SUDAN WATCH: Darfur, Sudan: Security situation update - Kalma leaders threatened over Doha - AU asks UN to suspend ICC arrest warrants for President Bashir

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Darfur, Sudan: Security situation update - Kalma leaders threatened over Doha - AU asks UN to suspend ICC arrest warrants for President Bashir

Messrs Bashir, Kiir, Taha

Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C), First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) and Vice President Ali Osman Taha sit for a presidency meeting before al-Bashir left for Chad, in Khartoum, Wednesday, 21 July 2010. Chad said on Wednesday it would not arrest al-Bashir who arrived in the country for his first visit to a full member state of the world court which is demanding his arrest for genocide. (Reuters /Mohamed Nureldin Abdallh)

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir walks towards his plane at the airport in Khartoum, Wednesday, 21 July 2010 as he prepares to leave for Chad to attend the summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States. An international row raged on Thursday over the presence of genocide accused Bashir of Sudan as he took his place among African leaders at a regional summit in Chad. (AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

Kiir & Bashir

Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (2nd R) walks with First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) as he prepares to leave for Chad, in Khartoum, Wednesday, 21 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallh)

Omar Hassan al-Bashir & Salva Kiir Mayardit

Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (R) shakes hands with First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit as he prepares to leave for Chad, in Khartoum, Wednesday, 21 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallh)

Sudan's First Vice President Salva Kiir

Photo: First Vice President Salva Kiir waits to meet Sudanese opposition leaders in Khartoum Thursday, 22 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Bashir to meet opposition leaders
Report from SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Friday, 23 July 2010:
(Khartoum) – The first Vice President and President of Southern Sudan government, Salva Kiir, met with the leaders of northern opposition parties in Khartoum on Thursday.

The SPLM deputy secretary general-northern section, Yasir Arman, spoke to the press after the meeting.

[Yasir Arman]: “The meeting discussed the invitation by the chairman of the NCP, President al-Bashir, to meet with the political forces on Saturday. After extensive negotiations, the participants agreed that the intended meeting should be a comprehensive meeting in viewing Sudan’s issues. The first and most important issue to be discussed is availing freedoms as an entrance to discuss all the issues facing Sudan. Secondly, the importance of conducting a free and fair referendum as scheduled, and with the support and participation of all political forces in order to have the referendum done in a peaceful manner in case of unity or separation. The meeting also tackled the importance of a comprehensive and just peace in Darfur.”

After the April elections, the leaders of the opposition parties rejected to participate in the current government, claiming that the NCP rigged the elections.
Salva Kiir & Sadiq al-Mahdi

Photo: First Vice President Salva Kiir (L) welcomes leader of the opposition Umma Party and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in Khartoum, Thursday, 22 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Salva Kiir & Hassan al-Turabi

Photo: First Vice President Salva Kiir (R) talks to the leader of the Islamic opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi during a meeting with opposition leaders in Khartoum, Thursday, 22 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Bashir's meeting with opposition postponed indefinitely
ACCORDING to a report published by SRS on Monday, 26 July 2010, the meeting between the National opposition parties and the ruling the National Congress Party has been postponed until further notice. The Minister of Information in the national government, Dr. Kamal Obeid, said that the meeting has been postponed to give time for more preparations. Obeid spoke to SRS from Khartoum on Sunday, 25 July 2010. Click here to visit SRS and read full story.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir steps off the plane from Chad, in Khartoum, Friday, 23 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nurdldin Abdallh)

Kiir & Bashir

Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (R) is welcomed by First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit (L) as he steps off the plane from Chad, in Khartoum, Friday, 23 July 2010. (Reuters/Mohamed Nurdldin Abdallh)

Kiir & Bashir

Sudan hails Bashir trip to Chad as 'victory' against ICC
Report from AFP by Guillaume Lavallee (Khartoum), Friday, 23 July 2010 - excerpt:
[...] Bashir arrived in Khartoum at 8:20 pm (1720 GMT) after a two-day visit to Chad seen as a breakthrough after years of proxy warfare between the two countries in Darfur.

He left for Sudan after talks with his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby Itno, whose villa he had stayed at near Ndjamena airport protected by an impressive security detail.

The summit backed Bashir on Thursday, saying it rejected "all accusations" against him, while Deby called on regional leaders to support the peace process in Sudan and help solve the Darfur crisis.

"Darfur continues to be a source of concern. CEN-SAD refutes all accusations against President Bashir. These accusations do not contribute to bringing peace to this part of Sudan," said CEN-SAD chief Mohamed al-Madani al-Azhari.

"We declare our total support and our solidarity to Sudan and its people," he added, speaking to an audience that included 13 heads of state including Bashir.

