SUDAN WATCH: October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

US Bush warns Sudan to end Darfur conflict

Oct 31 2006 AP report via ST - excerpt:
Bush said a "credible and effective" international force is crucial to bringing peace to the region.

"The United States is going to work with the international community to come up with a single plan on how to address this issue and save lives," he said.

UK Blair to urge Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur

Oct 31 2006 AP report via ST - excerpt:
Prime Minister Tony Blair will urge Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers for Darfur when he meets Tuesday with a Sudanese vice president, the prime minister's spokesman said.

Blair's official spokesman said the prime minister "believes that all sides should stop fighting, all sides should engage with the U.N. and the Sudanese government in particular should allow the U.N. to take over the operations of the African Union forces."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Chad army chief killed in battle

Note the following news report at Perth Now, from Reuters' correspondents in N'Djamena, mentions 'mercenaries at the service of Sudan.'

Oct 29 2006 Perth Now - Chad army chief killed in battle.

'I hate myself for being involved in this war' (Gethin Chamberlain)

Via POTP - a new feature by Gethin Chamberlain [one of the first correspondents to report on Darfur from the Chad-Sudan border], from Sunday's edition of the UK's Telegraph.
Bullets kicked up the dust in front of the armoured car. Another round flashed overhead, close enough for its high-pitched whine to be heard.

The African Union fuel convoy moving west across Darfur had driven straight into a firefight between the Sudanese army and rebels, in which the army was coming off worst. As mortar rounds exploded ahead, an injured government soldier crawled weakly towards his machine gun truck while another lay dead in front of a battered yellow lorry.

Three years after it attempted to quell a rebellion in its western Darfur region by unleashing a nomadic Arab militia known as the janjaweed – literally "devils on horseback" - Sudan's government has lost control of the war.

The suffering inflicted, in terms of hundreds of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced, has left Khartoum ostracised by the international community. More worrying for Sudan's President Omar al Bashir is that his army is demoralised and reluctant to fight on.

Sitting with his AK-47 at the guardhouse outside the Fata Burno camp for internally displaced people in north Darfur last week, Cpl Mohammed Adam Dahir said the army no longer had the stomach for the fight. "Even I hate myself, being involved in this war," he said. "Everyone wants it to end.

"I totally condemn what is going on. At the beginning of the war, I saw so many atrocities. I was helping to bury the dead. I don't want to stay in the army. I don't like it here because there is injustice and inequality. There is no protection for the civilians."

Cpl Dahir's words confirm the suspicions of Jan Pronk, the United Nations envoy, who was controversially expelled by Khartoum for claiming that Sudanese army morale was plummeting after defeat in two battles. The UN said [Friday], however, that Mr Pronk would return to the country until his contract expires at the end of the year.

The government had accused Mr Pronk of trying to undermine its authority, but the view given to The Sunday Telegraph from troops on the ground suggests that he was right about low morale. Cpl Dahir, 47, joined up 18 years ago and should be demobilising to rejoin the wife and five children he rarely sees. However, his commanders say that there are not enough soldiers and he must stay on.

Sixteen of them live in the rough brick building next to the camp. The army is supposed to send them food and water, but that stopped long ago.

"I am tired of it all," said his comrade, Cpl Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim. "I am worried about my family. They don't have enough food or money." None of the soldiers had seen the army attack civilians, they said. It was the janjaweed, their ostensible allies, who were to blame.

"What upsets me most is they kill the innocents and take their property," said Cpl Dahir. "The janjaweed are pro-government, but they go where there are people and animals and take the opportunity to fight for their own interests."

As he spoke, the secretary of the camp, Mohammed Yusuf Adam, reported that the janjaweed were in fields nearby, trying to steal livestock from locals. Cpl Dahir did not get up. "I will write a report and file it," he said. "Later I will take soldiers and try to drive them away."

An hour earlier, in the Kassab camp at Kutum, residents told African Union police that the janjaweed had snatched three women who were out collecting firewood that morning. Despite the fact that abducted women are usually raped, the police said they did not have the resources or authority to intervene.

What is happening in Darfur is not strictly genocide, but a scorched-earth policy in which the government has exploited ethnic and tribal rivalries. The result is that vast swathes of the country are depopulated. Crops go to seed next to burnt-out villages, where the population has fled to refugee camps around the main towns. Yet even there, they are not safe.

In August, the UN Security Council voted to send a 22,500-strong peacekeeping force to Darfur to take over when the African Union's mandate runs out on December 31. Few believe that it will meet that deadline, even if Khartoum drops its opposition.

Meanwhile, the African Union has to muddle through with its force of 7,000 soldiers. Hamstrung by obstacles placed in its path by Khartoum, it has neither the manpower nor the resources for the job, and cannot move along the roads without permission from the rebels or the government.

Every time it makes progress, an armed faction appears to complicate the situation further. "People need to be noble, they need to want peace," said Col Richard Lourens, the South African commander of the African Union force in Kutum, north Darfur.

"But there is a sneakiness in this country. It is like the HIV virus. Every time you build up immunity they change form."

It was one of his convoys that came under fire last week as The Sunday Telegraph travelled with it. Getting caught in the crossfire is a common hazard of their mission, as is getting bogged down on the rough, sandy roads.

"Going nowhere slowly," one of the soldiers joked, as the detachment prepared to spend another night by the roadside. It is the name of a popular South African television programme, but it could equally sum up the African Union mission.

"If I had another 1,000 men, then 'Wow'," said Col Lourens. "If the janjaweed broke wind, I would know they broke wind."

The African Union can barely make ends meet. The soldiers have not been paid since August and, at Kutum, they live on a monotonous diet of rice and goat.

Like many of his colleagues, Col Lourens would be happy if the UN dropped plans to send in its own force and instead funded an enhanced African Union force under a tough new mandate.

But while the diplomats wrangle, the warring factions continue to strengthen their hands.

"As long as the government of Sudan has power it will hold on to it," said Col Lourens. "But others also want land and power. They are prepared to see their people suffer and be displaced. Where is the will for peace?"

Sudanese First VP Kiir to London Sunday

Oct 29 2006 Sudan Tribune article:
Sudanese First vice-president will start one-week visit to the United Kingdom where he is expected to hold talks about peace implementation and Darfur crisis.

The First Vice - President and President of Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayadrit, is due to leave Sunday for London on a several-day visit to Britain.

Kiir would meet in London with the Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

Kiir is expected to discuss implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the SPLM and the Sudanese government in January 2005. The question of the pledged international aid to southern Sudan construction will be debated with British official.

Sources indicated that Tony Blair is eager to discuss Darfur crisis with the Sudanese First Vice President who has a different stance on UN forces deployment in Darfur.

Salva Kiir will hold a meeting with the Sudanese community in Britain.

The visit is the first of its kind since assuming his post.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

UN sending mission to E Chad and the CAR

With the conflict in Darfur spilling into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic, the UN said on Friday that it was sending a mission to both countries.

UN's undersecretary-general for peacekeeping Guehenno told the security council that the UN secretariat had carried out "an intensive planning process" to review options for a UN presence in eastern Chad and the CAR.

Guehenno said UN planning was based on a scenario that envisaged little or no improvement in the security situation in countries in the short-term, as well as continued obstacles to aid delivery, and no agreement on replacing the African Union force in Darfur with UN peacekeepers.

Full story News 24 (SA) 28 Oct 2006.

Wide praise from UN Security Council members for Pronk's willingness to speak frankly about Darfur

Oct 28 2006 VOA report via CFD - Pronk Accuses Sudan of Fresh Violations:
Pronk rejected Khartoum's contention that he had exceeded his mandate as special U.N. envoy, and said all information on his Web blog was obtained from the Sudanese media.

"It was very well known that soldiers were retreating, not willing to fight. That was public knowledge, that there was low morale, and I said that this resulted in which I deplored very much,in the incorporation of militia and janjaweed in the paramilitary forces, the militia and the janjaweed are not disciplined, they kill. If you steal camels, they kill, in retaliation, babies," he said.

After speaking to Pronk, Secretary-General Annan said he retains full confidence in the envoy. Mr. Annan's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Pronk would keep his job until his contract runs out in December, despite his expulsion, and would make a brief symbolic return to Sudan next month.

"Mr. Pronk will return to Khartoum to organize an orderly handover to the officer in charge of the mission before returning to New York for debriefings, but will remain the special representative until the end of the year," he said.

Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem says Khartoum considers Pronk "history", and accused him of abusive behavior. Speaking to reporters Friday, he did not rule out that Pronk might be allowed to visit Khartoum, but said he would not be recognized as a diplomat.

"We terminated his mandate, his responsibilities as the special envoy of the secretary general. It is our right to do so if somebody is threatening our national interest, and in any other capacity that is a totally different issue, but for us, his functions as special envoy of the secretary-general have ceased to exist," he said.

After Friday's Security Council briefing, the Council president for October, Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima defended Pronk and said there had been wide praise from members for his willingness to speak frankly about the dire conditions in Darfur.

"In a situation such as in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have perished. And millions are suffering in dire humanitarian situations, that frankness, that outspokenness can come only from a man who has deep conviction and commitment," he said.

UN's Pronk says Sudan regime criticism led to his expulsion

Oct 27 2006 Gulfnews - agencies' report - excerpt:
[UN SRSG] Pronk said he was revealing the facts of the situation in his role as special envoy and did not intend to provoke or insult the military.

"I have been completely free ... to make the facts and analysis behind them known to everybody," he said. "It's not the issue of where you say something, it's the issue of what you are saying." He said he believes his "incessant criticism" of the fact that "the government continues to seek a military solution despite the fact a cease-fire agreement has been signed" was the reason he was ordered to leave.

Sudan has agreed UN will provide AMIS with logistical and material support, as well as military and police advisers

Oct 27 2006 AP report via IHT via POTP. Excerpt:
Jean-Marie Guehenno, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, told the Security Council on Friday the UN will provide the beleaguered African force with logistical and material support, as well as military and police advisers.

He said Sudan's president had agreed to the assistance package, and several military and police advisers had been deployed to Darfur last week, while others were ready for deployment.

In his address to the Security Council on Friday, [UN SRSG] Pronk again blamed the government for the continued violence, saying it is violating UN resolutions that bar air operations in Darfur and mobilizing more troops in the region.

"The government continues to violate the DPA (Darfur Peace Agreement) and other cease-fire agreements," Pronk said in remarks to the closed meeting that were made public.

He added, however, that he believed the war could be brought to an end.

"The road ahead is long and arduous," he said. "But I am convinced that peace is possible and that peacekeeping, under the guidance of the Security Council, remains the only credible solution."

India's air force contingent leaves to Sudan on UN peace mission

Oct 27 2006 Sudan Tribune article excerpt:
Addressing the Sudan bound Air Warriors, Air Vice Marshal Kumaria said, "You are the ambassadors of peace and the Nation has high expectations from you in terms of discipline, integrity and professional standards. Your predecessors have set high standards and you should be setting higher standards". Air Vice Marshal Kumaria also congratulated every member of the contingent for being selected for the mission.
As Drima would say, good luck peoples!

Blogging diplomats - Blogs, the new diplomacy?

Oct 26 2006 BBC report "Blogs - the new diplomacy?"

Note, the website for the Sudanese Embassy in The Netherlands seems to have disappeared. In the sidebar here at Sudan Watch, the link to an oil concessions map at the site has broken.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Intermission

Back soon.

-Water-

-Water-

Women from a Ingasana tribe carrying water...

Taken near Chesan river, Eastern Sudan, close to Ethiopia.

(Photo and caption by Sudanese photographer Vit Hassan uploaded 26 Oct 2006)

UN's Pronk urged countries to push for a prolonged and beefed-up AU force

Oct 26 2006 CNN news report - Sudanese ambassador: U.N. envoy 'abused his authority' - excerpt:
"The plight of the people in Darfur is the making of the Sudanese," Pronk told CNN Correspondent Jeff Koinange in an interview Wednesday. "The people have been forgotten, neglected, marginalized. The government is responsible for using the army and Arab militia, which kill and kill and do not abide by any rule, let alone human rights rules."

In an October 14 blog entry, Pronk wrote: "First, the SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] has lost two major battles -- last month in Umm Sidir and this week in Karakaya. The losses seem to have been very high. Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles with many wounded and many taken as prisoner."

"The morale in the government army in North Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been [fired]; soldiers have refused to fight," the Dutch diplomat said.

On Thursday, Mohamad said Pronk was not truthful about the army, saying that Pronk relied on unverified third party accounts.
Note, the report reminds us Mr Pronk urged countries to push for a prolonged and beefed-up African Union force. What are Sudan's tribal leaders doing? What are their views? It'd be interesting to learn what they think.
- - -

Oct 27 2006 IRIN report - Sudan: Ambassador adamant Pronk stays out - Abdalhaleem disregarded Pronk's statements, describing them as "not faithful" to the Sudanese army. Pronk's comments, he said, reflected "things which he heard from some people about imaginary battles that had taken place". [If true, it would mean I've blogged imaginary battles. Don't think so]

Africa: $5 million prize for the Best Head of State

Via Global Voices Online:
Sanaga Peregrinations writes (Fr): "A $5 million prize for the best African head of state. The prize was created by Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim ... The winning head of state will have to leave power democratically, will have to have managed his country properly when it comes to security, health, education and economic development ... Some [including Transparency International] criticize the measure for resting responsibility for the bad governance of a country on the shoulders of a single man."
Imagine a $5m prize for a European Head of State. Doesn't seem right. There are other ways to laud and thank people for doing a great job. I prefer politicians and government officials to keep away from anything that whiffs of a bribe.

Eric Reeves is nuts

Note how Eric Reeves leads his readers into believing his rants have been published in The Guardian. Commentary of his, referred to in his latest vent) (hat tip CFD) appears online at the Guardian's "Comments is free" section, not, as he implies, the newspaper itself.

Reeves, through massively selective editing and cutting, twists words on so many reports, it's hard to know where to begin pulling his stuff to pieces. I did make a start but deleted it. Can't be bothered to give him any more air space because he's so nasty and has no compunction spreading dangerous damaging fabrications and lies about people and not revealing his sources. And he has the cheek to lead his readers into believing Jan Pronk is a rogue and liar! Reeves doesn't even imply such things about Nur's rebels!! Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it.

I say Eric Reeves is nuts. Send him to Khartoum in Jan Pronk's place and see if he has the guts to last more than five seconds!
- - -

Under its "Opinions" heading, the Sudan Tribune has published Reeves' commentary entitled Pronk's expulsion: Darfur, S. Sudan without UN critical presence: Khartoum Expels Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk: Another in a series of consequential blunders by the willful Pronk leaves Darfur and Southern Sudan without a critical UN diplomatic presence.
- - -

See Oct 26 2006 Head-to-head: Darfur situation (BBC): What do you think? Do you agree with Eric Reeves or Gamal Nkrumah? What should the international community do? Send your views to BBC using the link below.

China says it believes no govt "should interfere with other country's human rights and internal affairs"

Oct 26 2006 (BEIJING) news report via ST - excerpt:
In an interview this week with a French newspaper, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Chinese banks ignore human rights and environmental standards when lending in Africa.

"We do not accept such criticism," Zhai Jun, an assistant foreign minister, said at a news conference.

China believes no government "should interfere with other country's human rights and internal affairs," Zhai said.
Note the report tells us Sudanese President Bashir will attend China-Africa Cooperation forum to be held in Beijing Nov 1-7. Apparently, all of the 49 African nations that have diplomatic relations with Beijing say they will attend, including more than 40 heads of state.

Sudan opens border with Eritrea

Via report at Sudan Tribune Oct 26, 2006 (KASSALA) - excerpt:
The Kassala State government has issued a decree to open the border with "the fraternal state of Eritrea" after the Eid-al-Fitr holiday (Friday), the Sudanese radio reported.

The Kasha governor, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, says under this presidential decree, the eastern states will enjoy security, and all the political entities would exercise their rights freely as stated in the constitution.

On October 14 the Sudanese government and rebels from the Eastern Front signed a peace accord that was negotiated with Eritrean help and is aimed at ending a 10-year armed conflict.

UN peacekeepers must be agreed by Sudan - China

Xinhua report via ST - excerpt:
Oct 26, 2006 (BEIJING) - China supports UN troops replacing the African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Darfur region of Sudan and holds that the peacekeeping operation must be agreed by the Sudanese government, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said here Thursday.

China is concerned over the turbulence in some parts of Sudan and the latest conditions of Sudanese people, spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular press conference.

China has always played a positive role in UN discussions on Sudan issues and China supports the UN to play a bigger role in the Darfur issue, Liu said.

The Sudanese government has some concerns about the UN peacekeeping troops replacing AU peacekeepers, which the international community needs to solve properly, the spokesman said.

"We have been trying to persuade the government of Sudan to take a flexible attitude on relevant issues," Liu said.

UN says Pronk's status remains unchanged - Sudan says Pronk is "history"

Oct 27 2006 Reuters report by Evelyn Leopold - Sudan says expelled UN envoy is "history" - excerpt:
Sudan's U.N. ambassador on Thursday said the expelled top U.N. envoy in his country, Jan Pronk, was "history" and that the United Nations should send a new representative.

"For us Mr. Pronk is history," Sudan's ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohamad told reporters. "He was not supportive, he was abusive and he became part of the problem not the solution."

Sudan's army last week called Pronk, Annan's special representative in Sudan, a threat to the country's national security.

"The Sudanese military is the custodian of the stability and the security of the country. Like any other country, what do you expect the military to do?" Mohamad said.

Although few expect Pronk to return to Khartoum, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the envoy "continues to serve with the full backing of the secretary-general and with his full confidence."

"We need to take things one step at a time," Dujarric said. "As far as we're concerned, his status remains unchanged."

Mohamad said Pronk far exceeded his brief. "Is it the mandate of Kofi Annan? Is it the mandate of Mr. Pronk to describe the morale of the army and the operations of the army and the killings of the army?"
Touchy little flowers eh? Flaming bullies more like. Trying to shut people up. They won't succeed so may as well embrace communications technology and start doing some explaining.

Tricycle Theatre, London - Darfur dramas reveal a fate worse than genocide

Michael Billington
Friday October 27, 2006
The Guardian:

Which theatre, other than the Tricycle, would commission a series of short plays about Darfur? And where else in London would you find such an intelligent post-show discussion about the extent of the crisis and the international response to it? It is a potent reminder that theatre, among its myriad other functions, has a mission to inform.

Ends tomorrow. Box office: 020-7328 1000.

Genocide Intervention Network calls for strong support for AU in Darfur

Genocide Intervention Network (GIF) argues for strong support for interim African Union peacekeepers and expanded UN Force. - ST 26 Oct 2006 - excerpt:
In July, Dr. Frazer [UN Assistant Sec for African Affairs] told a Darfur donors conference in Brussels that the United States "has been proactive in providing assistance" to the African Union and claimed, "a successful resolution to the situation in Darfur is one of the highest foreign policy priorities for President Bush." Yet she failed to follow this rhetoric with any pledge of new funds for the African Union - misleadingly claiming funds already appropriated by Congress were a new contribution.

"Unlike her earlier statements, we hope in this case Dr. Frazer's rhetoric will be followed by action and concrete support for the peacekeepers," says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis. "At least $240 million from the United States alone will be required to support this vital firebreak against genocide," Hanis adds. "This is nearly four times current US funding for the African Union peacekeepers."

Even once the government of Sudan allows the UN peacekeeping force to expand from Southern Sudan into Darfur, a UN force will still take six to nine months to be mobilized.

"The African Union peacekeepers must be strongly supported through the interim - yet the current budget only supports six weeks of AU operations," Hanis says.

