Ethiopia and Egypt support Sudan's AU chairmanship - An open letter to Sudanese President al-Bashir
When African leaders gather in Khartoum on Monday for the African Union summit the theme of their two-day meeting will be education and culture. Both subjects fit easily with the AU's vision of promoting the "socio-economic integration" of the world's poorest continent.Full story.
Yet the AU's sixth summit has the potential to be its most controversial and looks set to test the credibility of the organisation. It could also provide an examination of whether Africa's leaders have genuinely bought into the idea of a new order on their continent.
Essentially, African leaders will be in a position to make judgments on their peers; deciding whether Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the oft-criticised Sudanese president, should become Africa's top diplomat; and how a legal case against Hissene Habre, the former Chadian dictator accused of atrocities, should proceed.
Photo: Hissene Habre's regime is accused of torture and political murder - see BBC report Nov 15, 2005 Chad arrest comes after 15 years: The pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has welcomed the arrest of Hissene Habre, former president of Chad and the man it calls the "African Pinochet". Mr Habre took power in 1982 after a long military campaign and was in turn overthrown in a coup d'etat in 1990 by the current president of Chad, Idriss Deby.
Note, a Reuters report Jan 20, 2006 says Chad has opposed the candidacy of Sudan's President as chairman of the African Union. Mr Deby is boycotting the AU summit to start on Monday, instead sending his foreign minister, and Deby accuses Sudan of supporting the rebels, a charge Khartoum denies, arguing that he is trying to deflect attention away from internal problems. Chad also says it is in a "state of belligerence" with Sudan.
A Sudanese state security source said 20 mostly Chadian men were arrested on Thursday, including Abdelwahit About.
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Ethiopia and Egypt support Sudan's AU chairmanship
Ethiopia strongly rejects internationalization of Darfur crisis, said Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin on Friday. Mesfin said Ethiopia is keen on helping Sudan to overcome the crisis by peaceful means, noting that the issue is a local one.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit says Egypt supports Sudan's AU chairmanship. Gehit described Sudanese-Egyptian relations as excellent and pointed out that there are no obstacles impeding the relations between the two countries. (ST) Jan 21, 2006.
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Message to Khartoum
If it were possible, this blog author and many Sudan Watch readers would sign their names to this open letter published in today's Sudan Tribune:
To His Excellency, Omar al-Bashir President of The Sudan, January 20, 2006:
Dear Mr. President:
As advocates for a just and lasting peace for all Sudanese, we are concerned that if Sudan accepts the leadership of the African Union in the immediate future, it will have a negative impact on the fragile Darfur peace process. Therefore we encourage you, Mr. President, to graciously decline that position at this time. You have stated your desire to see a cessation of the conflict and resulting humanitarian distress in the western region of your nation. Perhaps this can happen in the next year if those talks in Nigeria continue.
Since Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has so ably discharged the responsibilities of the office, he may be the best person to continue in that position at this sensitive time.
We ask you to step aside at this time to demonstrate the sincerity with which you seek peace and to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.
William D. Andress, Jr.
Moderator, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum