SUDAN WATCH: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ukraine says military hardware carried by hijacked Ukrainian ship MV Faina had been officially sold to Kenya (Update 1)

Hijacked MV Faina, Somalia coast

Photo: The seized vessel MV Faina is staying in the port of Hobyo, 500 kilometers northeast of the Somali capital Mogadishu. (Itar-Tass)

Friday, 31 October 2008 (Itar-Tass) report - Faina owner doing utmost to agree on ship and crew’s release - excerpt:
The owner of the Ukrainian ship Faina and an intermediary are doing their best to agree with Somali pirates on the release of the ship and the crew, the ship owner said on Friday.

NATO warships have encircled the Faina. The alliance command said it would not permit to bring the weaponry from the ship to the shore, where Islamic armed units were fighting against the Somali government.

The destination of the weaponry is still in question. Kenya said it had purchased the tanks and other armaments but refused to pay the ransom because the delivery had been incomplete. The Kenyan government said that the owners of the weaponry and the ship must hold negotiations with the assailants. There is also information that the weapons were routed to South Sudan.

Ukrainian First Vice-Premier Alexander Turchinov told a press conference on October 3 that the military hardware carried by the Faina ship had been officially sold to Kenya.
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In the face of Somali piracy, all eyes on Kenya army

Ukrainian ship MV Faina

Photo: The MV Faina. (Reuters/U.S. Navy Handout) Source:  Friday, October 31 2008 (www.nation.co.ke)report by Dominic Wabala - In the face of Somali piracy, all eyes on Kenya army - excerpt:
The Department of Defence (DoD) spokesman Bogita Ongeri told the Saturday Nation that because the ship was in international waters, the Kenyan navy was not obliged to rescue it.

“In such an incident where the ship is in international waters, Kenya can only collaborate with other countries who have interests in the area. We are fully involved in the anti-piracy operations in conjunction with other concerned countries but can only act within the law,” Mr Ongeri said.

However, analysts say that if the weapons aboard the MV Faina fell into the hands of insurgents, it could tip the balance of power in the war-wrecked country - and create havoc at the Kenya-Somalia border.
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Previous reports

Oct 09, 2008 Sudan Watch: MV Faina cargo was for Ethiopia? NATO agrees to join anti-piracy operations off coast of Somalia: seven of its frigates will arrive within two weeks.

Oct 02, 2008 Sudan Watch: US warships surround Ukrainian ship hijacked nr Somalia: Cargo for Sudan - Moscow sends warship - Germany joins EU forces - Kenyan official arrested.
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UPDATE - Nov 08, 2008:

GOSS = Government of South Sudan?


GOSS = Government of South Sudan?

Photo: Freight manifest (bill of laden) from the Ukrainian ship MV Faina. Contract numbers on the manifest include the initials GOSS, thought to stand for government of South Sudan. (BBC report October 7, 2008 - Hijacked tanks 'for South Sudan')

See Rob Crilly's African Safari blog post at From The Frontline 8 November 2008 - Britain, Leaks and those Awkward Tanks

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5 HTC oil workers ambushed (by Arab Baggara tribe?) between Heglig, S. Kordofan & Mayom County, Unity, S. Sudan: 3 Sudanese killed, 2 Yemenis missing

More bad news. Thursday, 30 October 2008 (Reuters) report - Three Sudanese oil workers killed in south Sudan - excerpt:
(JUBA, Sudan) Three Sudanese working with the Yemeni HTC oil company were killed and two Yemenis were believed missing after they were ambushed in Unity State in southern Sudan, a spokesman for the state said on Thursday.

Andrea Kuong told Reuters the group was ambushed while travelling between the Heglig oil-producing area in South Kordofan and Mayom County in Unity State on Wednesday.

"Two Yemenis were kidnapped, they (police) believe. But they are not 100 percent sure. They are still missing," he said.

He blamed the incident on the Baggara tribe, an Arab nomadic group that grazes cattle in Unity State. "This is not the first time Baggara have ambushed cars," he said.

The energy-producing region between north and south Sudan has seen escalating attacks against oil workers in the last six months.
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+ + + Two HTC Yemen staff killed in Sudan + + +

More sad news. Wednesday, 29 October 2008 (AFP) report - Two Yemeni oil company staff killed in Sudan - excerpt:
Gunmen shot dead two Sudanese staff from a Yemeni oil company in southern Sudan on Wednesday while they were driving to work, the country manager of the company told AFP.

A Sudanese government official said the gunman had also kidnapped a Yemeni oil worker, but HTC Yemen Sudan-manager Abdelkarim al-Harabi said he could not confirm the abduction.

"Two Sudanese working for us were killed today about 12 pm (0900 GMT). We don't know who is responsible," Harabi told AFP.

A Sudanese government official confirmed the deaths and said that a Yemeni oil worker was also kidnapped in Unity State, which is part of semi-autonomous southern Sudan.

Harabi said he was in touch with staff from Yemen to clarify whether anyone was missing.

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1 of 2 missing CNPC oil workers found alive by Sudan army - 1 soldier killed, 1 wounded - Captors led by Misseriya tribesman Abu Humaid Ahmed Dannay

Good news. Friday, 31 October 2008 (Xinhua Beijing via Reuters Africa, reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Paul Tait) - Kidnapped Chinese oil worker found in Sudan-Xinhua excerpt:
A Chinese oil worker held hostage in central Sudan for more than a week after being taken from an oil field with eight colleagues has been found alive by the Sudan army, state media said on Friday, citing the Chinese embassy.

Four of the Chinese oil workers were confirmed killed earlier this week, while three others were in hospital after being rescued.

"The Chinese embassy said that it would continue to cooperate with the Sudanese authorities and to do their best to find out the fate of the last Chinese worker," Xinhua said.

China sent a team of officials to Sudan on Thursday to seek the release of the oil workers after four of those kidnapped died in a clash between their captors and Sudanese forces.
Let's hope the other poor chap is found alive and well. More updates here later.
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1 soldier killed, 1 wounded while tracking kidnapped Chinese oil workers - Kidnappers led by Misseriya tribesman Abu Humaid Ahmed Dannay

Bad news. Sudan Tribune (Khartoum) report Thursday, 30 October 2008 - Soldier killed while tracking kidnapped Chinese oil workers - excerpt:
One soldier was killed and another wounded Wednesday night during the tracking of the kidnappers of Chinese oil workers.

The kidnappers are led by Abu Humaid Ahmed Dannay, a Misseriya tribesman who said the abduction was aimed at drawing attention to the lack of development in the region and the failure of oil companies operating there to help provide services or jobs for natives.
Note, the report points out that:
the Misseriya were also blamed for the kidnapping of four Indian oil workers and their Sudanese driver in the same area in May. All five managed to escape or were released unharmed, the last one in July.
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Today, I came across the following news item at China's Foreign Ministry website, dated 26 March 2004:
Q: Is it true that the other Chinese worker abducted by the rebels of Sudan has been rescued?

A: According to the latest information from the Chinese Embassy in Sudan, thanks to all-out efforts of China, Sudan and ICRC, the second Chinese worker abducted by the anti-government militants of Sudan was rescued on the morning of 27th March(Beijing Time), following the safe escape of the other Chinese worker on 19th March. Currently the rescued person is in good health and spirit. The Charge d'Affaire a.i. of the Chinese Embassy in Sudan had greeted the rescued worker by phone. Therefore, the two Chinese workers abducted by the anti-government militants of Sudan are all out of danger.
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Also today, the following excerpt from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu's Regular Press Conference 30 October 2008:
Q: "... about the Chinese hostages in Sudan, exactly how many of them were killed, how many were rescued and how many are still missing?

A: "... according to the latest information, among the nine CNPC workers kidnapped in Sudan, four were killed, three were rescued, two are still missing. The rescued have already received medical treatment and are now safe.

This morning, a working group led by the Foreign Ministry, with members from the Ministry of Commerce and CNPC left for Sudan. The working group will join our Embassy in Sudan in taking care of the aftermath and conveying condolences of the CPC Central Committee and State Council to the victims and consolation to the rescued. They will keep contact with Sudan, urging it to continue the rescue efforts to their best, bring the murderers to justice and take every measure necessary to protect life and property of Chinese citizens in Sudan.

Q: Sudan and China gave different numbers of casualties and those missing in the kidnapping incident. Do you reach consensus on that now? Could you also tell us who are the members of the working group handling the incident?

A: I have briefed you earlier on the latest developments. Among those kidnapped, four were killed, three were rescued and two were still missing. This is the latest figure I have got up to now.

On October 19th, just the next day after the kidnapping, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has sent a working group to Sudan to handle the aftermath. The second working group, a governmental taskforce headed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, with members from the Ministry of Commerce and the CNPC set off to Sudan early this morning.
For further reports, click on Abyei label here below.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

China sends team to Sudan to help find 2 missing oil workers: Kidnappers are from Arab Misseriya tribe and are associated with JEM terrorist group

Note, below copied report reveals that Mukhtar Babu El-Nimer, chief of the Arab Misseriya tribe in the Muglad region of South Kordofan said the kidnappers of the Chinese oil workers were of his tribe, but associated with JEM rebel group.

