SUDAN WATCH: AU's Mbeki and US's Gration arrive in Sudan - ICC registrar visits Sudanese refugees in Chad

Thursday, April 02, 2009

AU's Mbeki and US's Gration arrive in Sudan - ICC registrar visits Sudanese refugees in Chad

The Head of the African Union's special panel for Darfur, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday evening (01 April) and was scheduled to meet Sudanese officials. Mr Mbeki is now scheduled to meet Sudanese government authorities, Darfur rebels and neighbouring states and submit a progress report to African Union in the next four months. Mr Mbeki was appointed as the Head of the AU High Level Panel on Darfur last month by the AU.

By my reckoning, the next four months ends in July. News of the Abyei Boundary Commission's report is expected to emerge by June of this year.

According to the below copied article from the Sudan Tribune, the ICC's registrar, Silvana Arbia, has been in Chad since Monday (30 March) where she told Sudanese refugees that victims will have rights before the court to participate in the judicial process, and described how they would be able to obtain reparations. See related story here below from Sudan Watch archives re "ICC's Ocampo denies getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur": UK based rights group Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of Darfur war that were accepted by the ICC as contextual evidence to be used in any trial. Waging Peace collected the drawings from refugees in Chad.

Early today, (Thursday, 02 April) the new US envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, arrived in Khartoum for a week-long tour that is expected to include visits to Darfur in west Sudan, Juba, the capital of south Sudan, and Abyei an oil-rich area between north and south Sudan.

Note that South Africa has opened a new Consulate-General in Juba in Southern Sudan. South African exports to Sudan, which include base metals, machinery, wood pulp, plastics and chemicals, have increased over the past year from R463-million in 2007 to R718-million in 2008.

This month, Mexico assumes UN Security Council Presidency from Libya.

Source: the following reports.

April 02, 2009 report from the Daily Nation, Kenya's leading newspaper:
Mbeki in Sudan for Darfur peace talks
By Argaw Ashine, Nation Correspondent (ADDIS ABABA)
Head of African Union special panel for Darfur, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, arrived in Sudan to begin the search for a lasting solution in the conflict raged region of Darfur.

Mbeki arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday evening and was scheduled to meet Sudanese officials. He will also visit the Darfur region.

According to AU Peace and Security Council sources, Mbeki will hold a series of talks with tribal leaders, displaced peoples' representatives, UN and AU peacekeepers, political parties and civil society representatives.

The AU panel for Darfur, inaugurated at the end of March 2009 in Addis Ababa, aimed at fighting impunity and ensuring accountability in the region

Thabo Mbeki and his strong African eminent personalities Darfur panel planned to achieve a three-pillar objective of expediting the peace process, installing justice and start reconciliation process among the warring parties in Sudan.

Mr Mbeki, who mediated the Zimbabwe political crisis, is now scheduled to meet Sudanese government authorities, Darfur rebels and neighbouring states and submit a progress report to African Union in the next four months.

Mbeki has faced sharp criticism for his “soft” stand against Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe during his mediation effort, but he defended the criticism by saying the mediation was successful and achieved the intended result.

Mbeki dismissed criticism that he might have another “soft” stand on Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. The ICC issued an arrest warrant on Al Bashir March 4 this year.

“I am not starting a responsibility of defending any criticism” Mbeki said during his recent visit to Addis Ababa.

Mbeki said his team's responsibility is to produce the required result based on the mandate given from AU.

He stressed the value of reconciliation in healing wounds and to bring lasting peace rather than retaliation, as his country South Africa did after the fall of Apartheid.
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April 02, 2009 article from Sudan Tribune, France based pro rebel newsonline:
ICC registrar visits Sudanese refugees in Chad
April 1, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The registrar of the International Criminal Court, Silvana Arbia, arrived Wednesday in the Sudanese refugee camps Treguine and Bredjing in eastern Chad, meeting with camp authorities and explaining about the warrant of arrest against President Omer Al-Bashir, according to a press statement.

The world court (ICC), which claims jurisdiction in Darfur because the UN Security Council referred the case to it in 2005, aims to try Bashir on seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The registrar is the principal administrative officer of the court, elected by the judges. It is her responsibility to set up the Victims and Witnesses Unit, according to the Rome Statute that governs the court. In consultation with the Office of the Prosecutor, this unit provides protective measures and security arrangements, counselling and other appropriate assistance for witnesses, victims who appear before the court, and others who are at risk on account of testimony given by such witnesses.

She is also responsible for overseeing the court’s outreach programmes, which are designed to communicate with communities affected by the situations that are subject to investigations or proceedings.

Arbia, who began her visit to Chad on Monday for a four day visit, met with mostly Masalit refugees, women’s groups representatives, and very many victims, stated the ICC statement. Questioned by the refugees as to how the arrest warrant would be executed, the ICC official responded that the Court will pursue efforts to obtain the cooperation of states so as to ensure that Omer Al Bashir is arrested and transferred to the ICC.

