SUDAN WATCH: January 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Darfur Salaam: BBC radio broadcasts for Darfur, Sudan

Links re Darfur Salaam are now in sidebar here at Sudan Watch. The lifeline radio service for Darfur is a very important initiative by the BBC.

BBC World Service Trust launches lifeline radio project in Darfur

If any Sudan Watch readers hear the service, please let us know and share any feedback here in the comments or via email. Thanks.

BBC Darfur Lifeline transmissions begin

"It will be the survival guide for our listeners in the area. We view it as a continuation of our commitment to the region" - Hosam El Sokkari, Head of BBC Arabic service.

Sudan's expecting two new presidential boats

Marc Lacey's article in the NYT Jan 31 tells us Bashir's new yacht never made it for the AU summit in Khartoum. It's already damaged and looks old.

The article reveals another presidential boat, even larger than the first, is on its way and is Chinese made. The first one was made in Slovania. [via DXBNews]

5.2 m people will need relief assistance in Sudan in 2006 including 2.5 m in Darfur

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says Sudan's aid needs 'remain immense' - 5.2 million people will need relief assistance in Sudan in 2006, including 2.5 million in Darfur, reports Sapa/AFP 30 January 2006.

Note, according to the article, agriculture, devastated by drought and civil war, remains the mainstay of Sudan's economy, where it comprises 45% of gross domestic product.

Sudan's Hassan al-Turabi harboured bin Laden

Hassan al-Turabi, a Sudanese intellectual with a British education who built Africa's first Islamist state when he dominated Sudan throughout the 1990s, says bin Laden is 'not dangerous', writes David Blair in the Telegraph 30 January 2006.

Also, see Telegraph Islamic Revolution loses grip in Sudan by Philip Smucker in Khartoum 07/03/2001.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

The war on terrorism that most Americans don't know about

With few to fight, U.S. troops extend humanitarian help in East Africa. This is the war on terrorism that most Americans don't know about:

Full story at Captain Marlow's, by Shashank Bengali, Inquirer Foreign Staff, 30 January 2006.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Islamic jihad groups creating camps in Chad

Douglas Farah's blog entry Jan 26, 2006 entitled "The Africa Pipeline Expands, The Brotherhood Returns to Sudan" says his intelligence contacts are charting an alarming growth of global Islamic jihad groups creating camps in northern West Africa, particularly Mali and Chad and this is coupled with an unusual resurgence of visits of leaders of the international Muslim Brotherhood to Khartoum, Sudan on a regular basis. [via The Counterterrorism Blog]

Iran says "No" to foreign meddling in Darfur, Sudan

Today, Coalition for Darfur publishes BBC Monitoring's text [no date] of report by Sudanese newspaper Alwan claiming Iran says "No" to foreign meddling in Darfur. Excerpt:
"The Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr Ahmad al-Musawi, has said he cast doubts on the enemies' intentions towards the Darfur region.

In a press conference held at the Hilton hotel [in Khartoum] yesterday morning, he urged to end foreign interference in Darfur and let the Sudanese government work towards resolving the issue in a suitable way.

He further reiterated Iran's support for a Sudanese solution in this regard, and his trust in the mediation of the AU member states to resolve the crisis."
Note Sudan backs Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy January 26, 2006.

Major escalation of violence in Jebel Marra Darfur forces aid agencies to evacuate - UN condemns attack by SLA on Golo

UN statement issued January 27, 2006 says UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is seriously concerned by the major escalation of violence in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, particularly the heavy fighting in the Golo and Shearia areas that has forced humanitarian agencies to evacuate.

The Secretary-General condemns the attack by Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) forces on Golo, and calls on all parties to immediately stop all hostility.

U.N. sounds Darfur warning in 42-page OHCHR report - U.S. condemns attacks by Sudan's SLA

A new detailed UN report [see summary here below] warns that killings, rapes and indiscriminate attacks are still forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in Darfur. Excerpt from The Scotsman January 28, 2006:
"A 42-page report said those carrying out the violence included soldiers who fired at civilians from helicopter gunships.

The report criticised the government of coup leader Omar el-Bashir, saying promises to end centuries of discrimination and marginalisation of black African minorities were marked by "token gestures" while murder and torture went unpunished."
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42-page UN report sounds Darfur warning

On January 27, 2006 UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a detailed report on dismal human rights conditions in Darfur and other parts of Sudan and called on Sudanese Government to take measures to end culture of impunity.

UN News Centre January 27, 2006 reports that while noting some progress since peace accords were signed last year, such as the lifting emergency law in certain areas, the OHCHR report says other initiatives have been inadequate, especially in Darfur, where any positive political measures were "overshadowed by an ineffective judiciary, an ongoing conflict, and widespread human rights abuses." Excerpt:
From September to November 2005 government forces, working with militia who were often described by witnesses as Janjaweed, carried out at least eight organised armed attacks on over a dozen camps or villages occupied by internally displaced persons (IDPs). The attackers killed and wounded civilians and destroyed their homes.

The report rejects Sudan's rationale that it was responding to rebel activities, stating that in most cases civilians were "deliberately targeted." It notes that State-sponsored offensives fan the flames of violence by irregular groups "The increase in large attacks on civilians by Government forces likely encouraged the militia to execute other abuses with impunity."

Examples of sexual violence are also described in the report, such as the case of an IDP who was collecting hay one morning when she was approached by three armed military men, "slapped in the face, kicked in the stomach, and accused of being a rebel. She was then raped by two of the men."

The Geneva-based OHCHR reported allegations of torture at the hands of the national security, military intelligence and police officials in Khartoum, and voices serious concern about the absence of fair trial guarantees as well as inhuman detention conditions.

The 42-page report, which bases its findings mostly on direct investigations and information collected from victims, witnesses, and government authorities, calls on the Government to cease its attacks on civilians in Darfur, disarm militias there, and install an effective law enforcement system.

Khartoum is also urged to end culture of impunity, strengthen the judiciary and revoke immunity laws protecting state agents. "The National Security Service should be stripped of it abusive and unchecked powers of arrest and detention," the OHCHR states in the report, which was prepared in cooperation with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

Noting that the conflict in Sudan was initially sparked in response to marginalisation and discrimination, the report recommends that resource allocation be fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and involve the affected communities. The Government should also facilitate the humanitarian and development aid and allow civil society to function freely.

In January, 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a 21-year civil war which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2 million people and the displacement of some 4 million others.
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Janjaweed attacks on refugee camps - OHCHR warns of impending "catastrophe"

See Displaced Populations in Darfur Increasingly Face Annihilation by Eric Reeves January 28, 2006 - Growing number of Janjaweed attacks on camps. UN High Commissioner for Refugees warns of impending "catastrophe" [via Coalition for Darfur]
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US condemns rebels attacks in Darfur

Washington File January 27, 2006 says the U.S. condemns the rebel SLA's attacks on village of Golo and a police convoy in West Darfur on January 23, which killed and wounded a large number of Sudanese Armed Forces personnel.

Teenage SLA rebels in Darfur, Sudan

Photo: Teenage SLA fighters wearing amulets (believed to bring good luck and protect against evil the person who wears them) look on while in the rebel held village of Bodong in North Darfur, March 3, 2005. (Reuters/ST)
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Quote of the Day

"A lasting solution to this conflict can only be found through a negotiated settlement," he [UN Secretary-General] stressed.

Angelina Jolie and Bono at Davos Summit 2006 - China in Africa: CNOOC Nigerian oil deal

Click on image for further details and read more at Jewels in the Jungle.

Jolie at Davos summit 2006

Bono and Nigerian President Obasanjo at Davos Summit 2006

Grandiose Parlor says Bono wants Africa to be given a preferential treatment, and western economies to remove the subsidy on agricultural produce.

Bono and Nigerian President at Davos Summit 2006

China in Africa: The CNOOC Nigerian Oil Deal

See Bill's blog entry on China in Africa: The CNOOC Nigerian Oil Deal and his readers' comments on the question of whether China's renewed interest and financial investments in Africa are good for the people of the continent or not.

