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January 2011 - Posts

Abyei’s paramount chief accuses Misseryia of violating Kadugli agreement

January 28, 2011 (JUBA) - Kuol Deng Kuol, a Dinka Ngok paramount chief from Abyei, an oil-producing region straddling northern and southern Sudan, accused Friday the Misseryia tribe of violating Kadugli agreement, which the two communities signed independently without participation of the governments from the two regions or external mediation.

During referendum on self determination for the people of south Sudan conducted from January 9 to 15 members of the Misseriya clashed with police from Abyei Area Administration, predominantly joined forces representing Sudan’s north and south, in three different locations between 7 and 10 January.

The clash was allegedly triggered by reports and allegations circulated in the media that the Dinka Ngok tribe was preparing to hold a unilateral referendum to return the region to South Sudan from Kordofan in central Sudan to which was transferred in 1905 by the former colonial power Britain.

In an attempt to stop armed confrontation between rival tribes over the ownership of the territory, traditional leaders, representing the two sides, independently signed an agreement in Kadugli town, capital of south Kordofan State on 13 January. This agreement was later followed by another internal agreement by officials from the two regions, witnessed by the United Nations.

The key measures of the two agreements included, the provision of security for Abyei by deploying more Joint Integrated Units (JIU), ensuring the freedom of migration for Misseriya nomads to Abyei and further south; and providing security for the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to Abyei and further to South Sudan.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune from Abyei, Kuol said members of the Misseriya tribe along the borderline continues to lay road blocks and stopping vehicles entering the region from the north following clashes early January when two sides exchanged fires in three different locations, leaving scores of people from the two sides dead and several others wounded.

"The road linking the north with the south through Abyei remains closed. Misseriya are laying road blocks. They are stopping vehicles entering and passing through Abyei to the South,” Kuol told Sudan Tribune on Friday. “This is a clear violation of Kadugli agreement in which we agreed to open road to allow movement of goods and our people without threats and intimidations," he said.

He said that the road blocks have caused food prices to increase beyond the ceiling that ordinary people can afford in the region.

"Because of road blocks imposed by the Misseriya, which in turned affected movement of the commercial vehicles with goods, local prices have increased indiscriminately. You find shops almost empty. Prices for little available items have been increased beyond ceiling which the ordinary people can afford. I am getting reports from the local trade union that prices have increased. That what used to be for one pound in the past can be bought at two to three pound depending on the level of understanding," he adds.

Bagat Mijak, another chief from Abyei also confirmed the closure of the road and increment of local prices in the area. Roads have remained closed.

"Nobody is coming through Nyama. The Misseriya are making a condition to allow their cattle come for water and grazing but it is up to them to see where their interest is. For us, we will not allow them come with their cattle without respecting terms of the agreement we signed with in Kadugli," said Mijak, adding he knew the Misseryia would not honor the agreement.

"I knew Misseriya would not agree to stop blocking roads because they are not new to me. They are the same Misseriya with whom we have signed many agreements without success. They say one thing today when they are in weak position and another tomorrow when they feel they are in strong position that they do not need cooperation," said Mijak.

In 2005 the north and south signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending two decades of civil war, promising the south a referendum on whether to split from Sudan and form their own country. Voting ended on January 15, with initial results indicating a huge vote in favor of independence.

Under the deal Abyei was supposed to hold its own referendum to decide whether it would remain in as part of the north or join, what is likely to be, a newly independent south. However, the demand of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) that the Misseriya, who enter Abyei for a few months each year, be given full voting rights in the poll.

The former rebels that govern the south the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), say that only the Dinka Ngok should be allowed to vote.

Tensions have worsened recently in the north-south border region due to the failure for the Abyei referendum to take place, and for the two parties to reach an agreement on the future of region, demarcating the border and post referendum arrangements.

Speaking from Abyei, a member of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), who declined to be named as they were not allowed to speak to the media, confirmed the closure of the road for commercial vehicles and that local prices have increased in the region.

“I have not seen commercial vehicles coming from the north since the violence broke out early this month. Our patrol police and military observers have also not been to move freely in the area.”