The European Union is also an integral part of the funding for AU peacekeepers, having donated $307 million this year, and the Arab League has pledged to help fund the peacekeeping effort as well.
Note, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has some 10,250 uniformed personnel currently serving in southern Sudan. In August 2006, the UN Security Council extended UNMIS mandate to include a further 17,050 peacekeepers - making a total of 27,300. The mandate for the AU Mission in Darfur (AMIS) expires 31 Dec 2006, which is why donor funding does not extend beyond the next six weeks. By the end of this year, donors - including Arab League countries - will be asked to support AMIS with a new strengthened mandate that Sudan said it would welcome.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

UNMIS mandate increased to 27,300 uniformed personnel

The last few lines of UN News Centre report - Sudan: Annan confers with UN envoy Pronk after Government demands his withdrawal 26 Oct 2006 - tell us UNMIS has some 10,250 uniformed personnel in Sudan out of a total of up to 27,300 mandated when the Council expanded its mission in August.

Annan renews support for Jan Pronk who remains envoy for Sudan even though he was expelled

Oct 26 2006 dpa German Press Agency (via Raw Story) Annan renews support for envoy expelled by Sudan - excerpt:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday reaffirmed his confidence in Jan Pronk.

Pronk, a Dutch diplomat, left Khartoum and arrived at UN headquarters in New York late Wednesday for consultations with Annan.

"The secretary-general has full confidence in Mr. Pronk," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric after Annan met with his envoy. Dujarric said Pronk remains the envoy for Sudan even though he was expelled.

UNESCO produced TV documentary on Darfur gets best investigative journalism award

"The Children of Darfur", directed by Denmark's Camilla Nielsson and produced by UNESCO, receives the International TV3 Actual Award today in Barcelona, Spain, a 10,000-euro first prize for outstanding examples of investigative journalism. - 26-10-2006 unesco (Paris)

AU's Konare regrets Sudan's decision to expel Pronk

Oct 25 2006 The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa) via allAfrica:
The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union Alpha Oumar Konare has expressed regret over the decision of the Government of the Sudan to expel the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Sudan Jan Pronk.

According to an AU press release sent to ENA yesterday, Konare commended Pronk for his commitment to human security and human rights, as well as for his tireless efforts made to promote of reconciliation and lasting peace in the Sudan.

Konare urged all the Sudanese parties to refrain from any action that could jeopardize the peace process and, in particular, to put an immediate end to any military action which can only aggravate the security situation in Darfur.

Konare also appealed to the Sudanese parties to recommit themselves to the path of political dialogue as it is the only course to bring about lasting peace to Darfur and the Sudan at large.
So, what now? Waiting to see what UN SG Annan will say after his meeting today with Mr Pronk. Can't imagine what he'll say. There's only a few months left before Mr Annan's tenure expires, along with that of Jan Pronk's.

ANALYSIS-UN envoy expulsion exposes Sudan's fragile coalition (Opheera McDoom)

Oct 26 2006 Reuters AlertNet - Opheera McDoom ANALYSIS-UN envoy expulsion exposes Sudan's fragile coalition. Excerpt:
The leader of the only one of three negotiating rebel factions to sign the Darfur peace deal, Minni Arcua Minnawi, is now the fourth-ranking official in Sudan.

But his former rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) said it was not consulted about the move to expel Pronk, which has serious implications for U.N.-Sudanese relations.

"Any decision against (Pronk)... should have be done after a wider consultation within the government of national unity," said Mohamed Bashir, head of Minnawi's office.

A source close to Pronk said he was reassured by a foreign ministry official that the affair would blow over, only to be summoned by that same junior minister, Ali Karti, two days later to be given 72 hours to leave the country.

Karti, a member of Bashir's party, remains technically subordinate to Foreign Minister Lam Akol of the SPLM.

Outside government ranks, Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim said the expulsion proved the government was as dominated by the military as it was when it took over in a 1989 bloodless coup.

"This decision is one made by the army not by the government," Ibrahim told Reuters.
Bunch of gunslingers and murderers. They're all as bad as each other, except for Pronk of course.

Head-to-head: Darfur situation (BBC)

What do you think? Do you agree with Eric Reeves or Gamal Nkrumah? What should the international community do? Send your views to BBC using the link below.

See BBC's Head-to-head: Darfur situation - Gamal Nkrumah, the foreign editor of leading Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, and Eric Reeves, professor at Smith College (Massachusetts) and a Sudan researcher and analyst, debate what action the international community should take over the worsening situation in Darfur. Excerpt:
Eric Reeves (MA, USA) says:

In the face of rapidly accelerating genocidal destruction in Darfur, and given the ongoing collapse of humanitarian operations in vast areas of this devastated region, the international community should issue an ultimatum to the National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) regime in Khartoum: Immediately accept the robust force stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (31 August, 2006) or face non-consensual deployment of the forces required to protect civilians and humanitarians.

Gamal Nkrumah (Cairo, Egypt) says:

The phrase "international community" is often used as a euphemism for the United States and other Western powers' political agendas. Non-consensual deployment of foreign, non-African troops, is a non-starter.

It is an act of aggression that infringes on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sudan.

About 7,000 African Union troops are deployed in Darfur

As stipulated by Resolution 1706, the deployment of foreign peacekeeping troops must have prior and explicit approval of the Sudanese authorities. Previous US-led military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq have aggravated the situation in the respective countries. The worse scenario is for Darfur to denigrate further into an Iraqi or Afghan quagmire.

The only way forward is to strengthen the African Union peacekeeping contingency in Darfur in both financial and logistical terms.
I agree with Gamal Nkrumah.

Expelled envoy not welcome back, says Sudan

Oct 26 2006 IOL (Mohamed Hasni) Khartoum - excerpt:
Sudan will not have any further dealings with expelled UN envoy Jan Pronk, regardless of what the United Nations may decide about his future, a senior official said Thursday.

"The decision to expel Jan Pronk is irrevocable because of positions he has taken that are incompatible with his mission in Sudan," foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadek told journalists.

"It is a decision of state and of the government that is not concerned with what the United Nations decides."
Not concerned with what the 191-member state UN decides? What is wrong with these people? They sound like Saddam Hussein and his comical Minister for Information, living in cloud cuckoo land.

Despite Genocide, Life is Good in Sudan

Fola of EthnicLoft blog picks up on the good life in Sudan and its standoffishness toward the world, especially the Western world.

US asks Arab govts to reassure Khartoum on mandate of UN force for Darfur

AP report via ST 26 Oct 2006 - US's Rice confers with UN's Annan as Darfur deteriorates - excerpt:
The Sudanese leader and other top officials have said they are concerned that the U.N. force could be used to track down and arrest leaders of the Sudanese government, McCormack [Rice's spokesman] said.

"We have said that this is not the mandate of this U.N., force," he said, and the United States has asked Arab governments to reassure them on that score.

"We ask them to do that in every way that they possibly can," McCormack said.

Switzerland's Jean Ziegler calls for UN intervention in Darfur

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Switzerland's Jean Ziegler, has demanded the organisation intervene in western Sudan's Darfur. - swissinfo 25 Oct 2006.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

ICG's Prendergast shows frustration with slow UN action

Oct 25 2006 AFP report "US Shows Frustration with Slow UN Action" (via CFD). Excerpt:
John Prendergast, an expert at the non-governmental International Crisis Group, recently suggested that France and the United States impose a no-fly zone over Darfur and that the UN prepare "non consensual deployment" in case Khartoum persists in its refusal to accept UN peacekeepers.

Prendergast's suggestions irritated the anonymous senior US official.

"Now, I don't know who you are going to find around the world to shoot the way into Sudan. I don't know, maybe the International Crisis group or John Prendergast has an idea," the official said.

"That is the great thing about being in a think tank: You can suggest these ideas and criticize without actually having to implement the solution," he said.
Ha! Couldn't have said it better myself. Pity the US official was not named. Nicely line that - I'ved modified it for future use:
"That is the great thing about being [a non-Sudanese/non-African/non-Arab/activist/pundit/analyst/armchair critic/blogger/not on ground in Sudan] in a think tank: You can suggest these ideas and criticize without actually having to implement the solution."
Note, Mr Prendergast is featured in the video report "Searching For Jacob." See the clip online at CBS News.

US's Nastios says US would not dispatch troops to Sudan - No plan to deploy NATO forces in Darfur

Source: United Nations Country Team in Sudan
United Nations Sudan Bulletin 25 Oct 2006
Excerpt:
On 25 October, US envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios said the US would not dispatch troops to Sudan, and there was no plan to deploy NATO forces in Darfur. Natsios said the US goal in Darfur was to improve the humanitarian situation by putting an end to the conflict there and enabling repatriation of refugees.

Sudan ready for next UN chief

Oct 25 2006 (SA) - Sudan ready for next UN chief:
Foreign minister Lam Akol was quoted as saying: "Sudan is ready to co-operate with the next UN secretary-general on the issue of Darfur within the limits of the organisation's mandate."
What arrogance. They act as if they were doing the world a favour!

FUC splinters - Analysts unsure of Chadian rebels intentions

dpa German Press Agency [via The Raw Story] Oct 25, 2006, Nairobi:
"This resurgence is not liable to prove as strong as it was in the April coup attempt," Richard Cornwell of the South-African based Institute for Strategic Studies told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The rebel groups involved in the recent attacks have split from the United Front for Change (FUC), which attempted to bring down the government in April.

"The alliance hasn't translated into a cohesive, united rebel group," said David Mozersky, a regional analyst with the International Crisis Group.

The attempted coup on the government of President Idriss Deby in April came ahead of elections the following month that returned Deby to power after 15 years as leader.

The rebels stormed into Ndjamena with about 150 trucks mounted with machine guns, but the coup failed after the Chadian army successfully suppressed the rebellion.

The rebels' goal was to force some sort of political reform in the impoverished central African country, said Cromwell.

"They wanted to persuade the government that the time had come to negotiate and have genuinely open discussions about the country's political future."