China Sends Team to Sudan to Help Find Two Missing Oil Workers

Thursday, 30 October 2008 (Bloomberg) report by Dune Lawrence and Heba Aly - excerpt:
China sent a team of government officials to Sudan to help to find two oil workers who went missing after the Sudanese government attempted to rescue them and seven others from kidnappers, the foreign ministry said.

Four employees of China National Petroleum Corp. were killed during the rescue attempt and three others were injured. Officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce, and CNPC left for Sudan today, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said told reporters in Beijing.

"The kidnappers hurt the workers during a rescue operation by the Sudan government," Jiang said.

The Sudanese authorities have denied that they carried out a rescue attempt of the hostages, who were abducted on Oct. 18 while working in South Kordofan, bordering the Darfur region and straddling the contested border between north and south Sudan.

The kidnappers killed the oil workers after they thought a government plane that was resupplying troops in the area was preparing to attack them, Ali Yousif, director general of protocol at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, said in a telephone interview yesterday in Khartoum, the capital.

"There was a plane bringing food and water to the troops in that area, who were surrounding the kidnappers from very far," Yousif said. "When they saw the plane, they thought it was coming to attack them, so they killed the hostages and ran away."

The government has blamed the rebel Justice and Equality Movement for the abductions. JEM said it wasn't involved. Both China and Sudan have called the incident a "terrorist" act.

JEM has repeatedly accused China of supporting Sudan's military actions in Darfur through arms sales and investment in the oil industry, the third biggest in sub-Saharan Africa. China National Petroleum is the nation's top oil producer.
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Will killing of oil workers harden China's Darfur policy?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 (CSM) report by Heba Aly, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor and Scott Baldauf, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor - excerpt:
Mukhtar Babu El-Nimer, chief of the Arab Misseriya tribe in the Muglad region of South Kordofan, said the kidnappers were of his tribe, but associated with the JEM rebel group.

"They want development. This area has no development and the oil is pouring out of it. The government has done nothing for them," he said.

Oil workers have been targeted in the region before. In May, the same Misseriya tribe kidnapped four Indian oil workers. All but one escaped or were released.
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Related reports

Thursday, 30 October 2008 (Sudan Watch) Chinese hostages in Abyei, Kordofan: 4 dead, 3 injured, 2 missing after rescue attempt by Chinese and GOS forces

For further reports, click on Abyei label here below.

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Unknown gunmen attack 9 UN peacekeepers in Kutum, N. Darfur, Sudan: 1 killed, 1 injured while guarding well - SANDF to investigate

Gunmen kill peacekeeper guarding well in Darfur

Thursday, 30 October 2008 (Guardian) report by AP writer Sarah El Deeb - excerpts:
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - Gunmen opened fire on a group of South African peacekeepers guarding a well in Darfur, killing one and seriously wounding another, a spokesman for the joint U.N.-African Union mission said Thursday.

Nine South African peacekeepers were guarding the well, which provides water to the peacekeepers and general population of Kutum in northern Darfur, when the attack occurred Wednesday night, said peacekeeping force spokesman Noureddine Mezni.

"A convoy of vehicles with armed (men) attacked the force," Mezni said, adding the attackers fled after peacekeepers returned fire.

One of the peacekeepers died after reaching the nearest camp, about half a mile from the well. The other, a seriously wounded female soldier, was evacuated to el-Fasher, North Darfur's provincial capital.

"We were securing a water well used by the population. We are not part of the conflict," he said, adding the brazen attack left peacekeepers "shocked."

Mezni said the peacekeepers were still investigating who was behind the attack and would not be deterred from carrying out their mission.

In July, some 200 gunmen ambushed a convoy in northern Darfur, killing seven peacekeepers in one of the most brazen attacks against the force. The attackers have not yet been identified. Three other peacekeepers were killed in separate attacks around Darfur this year.

Peacekeepers have rarely blamed any of the warring factions in the conflict zone, and attackers have only been arrested once.
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UN Peacekeeper Killed, Another Wounded in Sudan's North Darfur

Thursday, 30 October 2008 (Bloomberg) report by Heba Aly - excerpts:
A South African soldier serving with the United Nations-led peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region was killed yesterday, bringing the death toll among the force's members to 11 since July, the UN said.

Gunmen yesterday attacked peacekeepers in the Kutum area of northern Darfur, Noureddine Mezni, spokesman of the UN-African Union mission, known as Unamid, said by phone from El-Fasher. One male soldier died of his injuries, while a female South African trooper was wounded, he said.

"With this South African soldier, we have now lost 11 peacekeepers since the beginning of the mission,'' Mezni said.

A Nigerian soldier was killed on Oct. 6 in southern Darfur in an attack on his convoy. In July, seven peacekeepers were killed and 22 injured in a single ambush on a police and military patrol. The same month another peacekeeper was shot and killed in western Darfur by gunmen in five vehicles. A 10th died in September when she was stung by a scorpion.
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Murderous attack against UNAMID peacekeepers

Thursday, 30 October 2008 report by United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID):
(El Fasher) On Wednesday 29 October, at approximately 1800 hours, South African soldiers serving with the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) came under attack from unidentified men who arrived in several heavily armed vehicles.

At the time of the incident, the contingent was securing a water point near the Kassab Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp, in the vicinity of Kutum, 103 kilometers north-west of El Fasher, North Darfur. One peacekeeper was killed and another wounded as a result of the attack. The injured female soldier and the body of the peacekeeper who died were evacuated to El Fasher.

The Mission has sent troops to reinforce the attacked location, search for the assailants and conduct an investigation.

UNAMID strongly condemns this cowardly act of violence targeting United Nations personnel who work tirelessly to alleviate the dire suffering of Darfurians.

UNAMID peacekeepers are serving in Darfur in an effort to bring back and maintain peace in this beleaguered part of the Sudan and all parties are, once again, reminded that, under international law, any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a war crime.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 (2007) authorized the deployment of up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 military observers and liaison officers and up to 3,772 police personnel and 19 formed police units. There are currently 9,073 military personnel serving with UNAMID.
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+ + + Rest In Peace fallen soldiers + + +

Snapshot of Google's newsreel 15:37 GMT Thursday, 30 October 2008:

UN soldier shot dead in Darfur
Radio Netherlands, Netherlands - 45 minutes ago
A South African UN soldier has been shot dead in the Darfur region of Sudan. Another soldier was seriously injured when their unit came under fire. ...

Inquiry into death of SA peacekeeper
The Times, South Africa - 3 hours ago
An inquiry will be conducted after gunmen killed a South African soldier and wounded another in Darfur, the South African National Defence Force said today. ...

Gunmen kill South African peacekeeper in Sudan's Darfur
Reuters UK, UK - 4 hours ago
By Alaa Shahine KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Unknown gunmen have killed a South African peacekeeper and wounded another in Sudan's western Darfur region, ...

Gunmen kill UN/AU peackeeper in Sudan's Darfur
Reuters - 4 hours ago
KHARTOUM, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Gunmen have killed a peacekeeper and wounded another in an attack in North Darfur in western Sudan, the joint United ...

UN peacekeeper killed in Darfur attack
Africasia, UK - 5 hours ago
Gunmen killed a South African peacekeeper with the UN-led mission in Sudan's Darfur region and seriously wounded a female soldier in the second deadly ...

Gunmen kill peacekeeper in north Darfur
International Herald Tribune, France - 5 hours ago
AP KHARTOUM, Sudan: A spokesman for Darfur peacekeepers says unknown gunmen attacked two South African troops guarding a water well in the north of the ...

SA soldier dies in Sudan shooting
Sowetan, South Africa - 1 hour ago
Defence Minister Charles Nqakula today announced the death of a South African National Defence Force soldier in Sudan. "This tragic incident occurred at a ...

South African soldier killed, another seriously injured in Darfur
Monsters and Critics.com - 3 hours ago
Johannesburg - A South African soldier was killed and another seriously injured in an attack by gunmen on their unit in the conflict-hit western Sudanese ...

SANDF to investigate death of soldier in Sudan
BuaNews Online (press release), South Africa - 36 minutes ago
Pretoria - A Board of Inquiry will be set up by the South African National Defence Force to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a South ...

Gunmen kill peacekeeper in north Darfur
PR-Inside.com (Pressemitteilung), Austria - 3 hours ago
AP KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - Gunmen on vehicles assaulted a group of South African peacekeepers guarding a water well in Darfur, killing one and seriously ...

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chinese hostages in Abyei, Kordofan: 4 dead, 3 injured, 2 missing after rescue attempt by Chinese and GOS forces

Conflicting news reports over the past few days made it unclear as to how many of the nine kidnapped Chinese oil workers were killed, and by whom, in the oil rich region of Abyei, a province of south Kordofan, central Sudan.

China National Petroleum Corporation is the parent company of the oil workers’ employer. The workers were kidnapped on October 18, 2008.

As noted here yesterday, Tuesday, October 28, 2008, reportedly, the nine oil workers were kidnapped by Awlad Omran, a sub-clan of al-Misseriya Arab tribe. [An omda of the Misseriya tribe is leader of the Janjaweed from Habila to Forbranga. Hard-line elements in Khartoum may seek to use the Misseriya as proxies to destabilise the region and scuttle the CPA]

Today, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 Sudan confirms that three of the nine oil workers were killed, the three injured are currently receiving medical treatment, and three are still missing. China says Sudan hostages died in failed rescue (see report copied here below).

Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mutrif Siddiq, said the kidnappers planned to take the hostages over into neighboring Darfur, west Sudan.

Voice of America's report from Khartoum Tuesday, October 28, 2008 (see copy here below) says Ali al-Sadiq confirmed that five Chinese oil workers had been killed Monday and he said:
"At around 3 pm local time yesterday, the abductors of the Chinese oil workers, without any provocation, have killed five of those nine Chinese workers. Two of them managed to escape with injuries and the remaining two were recaptured by the Justice and Equality Movement.
Yesterday's report by Associated Press (copied here below) says that Chinese and Sudanese government forces were involved in a rescue attempt of the nine hostages during which the captors executed five of the hostages, while two were rescued and two more remain missing.

Later on today, an AFP report from Khartoum said the body of a fourth Chinese hostage was found in Sudan today as two local staff for a Yemeni company were shot dead. Also, news just in:
Fourth body of Chinese hostage killed in Sudan retrieved

KHARTOUM, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The body of a fourth Chinese worker abducted in southwest Sudan by local militants earlier this month has been recovered, officials of the Chinese Embassy in Sudan said on Wednesday.
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Bodies of 3 killed Chinese workers transferred to Khartoum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (China Daily/Shanghai Daily/CRI) report:
The bodies of the three Chinese workers killed by kidnappers in Sudan were transferred to the airport in Khartoum late Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A dozen Chinese peacekeepers saluted the coffins covered in red Chinese flags, Shanghai Daily reported.

Bodies of killed Chinese workers transferred to Khartoum

Photo: Workers cover the coffins of the killed Chinese workers with China's national flags before unloading them from an aircraft at the airport in Khartoum on Tuesday, October 28, 2008. (Xinhua).

The kidnappers of the nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft and killed at least three of their hostages, Sudanese officials said Tuesday.

The aircraft was monitoring the hostages, said Mohammed Doureik, the commissioner of Abyei in the province of south Kordofan where the October 18 abduction took place.

"There were no clashes. There was a panic when they saw the plane and they killed them," said Doureik, who has been following negotiations with tribal leaders for the release of the remaining hostages.

Originally the Sudanese government said four had been killed, but the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, said that only three of the Chinese workers were confirmed dead and three others were injured and now receiving medical care. The remaining three are missing.

Siddiq said the kidnappers planned to take the hostages over into neighboring Darfur according to communications intercepted between the kidnappers and the rebels who operate there.

The Sudan government’s forces are now scouring all the hiding places to search for the missing, he added.

Sudan's Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein called the murders a "terrorist act," and Foreign Ministry officials said there would be new measures to protect foreign interests.

China on Tuesday condemned the killings, urging the African nation to take all measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.

"We feel strong indignation and condemn the terrorist act by the kidnappers on unarmed Chinese company staff," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press conference in Beijing.
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China says Sudan hostages died in failed rescue

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (Associated Press) report via Boston Herald:
BEIJING - Kidnappers killed five Chinese oil workers in Sudan during a failed rescue attempt by the Sudanese government, China’s Foreign Ministry said today.

A ministry spokeswoman gave few details about Monday’s rescue effort and the deaths — among the most violent acts China has faced in recent years during the expansion of Chinese businesses worldwide.

Two other workers were rescued during Monday’s operation while two more remained missing, said Jiang Yu, the spokeswoman.

Late Tuesday, the ministry said it was still investigating what had happened, after receiving new information from the Sudanese government that indicated four hostages had died, four were rescued and one was still missing.

Mohammed Doureik, the Sudanese commissioner of Abyei where the oil workers died, said the kidnappers panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead and killed their hostages.

He said the plane was monitoring the hostages, who had been kidnapped Oct. 18.

Jiang said the Chinese government was involved in the rescue, but would not elaborate or say if officials had been in contact with the kidnappers. A working group of Chinese Embassy officials and executives from China National Petroleum Corp., the parent company of the oil workers’ employer, was in Sudan at the time, she said.

China’s account differed from that given by the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, which said Monday that the workers had been killed execution-style "without provocation." Spokesman Ali Sadiq said two more Chinese were injured but managed to flee and two others were still being held by the kidnappers.

The discrepancies between accounts could not immediately be resolved. Jiang defended both governments’ actions and put the onus on the kidnappers.

"The Chinese and Sudanese governments have made great efforts for their rescue," Jiang said at a regular news conference. "We express strong indignation and condemnation to the inhumane terrorist deed of the kidnappers in killing these unarmed Chinese workers."

But the kidnapping and rescue underscore both the dangers faced by Chinese firms and the pressure Beijing is under to protect its business interests as they expand globally, sometimes in conflict-ridden parts of the world.

China’s presence in Sudan — part of its push to expand worldwide to buy energy and other raw materials or find new markets — has become a target of disaffection. China buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan’s oil, providing what critics say are crucial revenues to a Sudanese government involved in a civil war in the Darfur region, where 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

Rebels have warned Chinese and other oil firms to leave the country, saying their operations help support the government in Khartoum.

"The incident rings the safety alarm bell for Chinese investing overseas," said Shu Yunguo, director of the Africa Research Center at Shanghai Normal University.

Shu and other experts said the killings would nevertheless not deter China in its search for energy and other raw materials to fuel economic growth — and that as a result ensuring workers’ safety had become a challenge.

"The one thing this reflects is the unfortunate cost that China pays for engagement in the world in less than stable situations, whether it’s Nigeria, in Pakistan, in (the Pakistani province of) Baluchistan, or Sudan," said David Zweig of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"But China, being a latecomer and having invested so much in Sudan, is not about to pull out so fast," said Zweig.

Chinese oil workers have been attacked or taken hostage in Nigeria and Ethiopia. Earlier this month, Islamic militants captured two Chinese telecommunications engineers in Pakistan.

The recent hostage-taking was the third attack on Chinese targets in Sudan in 12 months.

The kidnappers snatched the China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corp. workers near an oil field in the southwestern region of Kordofan.

Sudan’s government has blamed rebels from Darfur for kidnapping the Chinese, but on Monday a spokesman for the rebels denied involvement. A tribal leader from Kordofan told The Associated Press the kidnappers belonged to a local militia that claims it is neglected and demands jobs and benefits.

Jiang said China would not cut its business ties with Sudan, saying they were beneficial to both countries.

"We have actually played a constructive and contributing role in Sudan’s economic and social development. Our companies have brought a lot of benefit to the local people and we will continue to keep our friendly cooperation with Sudan," she said.

Though international rights groups criticize Beijing for not using its financial ties to pressure Khartoum to end violence, China has said it is working to advance the peace process in Darfur. It has about 140 peacekeepers and engineers deployed in Darfur.

Last year Beijing appointed a veteran diplomat to oversee the issue. The diplomat, Liu Guijin, returned to Khartoum on Friday for his fifth visit, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
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Sudan Urges Condemnation of Darfur Rebel Group for Oil Worker Deaths

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 (Voice of America) report from Khartoum by Blake Evans-Pritchard:
Sudan has urged the international community to strongly condemn the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group from Darfur, which it accuses of executing five Chinese oil workers that were kidnapped last week. For VOA, Blake Evans-Pritchard reports from Khartoum.

A spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs in Khartoum, Ali al-Sadiq, confirmed that five Chinese oil workers had been killed Monday.

He said, "At around 3 pm local time yesterday, the abductors of the Chinese oil workers, without any provocation, have killed five of those nine Chinese workers. Two of them managed to escape with injuries and the remaining two were recaptured by the Justice and Equality Movement. The minister of foreign affairs has issued a statement last night strongly condemning the act and requesting the international community to do the same. The ministry also believes that JEM has committed so many atrocities in the past without being condemned by the international community."

The nine oil workers, employed by the China National Petroleum Corporation, were seized last week, along with their driver, in South Kordofan State. The Block 4 oil field where they had been working is east of Darfur on the border between North and South Sudan.

Al-Sadiq said the government is working with local tribal chiefs to locate the two missing oil workers.

The Justice and Equality Movement accuses China of supporting Khartoum in the conflict with Darfur, and says that it wants Chinese nationals out of the region. It has also been pushing for fairer distribution of the oil wealth.

But a rebel group spokesman, Ahmed Hussein, denied involvement.

He said: "JEM is not responsible for this attack. It has no question whatsoever with this incident. This is just [an] allegation from the Sudanese government because they know it [JEM] is the only force that is challenging them politically and militarily."

Both Beijing and Khartoum have said the relationship between the two countries will not be affected by the murders of the oil workers.

Ministry of foreign affairs spokesman, Ali al-Sadiq said, ""This act is not going to hamper or to affect in any way the strong ties between Sudan and China. The two countries are going to work hard for the prosperity and for the mutual benefit of the two nations."

Analyst Oswald Clint, of the Sandford C. Bernstein investment research and management firm, agreed that the incident will have little impact on China's involvement in Sudan.

He said, "Africa still has significant undeveloped resources and will continue to be attractive despite the on-the-ground risks. The Chinese will continue to seek out those assets in those areas, as they have to secure steady crude flows through China from as many places as possible, just to feed demand."

Clint added, "Those sort of risks you are seeing in Sudan are also happening in other countries as well. The oil companies have been dealing with them for many decades. You do not switch off an investment because of some on-the-ground activity, because of some kidnappings. Look at Nigeria."