The official said that the security situation in the area had not improved repeating the observation by many analysts that Abyei remains a potential flash point for the resumption of north-south conflict as the south prepares for independence.

Reacting to the interview, Rahma Abdul Rahman, Al Nur, a deputy chief administrator of the Abyei Area representing Missiriya in the power sharing arrangement and who was expelled by the local youth group acting in collaboration with civil society organizations denied that roads are blocked.

"No Missiriyia blocking roads to Abyei. No roads are blocked. They are opened. UN forces are moving between Kadugli and Abyei. If they were closed, how would they be moving," asked Rahma.

However the Misseriya have accused the Dinka Ngok of not keeping their side of the deal.

Hassan Musa, one of the leaders of the Missiriya in an interview with Sudan Tribune from Muglad, a towns in west of South Kordofan predominantly inhabited by the Misseiriya tribe, asked why they would allow the road to be opened while the Dinka Ngok have refused to allow them go with their cattle to access water and grazing areas south of Abyei.

"They say Missiriya have closed roads and that we have violated the agreement we signed with them in Kadugli. They say we do not respect agreements, which agreements,” asked Musa accusing the SPLM of arming the Dinka Ngok to fight them.

“We have never violated an agreement. We have never signed any agreement with Dinka Ngok to violate. I do not remember any, can you tell me which agreement they told you we have violated," asked Musa.

He said Missiriya have no interest and intention to wage war against the Dinka , who he described as brothers.

"We and the Dinka Ngok have always been friends living and eating together as one and the same people. We have never had differences to be settled through agreement. Our issues always used to be settled by our chiefs. We have never seen external mediations from neighboring states insides. We used to settle using local mechanisms in the integrated courts shared by Amir Deng Majok and Babo Nimir because we look at ourselves as one people," he explained.

"The problem is now coming with the SPLM arming the Dinka Ngok and tells them, look, your land is being taken by Misseriya. Which land? This Abyei belongs to neither the Dinka Ngok nor the Missiriya. It belongs to all of us. Ask Zachariah Atem Fiyen, the deputy speaker of the Abyei legislative council and he will tell you. He is the only Dinka Ngok from Abyei who can tell the truth that Abyei belongs to both Missiriya and the Dinka Ngok," he said.

President Al-Bashir to Take Part at Number of African Summits in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Jan. 28 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday evening, is due to take part at the African Summit

 

In a statement to SUNA, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kamal Hassan Ali, said that a number of summits will be held on the sidelines of the African Union's summit, including the IGAD, NEPAD and East Africa Brigade summits, besides the consultative meeting which will be attended by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, representatives of the permanent member states at the Security Council and the neighbouring countries to discuss the issues of Sudan and Somalia

 

The minister said that the ministerial council of the African Union, which concluded its meetings on Friday, has congratulated Sudan on holding a peaceful and secured referendum on the self-determination of south Sudan

 

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the ministerial council has reviewed a report on the International Criminal Court and affirmed Africa support to Sudan and President Al-Bashir and reiterated Africa adherence to the decisions which it has adopted in Kampala and Sert

 

The ministerial council of the African Union has denounced the misconduct of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court toward the African leaders

Al-Turabi’s family decries his "worst detention ever"

January 27, 2011 (NAIROBI) – The family of the detained Islamist opposition leader Hassan Al-Turabi has protested against what it termed as his “worst detention experience ever”, saying that that 78-year old dissident is denied medical checkup and subjected to daily inspection.

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Sudanese Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi (Getty Images)

In a statement released to the media on Thursday, Al-Turabi’s family complained that he was locked up in “a tiny room unbefitting a man of his age” and was subjected to a meticulous daily inspection.

The leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) was rounded up along with a number of his aides by heavily armed members of Sudan security forces in the early hours of Tuesday, January 18, less than one day after an interview in which he warned the government of public uprising if it failed to share power was published by AFP.