Note, the State Council of China formed CNOOC in 1982 to conduct exploration and production in China's offshore areas, both independently and as the exclusive Chinese partner for foreign entities.

My thoughts are human rights activists got it wrong when they pressured Western companies to withdraw from Sudan as it left the market wide open for unscrupulous Asian companies. Western companies not doing business with Sudan means Sudanese oil is sold elsewhere. Perhaps if Western companies were located in the Sudan, they might have had leverage with the UN Security Council when it came to helping Darfur. We could have pressured them to send specialist lawyers to help settle land disputes; provide training for security forces to protect locals and aid workers; and arrange gainful employment for locals to help build schools, roads and handpumps for drinking water to help quell violent clashes over livestock and watering holes.

The Darfur genocide is now in its fourth year and as things stand now, 7,000 African Union soldiers are in Darfur at a cost GBP 10 million a month. God knows the financial cost of humanitarian aid and 11,000 aid workers or how many miles of roads and water pipes could have been built instead if it weren't for a handful of obstinate men in Khartoum. So far the cost in terms of human life alone is estimated as 400,000 and rising - half the number of the Rwandan genocide.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sudan accuses Chad of shelling Arm Yakui, West Darfur - NMRD Darfur rebels attack Sudan army base in Arm Yakui

Whenever Darfur peace talks get close to an agreement the rebels fall out or split up and start killing to make headline news involving all sides. None are interested in peace. It's how they make a living. This could go on for years.

Today, Reuters correspondent Opheera McDoom reports the Darfur rebel group National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD) said they attacked a Sudanese military base in West Darfur January 28, 2006, killing 78 soldiers and accused Chadian insurgents of working alongside Sudan's armed forces.

NMRD (third group of Darfuri rebels) not in Darfur peace talks

Note, the report says the two other Darfur rebel groups, SLA and JEM, are in peace talks with Khartoum, but the NMRD are not and do not respect a ceasefire signed between those groups and the government in 2004. Further excerpts:
The Sudanese army source said the attack came from within Chadian territory. "This attack came suddenly from inside Chadian territory, and we returned fire with the same force using artillery," he said.
NMRD operate along Chad-Sudan border
The NMRD operate along the Chad-Sudan border. The long border between Chad and Sudan is porous and many tribes span the frontier. Deby himself took power in 1990 in an uprising he launched from Darfur.

Abdallah said Chadian rebels, led by Mahamat Nour, had fought alongside the Sudanese armed forces in the attack. "We don't understand why they are doing this. We have no problem with Mahamat Nour," he said.
United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) Chadian rebels, led by Mahamat Nour
Nour leads an alliance of Chadian insurgents called the United Front for Democratic Change, known as FUC. His group attacked the Chadian border town of Adre in December and are sworn to depose Deby.

Nour denied involvement in the clashes. "Our forces were nearby but they did not participate in the attack," he told Reuters by telephone from eastern Chad.

Sudan arrested 20 Chadian rebels in Khartoum last week, including one leader. Nour said they had been released and had left the Sudanese capital.

Sudan denies supporting the Chadian rebels. The rebels declined to say why they were in Khartoum, but Nour had written a letter requesting that his group be given an audience at an African Union summit in Khartoum on Monday.
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Sudan accuses Chad of shelling Arm Yakui, W Darfur

Sudan accused Chad of bombarding an area in its western border state of West Darfur and said its army had retaliated January 28, 2006, reports SAPA:
"The area of Armankul northwest of the town of Geneina, capital of West Darfur state, came under artillery shelling that continued for an hour and a half from inside the Chadian territories," military spokesman Gen. Abbas Adul Rahaman Khalifa said in a brief statement carried by the official news agency, SUNA.

He did not specify whether the attack was carried out by Chadian soldiers or a rebel group. "Our armed forces have dealt with this aggression with a retaliation in preservation of the sovereignty of the national territories and safeguarding the lives of Sudanese subjects," Khalifa said.
Further reading:

Jan 24, 2006 Sudan's SLA rebels launch attack in Golo, West Darfur - Note Eric Reeves' analysis March 17, 2005 re third Darfuri rebel group NMRD

Jan 25, 2006 Hundreds of Sudanese flee upsurge of violence in West Darfur after unidentified armed men attacked the town of Guereda - UN Refugee Agency

Jan 25, 2006 Splintering of rebel groups? Nur's forces captured aid workers? UN helicopter crashes near Golo, West Darfur

Jan 29, 2006 ST/AFP Sudan alleges new Chad army incursion - Sudanese army spokesman General Al-Abbas Abdelrahman Khalifa said in a statement that a Chadian unit backed by artillery attacked a Sudanese position 40 kilometres (24 miles) northwest of Geneina in West Darfur state on Saturday.

Friday, January 27, 2006

AMIS African troops in Darfur cost GBP 10 million a month

According to an article in today's Guardian by diplomatic editor Ewen MacAskill, the African mission in Darfur (AMIS) costs ten million pounds a month:
"The UN said it wanted the US and European countries to help form a tough mobile force. But this has met with resistance so far in Washington and Europe and the preference is for a largely African force.

The AU, at its summit in Khartoum last week, exasperated western diplomats by failing to discuss in any detail the Darfur crisis. But it did agree a resolution supporting the take-over of the force by the UN. The AU said it was struggling to find the 10m a month needed to maintain it."
Imagine, if all the money used for Darfur aid and peacekeeping over the past three years had been spent on building water pumps, schools and roads in Darfur. By continuing to murder while refusing to reach a peace agreement, uneducated and unemployed gun toting men are making a living from ruining the Sudan, failing its children while getting away with rape and murder. What a waste. It's a crime against humanity.

David Wallechinsky puts dictators in their places and lists Sudan's president as the world's worst dictator

Today's Washington Post has an amusing article by Mark Leibovich about the world's worst dictators. According to the article the potential "hot" dictator we should keep an eye on for next year's rankings is, quote:
"Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia [No. 18]. He keeps getting worse. If his police keep arresting and shooting people, he's definitely gonna be someone to watch."
See why by scrolling though Sudan Watch's sister blog Ethiopia Watch and note Basque News article 25 January 2006 entitled "AU condemns worst right offenders, among them Ethiopia".

Click into Sudan Watch flickr post for links to Parade's lists of the world's worst dictators - Sudan's president won first place in this year's list.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sudan backs Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday pledged his country's support for Iran's position on peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Iranian Deputy President Ahmed Moussawi, who arrived in Khartoum earlier Wednesday on an official visit to Sudan, delivered a letter to the Sudanese president from his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmedinejad concerning the position of the Iranian authority toward its nuclear file and its right topeaceful use of nuclear energy, the Sudanese news agency reported.

See full report by China's Xinhua at SudanTribune 26 January 2006.

More information at Sudan Watch's sister blog Tehran Watch.

The children of Sudan are its future - Save the Children

This photo is the "Pulitzer Prize" winning photo taken in 1994 during the Sudan famine. The picture depicts a famine stricken child crawling towards a United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away.



The vulture is waiting for the child to die so it can eat it. This picture shocked the whole world. No one knows what happened to the child, not even the photographer Kevin Carter who left the place as soon as the photograph was taken.

Three months later he commited suicide due to depression.

How many more years must Sudanese children and mothers suffer?

Here we are in the year 2006. In a Jan 26 statement on Darfur, Save the Children notes it has been 3 years since the violence against civilians uprooted millions of people in Darfur and the causes of the conflict remain unresolved.

Why is it going on so long? After two years of blogging Darfur, it is this author's view that the rebels are not serious about peace at all. It seems to me their aim is overthrow the regime in Khartoum and seize power for themselves. What other explanation can there be? They have been given every chance and the world has bent over backwards to help. Even UN envoy Jan Pronk was quoted as saying in a news report this week he believes the Sudanese government were serious in their negotiations at the Darfur peace talks -- excerpt from Jan 23, 2006 Sudan Tribune report:
"I have no reason to believe that the Government would not be interested. I think that the Government will be interested in getting a peace agreement soon. And they have been to Abuja," he said.