During the past year, kidnappings in African oil-producing giant Nigeria have become more and more frequent. But Clint says he does not see this making a great difference to foreign investment in the oil sector there.
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Chinese ambassador to Sudan Li Chengwen & Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ali Sadiq

Mon Oct 20, 2008 - Chinese ambassador to Sudan Li Chengwen, left, and Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ali Sadiq, right, speak to media after meeting to discuss the fate of nine Chinese oil workers who were kidnapped in an oil-rich region of southwestern Sudan, in the capital Khartoum, Sudan Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. Sudan's Foreign Ministry says the kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers are demanding a share of the region's oil profits. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin

Mon Oct 27, 2008 - China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin speaks to reporters following a meeting with Sudanese foreign ministry officials in Khartoum. Tribal chiefs in central Sudan have set out into the bush hoping to meet the kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers for the first time and start negotiations for their release, a tribesman has said. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin and Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq

Tue Oct 28, 2008 - China's envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin and Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq speak to reporters in Khartoum. The bodies of Chinese hostages and colleagues recovering from a kidnapping ordeal are to be flown to Khartoum as Sudan vowed to step up security for foreign oil workers across the country. (AFP/File/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers

Tue Oct 28, 2008 - Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to the caskets of three Chinese kidnapped and killed oil workers ahead of repatriation in Khartoum airport. The bodies of three Chinese oil workers and three of their colleagues wounded in a kidnapping ordeal arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for full military honours ahead of repatriation. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers

Photo: Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to three caskets, draped in Chinese flags, of kidnapped and killed Chinese oil workers ahead of their repatriation at Khartoum airport. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Chinese UN peacekeepers stand in honour next to three caskets

Photo: Coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. The kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan panicked when they saw a military aircraft fly overhead and killed at least three of their hostages, Sudanese government officials said Tuesday, contradicting Chinese claims of a botched rescue attempt. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Coffins of 3 Chinese oil workers arrive at Khartoum Airport

Photo: Chinese Peacekeepers line up as the bodies of three Chinese citizens, killed after being kidnapped, arrive at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. Sudan said it was searching for three missing Chinese oil workers on Tuesday after what Beijing described as a failed attempt to rescue nine Chinese men kidnapped in the African country more than a week ago. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said four workers were killed during the operation. But the Sudanese government, which said the killings were unprovoked, revised the death toll to three. Three others escaped with injuries. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN) Reuters Tue Oct 28, 2008

Chinese UN peacekeepers salute

Photo: Chinese Peacekeepers salute as the bodies of three Chinese citizens, killed after being kidnapped, arrive at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: In this photo released by UNMIS, coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/UNMIS, Johann Hattingh)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: Coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Khartoum Airport

Photo: In this photo released by UNMIS, coffins containing the bodies of three kidnapped Chinese oil workers arrive at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/UNMIS, Johann Hattingh)

Chinese and Sudanese officials

Photo: Tue Oct 28, 2008 Chinese and Sudanese officials carry a coffin of one of three Chinese citizens killed in south Kordofan, central Sudan, after being kidnapped, at Khartoum Airport, October 28, 2008. Sudan said it was searching for three missing Chinese oil workers on Tuesday after what Beijing described as a failed attempt to rescue nine Chinese men kidnapped in the African country more than a week ago. than a week ago. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said four workers were killed during the operation. But the Sudanese government, which said the killings were unprovoked, revised the death toll to three. Three others escaped with injuries. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin (SUDAN) flown from South Kordofan in central Sudan

Sudan oil fields map 2008

Graphic map of Sudan showing its oil fields and the international consortium involved. Tue Oct 28, 2008 (AFP/Graphic/Anibal Maizcaceres)

For further reports on Abeyi, click on Abyei label here below.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

ICC prosecutor to indict Darfur rebels within weeks

October 18, 2008 (Reuters) report at Sudan Tribune says ICC prosecutor to indict Darfur rebels within weeks. Excerpt:
"In a couple of weeks I will present my third case against some rebel commanders who were attacking African Union peacekeepers," Moreno-Ocampo told a Council on Foreign Relations symposium, sponsored by Hollywood actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Moreno-Ocampo has been investigating a 2007 attack on an AU base in Haskanita, Darfur which killed 12 peacekeepers and was blamed on rebels. A U.N. report said vehicles used in the attack bore the initials "JEM," which could have stood for the Justice and Equality Movement, a powerful rebel group.

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the group, said in July that if any of his guerrillas was indicted they would be handed over to the international court for trial.
See Sudan Watch September 24, 2008: ICC prosecutor to investigate Sudan's Darfur rebels crimes - What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Lindsey Hilsum's World Exclusive Interview in Khartoum with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on 09 Oct 2008

Lindsey Hilsum in Beijing

Photo: Lindsey Hilsum, international editor and China correspondent for Channel 4 News. Copy of Biography at Channel 4 News:
International editor Lindsey Hilsum is currently assigned as China correspondent and head of our Beijing bureau. She has covered China's environmental crisis, its relations with North Korea, and the Chinese gene therapy industry.

She is also our international editor. She won the 2005 Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year Award for her reporting from Fallujah and Beslan, amongst other stories.

She reported the 2003 war in Iraq from Baghdad for 10 weeks, and has returned to Iraq several times.

During the NATO Kosovo campaign she was in Belgrade; she has also spent extended periods in Zimbabwe and the Middle East.

She won the 2003 Royal Television Society Specialist Journalist of the Year award for her reports from the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin, and has twice won awards from Amnesty, including one for her coverage of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Previously she reported for the BBC, the Guardian and other newspapers from Africa and Latin America, where she was an aid worker for OXFAM and UNICEF.

She is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, the Observer and Granta.
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On October 09, in a world exclusive interview, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir told Channel 4 News that evidence of war crime was fabricated

Lindsey Hilsum's World Exclusive Interview in Khartoum with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
Lindsey Hilsum with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

Photo from a report by Lindsey Hilsum for Channel 4 News, Thursday, 09 October 2008, entitled Sudan president: no mass rape. Copy:
He stands accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against African tribes in Darfur: yet the president of Sudan has told this programme he never ordered any killings or mass rapes.

Speaking to Channel 4 News in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, Omar al-Bashir claimed that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, who applied for an arrest warrant for the president three months ago, had fabricated his evidence.

Sudan's president and commander-in-chief, Omar al-Bashir, has exclusively told Channel 4 News that all the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been made against him "are not correct" that "everything is fabricated and made up". He says that "no-one has more compassion for their people than we do in Sudan".

Denying mass rape and claiming that it "does not exist", Mr Bashir says that he will stand for re-election next year with the Sudanese people as "referee".

"The referee is the Sudanese people," he said. "They should decide if we are really criminals, or if we are leaders of the people who should govern them in the future."

Mr al-Bashir also said: "I issue a challenge: if I get less than 50 per cent of the people's votes in Darfur then truly I don't deserve to lead the country."

Yet the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says President al-Bashir ordered his forces, both soldiers and militia known as Janjaweed, to murder and rape. A 112-page application has been compiled to indict him, which would make him the first serving head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court.

But Mr al-Bashir is resolute that these allegations are untrue and that "even in Darfur, you can say most of it is safe. There are no problems and life is very normal."

Mr al-Bashir is clear that "sources used by the ICC prosecutor are all hostile" telling the programme: "These allegations are not correct. Everything is fabricated and made up. Anything saying that we ordered killing people is untrue. The sources used by the ICC prosecutor are all hostile; they are from the rebels who revolted against the state."

On the allegations of mass rape, Mr al-Bashir says "mass rape does not exist" and that "the Darfurian society does not have rape."

"These are all false allegations," he said. "It's not in the culture of the Darfurians. The Darfurian society does not have rape. It's not in the tradition."

He added "The women inside the camps are under the influence of the rebels and some are even relatives of the rebels. That's why they make these claims."

Mr al-Bashir continued: "We are fully convinced that no rape took place. It might have happened at an individual level, but this is a normal crime that can happen in any country in the world. Mass rape does not exist."
Click here to watch the report.
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Read the full transcript of Lindsey Hilsum's interview with Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan

Interview: Omar al-Bashir
By: Lindsey Hilsum
(ITV Channel 4 News, UK)
Published: Friday, 17 October 2008

LH: You've been in power almost 20 years. What have you achieved?

O al B: Since we came to power, we have had distinct goals - we have achieved peace in Sudan, especially South Sudan through the agreements we made.

Our second goal was national consensus and reconcilation. Now this is fully in practice, all political parties and entities are practicing their programmes with freedom and preparing themselves to participate in elections.

The third goal was the salvation of our ecoomy. When we came to power, we were in a very poor economic position; we were one of the five poorest countries in the world. Now we have a growing, viable economy that is recording high rates of growth.

LH: But hanging over you is that you may be indicted for genocide. You said in Ghana [at the ACP meeting] that if this happens, there will be no peace, while the further deployment of UN troops and aid will be held up. That sounds like blackmail.