His arrest comes at a politically sensitive time as the government feels increasingly vulnerable in the face of opposition’s threats to stage street protests against the background of the near-certain secession of the oil-producing south Sudan and rising food prices aggravated by an acute shortage of foreign currency reserves.

The government accused Al-Turabi of planning to disrupt security and carry out “assassination and sabotage” to topple the government, according to Nafi Ali Nafi, a senior official of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

According to the family statement, Al-Turabi’s captors had refused to allow his personal doctor to examine him and banned him from using pens and papers.

Even the permitted weekly visitation by five of his family members is done in the presence of security agents, the family’s statement said, demanding an investigation into the conditions of his detention.

Al-Turabi’s family claimed that his current detention experience was his worst since his history with political detentions started during the reign of former Sudanese president Jafar Nimairy in 1964.

Al-Turabi rode the crest of the National Islamic Front (NIF) to mastermind the 1989’s coup that brought president Al-Bashir to power, but he was ousted from leadership following the 1999’s schism in the NIF government between supporters of Al-Turabi on one side and supporters of Al-Bashir and Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha on the other.

Ever since that point Al-Turabi has been in and out of detention and a vocal critic of the government. He was last arrested for calling on president Al-Bashir to surrender to the ICC which is seeking his arrest on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur region.

US offers to move forward with Sudan

US offers to move forward with Sudan

AFP – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens to Sudanese Foreign Minister Ahmen Ali Karti before …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States said Wednesday it was ready to move ahead in normalizing ties with Sudan after it allowed a peaceful vote on secession in the south, but insisted it would not overlook Darfur.

Foreign Minister Ali Karti met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a trip to Washington, just weeks after 99 percent of the largely Christian and animist south voted to split from Africa's largest country.

Clinton praised Sudan for its handing of the referendum, a key part of a 2005 peace deal ending more than two decades of war that left over two million people dead and around twice as many displaced.

"We very much appreciate the government of Sudan's cooperation and assistance in ensuring a peaceful referendum and we look forward to continuing to work with the minister and the government," she told reporters.

In a subsequent statement, the State Department said its boss "reaffirmed US willingness to take steps toward normalization of relations, as Sudan meets its commitments under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement."

Those commitments include negotiating further arrangements in the south -- but also helping resolve the separate conflict in the parched western region of Darfur, a longstanding source of tension.

After years of friction, Karti struck a sharply different tone as he publicly thanked the United States for its assistance for the referendum and "for all they have done (throughout) the history of Sudan."

"We are here also to look to the future, and to cooperate and work together," Karti said.

Officials said Karti was seeking an easing of economic sanctions on Sudan. The United States has banned virtually all trade with Sudan since 1997, and President Barack Obama extended the restrictions in November.

The Obama administration has focused on resolving the north-south conflict but said it was also concerned about Darfur.

"We are certainly not ignoring the situation with respect to Darfur," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

"That is a critical importance in terms of our ability to make the decision down the road to normalize relations with Sudan," which he described as a step-by-step process.

To remove Sudan from the blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, the United States namely needs assurances it will not support banned groups.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said Tuesday that that his country, whose north is dominated by Arabs and Muslims, would not "mourn" the south's independence and accepted the birth of the world's newest nation.

But Bashir also faces an international arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the conflict in Darfur.

At least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict erupted in 2003 when tribal fighters rose up against the Khartoum government, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died in the conflict.

Obama highlighted US assistance for the Sudan referendum in a rare foreign policy mention in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday, when guests from the north and south of the country sat together in the gallery.

"We are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity," the US president said.

US-based activists welcomed the Obama administration's effort on south Sudan but said further action was needed in Darfur.

Mark Hanis, president of Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition, saluted the administration's "aggressive diplomatic leadership" ahead of the referendum.

"Such leadership is needed now for Darfur, where increasing violence displaced more than 40,000 civilians in December," he said in a statement.

The United States meanwhile called for UN peacekeepers to be more "aggressive" in protecting civilians in Darfur.

South Sudan mulls joining the ICC after secession

January 26, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The new state of Southern Sudan will look into joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other world bodies, a Southern official said today.