After Deby's re-election, he organized talks with his political opponents but excluded the rebel groups.

"Deby only extended the talks to include domestic political opposition parties. There is still no channel for resolving this conflict other than fighting," Mozersky said.

The rebels may be entering these small villages near Darfur only to reassert themselves and remind Ndjamena of their presence.

"It's quite likely that what we are seeing is a way for the rebels to keep themselves on the scene. They may feel constrained to resume some sort of activity," Cornwell said.

The end of the rainy season in eastern Chad also means the rebels have regained mobility, he noted.

On Wednesday, the Chadian government accused Sudan of arming the militias, a charge it has made in the past but one that Khartoum denies.

Sudan, on the other hand, accuses Deby's government of arming the rebels in the embattled Darfur region, and in turn fuelling a conflict that has killed tens of thousands.

And while both conflicts have their own domestic origins - Darfuri rebels claiming their home region remains underdeveloped and Chadian militants opposing Deby's dictatorship - analysts say the region's violence is completely interrelated.

"The Chadian rebels are a proxy of Khartoum just as Darfuri rebels are at a certain level a proxy of N'djamena," Mozersky said.

Deby, himself a former rebel leader, deposed his predecessor Hissene Habre in 1990. Like the FUC rebels who vow to overthrow him, the president based his own rebel movement in Darfur and enjoyed backing from Khartoum.

But no matter what the rebels' next move, Deby appears to be gearing up for a fresh attack. Following the coup attempt in April, to the World Bank's dismay, Deby's government spent millions of dollars of its oil revenue on helicopters it said was necessary to combat the insurgency.

Pronk fears a major offensive is about to be unleashed as Sudanese military prepare a major mobilization in Darfur to coincide with end of Ramadan

Radio Netherlands report - Jan Pronk has no regrets - by Perro de Jong 25 Oct 2006 (Ed: To highlight a point, I've emboldened some text here]
Jan Pronk has no regrets. The UN envoy - and former Dutch cooperation development minister - was expelled from Sudan for making critical remarks about the Sudanese army in his weblog.

Some Dutch commentators thought this was rather foolish behaviour for a mediator, but the Dutch government and the United Nations still stand by him.

When asked whether a weblog is a suitable medium, Mr Pronk replied: "It's what you say, not where you say it. In my weblog I say exactly the same as I do at press conferences. I understand that what the Sudanese government objected to was my comment about the army. That was in the newspapers long ago."

Neutrality

He denies that this was abandoning his position of neutrality as a mediator in the Darfur conflict. "I had already been extremely critical. And that included the rebels themselves - for violating the ceasefire. Not all the rebel movements, just some of them. They know that, I told them quite clearly. So the UN is completely neutral and, as its representative, so am I."

He believes the real reasons for his expulsion are less obvious. "The military are still looking for a military solution. I have regularly pointed this out and they don't like it. At the moment that last thing they need is a prying busybody like me. They have been preparing a major mobilization in Darfur to coincide with the end of Ramadan. Troop concentrations are developing. Planes and soldiers from the south are being deployed to Darfur. I'm afraid a major offensive is about to be unleashed."

Consequences

Relations between Jan Pronk and the government in Khartoum have been poor for some time. And the army is a particularly sensitive subject in Sudan. The question then is whether Mr Pronk wasn't fully aware what the consequences of his criticisms would be and whether that should be regarded as a bad thing. After years of trying to get the conflict onto the agenda of the international community, Darfur is suddenly the topic of the day.

The call for a UN peacekeeping force is becoming louder. The United States has been behind sending an international force for some time, but the Sudanese government has constantly resisted the idea. So far the United Nations has allowed the African Union to carry out peacekeeping duties. The Africans could form the nucleus of an international force, according to a spokesman for the US State Department reacting to Mr Pronk's departure, but for a "robust" mission real UN troops are needed.

Timing

The UN envoy himself denies he deliberately engineered his own expulsion. The fact that his boss, Secretary General Kofi Annan, will soon be leaving the UN and a new envoy to Sudan will be chosen is just a coincidence according to Mr Pronk.

However, he does concede that the timing of his departure could have been worse: "It's good it has happened now, it gives us a chance to prevent the big offensive. We need international attention to stop the conflict escalating further."

Even if Jan Pronk never returns to Sudan at least he has succeeded in that part of his mission.
Yes, he certainly has. I can't imagine many people not supporting him or his position. No matter what Khartoum say, Mr Pronk is still UN SRSG for Sudan - whether he is there or not. I hope he keeps on blogging. Looking forward to reading his next blog entry.

CBS News Video: Searching For Jacob in Darfur

See CBS News video report online Searching For Jacob.

Drima of The Sudanese Thinker reviews CBS "60 Minutes" Piece on Darfur & Bush's Relationship With Bashir; and explains the terrible Darfur war is more complex than the simple 'Darfur is a genocide that needs to be stopped': people must know the root causes ie. water shortage, tribalism and huge corruption by the dictatorial NCP.

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Funding foils bid for more AU troops in Darfur

Reuters report by Andrew Cawthorne (via Business Day) 25 Oct 2006:
The African Union (AU) was far from adding 4000 troops to its stretched Darfur force because of a lack of funds, peace and security director Geofrey Mugumya said yesterday.

African states were willing to contribute more troops to the union's controversial 7000-strong force in Sudan, but lacked the funds needed to do so, Mugumya said in Addis Ababa yesterday.

He said pledges of financial support were not materialising -- citing the Arab League's nonpayment of a pledged $50m.

"Sometimes you get promises (of funds), but they are not translated into reality," he said at the union's headquarters in Ethiopia.

"African countries are willing to give any amount of troops for peacekeeping ... (but) I'm telling you, that might be impossible," Mugumya said.

The union's troop expansion was seen by diplomats as a stop-gap before a possible mission transfer to United Nations (UN) troops. Sudan is strongly opposed to a UN presence in Darfur, saying such a deployment could be a precursor to regime change.

The conflict has killed an estimated 200000 people and displaced another 2,5-million since 2003.

Despite Khartoum's opposition to UN entry after the AU mission's mandate ends on December 31, the union is struggling to rotate battalions, let alone add the planned six more at a cost of about $80m.

Mugumya was more upbeat, however, about the likelihood of a Ugandan-led African peacekeeping mission in Somalia. It would be tasked with bolstering an interim government challenged by the rise of powerful Islamists.

"Ugandan forces are ready and will go if the arms embargo is lifted or modified," he said. He said the UN Security Council was meeting next month to consider such a change - a prerequisite for a Somali intervention.

The Mogadishu-based Islamists have threatened to fight foreign troops, and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has said such intervention would justify jihad (holy war).

But Mugumya insisted that an African force would calm the situation, rather than inflame it.

Sudan 'is arming rebels' in Chad (BBC)

Oct 25 2006 BBC report - excerpt:
Sudan's government is arming rebels in Chad, the government has alleged amid reports that rebels are moving towards the Chadian capital, N'Djamena.

Chad's foreign minister said the proof was the firing of a missile at a French reconnaissance plane in the east.

The rebels began their offensive in the east at the weekend but are now said to be near the central town of Mongo.

A BBC correspondent in N'Djamena says tanks are stationed in key areas, such as outside the presidential palace.

Troops have been recalled to base despite the Muslim holiday of Eid - the biggest festival of the year in Chad.

The BBC's Stephanie Hancock in Chad says the outskirts of the capital are said to have been heavily fortified with government troops, but she says reports of the rebels' location are changing almost hour by hour.

Rapid advance

"These rebels entered Chad from Sudan and they could only have procured this type of military equipment within the sight of and with the knowledge of the Sudanese authorities. Sudan cannot deny it," Chadian Foreign Minister Ahmar Allami told AFP news agency.

GUARDIAN'S JONATHAN STEELE/SUDANESE PRESIDENT OMAR HASSAN AL-BASHIR INTERVIEW: Sudan would allow doubling of Darfur force

Click here to visit Guardian Unlimited 25 Oct 2006 and read Full transcript of Jonathan Steele's interview with the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Related reports [more to be added here later]

Oct 25 2006 Sudan Tribune has published a reprint of Jonathan Steele's report, under a different title: Sudan's president is willing to accept more AU forces.

Oct 25 2006 Reuters via IOL - Sudan open to peacekeepers under AU's control:
Sudan would be open to more peacekeepers with a beefed up mandate to police Darfur as long as the force remains under African Union (AU) control, Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir told a British newspaper.

Bashir, who has resisted international pressure to allow UN peacekeepers to take over from the AU mission, told the Guardian in an interview that he would allow the European Union or the United Nations to provide logistical support.

Asked if the AU could double its troop strength to 20 000, Bashir said: "We have no objection to the AU increasing its troops, strengthening its mandate, or receiving logistical support from the EU, the UN or the Arab League for that matter, but this must of course be done in consultation with the government of national unity."

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Bashir: Sudan has no objection to more AU troops, strengthening mandate, or receiving logistical support from EU, UN or AL

Sudan's President Bashir has no objection to more troops and a stronger AMIS mandate with logistical support from EU, UN, AL, and says there would be "integrated police units" to protect and help IDPs return home. See Angola Press news report entitled ENGLAND: Sudan open to AU peacekeepers increase, refusing UN troops: president:
LONDON, 10/25 - Sudan has "no objection" to the increase of the number of African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the troubled Darfur region, but will refuse any UN troops, warning that such a move would become "part of the conflict."

Sudan has "no objection to the AU increasing its troops, strengthening its mandate, or receiving logistical support from the EU, the UN, or the Arab League for that matter," Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir said in an interview published in The Guardian on Wednesday.

However, the president said that foreign troops imposed by the United Nations in Darfur could lead to "such troops becoming the target of attacks and part of the conflict, not the solution."

He also urged Britain and the United States to stop "applying pressure (on Sudan) the way it is being done now -- to the wrong party at the wrong time."

