SUDAN WATCH: Sudanese leaders, north and south, will determine whether their people enjoy a happy and peaceful New Year

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sudanese leaders, north and south, will determine whether their people enjoy a happy and peaceful New Year

Quote of the Day
"War is often said to be the failure of diplomacy. But diplomats can only do so much. In the end it will be Sudanese leaders, north and south, who determine whether their people enjoy a happy and peaceful New Year." -Nicholas Kay, British Ambassador to Sudan, 29 December 2010, Khartoum. (Source: See full report below)
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Photo of the Day



Historic photograph taken in 2005: 'The referendum plans came after southern and northern Sudan leaders signed a peace accord in Kenya in 2005 [EPA]' (Credit: Photo and caption from Al Jazeera.net report, 01 January 2011, entitled Sudan president seeks to calm fears)
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Sudan Watch News Roundup

The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has lauded a statement by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that his government (GOS) will be the first to recognise and support southern Sudan’s independence, should southerners vote for secession. [1]

The ministry of internal affairs in the GOSS has reiterated that the south Sudan referendum will take place peacefully and as scheduled for Sunday, 9th January 2011. [2]

Silva Kiir, president of GOSS, said at a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa that an independent state in southern Sudan, if and when it is established, will not have relations with Israel. [3]

President Bashir said today (Friday, Dec. 31) that the door to peace in Darfur remains open and called on Darfuris to put out the fire of war, just a day after Khartoum withdrew from peace talks. [4]

Members of the Darfur mediation team, including the United Nations, the African Union and Qatar, today (Friday, Dec. 31) stated their continued commitment to negotiations aimed at achieving peace in the strife-torn Sudanese region. [5]

The Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs H E Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud said that the Darfur peace negotiations are continuing in Doha and that all parties concerned with peace are committed to Doha platform until a just and comprehensive peace that all of the people of Darfur and the Sudanese people are seeking is reached. Addressing a press conference today (Friday, Dec. 31) at Doha Sheraton Hotel jointly with UN/AU Joint Mediator for Darfur Djbrill Bassole, Al Mahmoud said that the mediation will hold two meetings in Doha on Thursday the 6th of January 2011. One of them will be for the joint Arab-African ministerial committee on Darfur, while the other will be for special envoys of the Permanent Security Council Member States and the European Union. [6]

Speaking to SRS from Doha today (Friday, Dec. 31), the chief negotiator for the Darfur anti government group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), Tajalden Bashir Niam explained the contentious issues between the two parties: “The only contradicting position on this is the amount of money to be deposited for compensation. LJM is saying we need 500 million dollars while the government is saying 200 million dollars. So the difference is not that much, it can be compromised. There are huge differences on the status of the region of Darfur, we want to retain the three states but also we want to have a region of Darfur. Another issue of disagreement according to Niam is the distribution of power." [7]

The chairman of the High Electoral Commission in Southern Kordofan State, Abdul Jabbar Ibrahim, has confirmed that preparations for voter registration are complete. The process will begin on Saturday, 8th January 2011. [8]

Forces loyal to the renegade Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) general George Athor are in talks with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) ahead of the referendum in January in an attempt to ensure security prevails during the exercise. General Athor threatened to disrupt the referendum process in the south in August if the SPLM failed to talk peace with him. However in an interview with SRS from Jonglei today (Friday, Dec. 31) the political organiser in the SPLA new forces led by the general George Athor, Peter Koul said that their delegation is meeting SPLA and may sign a ceasefire soon. [9]

The National Congress Party (NCP) said that it has received information showing a plan by the SPLM to take unilateral actions on Abyei. An NCP member in charge of the Abyei file, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, said that the Public International Law & Policy Group or PILPG advised the SPLM that a unilateral referendum within a united Sudan would be considered an internal self-determination which does not require an approval from the federal government or the NCP. [10]

SPLM is seeking to impose a unilateral plan on Abyei area with assistance of U.S. law firm, Ambassador Al-Derridiri told Sudan Vision. Al-Derridiri who is official in charge of Abyei file disclosed that SPLM plans to hold a unilateral referendum exclusively for Dinks Ngok south Bahr Al-Arab and that said referendum should be conducted prior to South Sudan referendum adding that a U.S. law firm advised SPLM that such a referendum could be considered an internal one or may be considered as conducting internal self-determination which doesn't need approval of the central government. [11]

The Assistant of the President of the Republic, Dr Nafie Ali Nafie said that the United Nations missions have major role in instigating disputes in Sudan. Dr Nafie gave the remark Wednesday (Dec. 29) in a symposium on the occasion of 55th anniversary of the Independence Day and the marking of 2010 as year of peace and stability in Africa. He attributed the African disputes to tribal intermingling as manifested in Darfur crisis, saying the Western military bases have supporting role in fuelling the dispute. Dr Nafie has pointed to Israel's hand in dispute over resources especially water. [12]

See photo below of Eamon Omordha, Deputy Director of the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division, handing over a referendum ballot to Justice Chan Reec Madut, Chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, during a material handover ceremony in Juba Thursday, 23 December 2010. [13]

Reporting from Khartoum, Britain's Ambassador to Sudan Nicholas Kay confirms: the ballot papers have arrived on time (printed by a UK company) and most of the European Union's 110 observers have arrived, as are others from the US, Asia and Africa. UK Ministers have been busy working the phones to Sudanese colleagues and others: urging calm, underlining the UK’s commitment to both north and south Sudan and trouble-shooting potential security and humanitarian risks. Just before Christmas Ambassador Kay was in London for a few days and had the honour of an audience with Her Majesty the Queen who is following with care this current chapter in Sudan’s history. On Sunday (December 26th) he had an excellent meeting with Foreign Minister, Ali Karti. The following day he was in the Ministry again with colleagues representing the five permanent members of the Security Council for another meeting on the referendum. [14]

SOURCES: See 14 reports below.