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Government of Southern Sudan’s minister of Regional Cooperation Deng Alor Kuol (AFP)

The ICC has became a controversial topic in the world and Sudan particularly after it issued two arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010 for president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on ten counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide for his alleged role in Darfur atrocities.

Bashir’s travel has been hampered by the warrant and many countries have refused to receive him because of it. Western official have also avoided meeting with him.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in North Sudan rejected the jurisdiction of the ICC and said it will not hand any of its citizens there despite a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution in 2005 obliging it to do so.

Preliminary results of the South Sudan referendum on independence show a near perfect vote in favor of establishing a new state separate from the North.

Under the 2005 peace deal, the new nation will become official at the end of the interim period in July of this year.

Asked whether south Sudan would join the international court based in The Hague, the south’s minister for regional cooperation, Deng Alor, told reporters: "Why not? We don’t have a problem with the ICC" according to Reuters.

"The ICC is about human rights. We fought for over 40 years for human rights — we will see the procedure and definitely they will contact us or we will contact them and we will have no problem," he said late on Tuesday.

Alor is the precursor to the south’s foreign minister until it becomes independent on July 9.

ICC membership would oblige the south to arrest Bashir if he set foot on its territory.

Sudan’s north has pledged to remain friends with an independent south. The two new countries will be economically interdependent and share their longest border with each other.

The NCP’s media official Rabie Abdulatti told the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that it is up to the South to decide on ratifying the Rome Statute of the ICC.

However he advised the South to learn from other African nations which according to him refused to deal with the court adding that some have even decided to withdraw.

The African Union (AU) adopted several decisions instructing its members not to cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese leader even if they are signatories to the court’s statute. But some African nations later distanced themselves from the resolutions.

In 2009, Sudan along with Libya, Senegal and Eritrea have sought to have a mass withdrawal of African nations from the court but that proposal was turned down.

UNAMID chief’s performance scrutinized further by the UNSC

January 26, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday appeared unhappy with the performance of the special joint representative of the UN-AU Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari for failing to effectively discharge the force’s mandate in the war ravaged region.

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Joint special representative of U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari (AP)

The world’s largest U.N.-funded peacekeeping mission is at 88% of its total 26,000 strength but says its job to secure the remote area is difficult in the absence of a peace deal between Khartoum and rebels who took up arms in 2003.

Furthermore, Khartoum which reluctantly agreed to the force has been placing obstacles and impediments to the deployment of troops and helicopters as well as delay in granting visas to members of the mission.

But the U.S. and other members of the UNSC suggested that UNAMID leadership is also to blame for shortcomings of Darfur peacekeepers.

"UNAMID is a Chapter 7 mission, with a robust protection of civilians mandate. And the United States view and the view of many members of the Council, as expressed today and on numerous previous occasions, is that we expect UNAMID, as one of the UN’s largest and most costly operations, with one of the most robust mandates passed by this Council, to be very active and, when necessary, aggressive, in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians," U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told reporters following the briefing on Darfur.

"Wilted Flower we have been frustrated and dismayed by repeated instances of UNAMID being denied access in its freedom of movement restricted. And we have been pressing for months for UNAMID to fulfill the letter and spirit of its mandate, by ensuring that it is not finding itself negotiating questions of access, but ensuring that the access that it is due, as a Chapter 7 mission, it actually has," Rice added.

Gambari who addressed the 15-nation council via video link, cited the restrictions imposed by Khartoum on the movement of UNAMID patrols describing it as “a challenge” to his mission as well as a hindrance to the efforts of aid agencies seeking access to scenes of recent fighting.

He emphasized that the mission had been able to get past these restrictions in some instances and failed in others, adding that the situation had improved since he ordered the mission’s patrols to “adopt a more robust posture and no longer create the perception of seeking permission for movement.”

Rice said she welcomed the decision to let Sudanese rebel and government forces know that UNAMID would not be asking for their permission when seeking access to areas in Darfur. But she said the approach needed to be consistently applied.