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Aug. 31 calling for the deployment of more than 20,000 international peacekeepers to replace the underfunded 7,800 AU forces in Darfur.

But the Sudanese government has rejected the mission transfer, saying it was a violation of Sudan's sovereignty and an effort by the West to re-colonize the African oil producing country.

Sudan, a Muslim-dominated nation with nearly 40 percent of its population Arabs, is located in north Africa and is a member state of both the pan-Arab forum and the African Union.

In Sudan's western region of Darfur, rebel groups took up arms against the government in early 2003, accusing Khartoum of marginalizing the region.

Last month, the AU Peace and Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the 7,800-strong AU forces in Darfur to Dec. 31, calling on Arab countries and the international community to provide necessary help for the forces.

The president also noted that there would be "integrated police units" to protect the displaced people affected by the conflict, and to help them to return home.

Pronk: Sudanese military trampling over DPA and still trying to gain military victory

Speaking from his native Netherlands, Mr Pronk said Sudan had broken its own peace agreement in Darfur. - BBC
- - -

Oct 25 2006 IOL by Alexandra Hudson, Amsterdam - Pronk stands firm on Sudan comments. Excerpt:
Top United Nations envoy Jan Pronk said on Tuesday that he had no regrets about comments he made concerning the situation in Darfur which led to his expulsion from Sudan, and said he hoped he could return to the country.

"I am still the special envoy to Sudan - just now not in Sudan itself," he told Dutch radio station BNR Nieuwsradio in his first interview since leaving Khartoum.

Pronk told BNR the information was widely available and it was not the weblog itself that lay behind his expulsion.

"The main thing is that a peace accord was signed in Darfur but the military are trampling all over it and are still trying to gain a military victory," he said.

"I have been trying constantly over the last months to expose this and this doesn't suit them."

Asked whether he should have been more diplomatic, Pronk replied: "I was extremely careful".

Pronk said he had kept to three rules in his work - never to talk about conversations, to be balanced and fair, and not to criticise individuals.

The last days had been nerve-racking, he said, while the Sudanese government weighed whether to expel him.
Barbarians.

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In this file picture, U.N. envoy Jan Pronk answers questions after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council where he described the deteriorating security situation in southern Sudan and in the country's western Darfur region, at the United Nations, in New York, March 21, 2006. Sudan on Sunday ordered Pronk to leave the country within three days following comments he made that the army's morale was low after suffering two major defeats in the violent Darfur region. (Chip East/Reuters)

Pronk said he had offended elements in Sudanese govt "who continue to seek a military solution and don't want anybody peering over their shoulders"

Not sure if it is my imagination but President Bashir is starting to sound unhinged. Oct 25 2006 AP report via Guardian - Sudan President Criticizes Foreign Media. Excerpt:
Sudan's president lashed out Tuesday at foreign media and relief groups operating in violence-plagued Darfur, implying that aid organizations serving the region's 2.5 million displaced people could face expulsion.

Sudan's government was working to "rid (refugee) camps of those exploiting the suffering of the people, those suspicious organizations who are part of a series of conspiracies," the official news agency quoted al-Bashir as saying during a speech at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

"We have promised before God not to let Darfurians' suffering be a pretext for foreign intervention or a subject for hostile media," al-Bashir said according to SUNA.

In Amsterdam, Pronk said Tuesday he was merely repeating what he had read in a local newspaper.

"I didn't do anything but repeat an open secret ... as a call to the rebels: You have won twice now. You'll lose the third time. So now you must abide by the cease-fire, by the peace accord. Don't attack," Pronk told the Dutch state broadcaster NOS.

Pronk said he had offended elements within the Sudanese government "who continue to seek a military solution and don't want anybody peering over their shoulders."

Pronk stopped in the Netherlands, his home country, en route to New York to consult with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan has said he still has full confidence in Pronk, the U.N.'s special representative in Sudan for more than two years.

Associated Press Writer Toby Sterling contributed to this report from Amsterdam.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sudanese Army officials threatened UN SRSG Pronk with expulsion weeks ago

Oct 24 2006 Washington Times report by Betsy Pisik and Anton Foek [via CFD] - excerpt:
Jan Pronk, the senior U.N. envoy to Sudan, said in a telephone interview that he sensed Khartoum was getting ready to expel him weeks before an announcement Sunday that he had been given three days to leave Sudan because of remarks on his personal Web site.

Mr. Pronk said in the interview that he was not surprised by the edict.

"During the past few weeks it was obvious they had something in mind," he said, noting that Sudanese Army officials had threatened him with expulsion weeks ago after he had published information or opinions the government found objectionable.

He also said the Sudanese government had "put a prize on my head through a student newspaper last year. That was after I proposed replacing the African peacekeepers in Darfur with U.N. forces."

African Union 'saddened' by UN envoy's expulsion

The African Union President, Alpha Oumar Konare, said he was "saddened" by the Sudanese government's decision to expel the UN special envoy Jan Pronk from the country.

In a note published today, Konare underlines the importance of Pronk's work "in favor of security and human rights, and the constant efforts for the promotion of reconciliation and the achievement of lasting peace in Sudan". - MISNA via Spero 24 Oct 2006.

African diplomats may be urging a reconsideration of UN Resolution to enable Khartoum to accept UN troops in Darfur

Oct 24 2006 The Guardian Nigeria via African News Dimension - excerpt:
Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Aminu Wali, confirmed to The Guardian that efforts by the two West African foreign ministers were being affected by the latest misunderstanding between the UN envoy and the government of Sudan.

But Wali said a mini AU summit that would include Nigeria's President Obasanjo is still on the cards towards arriving at a lasting solution to the Darfur crisis.

African diplomats who have been working with the UN and Arab League to resolve the crisis, according to sources, may now be urging a reconsideration of the Security Council resolution on Sudan, which is being perceived in Khartoum as if the UN were taking over the sovereignty of the government of Sudan.

Source said such a compromise might enable the Sudanese government accept international troops in Darfur to help halt the crisis.

During last month's UN General Assembly meeting in New York, African heads of state and ministers met at the AU office in New York, with the Sudanese President Omar Bashir.

After the meeting, a top U.S. official on Africa, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, said the session could have benefited from the frank comments of President Obasanjo, who was unavoidably absent.

UN's Pronk says has no regrets over Sudan comments

Oct 24 2006 Reuters report Amsterdam:
Top U.N. envoy Jan Pronk said on Tuesday he had no regrets about comments he made about the situation in Darfur which led to his expulsion by the Sudanese government, and said he hoped he could return to the country.

Pronk left Sudan on Monday after he published comments on his Web site saying the Sudanese army lost two major battles to rebels in North Darfur and morale was low, infuriating Sudan's powerful armed forces who called Pronk a threat to security.

The Dutchman told Dutch radio station BNR Nieuwsradio in an interview that the information was widely available and it was not the Weblog itself that lay behind his expulsion.

"Over there it is not about where you say something, but what you say," he said.

"The main thing is that a peace accord was signed in Darfur but the military are trampling all over it and are still trying to gain a military victory. I have been trying constantly over the last months to expose this and this doesn't suit them."
Great to read he hopes to return to Sudan.

Missile fired at French plane in Chad - Paris

Thanks to a Sudan Watch reader named Tom for sending in a news story from French radio, published here earlier today - now confirmed by Reuters via ST: Missile fired at French plane in Chad - Paris - excerpt:
A ground-to-air missile was fired at a French military aircraft on a reconnaissance mission in eastern Chad, but missed its target, the French armed forces said on Tuesday.

"Yesterday morning an Atlantique 2 patrol plane on an observation mission in eastern Chad detected a missile being fired. The plane was not hit," armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said, adding that it was not known who fired the missile.

France, whose air force fired a warning shot on the rebel column as it advanced on N'Djamena in April, said it was "very attached to the stability of Chad" and following events closely.

War In Sudan? Not Where the Oil Wealth Flows (NYT)

Via Radar Online 24 Oct 2006:
This, too, is Sudan:

Just a few hundred miles from war and destruction, the New York Times reports "young, rich Sudanese, wearing ripped jeans and fancy gym shoes, sit outside licking scoops of ice cream as an outdoor air-conditioning system sprays a cooling veil of mist. Around the corner is a new BMW dealership unloading $165,000 cars."
Sudan architecture

New investment in Sudan is literally redrawing Khartoum's skyline. A 24-story, five-star hotel being built by the Libyan government on the banks of the Nile is nearly finished. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The New York Times)

Sudan bottles

A $140 million Coca-Cola factory churns out 100,000 bottles of Coke, Sprite and Fanta per hour, with Coke syrup legally exported to Sudan under an exemption for food and medicine. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The New York Times)

Sudan cafe

As one of the world's worst atrocities unfolds in Darfur, some 600 miles to the west, young women enjoy the good life at the Ozone Cafe in Khartoum, including ice cream and outdoor air-conditioning. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The New York Times)

Sudan market

A Khartoum resident shops to piped-in Sudanese elevator music at the Hypermarket, a superstore in the city's first real mall. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The New York Times)

Source: NYT report by JEFFREY GETTLEMAN 24 Oct 2006.

Pronk expulsion creates rift in Sudanese govt

Oct 24 2006 Khartoum, VOA report by Noel King - excerpt:
Partners in Sudan's unity government say the ruling National Congress Party expelled Pronk without their consent.

Mohamed Bashir - a spokesman for Darfur's Sudan Liberation Movement, which signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government in May - called the decision a failure on the part of the ruling party.

"No matter what Mr. Pronk does or says, he represents the UN and not himself," he said. "Under the circumstances any decision against him should be done after a wider consultation, at least within the Government of National Unity and take into consideration the ongoing difficulty between Sudan and the UN."

The former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which commands an autonomous government in southern Sudan, has also said it was not consulted about the decision.

SPLM representatives were not available for comment. But, according to news reports, top southern officials have condemned the decision to expel Pronk.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the National Congress Party and the SPLM has long been marred by tensions over wealth and power sharing.