O al B: First that isn't exactly what I said in Ghana. We agreed to negotiate with rebel groups who refused peace, but any measure like that taken by the ICC, encourages them not to attend peace talks. This was evident in their rejection and lack of interest in making peace as long as we are facing these charges

LH: It's not just a question of peace but of justice. These allegations of genocide, war crimes against humanity, war crimes - the prosecutor quotes recorded and written and words of yours calling for forces to take no prisoners, and for a scorched earth campaign..

O al B:These allegations are not correct. Everything is fabricated and made up. Anything saying that we ordered killing people is untrue. The sources used by the ICC prosecutor are all hostile; they are from the rebels who revolted against the state.

LH: You say the sources are rebel groups, but the atrocities are well documented. I've been there, I've seen the burnt villages, the women who have been raped, the thousands living in terror in the camps.

O al B: It's true that many people are living in camps. After the rebels were defeated in the field, many entered the displaced people's camps. They are managing the camps, and they direct the people who meet visitors and dictate what they should say.

It's very normal for people to be displaced from areas of operations and to flee. The question is where did these people move to? They moved into places where there are Sudanese armed forces, police and security because they were sure that they would find safety there.

Is it rational for people to flee and look for security in the very place where they find the same forces that were carrying out mass murder and rape? When these people went to Nyala, El Fasher and Geneina, there were no humanitarian organisations or African Union or UN, rather there were Sudan Armed forces and police.

LH: There wasn't much protection for people in Kalma attacked by Sudanese forces in August. There's not much protection for women who run gauntlet of janjaweed whenever they go to look for firewood...

O al B:When it comes to mass rape, there is no document or evidence, just accusations. Anything which claims these things are documented is untrue.

But if we are talking about Kalma, in Kalma there were arms inside the camp. The crime of murder was committed inside the camp. We agreed that the operation would be made in collaboration between government forces and UNAMID, but at the last moment the UNAMID mentioned that they had received orders not to be involved.

They knew when the forces moved because the informatiom had leaked. A number of citizens confronted the forces. Behind them, there were armed men and the shooting started from inside the camp. Some soliders when shot at, automatically retaliated and casualties occurred.

But after this incident, a shot was fired at a UN plane from within the camp, and it was brought down. This is a displaced people's camp, not a rebel camp, and arms are not allowed inside. Arms should be removed from the camps.

LH: So you shot at people in the camp because you believed there were rebels behind them...?

O al B: That's not what I said. The casualties were in the crossfire.

LH: I'm interested that you deny that there's been mass rape. Because this is something that not just the rebels are saying.

What we see is the UN, the Ministry of Health people, we see women turning up with evidence of rape at healthcare facilities. We see children with this. And they all tell the same story, that it's usually janjaweed, sometimes government of Sudan troops. Are you really denying this, are you really saying that women of Sudan are lying?


O al B: The women inside the camps are under the influence of the rebels and some are even relatives of the rebels. That's why they make these claims.

Now there are scientific methods that can reveal who are the fathers of these children which are born. We are fully convinced that no rape took place. It might have happened at an individual level, but this is a normal crime that can happen in any country in the world. Mass rape does not exist.

LH: So you're going to take DNA of the janjaweed...?

O al B: You can bring any accused, and take his DNA.

LH: They don't know who did it, individual, Just know the janjaweed

O al B: These are all false allegations. It's not in the culture of the Darfurians. The Darfurian society does not have rape. It's not in the tradition.

LH: Do you have no pity?

O al B: No-one has more compassion for their people than we do in Sudan. We have been fighting rebels and in any country where people raise arms against the government, they are to be fought.

In fact, people who fight now are classified as terrorists even those who are resisting foreign occupation like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and so on.

If we had no mercy, those displaced people wouldn't have come to the government areas. They wouldn't have been received and cared for until the humanitarian organisations arrived.

LH: Do you take responsibilty for action of the armed forces of Sudan including the janjaweed?

O al B: Any armed forces are governed by law. This law defines exactly who is responsible for any operation carried out. If a commander exceeds his limits of responsibility, the law is there to hold him accountable. Of course, these responsiblities are shared. We are not leading or commanding forces in the field. We give general instructions or orders, which the forces carry out.

LH: Two significant people in conflict, your former Minister of Interior Ahmad Haroun and a janjaweed commander Ali Khusyab, have been indicted. You said you won't hand them over to the ICC? Why not? Let them defend themselves.

O al B: We have a competent and qualified judicial system. It has a history and has set judicial precedents that have tried commanders of police and security.

We are not members of the Rome Protocol, but we assure you that there's no-one above the law. If there is anyone who has accusations against Ahmad Haroun and Ali Khusayb the prosecution is there, the judiciary is there, and there is no impunity for anyone who commits a crime.

LH: It's a bit embarrassing, isn't it, to have a head of state who faces indictment, possible indictment? It means you might not be able to travel to various countries... Are you really going to stand for election next year, do you think you can stay? Or do you think it would be for the good of the country, better to step down now?

O al B: First of all, we are facing a challenge and the referee is the Sudanese people. They should decide if we are really criminals, or if we are leaders of the people who should govern them in the future. I issue a challenge: if I get less than 50 per cent of the people's votes in Darfur then truly I don't deserve to lead the country.

LH: They're now saying this ship carrying tanks and other weapons hijacked by pirates off coast of Somalia was carrying weapons for the GOSS, previously your enemies now part of your government. What's your reaction?

O al B: There were conflicting reports. Acually I met the Kenyan Foreign Minister in Accra and he assured me that this shipment of arms was for Kenya. Of course, the media says otherwise. Now we are talking to our brother in Southern Sudan to see the truth about it.

LH: There's worry about the war in the south re-starting. Darfur, Kordofan, Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains... There are a lot of unhappy, restless people in Sudan. This country is boiling. How are you going to deal with that? How do you see it in five years time?

O al B: I'm very keen to show that this thing of the country boiling is untrue. We have no problems in Blue Nile, or Nuba Mountains. Everything is fine. The implementation of the peace agreement with the south is fine.

Now even in Darfur, you can say most of it is safe. There are no problems and life is very normal. In the media it's boiling, but in the field it's not.
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Lindsey Hilsum describes the experience of interviewing the man "who has presided over terrible atrocities in Darfur"

Al-Bashir: a big man of Africa?
By: Lindsey Hilsum
(ITV Channel 4 News, UK)
Published: Tuesday, 14 October 2008

When Mugabe walks into a room, he fills it. Likewise Museveni or Obasanjo. Malign or benign, these are the Big Men of Africa, men with a presence and stature.

But when Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, walked into the room where I was to interview him in Khartoum last week, nothing in the atmosphere changed. He scarcely filled his suit, let alone anything larger.

Yet he has his place in history: the first serving head of state threatened with indictment by the International Criminal Court.

I had met him before. Back in 1989, when he seized power in a bloodless coup, I flew to Khartoum from Kenya where I was living and managed to secure the first interview with, as he was then, Brigadier Omar al Bashir.

What he said seems unremarkable now, but I recall how he signaled that the interview was over - he got up from behind his desk, went over to the television, turned it on, sat down and started to watch the cartoons.

I was unimpressed. He'll never last, I thought.

Nineteen years later he's still in power, which makes his utter lack of charisma even more remarkable.

Well, nineteen years later he's still in power, which makes his utter lack of charisma even more remarkable. He rarely talks to foreign journalists, and while in our first encounter he spoke English, these days he hides behind an interpreter.

We had secured the interview through an American woman, Christine Dolan, who had good contacts in Sudan dating back twenty years.

Somehow, she had managed to persuade people close to the President that at this time, as he stands accused of "masterminding" genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, it would be good if he told his side of the story.

We were taken to a compound in central Khartoum where he apparently lives, and ushered into a receiving room full of oversized, overstuffed armchairs covered in white chinz patterned with rosebuds. His press secretary brought in a national flag, and positioned it next to the chair where the president would sit.

I've met many of the foot-soldiers of genocide, and interviewed several leaders accused of what's regarded as the worst of all crimes, including Radovan Karadzic of Republika Srpska, now awaiting trial in the Hague, and the former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Jean Kambanda, still serving a sentence for his role in the mass killings in 1994.

A small, plump balding man, he seems less like a mastermind and more like a railway clerk.

On these occasions, I felt that frisson of fear which goes with the company of someone you know is responsible for more than murder.

But with Omar al-Bashir - nothing. A small, plump balding man, he seems less like a mastermind and more like a railway clerk.

He smiled. He was not to be drawn. Mass rape in Darfur? It doesn't happen. Are the women who say they've been raped lying then? They're relatives of the rebels. What is his personal responsibility for the crimes and cruelty which have occurred? This is war, these things happen.

I chipped away at the wall but couldn't even blister the paint. It was an unsatisfying encounter with a man who, at the very least, has presided over terrible atrocities, but refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong.

At the end, he agreed that we could travel to Darfur for a day to "see for ourselves". Well, I've seen for myself before and I knew that no government-organised trip would take us where we needed to go, to see what we needed to see and talk to those who would tell the truth. But I would go nonetheless.

The President eased himself out of his arm chair and stood up to leave.

"Life is very normal in Darfur," he said, and for a brief moment I felt a certain menace in his words.
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Backgrounder: Omar al-Bashir (By Lindsey Hilsum)

Omar al-Bashir is the president of Sudan, and infamously known for being the first standing head of state that the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has accused of genocide, crimes agianst humanity and war crimes.