"This has to be consistent," she said. "It has to be uniform. It’s not subject to negotiation."

The U.S. diplomat said that UNAMID military troops are "very ably led by the force commander" — General Patrick Nyamvumba of Rwanda but she declined bestow a similar compliment on Gambari.

"Wilted Flowerhile we are very mindful of the risk to peacekeepers, and we are extremely grateful for the sacrifices that have been made by UNAMID peacekeepers, there is an inherent risk to a protection of civilians mandate that has a Chapter 7 construction. And we look to the leadership of UNAMID, very ably led by the Force Commander, and as well we look to Joint Special Representative Gambari to ensure that this robust posture is pursued, is consistent, and enables UNAMID to do its utmost to protect civilians." she added.

Diplomats inside the closed-door consultations told Reuters that Rice’s remarks reflected the views of a number of countries.

"It’s certainly true that UNAMID has not been as robust as it could have been in ensuring humanitarian access," one Western diplomat said.

Gambari had told the council today that the recent clashes involving the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) and the Justice and Liberation Movement (LJM), which is the only rebel faction engaged in peace talks with the government, led some 43,000 to flee their homes.

Fighting renewed Tuesday on a heavy-scale between the SLM-AM joined by combatants of the disaffected rebel faction of SLM-Minnawi and government forces in Tabit area located at 45 kilometers from El-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur state. The rebels alleged killing more than hundred government soldiers while losing seven of their troopers. In contrast, Sudan army said it had killed 17 insurgents and destroyed rebels’ vehicles.

The head of UNAMID said his mission had beefed up patrolling around the affected villages in order to create a security environment to enable safe returns of the displaced population.

This is not the first time UNSC members expressed dissatisfaction with Gambari.

At the last extension of UNAMID’s mandate, he council asked the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to continue reporting on UNAMID’s progress towards implementing its mandate and to periodically review and update its concept of operations and rules of engagement.

"[The UNSC] underlines the need for UNAMID to make full use of its mandate and capabilities, giving priority in decisions about the use of available capacity and resources to (a) the protection of civilians across Darfur, and (b) ensuring safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access, the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and humanitarian activities" the resolution extending UNAMID mandate said.

Reuters quoted unnamed Western diplomats at the time as saying that the force should put those goals ahead of reconstruction projects or a direct role in attempts to negotiate a political settlement, which they said UNAMID had been straying into and which Sudan’s government favored.

Some aid organizations and even UN top officials have questioned the potency of the force saying they are not responding forcefully to attacks.

Last year, the head of U.N. peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy said he wants a full investigation of an ambush of UNAMID near a rebel stronghold in which they were stripped of their equipments.

Karti Meets Senior US officials

Washington, Jan 26 (SUNA) - Foreign Minister, Ali Karti reviewed, Wednesday on the outset of his visit to Washington with the US Deputy National Security Advisor, Denis MC Donough means for promoting the bilateral ties and the post-referendum issues

 

The minister, during the meeting affirmed Sudan's keenness to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), calling on the US to support Sudan to fulfill its commitments with regard to the requirements of the coming phase. The US affirmed readiness to fulfill its obligations to develop the joint cooperation to solve the problem of Darfur

 

Meanwhile, Karti met the Chairman of the External Relations Committee at the US Congress, Senator. John Kerry who commended the process of referendum for South Sudan, describing it as a model to be implemented in the African and Arab region.

 

Chairman of African Union concludes visit to Khartoum, leaves to Juba

Khartoum, January 26 (SUNA)-The Chairman of the African Union,President Bingu wa Mutharik of of Malawi Wednesday concluded a short visit to Khartoum and left to Juba, South Sudan, to meet the First Vice President and President of the Government of South Sudan, 1st Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. It is to be noted that the Chairman of the African Union held talks with the President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, focusing on the current political developments in the country and the efforts being exerted to complete the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and boosting the peace and stability of Darfur. The Chairman of the African Union, President Bingu wa Mutharik, is expected to leave from Juba to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to participate in the 16th Summit of the African Union, due to be held at the end of the current month

Sudan not to deal with US on basis of media reports- official

January 20, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan will not predicate its dealings with the United States government based on what the media reports, a senior ruling party official said on Thursday.