The UN envoy said he had been to the Abuja talks often "and the Government negotiated quite constructively. They were good, tough negotiators but constructive."
Surely a peace agreement could have been reached by now if the rebels really cared about the millions of defenceless women and children imprisoned in camps. This could go on for decades. The rebels keep splitting up and are not disciplined enough or educated to govern responsibly.

The children of Sudan are its future. The rebels are responsible for holding back another generation of Sudanese children. God help them all. We don't really know half of what goes on or who funds the rebel bases and their leaders in Europe. This blog author finds it all too depressing and is taking a short break. Note this other excerpt from the statement by Save the Children:
"The Darfur crisis has already impacted negatively on millions of children in Darfur, and if it is not resolved, it will have far reaching repercussions for many tens of thousands of children in the decades to come.
Save the Children fights for children in the UK and around the world who suffer from poverty, disease, injustice and violence.
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Children's drawings from Darfur

Children’s Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Above drawing by Doa, Age 11 or 12: Janjaweed descend on a village on horses and camels, a woman flings her arms in the air as she is targeted for sexual violence or execution. A soldier takes a woman to be raped. She has a cell phone next to her head: "She wants to call the agencies for help." (Image courtesy Human Rights Watch/Sudan Watch archive)

See more children's drawings from Darfur.
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Peace will only be made, and kept, by the Sudanese people themselves

Abu Shouk refugee camp Darfur

Photo: A young Sudanese child is helped with a drink of clean water at the Abu Shouk refugee camp near El Fasher, in Darfur, Sudan, in August 2004. (AFP/File/Jim Watson/Sudan Watch archive May 27, 2005)
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Teenage fighters in Darfur

Darfur rebels

Photo: Teenage Sudan Liberation Army fighters in the rebel held village of Bodong in North Darfur. (Reuters/Sudan Watch archive)
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Darfur rebels listen to radio

Photo: A member of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), listens to a radio at Dorsa village in west Darfur, October 10, 2004. (Reuters/Sudan Watch archive)
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Darfur rebel

Photo: A Darfur rebel (Unsourced - Sudan Watch archive)
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Rebels on Sudan's Eastern Front

Photo: Rebels from Sudan's Eastern Front parade during a conference held by the Front north of Kassala town, near the Eritrean border. (AFP/Sudan Watch archive April 2005)

Further reading:

Oct 3, 2005 Sudan's SLA Minnawi faction quits Darfur peace talks

Oct 2, 2005 Sudan's Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal led attack on Darfur

Oct 1, 2005 Sudanese army attacks Darfur civilians - African Union concludes all parties to the conflict were violating ceasefire agreements and there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties

Oct 1, 2005 Important African Union Statement on Security in Darfur

Oct 1, 2005 War crimes warnings from UN and UK on Darfur Sudan

Oct 1, 2005 Darfur: Peace talks expected to conclude early 2006

Oct 1, 2005 UN Security Council calls for Darfur peace deal by end 2005
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Calling Mama Mongella: The stability of Sudan is fundamental to the whole of the African continent

Marvel at this historic photo: A WOMAN among the 30 African leaders gathering in Khartoum to decide whether to allow a Sudanese dictator to lead Africa or to vote for a Congolese dictator instead.

The world watched African politics in motion and witnessed how African leaders once again chose another dictator to lead Africa. The African Union was set up to replace an organisation that at one time was chaired by Idi Amin. Had there not been so much adverse publicity from activists, Sudan would probably be chairing the AU and overseeing the Darfur genocide.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at African summit in Khartoum

Photo: Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (C) is escorted out of a conference hall after a closed-door meeting with other African leaders at the sixth African Union Summit in Sudanese capital Khartoum January 24, 2006. The African Union chose Congo Republic as a compromise to chair the organisation after opposition to Sudan because of fears its human rights record could hurt the continent's credibility. Under the deal, Sudan takes over leadership of the 53-nation body after Congo Republic steps down next year. Critics had said Sudan should not get the chair while it was under fire for rights abuses in its western region of Darfur, where 7,000 AU peacekeepers are trying to uphold a tentative ceasefire between the government and rebels. (Reuters/Antony Njuguna/Yahoo)
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African summit rejects one tyrant but elects another

See Jan 25, 2006 report in the Telegraph "African summit rejects one tyrant but elects another" by David Blair in Khartoum. Excerpt:
"If Sudan's record of atrocities makes it unsuitable to lead Africa this year, it is hard to see how al-Bashir will be the best leader to make Africa's case to the world next year," said Reed Brody, of Human Rights Watch.

He added that Congo-Brazzaville's human rights record, while better than Sudan's, was "nothing to celebrate".

Mr Sassou-Nguesso, 62, seized power in the oil-rich state in 1979. His Marxist regime was a key ally of the Soviet Union. Under pressure from France, the former colonial power, he eventually introduced democratic ref-orms and left office after losing an election in 1992. But he returned to power in a welter of bloodshed by leading a victorious rebel army with Angolan military backing in a civil war in 1997.

He called an election in 2002, banned his two main rivals from running and claimed victory with almost 90 per cent of the vote. Fighting continues in Congo-Brazzaville, where rebels are trying to oust him.

Mr Sassou-Nguesso's human rights record has been heavily criticised. When the United Nations repatriated 350 refugees to his capital, Brazzaville, in 1999, they immediately disappeared and their fate has never been established.

Despite all that, African officials insisted that Mr Bashir's failure to win the chairmanship demonstrated Africa's new concern for human rights.
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War crimes - have we learned anything?

Finally, here is a copy of a Sudan Watch post dated 18 April, 2005:

"Haven't we learned anything? Are we no further forward than we were 60 years ago?" asks the BBC's highly regarded world affairs editor John Simpson, in his report "War crimes - have we learned anything?

In the piece, published at BBC news online today, he writes:

"There was a time when we thought that killing on an industrial scale might be a thing of the past; but, depressingly, the pictures are no longer just in black and white nowadays. It may be 32 years since General Augusto Pinochet's men began killing left-wingers in Chile, and 30 since the Khmer Rouge arrived in Phnom Penh to force the entire population out into the killing fields. But it's only 11 years since Rwanda, and 10 since the Bosnian Serb general, Ratko Mladic, ordered the murder of every male Muslim in Srebrenica. And in Darfur people are dying right now."

He concludes by saying:

"It takes more than shaking our heads over old television pictures of piles of bodies to make sure that these terrible crimes aren't repeated. Governments will never take enthusiastic action unless they think we really care about these things."

Full Story.

Skulls - Khmer Rouge

Photo (AFP/BBC UK): More than a million people died under the Khmer Rouge rule.
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Quotation

"If the people will lead, the leaders will follow."

[via Nile Basin Blog with thanks]

In Darfur, handpumps are on the frontline of peacebuilding

Ever since December when government soldiers overran the town of Tawila, burning homes and ruining wells, the pump has been the only source of safe water for kilometres around. It has become a commodity so valued that residents and soldiers alike fight -- and sometimes kill -- to quench their thirst. Indeed, this particular handpump has been the site of numerous rapes, beatings, and at least three deaths, including of soldiers shot by rebels.

Full story by Dorn Townsend, UNICEF, 26 January 2006 via ReliefWeb.

Waiting by the well

Photo: Waiting at the well - Naga, Sudan.
Courtesy www.markpelletierphotography.com/photo_galleries.htm (Sudan Watch archive)

UK House of Commons International Development Committee Report on Darfur: The Killing Continues

Link to pdf report Darfur: the killing continues (HC 657) 23 January 2006 went live online a few minutes ago here in England 11:10 am 26 January, 2006.

Click here and scroll down for link to the Committee's March 2005 report: "Darfur, Sudan and the Responsibility to Protect".