Southern analyst Abendego Akok, of the Juba University Center for Peace and Justice Studies, says the decision to expel Pronk may further exacerbate tensions between northern Sudan and its former southern foes.

"The NCP has a larger share in the government. They can take any decision without referring to any partner," he said. "The transitional government, if they want to take decisions, they should consult the others before they take any decisions because this will widen the gap between them."

The United Nations stands behind Pronk, saying it still considers him to be the secretary-general's representative to Sudan.
Note, Mr Pronk is head of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS). Currently, some 10,000 UN peacekeepers are in southern Sudan as part of the south's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). To date, the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) has no section on peacekeepers. Over the past week, I've seen news of a handful of UN personnel arriving in Darfur to support the AU's mission (AMIS).

Chad says UFDD rebels attack second eastern town - French army plane has been a target of a SolAir missile in E Chad

Reuters report via Sudan Tribune 24 Oct 2006 - excerpt:
A newly formed rebel group has attacked a second town in eastern Chad a day after briefly seizing a settlement near the border with Sudan, the central African country's government said on Tuesday.

Armed men attacked Am Timan on Monday afternoon, 24 hours after taking the town of Goz Beida and then being repelled by government forces, Communication Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said.

"The security forces are following the movements of these adventurers, whose objective is simply to show their presence on the ground and take advantage of the fact that the towns they have besieged do not have any significant military presence," he said.

The insurgents, calling themselves the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) -- the latest in a string of titles grouping various rebel factions -- have said they want polls to end the rule of President Idriss Deby.
Note this comment received here today at Sudan Watch:
tom has left a new comment on your post "Sudanese army is receiving military support from Chadian rebels based in Sudan, while Darfur rebels are supported by Chad":

I just heard on the French TV, TV5, that a French Army plane ("de reconaissance") has been the target of a SolAir missile in Eastern Chad... The plane would have been able to return to its base undamaged.
That would prove, once again, that France is helping Chadian government in their current fightings with rebels.
http://sudanwatch.blogspot.com/2006/10/sudanese-army-is-receiving-military.html

[Ed: Somewhere here in Sudan Watch archives are news reports of French troops formally helping Chad, in official agreement with the Chadian government]

Sep 28 2006 AP report - Chirac: Sudanese government has no choice but to accept UN peacekeepers

Apr 13 2006 Reuters France supports Deby - Chad says rebel attack on capital N'Djamena defeated

Sep 28 2005 IRIN Janjaweed attack E Chad: French troops step up patrols

Next UN chief promises to end "crisis of confidence"

The following report tells us the next United Nations secretary-general has promised to end a "crisis of confidence" and heal divisions hampering the work of the world body. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, who takes over from Kofi Annan on January 1, said rebuilding trust in the UN must be a top priority.

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Photo: Newly elected United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addresses the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York. Ban has promised to end a "crisis of confidence" and heal divisions hampering the work of the world body. (AFP)

Oct 24 2006 AFP report via Turkish Press - Next UN chief promises to end "crisis of confidence" - excerpt:
The security and humanitarian crisis in the Sudanese region of Darfur, the flare-ups in the Middle East and conflicts in Africa also called for concerted responses, Ban said.

As secretary-general, he added, he intends to seek an active role in finding a peaceful settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue.

Ban, only the second Asian secretary-general since U Thant in 1961-71, promised to listen to suggestions on better ways to get things done.

"And fully in line with the national character and values of my home country, I will do so with humility, honesty and our trademark 'can do' spirit."

Jan Pronk photos: Explaining the Darfur Peace Agreement

See photos at Jan Pronk's Weblog Oct 21, 2006 and caption "Explaining the Darfur Peace Agreement on various occasions in the field."

DSCF0222.jpg

One of the photos (see above) shows Mr Pronk with a microphone, tirelessly working to help broker peace. He's led an incredible two years in Sudan and packed them with amazing experiences.

DSCF0238.jpg

Photo of UN helicopter in Darfur, western Sudan. (Jan Pronk Weblog/Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg)

and this, captioned: "Liria, Central Equatoria, Southern Sudan October 7, 2006"

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Pronk: U.N. envoy's blunt blogging got him kicked out of Sudan

Excerpt from USATODAY editorial 24 Oct 2006:
Pronk's blog might have violated United Nations' standards about separating personal views from official duties. But the episode is far more important for the deeper - and disturbing - truths it reveals.

First, the Sudanese government, for all its denials, is involved in making Darfur's horrors worse even as it denies that to the outside world. And second, its agenda is to prevent effective international intervention.

For two years, Pronk has pushed the Sudanese to allow an international presence and to stop the orgy of rapes and killings. No doubt they are hoping his successor will be less outspoken; instead, the episode harshly spotlights what the Sudanese government is getting away with in Darfur.
What now? Not only was Jan Pronk one of the few who knew what was really going on in Sudan, he was a voice of those suffering in Sudan and the only civil servant willing to risk his neck over the past year to tell the world what is really going on in Darfur and warn of what needs to be done. Note, he was in favour of bolstering the African Union's mission in Darfur.

capt.28857674300a4cc8a197a484a996218d.sudan_un_darfur_cai201.jpg

Photo: Chief U.N. Envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan in this Thursday, Sept 21, 2006 file photo. The Sudanese government on Sunday Oct. 22, 2006 gave Pronk three days to leave the country, Sudan's official news agency reported whilst giving no reason for the order, but Pronk drew sharp criticism from the Sudanese military this month after writing in a personal Web log that government forces had suffered serious losses recently at the hands of rebels in Darfur. (AP Photo/Abdel Raouf)

Blogosphere picks up on UN envoy Jan Pronk being kicked out of Sudan for blogging

Instapundit picks up on Jan Pronk's blogging and is happy to hear that the Sudanese "government's doing badly, given that it's trying to accomplish a genocide" - and quotes this from Austin Bay's blog entry entitled Sudan/Pronk kicked out for blogging:
"He [Pronk] blogged the truth and the Sudan government now says 'goodbye'."
Note this comment by Dusty:
"Jan Pronk. He blogs Sudan so the MSM [mainstream media] doesn't have to."
Heh. How insightful. It's all so true!

See July 1, 2006 Sudan Watch Jan Pronk's blog entry picked up by the press: UN envoy calls for changes to Darfur peace plan (Reuters); UN envoy attacks Darfur agreement (BBC)

Note also, Outrage over Sudan's dictator poised to lead Africa.

Bloggers comments (more later - if and when I find them)

Oct 22 2006 Drima The Sudanese Thinker - Jan Pronk Told to Leave in 3 Days!: "...UPDATE: I was thinking. If the NCP is willing to kick out Jan Pronk over one tiny post in his blog, what the hell will they do to me if they find out about this blog?! Lord have mercy on me. Sigh! :-( ..." [Heh Drima. I was thinking the same about this blog! Now and then, in lapses of patience, I've called them baboons, cretins, buffoons and flea brained camel faced morons!]

Oct 23 2006 Black Kush - Sudan expels UN envoy Jan Pronk: "...Take it from me. The government will relent in the end and allow him to stay. This is high class politick...." [I agree, but have read reports that say Mr Pronk's position at the UN changes at the end of this year when SG Annan's tenure expires]

Oct 23 2006 Darfur: An Unforgivable Hell on Earth - Jan Pronk booted out of Sudan???????? - Hitler didn’t want anyone reporting on his genocidal tendancies either. [True!]

Oct 23 2006 Opinio Juris - When Diplomats Blog: "...Perhaps the UN wanted to give Pronk freedom to speak more candidly by describing the blog as personal reflections. That insulates the organization from criticism, and yet frees the diplomat to pursue a more effective strategy of public condemnation. I would suspect that this is the true agenda..." [I agree]

Oct 23 2006 Black Kush - NCP and SPLM: strange bed fellows: "...Now they are trading blows again. The SPLM claimed they were not consulted when Khartoum expelled the UN special envoy Jan Pronk. Being part of the government, where were the decisions made? Are there many governments in Khartoum? Now it is Khartoum's turn to slam the SPLM. The NCP said the visit of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to Juba was wrong. Since Sudan is still one country, any president visiting should come through Khartoum and meet president Bashir first. Who is wrong and who is right?" [Good questions]

Oct 23 2006 Boing Boing - UN Envoy in Sudan booted after blogging about Darfur: links to Jerotus' Diplomat blogs reality and Sudan is not amused [Ed: Scroll down the last day of entries here and you will see Mr Pronk has not actually lost his position, the UN still considers him as SRSG in Sudan]

Oct 24 2006 A real life blogging Google Answers Researcher (GAR) notes a question about Legality of Coup Plot - see Google Question of the Day (or Week): UN envoy to Sudan expelled after blogging

Oct 24 2006 A Cloud In Trousers - Le Blog Diplomatique: Further reports reveal that Jan Pronk still has Kofi Annan's every confidence and is still the special envoy to Sudan. Happy birthday to the UN.

Oct 25 2006 Jen alic for ISN Security Watch - Darfur diplomacy 'blogged': " ...And so the pressure remains capped. ... Perhaps this will be Pronk's next personal blog rant."

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Top UN official under fire for blogging truth in Sudan

Excerpt from VOA News 23 Oct 2006:
Pronk was ordered to leave Khartoum Sunday, after he posted an entry on his Internet weblog saying Sudan's armed forces had been badly beaten in two recent battles with rebels in Darfur, suffering heavy casualties. The entry reported troop morale had sunk, and several commanders had been fired.

The weblog has embarrassed U.N. officials. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric last Friday emphasized that the views expressed are Pronk's, and do not reflect those of the U.N. or Secretary-General Annan.

Dujarric Monday refused to characterize Pronk's departure from Khartoum as an expulsion. He said the envoy is returning for consultations, and retains Mr. Annan's full confidence.

He said, "The secretary-general has asked Mr. Pronk to come back, and Mr. Pronk will have discussions with the Secretary-General and other senior officials when he's here. But what needs to be clearly stated is that he continues to be the special representative of the secretary general in serving with the full support of the secretary-general in that capacity."