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NCP’s political secretary Ibrahim Gandur (Al-Sharq al-Awsat)

Ibrahim Gandour, the political-secretary of the governing National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan, said that what the media reported about US President Obama’s statements on the "genocide" in Darfur was not adopted officially by the US Administration.

The NCP official on Wednesday warned that the Sudanese government would produce the appropriate response if the US government officially adopted what is reported in the media.

The Sudanese government has frequently complained about the use of the term "genocide" by the US President Obama to describe the eight-year conflict in Darfur region.

In July 2009, Sudan’s presidential adviser in charge of Darfur dossier, Ghazi Salah Al-Deen, described as "regrettable" the labeling of Darfur conflict as genocide by the US president during his trip to the Ghanaian capital Accra.

The US Administration is not the only one that used the term genocide to refer to the conflict in Darfur.

On July 12, 2010, Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir has been charged with three counts of genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the background of Darfur conflict. Al-Bashir is also sought by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the region.

Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 after rebels groups in the region took up arms against Khartoum government, prompting the latter to launch a counterinsurgency campaign that killed at least 300, 000 people and displaced more than two millions, according to UN estimates.

Khartoum accuses the West of padding the death toll, saying only 10,000 died in the conflict.

Gandour warned the U.S. against any attempt to push for self-determination right for the people of Darfur and added if that happens then they will not allow it to play any role in Sudan again.

He stressed that the conflict of Darfur is different from that of the South which started in 1955.

In a related issue the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Khalid Moussa expressed frustration with what what he described as "moving agenda" used by the U.S. administration.

"We are tired of the political vocabulary that fills the U.S. policy even though it has a positive tone sometimes," Moussa said.

"The U.S. has a moving agenda because one previous conditions are met then they place new ones to lift sanctions and remove from terrorism sponsoring list" he added.

Sudanese officials are pressing the U.S. administration to deliver on its promises in light of the smooth referendum process and the NCP’s declaration that it will recognize its results.

Washington said Sudan can be removed as early as next July from the terrorism designation list provided that statutory requirements are met.

U.S. special envoy Scott Gration said last week that the administration will not seek to shortcut the procedures under the law to delist any country.

Some U.S. lawmakers this week expressed reservation towards any conciliatory steps toward Khartoum unless a resolution is found to the Darfur conflict and outstanding North-South issues are negotiated.

Russia ready to recognize South Sudan’s independence

January 20, 2011 (MOSCOW) — Russia is willing to recognize an independent state in Southern Sudan if the results of 9 January referendum are accepted by the two governments north and south, said the special envoy of the President Dmitry Medvedev to Sudan.

On Wednesday, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) declared recognizing the results of the Southern Sudan referendum on independence. Southerners according to the preliminary results overwhelmingly voted in favor of the independence of the region.

International observers from different countries and organizations also said the vote was fair and credible. They also hailed the security conditions and the good organization despite logistical and material difficulties.

“If a new independent state appears on Africa’s map as a result of the referendum and this is not accompanied with conflicts, this outcome can be described as a most favourable one,” said Mikhail Margelov special Russian envoy to Sudan.

“We act as an honest partner: we have no burden of the colonial past either in Sudan or in neighbouring African countries, nor have we investments running into billions or the mentality of an international policeman. Russia in this case can only show its goodwill,” he stressed.

Margelov said the northern and southern Sudan governments expressed readiness to reach agreement on the pending issues to prevent another civil war.

"The political forces of Sudan were able now to reach agreement: they have common interests, and, one would like to hope, not only economic."

Last December during a visit to Khartoum, the Russian envoy met with the Sudanese First Vice President and head of southern Sudan government to discuss the future relations between Russia and South Sudan.

"Russia is interested in its economic presence in Sudan, whether in a unified one, or with the South separated from it," he said.

“From the business point of view, (Sudan) offers a multitude of perspective trends - oil, pipelines, energy, water resources and railway transport,” he stressed.

