SUDAN WATCH: British Ambassador in Khartoum Nicholas Kay is blogging the drama and scale of the change taking place in Sudan

Friday, November 19, 2010

British Ambassador in Khartoum Nicholas Kay is blogging the drama and scale of the change taking place in Sudan

THE British government's Foreign & Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO, has started a blog about the work of the British Ambassador to Sudan. The blog is authored by Nicholas Kay CMG, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Sudan. Mr Kay (pictured below) arrived in Khartoum to take up his role as HM Ambassador to Sudan on 29 May 2010. Here is a copy of his first two blog posts followed by several related reports.



The drama and scale of the change taking place in Sudan
Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website - http://blogs.fco.gov.uk
Written by: Nicholas Kay British Ambassador to Sudan, Khartoum
Posted: Wednesday, 10 November 2010 by Nicholas Kay
When people think of Sudan, they tend to think of suffering, violence and poverty. And sadly, based on most of the recent decades, that image is not far wrong. But I hope in this blog to share with you a slightly altered image and to convey the drama and scale of the change that is taking place in Sudan.

I am a reluctant blogger. But far from a reluctant Ambassador. Professionally there is no other country I'd wish to be in than Sudan today. It is possible that Africa's largest country will divide into two over the coming months. The people of Southern Sudan will decide on that in a referendum in January. The implications for both north and south Sudan, for the region and for the work of the British Government are far-reaching.

I have decided to start writing this blog in the hope that a view from Sudan will be of interest to a wider audience in coming months. I shall try to offer some reflections from the ground as Sudan prepares for a truly historic moment, and to explain the role the UK is playing. I shall also invite my colleagues to contribute their perspectives, especially those of our team in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.

Before going any further, I want to be quite explicit about the UK's approach to the referendum and possible secession of the south: our interest is exclusively in seeing the referendum happen to time, to standard and safely. Whatever the result, the people of north and south Sudan should be able to live in peace and growing prosperity. The whole of the UK government in Sudan is working to the same end. Our commitment to helping both north and south is firm today and will continue through and beyond the referendum.
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In the End Game?
Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website - http://blogs.fco.gov.uk
Written by: Nicholas Kay British Ambassador to Sudan, Khartoum
Posted: Monday, 15 November 2010 by Nicholas Kay
The European Film Festival in Khartoum finished at the end of last week with the screening under the stars in the British Council gardens of "End Game", which tells the story of Thabo Mbeki's role in negotiating the end of apartheid in South Africa. As we watched, only a mile away in the centre of Khartoum, ex-President Mbeki was locked in another historic negotiation - this time mediating discussions between north and south Sudan to agree what will happen if Southern Sudan votes for independence in January.

As I write, we don't know the final outcome of the talks. But the clock - or rather the moon - is ticking. President Bashir is in Mecca for the Haj pilgrimage, and Khartoum is all but closed for business until after the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha in the coming days. Meanwhile, voter registration for the Referendum begun this morning, on which more later.

During the past week the UK has been more active than ever in striving for a "soft landing" after the referendum. Mr Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, made a four day visit during which he worked tirelessly in his meetings with Vice Presidents, Ministers, the African Union and the United Nations to promote peace and prosperity. He advocated strongly the need for proper contingency planning in the event that violence or conflict break out. He urged (with success) Sudanese leaders to reassure publicly Southern Sudanese in the north that they will be safe whatever the outcome of the referendum and he encouraged the governments north and south to behave responsibly and seize the opportunity to transform their standing in the international community. We covered many miles over the four days, visiting Darfur (a place Mr Mitchell had visited twice before - picture below) and Juba, where he opened the UK Government's new office building in the EU compound, which will provide a great platform for the growing HMG team in Southern Sudan.

As Mr Mitchell and his team led by Sandra Pepera (Head of DFID Sudan) pushed our messages at the highest levels, the Embassy was also heavily engaged in supporting Thabo Mbeki's talks at the working level. We had experts feeding into drafting on economic, security, legal and border issues. On the last, Michael Ryder (the UK Special Representative for Sudan) was closely involved, helped by Phil Hunt, an expert from the MOD's Defence Mapping Agency, who flew into Khartoum to spend valuable time with Sudanese and international experts. Phil was able to offer an objective and well-informed view on where exactly the boundary between north and south was on 1 January 1956 (it has been agreed that any future border should be the boundary as it was at independence in 1956).

Apologies for the long blog. Not every week will be as full. But I can't finish without mentioning the wonderful Service of Remembrance organised by our Defence Attaché, Lt Col Chris Luckham, at Khartoum's Commonwealth War Cemetery on 11 November (picture below). Under bright Sudanese skies, surrounded by immaculately kept graves and lawns, nearly two hundred people from more than thirty countries gathered to pay tribute to the dead of all nations and all conflicts. It was an honour to be there and a strong reminder to me of how vital it is that together we succeed in helping Sudan heal its wounds and silence forever the guns.
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Related Reports

ENDGAME (2009)



A story based on the covert discussions that brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Paula Milne
Stars: William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jonny Lee Miller
Source: Nicholas Kay's blog post Thursday, 15 November 2010 / www.imdb.com/title/tt1217616/
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REMEMBRANCE SERVICE AT THE COMMONWEALTH WAR CEMETERY, KHARTOUM, SUDAN ON 11 NOVEMBER 2010



HISTORIC stuff (made me cry). Click here to view slideshow of eleven photographs, courtesy of FCO/UK in Sudan, on Flickr. Copied here below for posterity are the photographs.