Pronk is a 66-year-old former Dutch Cabinet minister. He has been a powerful presence as Mr. Annan's special envoy, speaking frankly about the violence in Darfur, which the United States and others describe as genocide.

Pronk has sharply criticized Khartoum for allowing Arab militias known as janjaweed to carry out ethnic cleansing operations in the vast western Sudanese region. He has described internally displaced people in Darfur as "victims of Arab racism."

Pronk remains UN envoy to Sudan: spokesman

Excerpt from China's Xinhua 24 Oct 2006:
[Chief UN spokesman] Dujarric said Pronk had only been called to New York for consultations and would continue to serve as the special representative of the secretary-general. He said Pronk will arrive in New York Wednesday.
- - -

Excerpt from KUNA's news report 23 Oct 2006 - Annan's invitation to Pronk "temporary":
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Pronk remains Annan's special envoy for Sudan. Annan still has confidence in him. He was called in for consultations to review with him a letter the Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol Ajawin sent to him Sunday.

In that letter Ajawin said the government "is of the view that the purposes of realizing peace and stability can better be served by other international civil servants who are dedicated and ready to adhere to the objectives of the UN Charter, possess the ability and determination to respect international law and sensitive to the sovereignty and integrity of the nations in which they serve".

Therefore, the letter added, the government "remains committed and will cooperate" with Pronk's replacement.
Ha! Respect, sensitivity, integrity?!! The fact that they even contemplated the expulsion of Mr Pronk (head of UN mission in Sudan and great friend of Sudan) tells us they do not know the meaning of those words. Cretinous morons.

Pronk has Annan's full support: spokesman

Mr Pronk left Khartoum yesterday and will arrive in New York tomorrow for talks with Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General. A spokesman said last night that he had Mr Annan's full support. - Times 24 Oct 2006.

Monday, October 23, 2006

UN envoy does the right thing

Let us now praise UN envoys when they do the right thing. UN representative Jan Pronk is being expelled from the Sudan for telling the truth about its murderous activities on his blog (according to the Washington Post). Read more... by J Lewis of The American Thinker.com, 22 Oct 2006.

Diplomacy with Sudan over Darfur "not Dead": Analyst

Oct 23 2006 Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa report - Diplomacy With Sudan Over Darfur "not Dead": Analyst [via Playfuls.com] excerpt:
With the ongoing diplomatic tit-for-tat between Sudan and the international community, some observers have called for stricter measures to urge Khartoum to accept the UN mission.

Economic sanctions have been proposed, with the International Crisis Group, a conflict analysis think-tank, calling for the overseas assets of Sudanese legislators to be frozen. Human Rights Watch, a New-York based rights watchdog, did the same.

US condemns Sudan's expulsion of UN envoy

Oct 23 2006 The News - International:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday condemned Sudan's expulsion of a top United Nations envoy as "unfortunate in the extreme," and pledged to consult with UN chief Kofi Annan.

Sudan told Annan's special representative Jan Pronk to leave the country on Sunday, accusing him of overstepping his mandate.

"It is unfortunate in the extreme," Rice told reporters. The outspoken envoy acknowledged in a statement that he had been asked to leave. He said he would fly to New York Monday "for consultations" with Annan, two days ahead of the three-day deadline for his expulsion.

Pronk said he had a meeting Sunday with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali Karti, who gave him a letter addressed to Annan informing him that the government considers the envoy's mission in Sudan "terminated".

UN's Jan Pronk in Sudan: The end of an insider's blog?

Excerpt from Andrew Stroehlein' commentary Oct 23, 2006 - Reuters AlertNet - Darfur: The end of an insider's blog?
"... But there has been something unique about Pronk's blog. While it hasn't been as casually written or as frequently updated as many bloggers' fare, it has provided a running log of a high-level diplomat's thinking quite unlike anything we have seen elsewhere. What other top envoy dealing with such delicate matters of conflict resolution regularly pens such an ongoing account and commentary?

Given the subject matter, it is fairly incredible that Pronk has managed to keep his blog going for nearly a year. If it disappears, those of us following Sudan will lose a valuable window into peace efforts there.
I hope Jan Pronk's blog does not disappear! It was unique and one of my favourites. Couldn't get a RSS feed into my newsreader but used to visit almost every day. I wonder what will happen now. Maybe Mr Pronk will manage to do just as much good from inside Europe.

Apart from feeling disgusted, I'm not sure what to think of the situation. Maybe some personal sanctions and travel bans on entering Europe and the US will now be in order - starting at the top of the Sudanese government, including family members AND rebel leaders. The thought of any of those people spending wads of money, travelling in style and enjoying a visit here in Europe makes feel sick. Bon voyage Mr Pronk. Hope to hear from you on the other side! Keep on blogging!!

UN envoy prepares Sudan exit after expulsion

Reuters report via ST - UN envoy prepares Sudan exit after expulsion - excerpt:
Described by a U.N. source as "somewhat bemused" Pronk cancelled his travel plans for the rest of the week and will head to New York on Monday following a summons from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He will not return.

Some observers questioned whether the expulsion was little more than political theater because Pronk, as Annan's political appointee, was likely to lose his position when Annan left the world body at the end of the year.

"Mr. Pronk ... his period is nearly finished so it is more political maneuver than genuine political action from the government," said el-Bagir.

Others said Pronk himself may have made a political move to "go out with a bang." Only three months earlier Pronk had similar problems with comments he wrote on his blog that changes needed to be made to the Darfur peace deal, signed in May by only one of three negotiating rebel factions.

"He is very savvy. He must have known what the government's reaction would be to this," said one diplomat who declined to be named. One U.N. source said Pronk had already been warned by U.N. headquarters in New York about his blog."
I loved Jan Pronk's blog and photos. I wonder what his next blog entry will say! I hope he waves a two fingered goodbye to Khartoum, when he's safely in the air.

South Sudan slams move, deepening unity govt rift

Oct 23 2006 AFP report via Gulf Times:
The autonomous government of southern Sudan yesterday denounced Khartoum's expulsion of UN envoy Jan Pronk, deepening rifts in Sudan's unity government formed after a north-south peace deal last year.

The Government of Southern Sudan said it had not been consulted on Pronk's expulsion, which it said was a "wrong decision" that could worsen deteriorating conditions in the troubled western Darfur region.

And it said the move could hurt the federal administration, created in 2005 between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's ruling National Congress Party and the south's ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

"It is a wrong decision and it is taking Sudan more and more to the brink of confrontation with the international community," said Yasser Arman, the spokesman for the southern Sudanese government.

"More importantly, it will aggravate the situation in Darfur rather than looking for solutions in partnership with the international community," he said. "Expelling Jan Pronk will not resolve the issue at hand, meaning Darfur."

Arman, speaking from south Sudan's capital of Juba, complained the southern partners had not been consulted on a matter that directly relates to its signing of the January 2005 peace deal with Khartoum.

"Jan Pronk came to Sudan as a result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," he said, referring to the accord that ended Sudan’s 21-year north-south civil war. "The government should have consulted the SPLM before expelling him."

"The worrying situation is that there is a growing tendency in the National Congress Party to undermine the CPA," Arman said, urging an immediate ceasefire in Darfur and co-operation between Khartoum and the international community.

Under the terms of the north-south accord, which ended what was then Africa’s longest-running conflict, the SPLM/A was given positions in the Khartoum government, including the post of first vice president and foreign minister.

But the two sides have since argued over numerous issues, including Darfur, where the government of south Sudan supports the deployment of UN peacekeepers and Khartoum is vehemently opposed.

The north-south war claimed at least 1.5mn lives and displaced some 4mn people.

Sudan dictatorial shift and Pronk's expulsion

Oct 23 2006 ST Sudan Tribune Editorial - excerpt:
Nowadays, Sudan is not ruled by a political party, Sudan is governed by one man and his generals.

For Khartoum it is a question of the survival of a dictatorial regime, for us it is the realization of peace and democratic transition in the country.

Darfur NRF denounces UN Pronk expulsion

Oct 23 2006 ST NRF Press Statement - Expelletion of Jan Pronk Gives Way for Albahsir's Chemical Warfare in Darfur - excerpt:
The NRF strongly denounces the callous decision of the Government of Sudan to expel UN Envoy Jan Pronk from Sudan. It is not a simple coincidence that this decision has been made at the very moment when the new offensive of the Khartoum regime in Darfur has been launched.
I was thinking the same, and about a similar thing that happened a while ago to the UN's Jan Egeland. Note the rebels have taken the opportunity to spread word of wmd's.

Pronk leaving for New York to consult with Annan

Los Angeles Times excerpt:
Pronk could not be reached Sunday for comment. An aide, Sajin Khan, confirmed the expulsion order and said that he would have a response after Pronk had consulted with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Pronk had been asked to come to New York for the consultation, the Associated Press reported.

Darfur rebels say militias attack villages

Reuters report via ReliefWeb - excerpt:
"The Janjaweed attacked villages in Nena yesterday and raped two girls ... aged 16 and 18," said Jar el-Naby, a rebel commander in North Darfur.

"Government troops are also mobilising in this area, and we are prepared for an attack," Naby said.

Nena is about 100 kilometres northwest of el-Fasher, Darfur's main town. Janjaweed, derived loosely from the Arabic for devils on horseback, are militias accused of a campaign of rape, pillage and murder which Washington calls genocide.

Khartoum denies genocide and any links to Janjaweed, calling them bandits.

One African Union source confirmed the heavy build-up of troops around the area in North Darfur, which has seen fighting between the rebels and government over the past few months.

Rights group Amnesty International said in a press release that thousands of civilians in neighbouring eastern Chad had fled cross-border Janjaweed attacks.

"The new wave of attacks across the Chad/Sudan border started on 3 October and have continued since then," Amnesty said in a press release on Saturday. "Dozens of people have been killed and some 3,000 have fled in the past week." It called on the Chadian government to deploy more troops along the long and porous border until U.N. peacekeepers deployed in Darfur.