Southern children at shelters in the North to be repatriated following secession: official

January 20, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities are in the process of making a list of Southern children staying in homeless shelters in the North so that they are sent to the South in the event the referendum vote comes in favor of secession, an official said today.

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  Southern children (SMC)

The director of care management at the Ministry of Development in Khartoum State Mona Mustafa Khogali told the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website that authorities along with NGO’s will count the population of impacted children in coordination with the Government of Southern Sudan.

Khogali said that around 30 social workers are undergoing training to handle these cases emphasizing that the deportation of children will take place only if South opts for independence.

She added that this move is in line with the ministry’s strategy crafted in preparation for the country’s breakup.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) party in the North has stressed that Southerners living in the North will be treated as foreigners once the separation materializes and ruled out any prospects for dual citizenship.

Critics say that Sudanese constitution allows for dual citizenship and it bestows birthright citizenship on those born on its soil.

But Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV recently that Southerners exclusively got the self-determination right and as such they cannot retain citizenship rights in the North unless they pick unity.

Preliminary results show a landslide vote in favor of separation by Southern Sudanese inside the country and abroad.

An estimated two million people died in the 22-year civil war, the latest round in five decades of conflict between the south and the mainly Arab north that has blighted Africa’s largest nation.

The week-long independence vote was the centerpiece of the 2005 peace agreement that ended the war.

UN says Darfur situation improving as peacekeepers report violent incidents

January 20, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The UN on Thursday claimed that the security situation in Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur is improving, but daily reports from its peacekeepers on the ground paint a different picture.

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Georg Charpentier, Deputy Special Representative for the UNAMID, briefs reporters following the ninth Tripartite (AU-UN-Sudan) Coordination Mechanism meeting on Darfur, Sept 27, 2011 (Photo UN)

Georg Charpentier, the head of the UN humanitarian mission in Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum on Thursday that the UN had observed “a trend of decreasing overall violent incidents in Darfur.”

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Wednesday released an update on the figures of causalities in the region, saying that at least 2,321 violent deaths occurred during 2010.

Original UN estimates say that at least 300,000 were killed and more than 2 million lost their homes since the conflict erupted in 2003 when rebels belonging mostly to African ethnic groups took up arms against the government, accusing it of marginalizing the region.

The Sudanese government, whose abusive counterinsurgency is blamed for the crisis, disputes the UN figures, saying only 10,000 died.

But the UN official contended that the new figures stand for the victims of inter-tribal violence rather than direct military confrontations between government forces and rebel groups.

"A lot of those (killed) I believe... were more from inter community clashes... than let’s say, the conflict that has been going on between the Sudanese army and rebel movements in Darfur," Charpentier said.

According to Charpentier, large areas in Darfur enjoy security conditions conducive for the return of Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

Charpentier claimed that the Sudanese authorities had been exerting efforts to facilitate the return of IDPs to their homelands.

"I can also attest to the fact the government has allocated concrete funding to support, internally, through the states, these durable solutions," he said.

However, Charpentier acknowledged that the number of IDPs who have returned to their villages so far was "relatively small" in compare to the total number of IDPs, citing the “dependency” of some IDPs in refugee camps as a main challenge facing repatriation efforts.

The UN’s official assertion of a decreasing violence contrast with daily reports released by the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which continue to document killing incidents, restrictions on peacekeepers and continuation of rape reports.

On 18 January, UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari called for restraint following the outbreak of violent incidents in Western Darfur town of Nertiti, where the killing of a security agent at the hands of unknown gunmen spiraled into a reprisal campaign during which another security officer and one policeman were killed.

UNAMID reports further indicated that several properties in Nertiti, which is located (located 63 kilometers east of Zalingei), were destroyed by Sudanese forces in their attempt to flush out the suspects.

The hybrid operation also confirmed the killing on 17 January of a man in the market of Al Salaam IDP camp in Norh Darfur by the police. The mission however noted that the policeman who shot the victim was later arrested by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS)

Four women have been raped and beaten by three armed men near the village of Dorma, 25 km north of Tawilla, North Darfur, according to UNAMID releases on Thursday.