The ICC, which has no police and relies on states that support it to carry out arrests, in March last year accused the veteran Sudanese leader of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and issued a further arrest mandate for genocide earlier this month.

Chad was strongly criticised by the European Union and human rights groups for its refusal to arrest Bashir.

On Thursday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton had urged Chad to arrest him and hand him over to the court based in The Hague to face the charges.

The United States urged Chad to consider "its responsibilities." [...]
African Union asks United Nations to suspend arrest warrants for al-Bashir
Excerpts from a report by Fred Ojambo for Bloomberg, Tuesday, 27 July 2010; 6:45 PM GMT:
The African Union called for the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrants against Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir to be suspended while the continental body carries out a probe into alleged genocide in Darfur.

The Hague-based court earlier this month charged al-Bashir with three counts of genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. The court had issued a warrant against al-Bashir in March for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“We have decided to establish our own mechanism,” AU President Bingu wa Mutharika told reporters today in Kampala at the end of a three-day summit of African leaders. “We are asking the United Nations to suspend for the period of 12 months” the arrest warrants against al-Bashir, he said. [...]

The AU questioned whether the United Nations-backed court has the authority to prosecute al-Bashir. Sudan is not a signatory to the 1998 Rome Statute under which the court was established.

“Let us look at the position of the ICC,” Mutharika said. “Do they have a right to try Sudan which is not a member of the ICC? I think it is something we have to look at.”

Although African countries don’t “condone impunity,” they should carry out their own investigations other than relying on reports by a body which is based outside the continent, he said. [...]

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at fojambo@bloomberg.net.
FURTHER READING

Briefing on the African Union summit
Click here to read a briefing from U.S. Department of State by Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs - and U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle - via Teleconference in Washington, DC, Tuesday, 27 July 2010.

Visit to Darfur by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan
Click here to read a report at the website of U.S. Department of State entitled 'Visit to Darfur' by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, Monday, 26 July 2010.

Sudan update - U.S. Department of State, 10 July 2010
Click here to read a report at the website of U.S. Department of State entitled “We Must Not, Will Not Lose Sight of Darfur” by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, 10 July 2010.

Security situation update
Russian pilot missing in Darfur copter incident‎
Report from Associated Press by Edith M. Lederer, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 - excerpt:
A Russian-owned helicopter that landed in the wrong place in Darfur has been recovered with all the passengers and crew except the Russian pilot, the top international envoy in the volatile Sudanese region said Tuesday.

Ibrahim Gambari, the joint representative of the United Nations and African Union, said peacekeepers from the U.N.-AU force in Darfur are working with the Sudanese government and rebel movements to locate the missing pilot and "see to his release."

The helicopter, which was assigned to the U.N.-AU force, disappeared Monday while transporting three members of the rebel Liberation Justice Movement from peace negotiations with the government in Doha, Qatar, to locations in South Darfur, Gambari said. He spoke with reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council in New York.

Early Tuesday, Gambari said, the peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, made contact with three of the four crew on the helicopter and an international staff member.

They reported that they were at a Sudanese government location south of Menawashi in South Darfur, he said.

Gambari said a UNAMID helicopter went to the site with another pilot who flew the helicopter, the crew and passengers to safety.

"Apparently, they landed in what was the wrong place, and it seems that it was a place not fully in control of the government," he said.

"The good news is the government took it very seriously and worked with us and we retrieved the helicopter and everybody except the captain," Gambari said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement earlier Tuesday that four Russians and five Sudanese nationals were aboard the helicopter, which it said had been seized Monday [26 July] by rebels. It said the men were not hurt.

Gambari told the Security Council on Tuesday that there has been "a spike in criminal acts and attacks against U.N. and humanitarian personnel" in Darfur.

In 2009, he said, UNAMID peacekeepers were attacked on 28 occasions resulting in 10 deaths and 26 injuries, and two UNAMID personnel and six humanitarian workers were kidnapped. [...]
Abducted" Russian chopper returns to base: airline
Report from Xinhua, Tuesday, 27 July 2010:
(Moscow) - Russian airline UTair on Tuesday claimed that a helicopter belonging to the company that was previously reported to have been abducted by militants in Sudanese region of Darfur has returned to its permanent base.

"The helicopter with its crew on board returned to its permanent base, the community of Nyala, Sudan, at 7:39 p.m. Moscow time (1539 GMT) on July 27," said the company as quoted by the Interfax news agency.

"No one among the crew members and passengers has been harmed, and the aircraft has not been damaged," it added.

Earlier in the day Russian Foreign Ministry said Darfur militants abducted the helicopter with four Russian crew members and five Sudanese passengers on board on Monday.