Blair admits world is failing Darfur as sanction calls grow

The Scotsman's political correspondent Gerri Peev says says Tony Blair has admitted the international community is failing Darfur and that more troops are needed to curb the violence.
When questioned by Sir Menzies Campbell, the interim Liberal Democrat leader, over the lack of action, Mr Blair said: "I think the international community is failing people in Darfur." He agreed that the African Union troops should have a boosted mandate.
Further reading:

Jan 26, 2006 UK Parliament House of Commons International Development Committee Reports - British MPs demand sanctions over Darfur.

Jan 26, 2006 Press Association report in the Scotsman MPs demand 'sanctions' on Sudanese - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for plans to deploy a new, Western-backed rapid reaction force with air support and sophisticated equipment. He said: "The overriding priority for the international community must be to end the bloodshed. The UN should mobilise additional resources for the AU mission's work and reinforce its role with a UN mandate."

Jan 25, 2006 Sudan Watch Britain calls for more peacekeepers in Darfur.

UK Parliament House of Commons International Development Committee Reports - British MPs demand sanctions over Darfur

January 26 BBC report says a group of British MPs wants the government to push the UN to impose sanctions against Sudan.

Note, the UK Commons International Development Committee published a report January 23, 2006 entitled Darfur: The Killing Continues*. Apparently, it is scathing about the Sudanese authorities.

On Wednesday, Tony Blair promised to do more to help refugees in the region and said strengthening peacekeeping forces should be a priority.

UK House of Commons Report: "Darfur: The Killing Continues"

The Committee will be releasing an online copy of its 23 January 2006 Report on "Darfur: The killing Continues" (HC 657), on Thursday 26 January at 00.01am (at which point the link should become active)

UK House of Commons Report: "Darfur, Sudan and the Responsibility to Protect"

The short report "Darfur: The Killing Continues" is a follow-up to the Committee's earlier report entitled Darfur, Sudan and the Responsibility to Protect [HC 67] published on 30 March 2005. It emerged from an oral evidence session held in November with the Secretary of State for International Development, Lord Triesman, International Crisis Group and Aegis Trust.

Also, see corrected transcript of oral evidence to be published as HC 657-i.

Ageis Trust webcast featuring Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire

View Aegis Trust archive of panel discussion webcast 25 January 2006. Speakers: Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire, Rt Hon Clare Short MP, John Bercow MP, Dr Mukesh Kapila.

Julie Flint and Alex de Waal's Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, and Gerard Prunier's Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide

Instapundit's Darfur update January 24, 2006 provides an excerpt from Nicholas Kristof's review of two new books on Darfur -- Julie Flint and Alex de Waal's Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, and Gerard Prunier's Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. [via Captain Marlow with thanks]

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New AU chairman would welcome UN support for AU troops in Darfur: International force in Darfur must be African-led

Reuters report by Nick Tattersall Jan 25, 2006 says the African Union would want to maintain control of peacekeepers in Darfur even if UN soldiers were sent to bolster the mission, the new head of the AU said. Excerpt:
Congo Republic's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who was appointed by African leaders on Tuesday as chairman of the AU, said he would welcome UN support for AU troops in Darfur but that the force had to remain African-led.

'The United Nations can bring forces, but all of that should be to support the AU forces, under the command of the AU and its officers who are there,' Sassou told Reuters in a joint interview with French radio late on Tuesday.

'This dossier must be managed by the African Union. I believe that the international community will understand that it is better to operate like that,' he said after an AU summit in Sudan's capital Khartoum."

Hundreds of Sudanese flee upsurge of violence in West Darfur after unidentified armed men attacked the town of Guereda - UN Refugee Agency

Almost 800 Sudanese have fled to eastern Chad to escape increased violence in West Darfur, the UN refugee agency said yesterday. Excerpt from Press Release - UN News Center via Harold Doan and Associates UK, Jan 24 2006:
Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the Sudanese are receiving help in Gaga camp, which currently holds around 6,600 people.

There are more than 200,000 refugees from strife-torn Darfur in camps in eastern Chad and Mr. Redmond said the security situation had deteriorated in West Darfur in recent months, involving both the Janjaweed militia and "a recent rise of tensions between Chad and Sudan."

Gaga is the newest of 12 UNHCR camps in eastern Chad and many of the new arrivals say they travelled at night, riding donkeys to reach the camp, or else walked for days to find safety.

Mr. Redmond said that because of the worsening security situation in West Darfur, the Geneva-based agency had reduced the number of aid workers operating in the area and, as announced at the weekend, security concerns had also forced the UNHCR to reduce staff numbers in eastern Chad.

The weekend announcement came after unidentified armed men attacked the town of Guereda and abducted five government officials last Friday. While expressing concern for their safety, UNHCR calls for the immediate release of those detained, Mr. Redmond said today.

President of UN Security Council says a "large" UN peacekeeping force is now needed

Associated Press report Jan 24, 2006 reveals Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania's ambassador to the UN and president of the Security Council, commended the work of AU peacekeepers in Sudan, but said a "large" UN peacekeeping force is now needed:
"It will be large and resources will be required," Mahiga said. "The AU would continue to participate operationally and politically."

UNHCR chief warns Security Council of much greater calamity in Darfur and calls for UN peacekeeping force in Darfur

China's People's Daily and Xinhuanet are covering news of the warning by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. Excerpt:
Guterres told the Security Council the situation in Darfur has deteriorated over the past six months, saying that it will require bold measures and the full involvement of the African Union and the UN to avert the catastrophe.

"If we fail, if there is no physical protection for those in need of aid, the risk is a much greater calamity than what we have seen so far," he said. "I appeal to this body today in the strongest terms".
Associated Press Jan 24, 2006 quotes Mr Guterres as saying a large UN peacekeeping force is needed in Darfur if a "total humanitarian disaster" is to be avoided in the country's Darfur region.
"I do believe the Sudan-Chad situation is the most challenging humanitarian problem we face today in the world," Guterres said at a press conference following his Council appearance.
Unknown group of armed men attacked town of Guereda in Chad

Note the report says an unknown group of armed men attacked the town of Guereda in Chad this weekend, forcing the U.N. refugee agency to reduce its staff in eastern Chad.
Guterres told the Security Council that international pressure on Sudan is essential for a peace agreement to materialize in the country and to avoid the explosion of a wider crisis.

"This is crucial. The proof that this is crucial is that the instability in Darfur is very quickly having an impact in Chad," Guterres said. "We had to relocate part of our staff. We have 200,000 refugees on the Chad border. Military confrontation in that region would be a total humanitarian disaster."

But two weeks ago, Jan Pronk, the top UN envoy in Sudan, called for a force of as many as 20,000 troops to provide security in the vast and arid region.

The AU said it accepted the Pronk's call in principle and that its ministers would make a final decision at the end of March.

Britain calls for more peacekeepers in Darfur

Prime Minister Blair has faced new questions about the Darfur crisis during his weekly appearance in parliament. Excerpts from VOA News report by Michael Drudge London 25 January 2006:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told parliament the international community is failing to support the people of Darfur. Mr Blair says an African peacekeeping force needs more troops and money.
"I think the international community is failing the people in Darfur, which is why it is so important that we take the measures that the development secretary, indeed the government, have been pressing for," he said. "And those measures have got to include not just the immediate humanitarian help, but also to make sure that the African Union peacekeeping force comes up to its full strength."
Mr Blair says a number of steps need to taken to bring peace to Darfur, but he defends British policy on the issue.
"The only way that the situation in Darfur is going to improve is when there are sufficient numbers of peacekeeping forces on the ground to keep the combatants apart, when the process of dialogue and peace takes place, which we have been calling for, and obviously, where the measures are in place to improve humanitarian help," he added. "So we have to do more, but we are doing more and I would just point out we as the British government have been leading in this area and will continue to do so."
- - -

British Lib Dems slam Darfur 'failure'

Excerpt from ePolitix.com Jan 25, 2006:

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to do more to help the victims of civil war in Sudan.