Three judges are now considering the request for prosecution made by the ICC Chief Prosector, Luis Moreno Ocamop, in July 2008. They are likely to decide within the next two months if the 64 year old president should stand trial.

Accusations of mass killings by militia, known as janjaweed, as well as wholesale rape and the forced removal of millions of Zaghawa, Massalit and Fur people from their traditional lands, form the basis for the charges against the Sudanese president. He denies any responsibility.

Bashir came to power in 1989, when as a Sudanese army colonel, he launched a coup which ousted the elected government of Sadeq al-Mahdi. Initially, he suspended political parties but later reinstated them and has remained in power by playing different factions against each other. In 1993, he dissolved the military junta, appointing himself civilian president.

The main challenge of Bashir's first decade and a half in power was trying to end the civil war between Sudan's north and south, estimated to have killed almost two million people. By the time that conflict was under control, in 2005, another was underway in Darfur, in the west of Sudan.

The Darfur conflict began when rebels took up arms against the marginalisation of Africans, and the domination of the government by an Arabised elite. Bashir is accused of sanctioning a vicious military response to stop the revolt, targetting civilians.

Initially, Bashir imposed some elements of Islamic law on the country. His rule has been characterised by economic expansion, as the the oil industry has been developed, notably by Chinese companies. While Sudan has a semi federal system, Bashir's government has resisted calls for greater representation of Darfur people in the central government in Khartoum.

If the judges approve the Mr Ocampo's request for prosecution, Bashir is extremely unlikely to be forced to go to The Hague to face trial in the near future. While the regime he heads is not strong, opposition forces are divided, and there is no apparent immediate threat to his rule.

Bashir was in the British tabloids last year when he intervened to pardon Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher imprisoned for insulting Islam by naming a school teddy bear Muhammad.

Click here to watch the edited interview.
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Lindsey Hilsum's World Exclusive Interview in Khartoum with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during interview with Channel 4 News on October 09, 2008. Source: Sudan Tribune report Friday, 10 October 2008, entitled Sudan president says only DNA test can prove rape in Darfur.
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Footnote

Sudan Watch Ed: Immediately after watching the interview on televison, I spent a few hours drafting some commentary on it for Sudan Watch. Unfortunately, the draft sat in the folder that was accidentally deleted by a BT IT engineer. To date, I have been unable to rewrite the commentary, so I have filed Lindsey's reports here above for revisiting at a later date.

Falklands

Photo: Lindsey Hilsum in the Falklands. 
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UPDATE - SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 2008

Note this excerpt from a post at MiaFarrow.org Friday, October 17, 2008 featuring Lindsey Hilsum's commentary (referred to, in the post, as a blog) entitled "Al-Bashir: a big man of Africa?" (see copy here above):
The blog of the reporter who describes what it felt like to interview Omar Al-Bashir. Link to the TV interview posted below

It was strangely nothing-y... I felt that I should have felt more, if you know what I mean, but he was such a blank space there was nothing to be felt. V weird.
Here's the blog:

Best wishes,
Lindsey

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

S.O.S. Please email Sudan Watch - 2 years of emails lost

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 15, two engineers from British Telecom IT Support were here for a specially ordered appointment to ensure a smooth changeover from my current ISP, Virgin Media, to BT Broadband.

Sadly, it turned into a 3-hour job. The engineer, after deleting the Virgin email address from my PowerBook G4 (Mac OS X 10.3.9) said it had never occurred to him that the contents of my AppleMac drafts email folder would also be deleted, along with the contents of my folders for sent and incoming emails. In their experience, such a thing had never happened before.

Groan. Over the past 3-4 weeks, apart from the 3 hours yesterday, I've spent what seems like a total of 20 hours on the phone to BT, from here to Scotland and India, ever since initial call to BT's broadband sales office.

BT couldn't set me up for broadband for a few weeks resulting in connection to BT dial-up service in the interim - for which I almost got charged £18 for Day One if I hadn't checked tarriff for the 'Pay As You Go' option that BT signed me up to, instead of the 'Anytime' package costing £1 for first month.

Not to mention the ordeal I went though trying to obtain an internet cable for a few weeks of the dial up service. And then the service itself. By the end of Day One, BT dial up Tech Support told me the loss of connection every few minutes was nothing to do with them and blamed my internal modem as being corrupted and broken. Not true, I discovered next day.

This morning, I awoke feeling gutted, bereft and exhausted over the whole experience. More than one thousand draft items and scores of photos for future blogposts which, despite Apple's best efforts (a further 1-hour ordeal over phone last night) are no longer recoverable. All gone. Vanished. Forever. Nightmare.

Years of hard work and precious energy wasted. I feel sad at losing so much, just when I was getting back into the swing of things after ten bereavements (including my mother and three longstanding friends) and the toll it took on my health.

Chin up. Worse things happen at sea. I'll endeavour to continue blogging while working on piecing together lost drafts, updating email address in my blogs. re-subscribing to news alerts, etc.

Right now, the thought of having to find all the pieces to put back together again, and recall people's latest email addresses that may or not be in my computer's address book, is too overwhelming.

If you have ever emailed me, no matter how long ago, please email me NOW with copy of last email or just a few words or, better still, photo of your pet, to enable me to save your address safely in a new folder for easy reference. I promise to reply, even if it is just a few words or a few observations and questions about your pet's charm and character.

My new BT email address is now in the sidebar here at Sudan Watch.

I'm always here, happy to receive emails that are not spam. It still pains me to be so slow in replying. I fear that taking weeks and months to reply puts people off from staying in contact.

P.S.
Mostly I am sad at losing photos of pets belonging to some of my favourite bloggers. I adore cats and had collected some pretty special photos for a Cat Watch Blog that I'm creating as a place for me to visit when the going gets tough at my watch blogs and I feel disappointed in human beings.

If you know the personality of any cat (or dog, especially if it gets along with cats) and have a photo of the pet, please send it to me so I can create a little story for posting (with your permission and credit/link to you) at the most suitable of my three new blogs (currently under construction) namely: Cat Watch Blog, Heavenly Cats, Pets in Heaven.

Here's looking forward to learning more about cats living in different parts of the world - curious to know if cats all over the world have same habits and act in same way, or behave differently from mine here in England. If anyone ever thinks of sending us a greetings, especially over Christmas and New Year, anything for my pet blogs would be cheerfully received and warmly appreciated. I promise to reply with a few observations and questions about your pet's charm and character.

Having said all that, I'm bracing myself for the possibility that no-one will take notice of this post even though Sudan Watch continues to receive thousands of visitors, recently 1,000 page views daily. I have no idea of how many people read my blogs via a news reader and never visit in person. I don't even know if the feed for my Sudan Watch blog still works. It no longer works in my newsreader, NetNewsWire.

Hey is anybody out there? Please say something!

With love from Ingrid and cat Ophelia, posted by the sea on south west coast of England, UK xx

An edited version of this post will appear in some of my network of blogs, namely: Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Niger Watch, ME AND OPHELIA, ME/CFS Watch.

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Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game - Spread the word about hunger

This is my contribution to World Food Day today, October 16.

Top tips. Don't waste an inch of food or water. Cook fresh home made meals from scratch. Don't drink unnatural juice. Make and mend. Recycle food, water, paper, metal, glass. Adopt a rescue cat to ensure no mice. Adopt a rescue dog for self protection and healthy exercise. Respect the land, sea and air. Be kind and generous. Try to love all people, animals, insects, flowers, trees and plants. Care about what happens to the thirsty, hungry, homeless, sick, disabled, and elderly. Visit friends in person or write note instead of phoning. Cut down on petrol pollution and plastic waste. Don't drive a distance that you could easily walk, bus or cycle. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Tithe 10% of your income and see how much more you receive in return.
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Notable Quote

"The best things in life aren't things" - Art Buchwald

[Hat tip: Bloomberg TV news]
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On World Food Day - October 16, Spread the word about hunger

Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game that increases your knowledge.

World Food Day 16 October

Visit FreeRice, www.freerice.com, to translate your right answers into rice for the hungry.

147,750,140 grains of rice donated yesterday. Over 47 billion grains donated to date. Sponsors pay for the donated rice.

Click into www.freerice.com and give the right answer in the middle of the page. I reached level 41 with a donation total of 3040 grains. Will do more later.

"Help us mark World Food Day this year as high food prices, dramatic increases in fuel costs, and profound changes in climate conditions have conspired to bring new dimensions of suffering and hardship to the poor, depriving almost one billion people of the food they need to live a healthy life."  - UN

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Light my fire': Sudan’s sex and beauty secret

Sudan Watch's previous post on Blog Action Day, 15 October 2008, aims to help raise awareness of Global Hand-Washing Day.

For future reference, here is a copy of an AFP report from Sudan Tribune - ’Light my fire’: Sudan’s sex and beauty secret:
December 10, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — When the punishing Sudanese heat cools in late afternoon, Hiba Jiha strips naked, wraps herself in a blanket and sits on top of a burning hole in the ground to smoke her skin to silky perfection.

Aged 26 and getting married, Hiba will straddle the perfumed embers in the courtyard of her house for 15 minutes to an hour, every other day for a month before her wedding night in keeping with age-old Sudanese tradition.

Living in a simple house with her sister’s family in the town of Om Bada, just outside Khartoum, she can ill afford the luxury spa and sauna treatments in the booming Sudanese capital.