The helicopter was on a joint peacekeeping mission of the United Nations and the African Union in Darfur.

However, according to the airline, the Mi-8MTV chopper was seized by Sudanese authorities after landing for a stopover on Sudanese territory.

"UN employees are investigating the incident. The UTair airline, along with the Russian Embassy and UN officials in Sudan, is taking the necessary measures to clarify the situation," said the company. Editor: yan
27 Jul 10 - Security situation update
Report from UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - Tuesday, 27 July 2010:
27 July 2010 - Two aid workers from the German government’s disaster relief organization, Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), have been released after 35 days in captivity. They were picked up safely today near Kabkabiya, North Darfur, by a UNAMID helicopter and taken to Nyala, South Darfur. Both are reportedly in good health.

In Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, five IDP sheikhs (leaders) who fled to UNAMID’s local police center on 25 July remain in the Mission’s facility at the camp. They had sought refuge after allegedly receiving threats for opposing the Doha negotiations.

Tensions are high in the camp after fighting broke out on 24 July between IDP representatives who attended the latest round of Doha talks and those who did not participate. One person was injured, but no fatalities were reported. Two suspects were also arrested by the Sudanese authorities for the attempted assault of a sheikh who attended the conference.

UNAMID has increased its presence in the camp and is working with community leaders and local authorities to help resolve the situation.
26 Jul 10 - Security situation update
Report from UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - Monday, 26 July 2010:
26 July 2010 - The situation in Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp is calm but remains tense following events on 24 July when gunmen identifying themselves as members of the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction (SLA-AW) began shooting indiscriminately, protesting the involvement of several IDP leaders in the Doha talks. Although no fatalities were reported, one person was injured. UNAMID has increased its presence in the camp and is working in collaboration with local authorities and community leaders to defuse tensions.

No further incidents have been reported in the past 24 hours.
Kalma IDP camp leaders threatened over Doha participation
Report from UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - Sunday, 25 July 2010:
25 July 2010 - Sporadic shooting was heard around midnight yesterday at Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, in South Darfur. According to UNAMID police, gunmen identifying themselves as members of the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction (SLA-AW) began shooting indiscriminately from about 0020 hours until 0130 hours.

Kalma camp has over 100,000 IDPs and is the second largest in the world after Graida camp in South Darfur. Tensions had been rising in the settlement since the conclusion of the latest round of Doha talks last week, with a number of IDPs claiming that they were not fully represented.

One person sustained a gunshot injury, but no fatalities have been reported. Two suspects have been arrested by the authorities for the attempted assault of a sheikh (tribal leader). Five sheikhs have sought refuge this morning at UNAMID’s nearby location, fearing for their lives. UNAMID peacekeepers have increased their patrols in the area and the Mission is currently negotiating with the camp’s leaders to prevent a further escalation of violence.

Two hundred and fifty representatives of Darfur’s civil society attended the negotiations, which began on 12 July. The 60 representatives of IDPs and refugees had been in Doha, Qatar, since 27 June to attend a separate two-day meeting held the next day aimed at addressing their concerns. All envoys were elected by their constituents after months of deliberation, gatherings and training workshops, many of which were facilitated by UNAMID.
Ardamata IDPs report harassment, seizure of farmland
Report from UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - Sunday, 25 July 2010:
25 July 2010 - Leaders in Ardamata IDP camp, near El Geneina, West Darfur, have approached UNAMID with reports that a number of residents who left the camps to cultivate crops on their lands were harassed by armed men.

IDPs claimed that they were physically assaulted in four locations less than 10 kilometers outside El Geneina. The armed men reportedly destroyed the seedlings and replanted the farmlands, having claimed them as their own.

With the beginning of the rainy season this month, IDPs all over Darfur have received seeds and farm tools and many felt safe enough to leave the camps regularly to farm their lands. UNAMID brought the matter to the attention of local authorities and will meet with them about helping to prevent similar incidents in the future in order to encourage IDPs to voluntarily return to their regions.
Sudanese singer and Darfur native, Omer Ihsas, performs the final match of the Nelson Mandela Cup, organized by UNAMID in El Fasher, Darfur, western Sudan

Abu Shouk

Photo: Football players from Abu Shouk playing the final match of the Nelson Mandela Cup, organized by UNAMID. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID)

Omer Ihsas

Photo: Sudanese singer and Darfur native, Omer Ihsas, performs the final match of the Nelson Mandela Cup, organized by UNAMID in El Fasher. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID)

Abu Shouk

Photo: Football players from Abu Shouk playing the final match of the Nelson Mandela Cup, organized by UNAMID. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID)

News from SRS (Sudan Radio Service):

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