Acting leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the international community had "failed the people of Darfur".

Speaking at prime minister's questions in the Commons on Wednesday, he said Britain had been right to prioritise Africa in its foreign policy.

"The prime minister rightly said that Africa is 'a scar on the conscience of the world' and made Africa the focus of the British presidency of the G8," Sir Menzies said.

"With hundreds of thousands of people dead and two million displaced, haven't we failed the people of Darfur?"

Tony Blair agreed that more needed to be done to aid refugees and assist the African Union in ensuring fresh violence does not break out.

Splintering of rebel groups? Nur's forces captured aid workers? UN helicopter crashes near Golo, West Darfur

The African Union claims the SLA attacked the government-held town of Golo earlier this week, reports Reuters today. About 60 aid workers have since been evacuated:
"A UN helicopter crashed today near Golo in the Jebel Marra area where fighting has been taking place, a UN statement said ... one UN source said the aircraft made a forced landing because of a problem with its rotor."
In news here below, UN envoy Jan Pronk is quoted by a Chinese news agency as saying, "I will not tolerate if Nur's forces captured those humanitarian workers" ... and that he could not know whether the cause of the helicopter crash was mechanical or shot by particular circles, adding the UN mission in Sudan would deliver a statement later.

Darfur rebel groups appear to be splitting in a dangerous way, making peace talks impossible. JEM rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim is quoted in a Reuters report yesterday as saying:
"Of course we will continue on peace talks. We expect the problem of Darfur to be solved next year."
Updates

Jan 25, 2006 Xinhuanet says at least four international relief workers were slightly injured and a Sudanese is missing. Apparently, the UN helicopter exploded in an emergency landing, a UN source in Khartoum told Xinhua. Earlier, Jan Pronk said the crash took place while it was attempting to evacuate 36 UN relief workers, including some Sudanese nationals, following violent fighting in the area. Excerpt:
He said that he has just learned about the crash of the chopper and could not know whether the cause of the accident was mechanical or shot by particular circles, adding the UN mission in Sudan would deliver a statement later when any information on the accident is available.

Pronk expressed his concern of what was taking place in Gebel Marra where 73 non-governmental organizations are operating, stressing the need to "evacuate the humanitarian workers this day". The UN official added that he informed Abdu-al wahid Mohammed Nur, one of the two rivals of the Sudan Liberation Movement [aka SLA], whose group controls the area, to commit to the ceasefire and to stop military operations there.

"I will not tolerate if Nur's forces captured those humanitarian workers," said Pronk.
- - -

Further reading:

Jan 12, 2006 Sudan peace deal 'bad' for Darfur. - BBC

Jan 24, 2006 SLA rebels launch attack in Golo, West Darfur.

Jan 25, 2006 Reuters/Gulf Times Rebels raid Darfur town - US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, said about six soldiers were killed in the attack, in an area controlled by an SLA leader, Abdul Wahid Mohamed el-Nur.

Aljazeera carries same report quoting Jendayi Frazer as saying, "Golo has been a focus for tension as it is now in government hands, but overlooked by hills which are a rebel stronghold. "It suggests we really need to speed up the talks - it's a very fragile situation. This is bad and ... it points towards a splintering of the rebel movements."

Jan 25, 2006 M&C News (1st Update) - A source working for the Irish humanitarian aid organization GOAL said that the helicopter crash killed one passenger and left 10 others in a critical condition. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the helicopter was carrying as many as 35 passengers.

Jan 25, 2006 RTE Ireland Sudanese aid worker killed in air crash - 25-year-old Hadja Hamid was being evacuated with other Goal workers following an escalation of violence in the Jebel Mara area of Darfur in recent days. Four others were able to escape to safety from the UN helicopter, which crashed shortly after take-off. Miss Hamid was Sudanese and had been working for Goal for the past six months on the agency's supplementary feeding programme.

Jan 26, 2006 Rebels battling for Darfur town - BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says international community has changed tack. Sudanese government used to be generally blamed for the violence but now the US has condemned the rebels for launching their twin offensives. Peace talks in Nigeria have been complicated by rows between different rebel groups and factions.

Jan 27, 2006 Washington File report - US condemns the rebel SLA's attacks on village of Golo and a police convoy in West Darfur on January 23, which killed and wounded a large number of Sudanese Armed Forces personnel.

In a written statement released January 25, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the attacks "unwarranted and violations of the cease-fire agreement. Their perpetrators must be held accountable," he said. McCormack went on to "commend the African Union Mission in Sudan for its response in both of these incidents, particularly its assistance to humanitarian workers caught in the midst of the fighting."
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SLA Chairman Abdel-Wahid Mohammad al-Nur

Julie Flint is the author, with Alex de Waal, of "Darfur: A Short History of a Long War," (Zed books, October 2005). Note this excerpt from commentary she wrote for The Daily Star November 15, 2005:

Eighteen months ago, Minawi attempted to "re-unite" the SLA by force when he attacked the mountain stronghold of his rival, SLA Chairman Abdel-Wahid Mohammad al-Nur. He failed. His attack on Marajan appears to have been the first blow in a second attempt to unite the SLA by force. He perhaps hoped that Marajan's abduction would go unnoticed amid the attention focused on his "unity" conference at Haskanita in North Darfur - organized without the consent of the SLA chairman. The conference elected Minawi leader of the SLA - with 411 votes for and 222 abstentions, despite the fact that it was, in large part, a gathering of the faithful.

However, the conference backfired. It was opposed not only by Abdel-Wahid's Fur supporters and the Arab tribes sympathetic to him, but by many of Minawi's own Zaghawa commanders, who perceive him as favoring his own Ila Digen clan (Awlad Digayn, in Arabic) over all others. It pushed his deputy chief of staff, Bakhit Karima, into open opposition. Over the weekend, Hassan Abashir, the SLA commander in charge of heavy weapons, announced that he too has withdrawn his support from Minawi.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sudan's SLA rebels launch attack in Golo, West Darfur

According to Reuters Jan 24 the SLA launched an offensive on Golo yesterday and the Sudanese government reacted a senior African Union official was reported as saying without giving details.

The report explains Golo is a government held town in the central Jabel Marra region of Darfur that has changed hands several times in the three-year conflict.

Note, on Dec 28, 2005 ReliefWeb published a UN news report saying a number of roads in the Jabal Marra area were declared "go" areas for UN agencies on Dec, 22 2005 and that since early 2004 UN agencies had access only to Gilgo, Golo, Turrah and Rokerro by air, limiting the amount of support the UN agencies could give to NGOs in the region.

Map of Jabal Marra, West Darfur, Sudan

West Darfur, Jebel Marra

Click for larger image. Map courtesy HIC Field Atlas.
For map of Sudan see http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/sudan.pdf
For placename index see Darfur, Sudan Map.
For map of oil concessions see sidebar here at Sudan Watch.

Fur clan in the Jabal Marra area

UK Parliament Select Committee on International Development DRDC report Nov 2004 explains that western parts of Darfur, including the fertile landscapes surrounding the Jabal Marra massive, are the traditional home of the sedentary African groups such as Fur, Massaleet and other non-Arab tribes, and:
"It should be noted that rebellion against the government policies in Darfur started in reality in 1992 when the late Mr Daoud Yahya Bolad, a one time leading member of the ruling party of General El Bashier, became aware of the government complicity in the campaign of destruction that targets the African tribes of Darfur. Mr Bolad quietly broke ranks with the government, forged a link with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and Movement (SPLA/M) and started organising members of his Fur clan in the Jabal Marra area. He was able to establish a western faction of the SPLA/M and get the support of some followers in the western parts of Darfur. Mr Bolad was speedily arrested and summarily executed by the security forces in 1992 and consequently his movement ceased to exist."
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National Movement for Reform and Development

This excerpt from Eric Reeves' analysis March 17, 2005 mentions a third Darfuri rebel group NMRD:
"Reuters recently reports (dispatches of March 14 and 16, 2005) on fighting between Khartoum's forces and the National Movement for Reform and Development (a third Darfuri rebel movement) in the Jabel Moun area of West Darfur. The Darfur Relief and Documentation Center (Geneva) has also recently reported in detail on intense fighting in the same area, and gives a much fuller sense of the impact of fighting on humanitarian operations:

"Lawlessness, banditry activities, violence and the threat of violence are rampant in the region with serious implications on the situation of food security in many affected areas especially in the Jabal Marra massive and Jabal Moun in West Darfur."
- - -

Reminder of killing of AU soldier in West Darfur

British government Press Release Jan 9, 2006: The Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, and the Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, have condemned the killing of an African Union Mission soldier in Sudan (AMIS), in an attack in West Darfur, Sudan, on 6 January by unknown assailants. Ten AMIS soldiers were also injured in the attack.