“The arrest warrant will be implemented,” she declared, underscoring that the court is a permanent institution and that justice will take its course even if he is a Head of State. Arbia also reviewed the other arrest warrants issued in relation with the Darfur case, against a militia leader and a minister of state.

She further told refugees that victims will have rights before the court to participate in the judicial process, and described how they would be able to obtain reparations. (ST)
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April 02, 2009 report from AFP by Guillaume Lavallee via zawya.com:
US envoy kicks off Sudan visit
KHARTOUM, Apr 02, 2009 (AFP) - US envoy Scott Gration began an official visit to Sudan on Thursday as President Barack Obama turned up the heat on Sudanese leader Omar al-Beshir to allow aid groups back into war-torn Darfur.

The retired air force general arrived in Khartoum early Thursday for a week-long visit, a month after an international arrest warrant was issued against Beshir for war crimes committed in the western Sudanese region.

Beshir expelled 13 international aid groups from Darfur after the International Criminal Court issued the warrant for him on March 4.

Obama, speaking after meeting with his special envoy on Monday, said he hoped to find a way for humanitarian workers to resume their work in Darfur.

"We have to figure out a mechanism to get those NGOs back in place, to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis," Obama said.

International aid agencies distribute food, offer medical aid and provide access to water to some 2.7 million people displaced by the civil war in Darfur.

The Sudanese president remained defiant about his government's decision to expel the aid agencies from Darfur in response to the ICC arrest warrant.

"In one year we will Sudanise all the aid on the ground and we can fill the gap in food distribution within one year because the Sudanese Red Crescent already distributes 45 percent of the food in Darfur," Beshir said during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

On his Khartoum visit, Gration is due to meet with senior officials from the foreign ministry and could possibly meet Beshir, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"The US embassy told us clearly that (Gration) was here to listen. We don't expect him to come with a plan," Ali Sadiq told AFP.

Gration is expected to visit Darfur over the weekend.

Obama had said that his envoy was to try to kickstart discussions between rebels and the government in order to reach a solution to the Darfur conflict, where 300,000 lives have been lost since 2003 and more than two million people displaced.

Sudan puts the death toll from the six-year war at only 10,000.

The Darfur question has garnered much attention in the United States, where groups like "Save Darfur" are pushing for a solution to the crisis.

The Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed an agreement in Doha in February aimed at holding peace talks, but JEM has indicated that it would back out if Khartoum does not authorise the return of the aid agencies.

Gration is also expected to visit Juba, the capital of south Sudan and Abyei, the oil-rich area between north and south Sudan where fighting last year threatened a return to Sudan's two-decade civil war which only ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.

Sudanese-US relations have been strained since the mid-90s.

The US had accused Sudan of harbouring Al-Qaeda members and in 1997 imposed sanctions against the country before launching a missile strike on Khartoum one year later. gl/jaz/cjo/bpz
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April 02, 2009 report from BuaNews-Xinhua by Bathandwa Mbola:
SA opens new Consulate-General in Sudan
Sudan - South African has opened a Consulate-General in Juba in Southern Sudan.

The new mission will contribute to facilitating the movement of business people between the two countries, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The department said the Consulate will consolidate South Africa's presence in the Sudan and strengthen the support for peace efforts and the implementation of post-conflict reconstruction and development related projects in Southern Sudan.

Having a greater presence in the country will also aid in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was signed in 2005 marking an end to the civil strife in the Sudan.

South Africa is involved in the post-conflict reconstruction and development in respect of capacity and institution building.

To date, over 1000 Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) officials have been trained in public service and administration, judiciary and legal affairs and government communication, among others.

South Africa has deployed peacekeepers and civilian police in Darfur as part of the United Nations-African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan (UNAMID) and continues to support the Darfur peace efforts through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.

Meanwhile, former President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday, arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on an African Union (AU) mission to help resolve the conflict in the Darfur region.

Mr Mbeki was appointed as the Head of the AU High Level Panel on Darfur last month by the AU.

South African exports to Sudan, which include base metals, machinery, wood pulp, plastics and chemicals, have increased over the past year from R463-million in 2007 to R718-million in 2008. - BuaNews-Xinhua
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Mexico to Assume UN Security Council Presidency
ISRIA (subscription) - ‎1 hour ago‎
In April, the Security Council will analyze the situation in Chad and the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, the Congo, Western Sahara, Sudan, ...
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Further reading

Sudan Watch March 21, 2009: ICC's Ocampo denies getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur and says Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'
According to the following report from Aljazeera today, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor denied getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur. But the report makes no mention of those who worked in Chad and in other countries outside of Sudan.

Note that a report filed here at Sudan Watch [March 4, 2009 - Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s drawings of Darfur that were accepted by ICC as evidence in any trial] claims that last year, UK based rights group Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of Darfur war that were accepted by the ICC as contextual evidence to be used in any trial. Waging Peace collected the drawings from refugees in Chad.

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