The mission also reported on 18 January that its patrols were temporarily denied access to some areas in south Darfur by Sudan military without apparent reasons.

Furthermore, the high incidence of kidnappings of foreigners in the region remains unabated.

There are currently three Bulgarian crewmembers of a UN-contracted helicopter in the captivity of unknown gunmen who snatched them last week as their helicopter landed at a local airstrip in West Darfur State.

Kidnapping of foreigners in Darfur came into vogue after March 2008 when the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the region.

Twenty two foreigners have been kidnapped ever since, all were released unharmed.

River Nile State complete its preparations for the visit of the President of the Republic

Khartoum, Jan. 21 (SUNA) The River Nile State has completed preparations for the visit of the President of the Republic Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir during 25 and 26 of January

 

The River Nile State acting Wali (governor) Mr. Osman Al-Saeed Al-Sheikh said in a press conference held in the premises of Atbra TV that the state has completed arrangements for the visit during which the President of the Republic will participate in the celebrations of the anniversary of the Independence Day and Peace in the state

 

He explained that the President of the Republic will attend during the visit the thirty-eighth National Festival of the Holy Quran and will inaugurate a number of economic and services establishments, as well as addressing public meetings

 

The facilities are to be inaugurated by Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir is the Teacher's Tower, and four cement factories which were built in Al- Damer, Atbara, Barber, with the capacity of not less than six million and three hundred thousand tons per year which exceeds consumption of the country's

International Support to Darfur Peace Process in Doha Affirmed

Doha, Jan. 21 (SUNA) - The Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Abdalla Al- Mahmud, and the Joint Mediator of the United Nations and the African Union (AU), Djibril Bassole, met Thursday at the permanent headquarters of the State of Qatar to the UN in New York, the permanent representatives of Russia, France and Bosnia-Herzegovina which is the chairman the UN Security Council for the current month

 

The two mediators held another meeting with the African non-permanent states to the Security Council which include Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa. Al-Mahmud and Bassole met same day the Sudan Permanent envoy to the UN and briefed him on the completion of peace process in Doha and the intensive consultations the Mediation carried out with all the concerned circles

 

The meeting also focused on the efforts being exerted by the mediation to complete the proposed Peace Document prior to submitting it to the Arab-African Ministerial Committee and then the concerned parties in Darfur and regional and international partners for approval

 

The Representatives expressed their support to Doha Peace Negotiations , urging all the armed movements of Darfur to join the peaceful peace process in Doha

Kuwait willing to assist Sudan with debt relief efforts

January 19, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir met on Tuesday with the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in the Red Sea resort of Sharm Al Sheikh on the sidelines of the Arab Economic summit that starts on Wednesday.

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FILE - Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (L) and the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (R)

Sudan’s state media quoted foreign minister Ali Karti as saying that the meeting took place to thank the Kuwaiti leader for the projects it undertook in Sudan following the meetings of the joint committee.

He said that Al-Sabah was briefed on developments in Sudan following the conclusion of the South Sudan referendum and the preparations by Khartoum to face the upcoming period.

The Sudanese top diplomat said they also tackled the issue of external debt in light of the fact that Kuwait is one of Sudan’s largest creditors.

He said that the Emir promised that his country will not dissent from Arab position on Sudan’s debt.

Sudan has been lobbying intensively particularly among Western nations to have its debt canceled as a reward for letting the referendum go smoothly and without issues.

Research fellow Ben Leo and his assistant Ross Thuotte from the Center for Global Development wrote in the Huffington Post last year that the Arab Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait own most of Sudan’s debt ($6 billion and $3 billion respectively).

Sudan has long complained that political discord with the West has prevented it from joining the debt relief program known as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).

Most of Sudan’s debt dates back to the days of late president Ga’afar Nimeiry. It grew from $9 billion in 1985 to its current levels.

The United States promised to assist Sudan internationally with its debt relief effort but cautioned that this is a lengthy and complex process.

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