Besides, this is her second marriage and she already has two children. Hiba is not a virgin and her new businessman husband will be denied what Sudanese men believe is their right and pleasure in deflowering their wife.

In war-torn, miserably poor and traditional Sudan, men and women whisper that far more than smoothing the skin, the slow burning "dukhan" practice tightens a woman’s vagina, driving her husband wild.

Hamad Mohamed, the manager of an upmarket Khartoum restaurant, raves about the sex appeal of coming home to find his wife of 22 years, mother to his six children, smelling of the special wood called "talih."

"It makes the ladies very relaxed. When she uses the dukhan, I feel she needs me a lot. When I come home and find her smelling like that, it means I’m going to have something special tonight," he grins over a cappuccino.

"It’s like a salad as an appetiser before a meal. Dukhan works exactly like that, to whet your appetite sexually," adds Mohamed, also lauding the burning wood that he says accords medicinal benefits for rheumatism.

In the West, where pampered women splurge thousands of dollars for a surgeon to reattach hymens and tighten vaginas as a "gift" to the men in their lives, the natural remedy is a fraction of the price in Sudan.

Ahmed Zaki Yussef chops and sells wood 12 hours a day, seven days a week, sitting in the shade next to a busy road in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, where women in colourful saris step out of jeeps to haggle over the firewood.

Yussef says women spend between 15 and 50 Sudanese pounds (7.5 dollars and 25 dollars) on a single purchase, carefully examining the wood before handing them to a boy to bag up as their husbands keep watch.

"Sudanese women who live in the villages really depend on it for perfume and lotions. But it’s private. That’s why you do it when you’re married. It’s only for your husband," says 23-year-old university teaching assistant Anwar Hassan.

But she and her mother quash talk of silky skin and special scent, insisting in urgent low undertones that the only reason a woman sits over burning wood for up to two hours at a time is for her husband’s intimate sexual pleasure.

"Forty days after they have a child, a woman waits until everything heals then she does the dukhan. It tightens things up. It’s a very important issue. It’s just like having a bath," says Anwar, her mother nodding in agreement.

Childbirth slackens a vagina, causing old-fashioned "ignorant" Sudanese men to start grumbling that their wife is past her peak and look for the ultimate humiliation — a more nubile younger wife, they say.

Anwar and her mother Zainab say that like leather, the skin tightens when exposed to slow, low-impact heat. "It’s just like cheese with wine," says Anwar, trying to draw a parallel between the dukhan in Sudan and Europe.

But the tradition has begun to divide the wealthy elite of Khartoum, made rich by the profits of oil and a construction boom, and the poor, illiterate masses who populate the rest of the country.

Professional women often avoid dukhan, so closely is the smell associated with intimacy that they say it creates the wrong impression for an educated, respectable female striving for equality in traditional Islamic society.

Zainab, married to a retired ambassador and dressed in traditional Sudanese sari, steers clear of the practice, for example, when she leaves her smart suburban villa for her job in architecture.

Hospital doctor Ammar Abbas goes further, dismissing the dukhan as a superstition with no basis in science that demeans self-respecting women as sex objects for their husband.

"I am Sudanese and I hate this habit. The woman should respect herself in relations between men and women," says Abbas. Prolonged exposure can see women scold or burn themselves, or develop hypersensitivity, he claims.

Most women in Sudan are also circumcised, which in its most severe form, means a young girl has all external genitalia removed and her vaginal opening stitched closed, leaving just a small opening, Abbas said.

Back in the courtyard, its door bolted to keep out prying eyes, Hiba sits on a cushion and plaited straw next to the hole, as smoke billows up through the blanket, and she and her sisters giggle about hair removal and weight loss. (AFP)
Wood called talih

Photo: Piles of the special aromatic wood called "talih", used by Sudanese women in the traditional beauty treatment called the "dukhan", are stacked in front of Sudanese traders at a market in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, Dec 5, 2007. (AFP)

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It's Blog Action Day today 15 October 2008 - Raising awareness of Global Hand-Washing Day

My contribution to today's Blog Action Day 15 October 2008 is a copy of the following report that helps raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene for preventing illness.

BBC News 15 October 2008 - Faecal bacteria join the commute:
More than one in four commuters has bacteria from faeces on their hands, an investigation suggests.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine swabbed 409 people at bus and train stations in five major cities in England and Wales.

The further north they went, the more often they found commuters with faecal bacteria on their hands - men in Newcastle were the worst offenders.

Experts stressed the importance of hand hygiene for preventing illness.

The bacteria found suggested people were not washing their hands properly after using the toilet, said the researchers.

Toilet hands

In Newcastle and Liverpool, men were more likely than women to show contamination - 53% of men compared with 30% of women in Newcastle and 36% of men compared with 31% of women in Liverpool.

In the other three cities - London, Cardiff and Birmingham - the women's hands were dirtier.

People who had used the bus had higher rates of hand contamination than those who had used the train.

Manual workers had cleaner hands than other professionals, students, retired people or the unemployed.

Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had faecal bugs on their hands.

"The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK.

Newcastle - men 53%, women 30%
Liverpool - men 36%, women 31%
Birmingham - men 21%, women 26%
Cardiff - men 15%, women 29%
Euston (London) - men 6%, women 21%

"If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhoeal disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet."

Professor Mike Catchpole, director of the Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections, said: "These results are startling and should be enough to make anyone reach for the soap.

"It is well known that hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of infections, especially those that cause diarrhoea and vomiting, colds and flu.

"People should always wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, and after handling animals. And remember to cover all cuts and scratches with a waterproof dressing."

Winter vomiting

The HPA's monitoring of infections over recent weeks suggests that cases of norovirus - the winter vomiting bug - are rising and that the annual norovirus season is likely to have begun.

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal disease in the UK with peak activity in terms of numbers of cases and outbreaks during the winter months, from October to March.

It has been estimated that between 600,000 and a million people in the UK are affected each year.

Professor Catchpole said: "Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread in settings where people are in close contact with one another so good hygiene, including frequent handwashing, is really important."

The study was part of the world's first Global Hand-washing Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance hand hygiene plays in public health.
Top tip for commuters: wear gloves! And don't forget to wash them!

Sorry no top tip for people who live with water shortages in places like Darfur. I wonder how they manage to maintain hand hygiene to prevent illness. Perhaps they use natural herbs or spices that have anti bacterial properties. Mud? Hot sand? Smoke? There must be something. Nature seems to provide us with everything we need.

Animals manage to stay clean. I asked my cat's vet why is it that my cat always stays so clean. Every day, no matter what the weather, she smells like a brand new fur coat. The vet told me that cats have anti bacterial in their saliva which they use when licking themselves clean.

Blog Action Day link hat tip: Rob Crilly's blog post 15/10/08 from the Frontline - Urban Hunger in Nairobi's Slums
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Update: Re smoke, see Sudan Watch 15 October 2008 - 'Light my fire': Sudan’s sex and beauty secret

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UN inspectors uncover plane-load of Ethiopian weapons at Juba Airport, S. Sudan - Pirates still holding shipload of Russian tanks destined for GOSS

According to Gulf News today, Wednesday, 15 October 2008, UN inspectors said that an Ethiopian DC130 cargo plane, carrying 40 tonnes of ammunition and light armaments, was seized at Juba Airport, South Sudan for illegal trade in arms. Reuters says it happened on Friday, October 10.

Also today, the Scotsman reported that American warships continue to monitor the hijacked vessel MV Faina which is anchored near the Somali port of Hobyo.

The Ukrainian ship, carrying 33 Russian tanks, is still being held by pirates demanding an $8m (BBC and The Scotsman say $20m) ransom. Associated Press reported that on Tuesday before last, various news reports said that the demand had dropped from $20 to $8 million.

On Friday, 10 October 2008, several news reports said that the pirates threatened to blow it all up, themselves included, by Monday, October 13, if an $8m ransom was not paid within three days. Today, the Scotsman says the US navy said the deadline passed without incident.

BBC says Kieve is being urged to pay ransom and relatives say they will try to raise the ransom money themselves.

Sources: Selection of news reports, featured here below. Also, see previous reports re hijacked Ukrainian ship: Sudan Watch Thursday, 9 October 2008 - MV Faina cargo was for Ethiopia? NATO agrees to join anti-piracy operations off coast of Somalia: seven of its frigates will arrive within two weeks
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Snapshot of Google's newsreel re $8m ransom:
Somali pirates release Iranian ship
Persian Journal, Iran - Oct 10, 2008
... demanded a $20 million ransom, but reports Tuesday said the demand had dropped to $8 million. A half-dozen US Navy warships have surrounded the MV Faina.

Somalia:Pirates deny talks with owners to release Ukranian ship
Mareeg, UK - Oct 10, 2008
The capture of the MV Faina has sparked controversy over the destination of its cargo and thrown a spotlight on rampant piracy in one of the world's busiest ...

US navy continues to monitor hijacked vessel
The Mercury (subscription), South Africa - Oct 9, 2008
Lt Nathan Christensen, a spokesman from the United States fifth fleet in Bahrain, said that the navy was in regular contact with the crew of the MV Faina. ...