Monday, January 23, 2006

BBC World Service Trust launches radio project in Darfur

Good news from the BBC in a Press Release 23 Jan 2006:
BBC World Service Trust has launched "Darfur Salaam", a humanitarian radio programme for Darfur in Sudan to be broadcast at 8.00am local time on the new BBC frequency of 11820 kHz and repeated at 8.00pm on 9640 kHz.
The first edition aired on Friday 20 January 2006.

BBC World Service Trust launches lifeline radio project in Darfur

Photo: Darfur lifeline radio production team. This great project is being funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the Ford Foundation.

For further information visit the BBC World Service Trust website:
www.bbcworldservicetrust.org

Sudan withdraws candidacy for AU presidency

[Update Jan 24: Congo named head of AU. See Sudan Watch post Jan 23 President of Congo (Brazzaville) to succeed Obasanjo as AU chair]

Jan 23: According to news just in from SAPA/DPA, Sudan has said it was withdrawing its candidacy for the position of African Union (AU) chairman following protests by human rights groups and several African heads of state.

African summit in Khartoum Sudan

Jan 23 BBC confirms Sudan is prepared to drop its bid to chair the AU to avoid splits within the organisation, Sudan's presidential adviser has said.
"We don't want to make any cracks. If that means Sudan should withdraw, we will," Mustafa Osman Ismail said, as AU leaders met at a summit in Khartoum.

Obasanjo with Bongo

Photo: The Chairman of the AU, President Olusegun Obasanjo, right, in a jovial mood as he jokes with, from left, Omar Bongo President of Gabon, Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and President of Comoros Azail Assoumani, second right after the opening of the summit. (AP/ST Sudan offers to withdraw its bid to head AU)

Peace talks between parties to the conflict in Darfur ground to a halt today as rebel delegations withdrew to await the result of President al-Bashir's bid to win the chairmanship of the AU.

African summit opens in Khartoum

Photo (AP/Sayyid Azim): Chairman of the AU, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo (L) with President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir, after the opening of the summit in Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006.

The chairmanship of the AU traditionally goes to the country hosting the summit. That would make the next chairman Sudanese President el-Bashir, a military coup leader accused of fueling the conflict in Darfur that has killed some 400,000 people in three years, displaced 2 million and spilled over into neighboring Chad.

Thabo Mbeki

Photo: South African President Thabo Mbeki attends the official opening of the summit. Five African leaders have asked Sudan to withdraw its bid to head the AU because the appointment could sink Darfur peace talks and dent the group's credibility. (Reuters/Antony Njuguna)

Denis Sassou Nguesso

Photo: Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso listens to the official opening of the summit. Sudan, which is under fire for rights abuses, wants to succeed Nigeria at the two-day summit. (Reuters/Antony Njuguna/Yahoo)

Salva Kiir Mayardit

Photo: Sudan's vice president Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) chats with Libyan president Mohammed Gadafi during the official opening of the summit. (Reuters/Antony Njuguna)

UN Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur: Prospect or Posturing?

Note Eric Reeves' latest analysis January 21, 2006. [via Coalition for Darfur - US Works to Delete Senior Members of NIF From Sanctions List]

Sudan spent GBP 15m on villas for two-day African Union summit in Khartoum

On Friday Jan 20 African Union chief executive Alpha Oumar Konare opened final preparations for the AU summit in Sudan by urging both parties to the country's Darfur conflict to be serious about peace.

This morning, AU chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo declared the opening of the summit.

According to today's Telegraph, Sudan spent GBP 15m on building 40 villas to house Africa's presidents for 48 hours.

Meanwhile, India has given a $392m loan to Sudan in two lines of credit through Export-Import Bank (EXIM) for setting up a 500 MW power plant and a transmission line project in Sudan.

African summit room conference in Khartoum

Photo: African summit room conference in Khartoum (AFP/File/Kambou Sia/ST)

Xinhua Jan 23 says the summit has drawn more than 30 African leaders. Delegates will discuss issues of education, culture and science but the status of peace and security on the continent and issues concerning UN reform are also considered to be on the top agenda:
"In his welcome address, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir pledged to work with Sudan's neighbors and other African countries to maintain peace and stability on the continent.

He said as one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity, AU's predecessor, Sudan has played an important role in the continent's unity and integration, adding that with its unique geographical location, it can also act as a link between Africa and the Arab world.

Al-Bashir also called for the continuation of the AU mission in Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur, saying that only in this way can Africa prove its capability in resolving internal conflicts."
Note, Egypt's Mubarak will not attend the summit because he has a cold.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrives in Khartoum, Sudan

Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) is received by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (L) as he arrives at Khartoum international airport to attend the summit. (AFP/Gianluigi Guercia/Yahoo)

Gabon's President Omar Bongo arrives at Khartoum

Photo: Gabon's President Omar Bongo (C) arrives at Khartoum international airport to attend the summit. (AFP/Gianluigi Guercia/Yahoo)

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives in Khartoum

Photo: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza (R) is received by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (L) as he arrives at Khartoum international airport to attend the summit. (AFP/Gianluigi Guercia/Yahoo)

Further reading:

Jan 20, 2006 Bio: General Omar Hasan Ahmed al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan - and the African Union? - see footnotes:

Jan 17, 2006: Khartoum rushes to transform itself AU summit to be held in Khartoum Jan 23-24, 2006

Dec 30, 2005: Sudan buys presidential yacht for AU summit.

President of Congo (Brazzaville) to succeed Obasanjo as AU chair - diplomatic sources

AngolaPress says Congolese president Denis Sassou-Nguesso might succeed Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as chairman of the African Union (AU) the state-owned Radio Congo reported Sunday, quoting "diplomatic sources".

And Congolese Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba added weight to the report Sunday when he told a press briefing here "it is not impossible President Nguesso could succeed president Obasanjo tomorrow (Monday) as head of the African Union".

Denis Sassou-Nguesso

Photo (Wikepedia): Jacques Chirac (R) and Denis Sassou-Nguesso president (1979-92, 1997-) of Congo (Brazzaville)

See Sudan Tribune report Jan 23 Congo's Sassou Nguesso favoured as next AU chairman.
- - -

Kenya to back Sudan nomination for AU chairmanship

Director of the Horn of Africa Department at the Kenyan Foreign Ministry, Ambassador David Mulem, has affirmed his country's keenness to support the nomination of Sudan for the chairmanship of the African Union.
- - -

UPDATE

Jan 24, 2006 Aljazeera.Net Congo granted AU chairmanship - "It's Congo," a delegate inside the meeting of heads of state and foreign ministers told Reuters by phone. A second delegate confirmed the decision on Tuesday.

Jan 24, 2006 CNN publishes AP report Congo to head AU,� Sudan withdraws - Sudan has withdrawn from the competition to lead the African Union amid criticism of its human rights record, a government spokesman said Tuesday. Diplomats said the presidency would go to the Republic of Congo.

Jan 24, 2006 BBC confirms Congo named to head African Union - Congo-Brazzaville has been chosen to head the African Union, after Sudan withdrew its bid for the leadership at the AU summit in Khartoum.