Sudanese army has succeeded in removing a man who spoke openly about the government's continuing role in atrocities (BBC)

Oct 23 2006 BBC report - UN envoy prepares to leave Sudan - excerpt:
The head of the United Nations mission in Sudan, Jan Pronk, is expected to leave the country after being ordered out by the government.

The expulsion was ordered after Mr Pronk wrote in his blog that Sudan's army had suffered defeats in the Darfur region and its morale was low.

Mr Pronk's relations with the Sudanese government were shaky before this row.

Sudan's government had given Mr Pronk until midday Wednesday to leave, but UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recalled him to New York for consultations.

'Creating problems'

It was Mr Pronk's comments on his personal website that angered the Sudanese government.

"Morale in the government army in north Darfur has gone down," he wrote. "Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight."

He said the Sudanese army had lost two major battles recently to rebel groups in the western region and that Arab militias - who have been accused of atrocities - were being mobilised in violation of UN resolutions.

The army led calls for Mr Pronk's expulsion, calling his remarks psychological warfare.

Junior Foreign Minister Sammani al-Wasila told the BBC that Mr Pronk had strayed beyond his mandate and lost his neutrality.

"It is not his right to comment," he said. "His role as personal envoy to the secretary general means he should be neutral to help solving problems, rather than creating problems."

Darfur conflict

Britain has condemned Mr Pronk's expulsion and urged Sudan to reconsider.

"This step is counter-productive and will contribute nothing to solving the problems of Sudan," said Foreign Office Minister Lord Triesman.

In Brussels, European Union spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said: "The presence of the United Nations is vital to hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Darfur region."

Sudan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ali Karti, told the BBC that it was Mr Pronk, not the UN, that was the problem.

"It is not the United Nation's activities in Sudan," he said. "They are welcome."

'No free voices'

There was also opposition to the move within Sudan.

"It is a wrong decision which is going to worsen the situation of Darfur instead of solving it," said Yasser Arman, the spokesman for the southern Sudanese government.

And Khalil Ibrahim, a senior member of the rebel National Redemption Front, told Reuters news agency the decision came from the army.

"They don't want to leave any free voices in Sudan," he said.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher says that although in theory there is a coalition government in Khartoum, this episode has illustrated just how strong the military remains.

Their pride hurt by Mr Pronk's comments, the Sudanese army has succeeded in removing a man who spoke openly about the government's continuing role in atrocities, our correspondent says.

Annan reviewing Sudan's request for withdrawal of UN envoy

Via POTP - Sudan expels UN official for blog revealing Darfur military defeats / Annan reviewing Sudan's request for withdrawal of UN envoy - spokesman:
By Warren Hoge of the New York Times

Sudan's government ordered the chief United Nations envoy out of the country today [Sunday], saying he was an enemy of the country and its armed forces.

Secretary General Kofi Annan said that he was reviewing the letter from the Khartoum government and had requested the envoy, Jan Pronk, to return to New York for "consultations."

The Sudanese order said he had to leave by Wednesday. United Nations officials confirmed he would depart before then.

Mr. Pronk, a blunt-spoken former Dutch cabinet minister, has been outspoken in reporting on the killings, rapes and other atrocities in Darfur, the region in the western part of Sudan where 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes.

He has become increasingly pointed in his comments because of the rise in violence across the area despite a May peace accord between the Sudanese government and a major rebel group, and because of the government's refusal to grant permission for a new United Nations force to take over peacekeeping in the country from the overstretched African Union.

Mr. Pronk is known as a forceful presence at the United Nations from his frequent appearances before the Security Council, where he characteristically delivers unflinching accounts of the continuing mayhem and political breakdowns in Sudan in a rhetorical style that includes finger-jabbing and dramatic pauses for emphasis.

Sudan's action against him was apparently provoked by an entry he made in his personal blog - www.janpronk.nl - last weekend that said Sudan's armed forces had suffered two major defeats with extensive casualties against rebels in Darfur in the past six weeks. He also reported that generals had been cashiered, that morale had sunk and that the government had collaborated with the feared Janjaweed Arab militias, which are held responsible for pillaging villages and killing and raping their residents.

The Sudanese armed forces on Thursday cited the blog entry in calling Mr. Pronk a threat to national security and asking that he be expelled.

The fact that one of its top officials has put sensitive findings in a personal blog has embarrassed the United Nations and put its officials in an awkward position. When the matter arose Friday, United Nations officials resisted rebuking Mr. Pronk for the practice for fear that it would appear to be a vote of no confidence in the mission, rather than just in his professional lapse.

Questioned repeatedly on Friday over whether the United Nations stood by the statements in Mr. Pronk's blog, Stephane Dujarric, Mr. Annan's spokesman, said, "Those views are expressed by Pronk, are his personal views."

Mr. Dujarric indicated that this was not the first time a problem with Mr. Pronk's blog had come up. "There have been a number of discussions with Mr. Pronk regarding his blog and the expectation of all staff members to exercise proper judgment in what they write in their blogs," he said.

In a statement distributed by the official Sudanese news agency today, the country's Foreign Ministry accused Mr. Pronk of demonstrating "enmity to the Sudanese government and the armed forces" and of involvement in activities "that are incompatible with his mission."

The activity in question was apparently a trip that Mr. Pronk made into Darfur to make direct contact with rebels.

In a blog entry on Oct. 14, Mr. Pronk wrote that losses by the Sudanese armed forces in two recent battles "seem to have been very high. Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles with many wounded and many taken prisoner."

"The morale in the government army in North Darfur has gone down," the blog entry continued. "Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight. The government has responded by directing more troops and equipment from elsewhere to the region and by mobilizing Arab militia."

Victor Tanner, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies who returned from Sudan a week ago, said the blog's references to defeats suffered by the Sudanese army had caused a furor there.

"Comments on the disarray that seemed to be reigning within the Sudanese armed forces was an amazing thing to see in the blog of a U.N. official," he said. "Refreshing but wild."

"That the armed forces had suffered these losses was something that everybody was talking about as a rumor swarming around Khartoum and Darfur, but it took on a new reality and became 'the truth' when it was uttered in print by Pronk."

In Washington, the State Department said it was withholding comment until it learned more from Khartoum about the incident.

Amnnesty International in New York said it "condemns in the strongest terms" the ouster of Mr. Pronk. "By declaring Mr. Pronk persona non grata, Khartoum has once again demonstrated heinous dispassion toward the well-being of its own citizens," the organization said.

In London, the Foreign Office also denounced the Sudanese move and called for it to be reversed. "This step is counter-productive and will contribute nothing to solving the problems of Sudan," said Lord David Triesman, a foreign office minister. "I call upon the government of Sudan to reconsider its decision."

In what has become a tense standoff with the United Nations, Sudan has adamantly refused to accept the deployment of 22,000 United Nations soldiers and police officers despite public outcries over the increasing danger to the residents of Darfur.

The force, called for in a Security Council resolution on Aug. 31, would replace the 7,200-member African Union force that has admitted it does not have the resources to curb the violence in Darfur. In light of Sudan’s defiance, the African Union agreed a month ago to strengthen the force and extend its presence in Sudan until Dec. 31.

Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has characterized the United Nations plan as an American-inspired plot to recolonize his country and plunder its oil, and he has threatened to attack any soldiers sent to Darfur.

At the United Nations in September, Mr. Bashir said the reports of deaths and displacements in Darfur were "fictions" spread by international aid groups and Jewish organizations to raise money to benefit Israel.

And commenting on the international campaign that has arisen to try to end the violence in Darfur, he said, "Those who made the publicity, who mobilized the people, invariably are Jewish organizations."

From the UN News Service...

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has requested his senior envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, to come to New York for consultations after the country's Government officially requested his withdrawal today [Sunday].

On Friday, a UN spokesman was asked about comments on Mr. Pronk's blog as well as reports that Sudan was declaring him persona non grata. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the views expressed on the blog were personal, and that the Government had presented no official request concerning Mr. Pronk.

Today, in a statement released in New York, the spokesman said Mr. Annan had this morning received a letter from the Government of Sudan requesting Mr. Pronk's withdrawal.

"The Secretary-General is reviewing the letter and has, in the meantime, requested Mr. Pronk to come to New York for consultations," Mr. Dujarric said.

A profile feature from SAPA/AFP...

United Nations envoy Jan Pronk, who has been ordered to leave Sudan after he criticised the government's handling of the Darfur crisis, is a veteran diplomat with a direct approach.

An international diplomat for most of his working life, the 66-year-old is an example of a UN envoy who is not afraid to speak his mind and get emotionally involved in his work.

Since the former Dutch minister of development aid was appointed UN envoy for Sudan in 2004, his relations with Khartoum have been difficult.

Pronk has openly called Sudan a "police state" and said refugees in Darfur were victims of "Arabic racism".

In an interview in March in Dutch news magazine Vrij Nederland, Pronk said he was not worried about a possible backlash.

"The most important thing is that all parties see us as impartial... I say harsh things to the Sudanese government but also to the rebels," he explained.

The final straw was Pronk's personal weblog entry of October 14 that said that the Sudanese army had suffered major losses and that the army was working with militias linked to the Janjaweed, a pro-government militia accused of gross abuses against ethnic minority civilians in Darfur.

During his political career in the Netherlands, Pronk has always stood out as a man of principles in a political landscape dominated by pragmatism and consensus.

An economist, Pronk started his political career as a member of parliament for the PDVA labour party in 1971. In 1973 he became minister of development cooperation a post he held in three different cabinets, the last from 1994 until 1998.

Between the 1970s and 2002 he held a variety of Dutch political posts and spent six years as deputy secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

Observers says Pronk's direct style may have been a contributing factor in naming him the UN envoy to Sudan. He is often credited with keeping the crisis there high on the international agenda.
God bless Mr Pronk and keep him well. He deserves a medal.
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