Note: This blog Sudan Watch has been and will continue to be digitally archived by the British Library so will be preserved for future historians.



Wreathes. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



British Defence Attache Lt. Colonel Chris Luckham greets a representative from the Sudanese Armed Forces. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Service of Remembrance. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Father Joseph al Haj leads the Service of Remembrance. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Hymn during the Service of Remembrance. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Wreath laying. British Ambassador Nicholas Kay, a representative of the Sudanese Armed Forces and other members of the Diplomatic Corps lay wreaths on the war memorial, Khartoum. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



British Ambassador Nicholas Kay and a representative from the Sudanese Armed Forces. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Major General Moses Bisung Obi, UNMIS Force Commander. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



UNMIS peacekeepers. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



Colonel Mike Scott, UNMIS Military Chief of Staff and Lt Colonel Umar Faroouqi laying wreathes on behalf of UNMIS peacekeepers. Photo taken at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, 11 November 2010.



War memorial. Wreathes upon the monument, Commonwealth War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan. Photo taken on Thursday, 11 November 2010.

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UK IN SUDAN



YouTube video: British Ambassador to Sudan, Nicholas Kay welcomes visitors to UK in Sudan website - http://ukinsudan.fco.gov.uk
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RARE JOINT STATEMENT:
NORTH, SOUTH SUDAN DEFENCE CHIEFS VOW NO WAR


On Thursday, 11 November 2010, the south's minister for the SPLA (the southern army) Nhial Deng Nhial appeared at a joint news conference with Sudan's national, Khartoum-based, Minister of Defence Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein.

"We wanted to send a message to our citizens, both in the north and south, that there will be no return to war. Regardless of the amount of differences they will be resolved through political dialogue. There will be no return to war," Nhial told reporters.

Click here to read full story by Reuters at af.reuters.com - Thursday, 11 November 2010: "North, south Sudan defence chiefs vow no war".



Photo: The south's minister for the SPLA (the southern army) Nhial Deng Nhial (L) at a joint news conference with Sudan's national, Khartoum-based, Minister of Defence Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (R) Thursday, 11 November 2010. (Source: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah - Thursday, 11 November 2010)



Photo: Sudan's Minister of Defence Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (R) talks to South's minister for the SPLA (the southern army) Nhial Deng Nhial (L) after a joint news conference at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Khartoum on Thursday, 11 November 2010. North and south Sudan's defence chiefs on Thursday vowed there would be no return to war in a rare joint statement that set out to defuse tensions in the countdown to a referendum on southern secession. (Source: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah - Thursday, 11 November 2010)
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JEM and SLM say they cannot be threatened to join Doha Talks
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Tuesday, 16 November 2010
(Khartoum/Doha) – The UNAMID Joint Special Representative says that there will be negative consequences if the Darfur anti-government groups, the JEM and the SLM-Abdulwahid’s faction fail to participate in the Doha talks.

Professor Ibrahim Gambari addressed a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday.

[Ibrahim Gambari]: “JEM must take this opportunity very seriously. As the members of the Sudan consultative forum which took place on the 6th of November in Addis Ababa stressed there would be very negative consequences both for the people of Darfur and for JEM as a movement if it fails to take advantage of this opportunity to the peace process.”

However, the two anti-government groups responded by saying that no one will force them to participate in the Doha peace talks.

JEM head of negotiation, Ahmed Togud Lisan told SRS on Sunday from Doha that they will only join the talks once their demands are met.

[Ahmed Togud Lisan]: “We don’t care about sanctions, we don’t care about other people’s position, what we care about is the interests of our cause and the interests of our people. When our demands are met we will join the negotiations, if not we can tell the international community and anybody who cares about the issue that, we can’t be part of a comedy and be losers at the end. The whole issue will be rearranged in a manner that the National Congress Party will be able to play a light role in.”

On the other hand, the official spokesperson of the SLM-Abdulwahid’s faction, Ahmed Ibrahim Yousif said their movement will not lose at all if sanctions are imposed on them.

[Ahmed Ibrahim Yousif]: “We the Sudan Liberation Movement we won’t lose anything. I mean we don’t have assets and we don’t have anything. No weapons are given to us from outside Sudan, nothing at all. We were threatened before after Abuja, the SLM was threatened, particularly the chairman Ustaz Mohamed Nur, but sanctions are supposed to be imposed on people who are killing others, those who are carrying mass genocide in an organized manner until now.”

That was the official spokesperson for SLM-Wahid faction, Ahmed Ibrahim Yousif speaking to SRS on Sunday.
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From The New York Times

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