transfer information to enable clients from Sudan and Iran to do business transactions in the US banking system.

    The leaked cable disclosed that Ocampo had urged the US administration and the international community to push for the arrest of Al-Bashir to isolate him.

    According to the cable, the ICC prosecutor suggested that increasing pressure on Al-Bashir could spur power-hungry members of his own party to get rid of him, likening his situation to "a bleeding shark being surrounded by other sharks."

    In the leaked cable, Ocampo opined that reassuring China that its oil interests in Sudan would not be compromised by a potential successor of Al-Bashir could make it more open to his removal.

    The leaked cable also cited thoughts by Ocampo that Al-Bashir was using expulsion of NGOs to deflect attention from his arrest warrant.

    In the wake of issuing the first arrest warrant for him in March 2005, Al-Bashir responded by expelling 13 international NGOs, accusing them of spying for the court.

    Sudan says accusations targets Al-Bashir’s image

    Sudan has sought to discredit Ocamp’s accusations, saying that their aim is to tarnish Al-Bashir’s image among his countrymen.

    The country’s official news agency SUNA quoted the minister of media Kamal Obaiyd as saying that the Wikileaks cable had debunked Ocampo and proved that he receives orders from politicians and had nothing to do with legal and professional manner.

    He said that the amount of money he accused Al-Bashir of stealing is too huge to believe and that there is no such amount in the state’s coffers.

    The minister also said that the cable had demonstrated the extent to which the US department of state and its collaborators in attempts to target the image of Sudan and President Al-Bashir.

    Reuters quoted another Sudanese official as suggesting that it is impossible for Al-Bashir to hold bank accounts in a western country due to US economic sanctions.

    "Sudan is heavily sanctioned. There is a lot of surveillance around Sudan. How could President Bashir put this amount in a Western bank?"

    Sudan has been under US economic sanctions since 1997 over alleged human rights abuses and sponsorship of terrorism. The sanctions were tightened under President Bush administration in 2007 over the conflict in Darfur.

    Abyei administration says north Sudan army deployed troops in the region

    December 19, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A local administration official in the contested oil-producing area of Abyei on Saturday reported that the northern Sudanese army has deployed troops in South Kordorfan state, which borders southern Sudan.

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    SPLA soldiers ride in the back of a pick-up in Abyei (Enough-Tim Freccia)

    The daily newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted the press secretary of Abyei administration, Shul Angok, said that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) was continuing to increase military province in the South Kordorfan region.

    Abyei area, located on the fault line between north and south Sudan, is one of the major points of contention in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.

    Under the agreement, the semi-autonomous region of south Sudan is scheduled to decide in a referendum due in January 2011 whether it wants to remain united with the north or secede. Abyei was supposed to hold a simultaneous vote to decide whether it should remain in the north or join the south if it decided to secede as expected.

    However, that plebiscite is unlikely to happen on time due a deadlock between the north and the south over whether the cattle-herding Arab tribesmen of Messiryah can vote.

    Angok claimed that the 31 battalion of SAF was currently present in the areas of Nama and Laffat al-Tumsah, adding that the battalion was receiving large reinforcements.

    The press secretary, who warned of a military escalation in the area, said that south Sudan army, SPLA, did not have any presence in the area except the battalion affiliated to the Joint Defense Forces (JDF).

    Established under the security arrangements protocol of the CPA, the JDF comprises equal number of military units from SAF and SPLA. The JDF is meant to be dissolved if south Sudan decided to secede.

    However, SAF’s spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said the 31 battalion was deployed in the area permitted under the security arrangements protocol. He said that the battalion was inside the city and now it had been re-deployed to its area.

    Leaders of Egypt and Libya flying to Sudan next week: report

    December 16, 2010 (KHARTOUM) –The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will arrive in Khartoum next Monday for a summit with president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and his First Vice President Salva Kiir, local media reported.

    The mini-summit will tackle the challenges surrounding the South Sudan referendum slated for next January and arrangements should the country end up breaking up into two to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

    Tensions are running high between North and South Sudan particularly after the end of the voter registration process. Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said that the process was marred by violations and irregularities that need to be addressed by the referendum commission.

    The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) on the other hand accused the North of intimidating Southern voters so that they pick unity in the referendum.

    There was no official confirmation of the visit by the Egyptian and Libyan leaders to Khartoum.

    Relations between Sudan and Libya reached a low point after Tripoli asked Bashir to cancel his appearance at the Africa-EU summit they hosted last month.

    The EU bloc had threatened to walk out if Bashir shows up as he is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide he allegedly orchestrated in Darfur.

    Khartoum issued an angry statement afterwards directing explicit criticism at the EU and subtle one at Libya for succumbing to European pressure.

    NCP official admits likelihood of South Sudan’s secession, downplays its economic impact

    December 16, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A senior member of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has conceded that the secession of South Sudan in the upcoming referendum vote is "probable".

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    NCP’s deputy chairman Nafi Ali Nafi (FILE)

    Less than 20 days separates citizens of the semi-autonomous region of South Sudan from going to the polls in January 2011 to decide whether they wish for their region to remain united with the north or break away to form the world’s newest nation.

    The referendum is a key plank of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was signed in 2005 by the NCP and the former southern rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to end ended decades of north-south civil war.

    Most observers say that southerners, who feel aggrieved by years of civil war and perceived exploitation of successive governments in the north, are likely to choose secession.

    The NCP’s deputy chairman Nafi Ali Nafi, whose party has been ostensibly campaigning for unity, admitted on Thursday that the south is bound to secede.

    According to Sudan’s official news agency SUNA, Nafi told a gathering of party supporters that all ongoing efforts to retain Sudan’s unity had failed, explaining that the secession of the south is probable because it represents the SPLM’s direction which is supported by the entire Western world.

    "No matter what we do we will reach this conclusion which will be recognized by the entire world… we must not deceive ourselves or cling to wishful thinking, we must resign to facts and realities," Nafi said.

    However, the hard-line NCP official has sought to assuage fears of a possible economic downturn in the oil-dependent north due to the possible secession of the south.

    Sudan derives nearly 80 percent of its proven daily output of 500,000 oil barrels a day from oilfields in the south, but the pipeline that carries the oil to export terminals and refineries runs through the north. The two former foes need each other’s cooperation to sustain their oil-dependent economies.

    Nafi said that those who spread rumors that the economy in the north would collapse due to the south’s secession were "greatly deluded," adding that the secession would have "no impact" on the economy of the north which has "many alternatives in agriculture and minerals."

    Meanwhile, President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has said that the north would only recognize the referendum outcome if it genuinely reflected the will of southern Sudanese.

    Al-Bashir made these remarks during a meeting held on Thursday in Khartoum with a delegation of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).

    According to the state minister for foreign affairs, Kamal Hassan Ali, President Al-Bashir assured the AUPSC delegation that the government in the north would cooperate with southern officials to sustain stability and shore up social and economic ties if the south decided to secede.

    The Constitutional Court asked today the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to respond to the six legal petitions against the process presented by a group of lawyers seeking a ruling on alleged violations related to the voter registration in preparation for the South Sudan vote on independence next month.

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