Jan 24, 2006 Reuters says Sudan's Foreign Ministry said Sudan would take over the AU chairmanship in 2007 after Congo's term ends - AU picks Congo as head, Sudan to follow - official -"They are all congratulating the Congolese president now," a delegate at the AU summit in Khartoum told Reuters by telephone. Other delegates confirmed the choice.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Janjaweed a fabrication says Sudanese President al-Bashir

From the BBC Monitoring Service - via Coalition for Darfur with thanks - excerpt from report by Sudanese independent Al-Mashahir, January 19, 2006:
Sudanese President Umar Hasan al-Bashir has denied the existence of the so-called Janjawid militias in the war-torn Darfur region and said this was a fabrication by the media. He said the armed groups obtained their weapons from outside Sudan and most conflicts in Darfur were over natural resources such as water and pastures.

In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, Al-Bashir accused extremist Christian circles in the US Congress and the Zionist lobby of influencing the US Congress against Sudan.

Al-Bashir asked foreign powers not to interfere in the Darfur conflict pointing out that there was no genocide there.
See Sudan's Janjaweed largely controlled West Darfur but were not present at Darfur peace talks - Why not?

Obasanjo supports Sudan to chair AU: official?

Chinese news agency Xinhua says according Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik, Sudan's minister of information and communication, Khartoum has obtained support from AU chairman Olusegun Obasanjo:
"We have very strong relations with Nigeria and we hope that Obasanjo will play a role as a wise man in Africa to support Sudan's competition for the chairmanship," said al-Zahawi.
Let's hope Mr Obasanjo will play a role as a wise man in Africa by continuing to chair the AU.

Sudan's Janjaweed largely controlled West Darfur but were not present at Darfur peace talks - Why not?

The seventh round of Darfur peace talks has proved to be totally de-linked from what is going on in the field, says Gemmo Lodesani, UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for North Sudan.

"Out of three areas [under discussion in the Nigerian capital, Abuja] there is only one area that is moving - wealth sharing," he told IRIN in an interview January 20, 2006.

"Security is the area that should have been tackled last year because if you have a logical sequence of discussion, there should be security, power sharing and wealth sharing," he added.

Gemmo Lodesani

Photo: Gemmo Lodesani, UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for North Sudan, says too little progress is being made in the current round of Darfur peace talks yet violence against civilians, aid workers and African Union troops continues on the ground. (Shannon Egan/IRIN)

Note, in the interview Lodesani also drew attention to the ongoing insecurity in southern Sudan, which he said needed to be addressed urgently. The Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), for example, had increased its attacks in recent months, jeopardising the safety of civilians and aid workers in the region. "There is a serious threat to security in the south. In my opinion, there is a need to beef up security," he noted.

He also noted that the talks had not considered mounting tension between Sudan and neighbouring Chad which are blaming each other for cross-border incursions. Chadian president, Idriss Deby, has announced that he will not participate in the African Union summit in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, next week.

The Abuja talks also ignored the very high level of insecurity in West Darfur State, he said, and the fact that Arab militias largely controlled West Darfur, but were not present at the talks.

[Sudan Watch Ed: Why not? Here's why: The Sudanese government represents the Arab militias aka Janjaweed. See Darfur genocide - You cannot say you did not know]

Ethiopia and Egypt support Sudan's AU chairmanship - An open letter to Sudanese President al-Bashir

An article in today's Financial Times says African leaders face credibility test at Khartoum summit. Excerpt:
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.

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.
Full story.

Hissene Habre the

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.
- - -

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.
- - -

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.

Sincerely,

William D. Andress, Jr.
Moderator, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum

Friday, January 20, 2006

Darfur rebel SLM-JEM announce new alliance

AFP report confirms the two main rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), announced on Friday they were merging to create a single alliance under the name, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan," they said in a press statement.

Darfur rebel SLM-JEM announce new alliance

Photo: Khalil Ibrahim, president of the JEM, told reporters "To lose time without uniting our efforts means extending the days of the (Khartoum) regime which has become a factor in the disintegration of the regime." (AFP/ST)

Note this excerpt from Darfur Information:
Dr Khalil Ibrahim, a protege of Islamist hardliner Dr Hasan al-Turabi. Formed in November 2002, JEM is increasingly recognised as being part and parcel of Dr Turabi's Popular Congress. Time magazine has described JEM as "a fiercely Islamic organisation said to be led by Hassan al-Turabi" and that Turabi's ultimate goal is "the presidential palace in Khartoum and a stridently Islamic Sudan". [2] Khalil is a long-time associate of Turabi's and served as a state minister in Darfur in the early 1990s before serving as a state cabinet-level advisor in southern Sudan. Ibrahim was a senior member of the Islamist movement's secret military wing. The International Crisis Group has noted that "Khalil Ibrahil ... is a veteran Islamist and former state minister who sided with the breakaway (Popular Congress) in 2002 and went into exile in the Netherlands. There is additionally evidence of some level of involvement of al-Qaeda with the Islamist JEM organisation.
A member of Sudan's Darfur rebel group JEM

Photo: A member of JEM seen here in 2004.

Excerpt from IRIN IRIN report 26 Nov 2003:
"Our objective is to improve the quality of life for the whole of Sudan," said Khalil, adding that Darfur was "just a starting point". He said the JEM and SLM/A had similar objectives, but the JEM had "a broader base" with troops and supporters stationed in Kordofan and other areas.

Since mid-November, heavy fighting has reportedly taken place in western Darfur between the JEM, and the government and militia groups operating in the region.

According to Ibrahim many of the militias are from Chad, and are being paid by Sudanese elements to fight and loot Sudanese property.
SLA

Photo: SLA President Minni Minnawi in truck. Click on image for further details.

Note, on September 19, 2005 the SLA attacked Government of Sudan forces in the South Darfur town of Shearia, resulting in an SLA takeover of the town. The Shearia attack prompted NGOs to evacuate the area. Excerpt from Radio Netherlands October 5, 2005:
Some are accusing the rebel SLA faction of deliberately provoking the Janjaweed into last week's attack in Darfur, arguing that they wanted to stop the other factions from making progress in the talks. Dr Reeves thinks this is a clear possibility:

"There is very little doubt that Minni Minnawi, the Secretary General of the SLA, launched a provocative attack on the town of Shearia ... Certainly, the SLA is culpable on many counts, all of which translates into a situation which is so violent and so insecure that humanitarian operations are all in the red zone: they are all on the point of withdrawal."
SLA rebels in North Darfur

Photo: SLA rebels in Muzbat town North Darfur State, Sudan (c) Derk Segaar/IRIN

Bio: General Omar Hasan Ahmed al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan - and the African Union?

Sudan's dictator Omar al-Bashir is poised to lead Africa 'while genocide in Darfur, western Sudan enters its fourth year destroying the livelihoods of over 2 million Darfuris, and killing more than 400,000 people'.

Sudan's dictator is poised to lead Africa

Photo: Omar al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan

Darfur rebels have said they will walk out of AU-sponsored peace talks in Nigeria, which currently holds the rotating AU chair, if Khartoum takes the lead. Khartoum says Nigeria will still host any peace talks if it becomes chairman. (Reuters/ST)

Jan 20, 2006 Reuters report says Sudan claims it's won the unamimous backing of 12 east African nations for its president to head the African Union. Excerpt:
"Sudan's Information Minister al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said the chairmanship would be decided by African leaders on Monday, the first day of the summit in Khartoum.