UN calls for action to fight pirates off Somalia
The Associated Press - Oct 9, 2008
... but reports Tuesday said the demand had dropped to $8 million. A half-dozen US Navy warships have surrounded the MV Faina. The resolution only applies ...
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Pirates threaten to blow up MV Faina unless ransom was paid by Monday night - US navy said the deadline passed without incident - Pirates still holding shipload of Russian tanks destined for GOSS

From BBC Tuesday, 14 October 2008 -
Kiev urged to pay pirate ransom:
Relatives of crew members on a seized Ukrainian ship have urged Ukraine to pay a multi-million ransom to pirates holding the vessel off Somalia's coast. The relatives held a rally in Kiev, accusing the authorities of inaction in the crisis, which began last month. The Somali pirates earlier said they would blow up the MV Faina, which has a cargo of tanks, unless a $20m (£12m) ransom was paid by Monday night. A pirate spokesman later said the deadline may be extended [following requests from the ship's owner and other officials].
From The Scotsman Wednesday, 15 October 2008 by Mohamed Sheikh Nor -
Troops free ship's crew in a blow for pirates:
"...the US navy said the deadline passed without incident. Relatives of the crew members demanded on Monday that the Ukrainian government stop delaying and just pay the ransom. Ukraine's government says it opposes the use of force against the pirates, but as a matter of policy it will not negotiate with terrorists. American warships continue to monitor the Faina, which is anchored near the Somali port of Hobyo. Nato ministers have agreed to send seven ships to the area within two weeks.
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UN inspectors uncover plane-load of Ethiopian weapons at Juba Airport, South Sudan

From Gulf News Wednesday, 15 October 2008 by Duraid Al Baik -
Arms smuggling worries Sudan:
The Sudanese Government is in a state of shock following the accidental discovery of two consignments of arms that were allegedly on its way to the southern army.

The sensitivity of the issue stems from the fact that the fragile truce between North and South Sudan might collapse if the allegation proves true, a source from the Information and Communication Ministry told Gulf News on Tuesday.

The first consignment of 35 Russian tanks and artillery guns was intercepted by Somali pirates when they hijacked an Ukrainian ship off the coast of Somalia. The pirates said that the consignment, purchased by Kenya, was on its way to the south of Sudan.

The second incident of illegal armament was uncovered by the UN inspectors who said that an Ethiopian DC130 cargo plane, which was carrying 40 tonnes of ammunition and light armaments, was seized at the Juba Airport in the south for illegal trade in arms.

The UN inspectors who are entrusted with the enforcement of the 2005 peace treaty informed the Sudanese government, earlier this week, about the consignment and called the authority in Khartoum to take action.

Bakri Al Mulah, Secretary General of the Exterior Information Council in Khartoum, said the government is willing to find a peaceful end to the two arm smuggling cases before they snowball into a major crisis and sweep the 2005 peace treaty away.

"The ministry of foreign affairs is collecting information about the two consignments for which the ambassadors of both Kenya and Ethiopia were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain Khartoum's concerns about the two incidents," Al Mulah told Gulf News.

Meanwhile, Kenya denied the accusation of the Somali pirates and said the tanks were meant for Kenya and not for the Southern Sudan army. Ali Abdo, Ethiopia's ambassador to Sudan told reporters in Khartoum that the load of the DC130 is part of commercial goods which was meant to be put on display at a local trade exhibition to be held in Juba.

The two ambassadors were summoned by Sudan's foreign ministry on Monday and were asked to come up with a written statement from their governments.

Mohey Deen Jebril, a political analyst in Khartoum, told Gulf News that the National Congress Party is concerned about a series of violations committed by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army, a partner of the ruling coalition government.

"Under the peace treaty signed by South and North Sudan in 2005, which ended a two-decade civil war, both sides are not allowed to upgrade their army in the ceasefire zones without the approval of the other partner," he said.

Assessing

Jebril said Khartoum is assessing what it can do with its southern partner and with its neighbours who seems to have helped the southern army to violate the peace treaty.

"Sudanese in the North could not trust the referendum on unity to be held in 2011 as it would not reflect the free choice of people in the south, as its partner is not sincere," he added.

The ambassadors of both Kenya and Ethiopia were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain Khartoum's concerns.
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From BBC News Tuesday, 14 October 2008 -
Sudan summons envoys over weapons
Sudan has summoned the ambassadors of Kenya and Ethiopia over what it says are illegal deliveries of weapons to the country's semi-autonomous south.

The summons came after Somali pirates seized a Ukrainian ship last month carrying 33 tanks bought by Kenya.

The cargo's manifest appeared to show the tanks were destined for South Sudan, though Kenya has denied this.

Sudan's Suna news agency said the foreign ministry also complained about a plane-load of weapons from Ethiopia.

The weapons had arrived in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Friday, Suna said.

But officials from Ethiopia and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said the weapons were meant for a previously planned trade fair.

'Violations'

Under the terms of a 2005 peace agreement that ended more than two decades of civil war, any build-up of military equipment has to be approved by a north-south Joint Defence Board.

Suna said that "against the backdrop" of the arms deliveries, the foreign ministry had asked the ambassadors to "inform their governments of its protest at these violations".

Authorities in northern and southern Sudan are reported to be building up their forces ahead of a referendum on independence for the South in 2011.

Ethiopia's Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters news agency that some weapons from the Ethiopian delivery had been taken to the SPLA for inspection.

"They are samples," he said. "Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing."

The manifest for the delivery of tanks obtained by the BBC carried the letters "GOSS", widely used to mean the Government Of South Sudan.

Diplomatic sources have also said the cargo - still being held off the Somali coast - was to be delivered to South Sudan. But Kenya's foreign minister said it meant General Ordinance Supplies and Security, and that this was a code for the department of defence.
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From Reuters Tuesday, 14 October 2008, by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum -
Sudan summons Kenyan, Ethiopian envoys over arms:
Sudan summoned the Kenyan and Ethiopian ambassadors on Monday to protest against what it said were illegal shipments of arms to its semi-autonomous south, state media reported.

Khartoum was protesting over "violations" linked to an arms shipment seized by pirates off Somalia's coast that Western diplomats said was bound for south Sudan, and a plane-load of weapons from Addis Ababa, state news agency SUNA reported.

SUNA stopped short of accusing Ethiopia and Kenya of directly supplying the arms to south Sudan, which won its own government and the right to its own army in a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that ended a two-decade civil war.

But it said that "against the backdrop" of the two shipments, the foreign ministry asked both envoys to "inform their governments of its protest at these violations".

A senior official of the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that the south was buying any new equipment from Ethiopia, Kenya or any other country. "We don't have the resources," he told Reuters.

Khartoum's move raised the heat in a row over the shipment of 33 T-72 tanks and other weapons seized by pirates last month off Somalia that western diplomats said were secretly heading for south Sudan in possible breach of the peace agreement.

The pirates, who are still holding the cargo, said paperwork showed the tanks were heading to south Sudan through Kenya's port of Mombasa. South Sudan has denied ordering the tanks and Kenya has insisted the machines were meant for its own army.

MILITARY PLANE

Sudan's foreign ministry also protested about unspecified weapons that it said had arrived in south Sudan's capital Juba on Friday on an Ethiopian military plane, SUNA said.

Southern officials and army officers on Monday denied the weapons were part of an arms delivery and told Reuters they had been brought in as exhibits in a long-planned trade fair.

The SPLA's Lieutenant General Biar Ajang said that rumours of an Ethiopian delivery of armaments were "confused".

"They are coming to show local products, tents, uniforms, armaments, shells ... like a shop," he said.

Ethiopia's Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters some of the weapons had been taken to SPLA headquarters for inspection. "They are samples. Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing," he said.

Sudan's foreign ministry said it was surprised at the shipments as both Kenya and Ethiopia had backed the 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, SUNA said.

There are currently no global arms embargoes banning south Sudan from buying arms or supplying the SPLA.

But the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ban both the north and the south from building up arms without the approval of a north-south Joint Military Board.

Activists have repeatedly accused the north of also re-arming, and of breaching the terms of a U.N. arms embargo covering the warring parties in the separate Darfur conflict.
Sudan Watch Ed: Check out the report's photo of Sudanese President Al-Bashir. Here in the UK, the sticking up of two fingers in such a way says: F-off (In America, although I can't think why, I seem to recall it being referred to as "flipping the bird"*). However, fingers pointing in such a way, but with palm facing outwards signifies: Peace - or, if held higher: Victory. Being a Brit, Andrew Heavens would have chuckled at seeing a photo of Sudan's president saying F-off! Heh. Unfortunately, I can't publish photos at the moment as I am on temporary dial-up while awaiting switchover to broadband. I'll keep the gem of a photo for posting at a later date. Now, if only I could find a photo of Sudanese rebel leaders sticking up two fingers, I could produce a montage of them all sticking their fingers up at each other - and at the peacekeepers and defenceless women and children of Sudan...
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Peace balls

Note Andrew Heavens' blogpost at Meskel Square 22 September 2008 - Peace balls: "Next stop Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo".
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Beware of "thumbs up" gesture

*Correction: I've just remembered: Americans stick middle finger up only, palm inwards. Maybe the two fingered sign is only a British thing?

Update: I've just looked it up at Wikipedia - check out flipping the bird and the Middle-Eastern equivalent - gulp, it's the Western thumbs up sign for great, OK!

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