But U.N. envoy for Sudan Jan Pronk said at a news conference in The Hague he thought it unlikely a new chairman would be appointed. "At the moment, the expectation is that President (Olusegun) Obasanjo of Nigeria will be asked to continue a bit longer, and that would be wise," he said."
Jan 20, 2006 Reuters report quotes a director of Human Rights Watch as saying:
"It would be highly inappropriate for the Sudanese government, which is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, to preside over the African Union. The A.U.'s credibility, and its ability to promote and protect human rights, would be irreparably damaged."
- - -

Sudanese president holds bird aloft

Photo: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir holds aloft a bird symbolising peace at a rally on January 10, 2005. With a peace treaty in hand (that he did not personally sign) he began a triumphant tour of his country, greeted by thousands of revellers telling them "From now on, there will be no more fighting, but development and prosperity." (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Read about Omar al-Bashir

Thanks to Kaunda at Bazungu Bucks for linking to Sudan Watch and Third World Traveller's reprint of the following bio by New Internationalist:

[Courtesy New Internationalist magazine 339 - October 2001 - sources: UPI, 29 Nov 1998; The Observer, 16 April 2000; Amnesty International Annual Report 2001; Sudan: The Human Price of Oil, Amnesty International, 2000; Reuters, 10 Sept 1998; AP, 28 Sept 28 1999; BBC News Online, see www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa]
Even the most loathsome tyrants are occasionally admired for their charm, their guile or perhaps their intellect. The same cannot be said for Sudan's Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir who heads one of Africa's biggest and potentially richest nations. Part blowhard, part thug, al-Bashir is a graduate of the 'Idi Amin School of Dictators'.

When General al-Bashir seized power in a sudden military coup on 30 June 1989 there were nagging doubts about his ability to take charge of the mammoth war-torn nation. A youthful 42 at the time, he had been one of the key figures in the Sudanese military assault on black southerners.

Sudan is a country divided between mostly Muslim Arabs in the north and Christian or animist black Africans in the south. The southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) launched its drive for secular democracy and self-determination in 1983. Since then, the Government (even before al-Bashir became leader) has conducted an all-out war against southern dissidents. Amnesty International estimates ~ million people have died in the carnage while 4.5 million have become internal exiles and another 4.5 million have fled the country.

AI-Bashir was an eager, early player in this mayhem. He was born into a peasant family in the small village of Hosh Bannaga, 150 kilometres north of the capital Khartoum. As a young man he later joined the army and quickly vaulted to the top of the command structure. He studied at military college in Cairo where he also became a crack paratrooper, later serving with the Egyptian army in the 1973 war against Israel. Back in Sudan, al-Bashir led a series of successful assaults on the SPLA in the early 19805 and soon was appointed General - scant 20 years after leaving military college.

Al-Bashir toppled Sadeq al-Mahdi's democratically elected government in 1989 -'to save the country from rotten political parties' as he said later. With the backing of Hassan al-Turabi, the fundamentalist leader of the National Islamic Front (NIF), the General immediately took steps to 'islamicize' the state. Al-Bashir dissolved parliament, banned all political parties and shut down the press. He also stepped up scorched-earth campaign in the south while courting his fundamentalist supporters. All opponents were dismissed as 'agents imperialism and Zionism'.

Like his fellow Middle-Eastern demogogues, al Bashir loves nothing better than a good anti-Semitic rant. He . once claimed that 'Jews control all decision-making centres in the US. The Secretary of State, the Defence Secretary, the National Security Advisor and the CIA are all [controlled by] Jews'. In March 1991 al-Bashir reinstated strict Islamic . religious law (sharia), pleasing al-Turabi who was appointed speaker of the country's jerry-rigged parliament.

But not for long. Jealous of the influential cleric's growing power in the NIF, al-Bashir declared a state of emergency in December 1999 and ousted al-Turabi from the party.

He followed this with showcase elections a year later which he won easily. Not that difficult a feat given that all major opposition parties were in hiding and SPLA-controlled areas in the south didn't take part at all.

Meanwhile, both international outrage and the death toll in the civil war continues to mount. The General's regime has been buoyed by infusions of cash from the petroleum industry which has refused to bow to international pressure and continues to pump oil along a 2,200 kilometre pipeline to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Al-Bashir shrugs off UN sanctions and the loss of World Bank aid, secure in his new-found oil wealth. Sudan, he crows, has entered 'a new stage. We have learned to rely on ourselves.'

Not quite. There would be no oil money to grease the war machine without the co-operation of a consortium of foreign oil companies led, shamefully, by Canada's Talisman Energy. Arms imports have skyrocketed with the new oil money - as has Government bombing of southern civilians. President al Bashir has openly declared his intention of using petrodollars to win the war. One press report noted that 'troops backed by tanks, helicopter gunships and aerial bombardments are torturing, slaughtering and burning men, women and children in a drive to evict all non-Arabs from oil-producing areas.' To add to Sudan's misery, food shortages, rooted in war and exacerbated by drought, are widespread and a deadly, biblical-style famine now threatens millions.

But never mind. Omar al-Bashir seems unperturbed. While he was bombing his fellow Sudanese citizens in the south he decided to honour his own success. On the tenth anniversary of the coup that brought him to power he decorated himself with a national medal.


Republican Palace Khartoum, Sudan

Photo: Republican Palace in Khartoum, Sudan where the President al-Bashir lives. Click on image.

Further reading:

Dec 30, 2005: Sudan buys presidential yacht for AU summit.

Jan 17, 2006: Khartoum rushes to transform itself AU summit to be held in Khartoum Jan 23-24, 2006.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Libya proposes to deploy AU soldiers on Chad-Sudan border

A news report in Sudan Tribune today says Libyan leader, Colonel Gadhafi proposes the deployment along the Sudan Chad borders of 3,000 soldiers from the current AU force in Darfur to close these borders in the face of the rebels from both sides and prevent infiltration and shifting of arms from one side into the other.

In a statement to Sudanese TV, Gadhafi said he had presented his initiative to the Chadian and Sudanese presidents.

"I am hoping that a summit between the concerned countries, which called for by the chairman of the African Union be convened before the African Union summit in Khartoum" he further added.

Regarding Darfur, the Libyan leader said "it is a Sudanese internal problem" which "has no connection with the problem outside Sudan".

African countries should help in the financing of these forces he said.

[If African countires can afford to finance 3,000 AU soldiers from Darfur, why have they not provided more troops for Darfur?]

Slovene's "The World for Darfur" initiative welcomed in France

News from Paris yesterday says Slovene President Janez Drnovsek suggests China should be won over for the Dafur cause:
"China maintains a strong economic presence in Sudan and could strengthen the African Union-led peacekeeping mission, which is understaffed and ill-equipped for the task, Drnovsek was quoted as saying."
Is he thinking of Chinese peacekeepers and/or funding? John Garang, when he was alive last year, rejected any suggestion of Chinese troops participating in the UN's peacekeeping mission for southern Sudan because the Chinese government is onside with Khartoum regime. China depends on 20% of its oil from Sudan and is involved in large scale projects like Sudan's Merowe Dam.

Further reading:

Jan 12, 2006: The El Multaga resettlement site - Sudan's Chinese backed Merowe Dam is for the greater benefit of Sudan

Jan 14, 2006: China and Qata block report to UN Security Council re illegal arms flow to Darfur Sudan

Jan 15, 2006: Chinese security forces in Sudan driving Sudanese people from their homes in upper western Nile oil fields, S Sudan

Glenys Kinnock MEP: The rape of Darfur

Now that 90% of the black African villages in Darfur have been destroyed, sexual violence against women and children is being used to break the will of the population, writes Glenys Kinnock in the Guardian Jan 18.

Mrs Kinnock suggests some steps we can take to protect the women of Darfur:

We could send groups of policewomen from African nations to accompany the firewood-gathering trips.

Civilian police would not represent the same challenge to the national sovereignty of Sudan that soldiers would.

By training, supporting and enabling female police officers from African countries we could build the capacity of their forces, thus achieving two worthwhile aims at once.

We could help provide fuel-efficient stoves so less firewood is needed.

We could vastly increase the currently tiny number of African Union monitors in Darfur, giving them enough personnel to deter the militia from attacking women.

We could provide rape counselling and a chance to break the taboo of silence.

We could increase medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, as recommended by Medecins Sans Frontiers.

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