[1] GOSS Lauds Bashir's Statement That He Will Recognise And Support South In Case Of Secession
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
30 December 2010 – (Juba) - The Government of Southern Sudan has lauded a statement by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that his government will be the first to recognize and support southern Sudan’s independence, should southerners vote for secession.

Al-Bashir made that statement on Tuesday, while addressing a gathering on Martyrs’ day in Wad-Madani.

GOSS Minister of information Doctor Barnaba Marial Benjamin addressed a press conference in Juba on Wednesday.

[Barnaba Marial Benjamin]: “We appreciate the statement of our president Omar al-Bashir, that he will be the first to recognize southern Sudan independence, should the choice of the south become independence. And that he will even come and celebrate with the people of south Sudan for their choice. I think we on our part as GOSS, we are greatly pleased with such a great statement. We believe this is putting on the ground a future and sort of stability between the two states.”

Marial said that the president’s statement will create conducive environment for the conduct of the south Sudan self-determination referendum in January.

[Barnaba Marial Benjamin]: “This creates actually a peaceful atmosphere between the two partners towards seeing that the referendum should be free, fair, transparent and voluntary. I think this is creating an environment of confidence of peace, when the president of the republic goes out and speak to his constituency frankly, openly and courageously, that the time has come where the people of the Sudan both north and south, should accept the democratic choice of the people of southern Sudan.”

Marial, said GOSS hopes the new spirit that al-Bashir has shown would continue to enable the two partners solve crucial outstanding issues in the CPA, such as the issue of Abyei.
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[2] GOSS Interior Minister Assures Referendum Will Be Peaceful
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Thursday, 30 December 2010. Full copy:
30 December 2010 - (Juba, S. Sudan) - The ministry of internal affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan has reiterated that the south Sudan referendum will take place peacefully and as scheduled for 9th January.

Addressing a press conference in Juba on Wednesday, the GOSS Minister of Internal Affairs Gier Chuang strongly stated that, despite provocations by some elements, his ministry has taken measures to ensure that the referendum takes place peacefully.

[Gier Chuang]: “Some people have the intention of provoking the south, but I want to assure you that the entire leadership of the south has decided to say, whatever number of people that we lose or who are going to be injured this time around, we will keep quiet until the 9th of January. We will not allow ourselves to be dragged into something we have not planned. So in conclusion, I would want to say that the referendum will take place on time, and it is going to be peaceful. However, should anybody try to obstruct the conduct of the referendum then the south will be there to respond.”

Chuang also expressed confidence that the conduct of the referendum will not be as complicated as that of the elections saying that there are only two choices to the referendum.

[Gier Chuang]: “The conduct of referendum to me is not going to be more difficult than the elections. The election was the most difficult exercise because there were a number of competitions going on between individuals, criticism, abuses, to some extent. But now we have only two scenarios, of unity and separation. Our people in this part of the world know very well where they are heading. They know what they are going to do on the 9th of January. So I don’t think that there is going to be a major problem.”

That was the GOSS Minister of Internal Affairs, Gier Chuang, speaking to the press in Juba on Wednesday.
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[3] South Sudan: Our State Won't Have Relations With Israel
Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London / Reprinted at www.thememriblog.org
Date: Thursday, 30 December 2010. Full copy:
Silva Kiir, president of the South Sudan autonomous government, said at a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa that an independent state in southern Sudan, if and when it is established, will not have relations with Israel.

Kiir expressed his desire to establish good neighborly relations with Sudan and with the other Arab countries, and asked that Moussa and the Arab Leage set up a representation in the future state.
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[4] Bashir says door open to peace in Darfur
Source: AFP – www.google.com
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
(Khartoum, Sudan) - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on Friday that the door to peace in Darfur remains open and called on Darfuris to put out the fire of war, just a day after Khartoum withdrew from peace talks.

"Our door remains wide open to all honest people who want peace and are committed to working within the framework of the constitutional order," Bashir said in a speech at the presidential palace to mark the 55th anniversary of Sudanese independence.

"In the hands of the people of Darfur today is a rare opportunity to extinguish the fire of war, and they are tending towards the choice of recovery and reconciliation," he added, calling for dialogue with "all segments of society in Darfur."

Speaking in the South Darfur capital Nyala earlier in the week, Bashir had said Sudan would withdraw from peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha and organise its own negotiations in Darfur itself if no accord with the rebels were reached by Thursday.

The Sudanese government's special adviser on Darfur, Ghazi Salaheddin, duly announced on Thursday the departure of the negotiating team, but insisted this did not mean Khartoum was closing the door on peace talks.

"The delegation will leave because it has nothing to do, but that does not mean we withdrew from the peace process, and the mediators have promised us a document" on a draft agreement for Darfur, Salaheddin told reporters.

Darfur has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died in the conflict.

The Khartoum government has for months been trying to secure a comprehensive peace agreement with all Darfur rebel groups, to no avail.

In his speech on Friday, Bashir also outlined his economic priorities which included the "availability" of basic food products and the "stabilisation" of the Sudanese pound, whose value has been knocked by uncertainty over a January 9 referendum on independence for the south.

The breakaway of the south, where around three-quarters of Sudan's oil reserves lie, "could signify a reduction in oil revenues" for the Khartoum government, the Sudanese president admitted.

North and south have been seeking to agree an formula to share Sudan's oil wealth that would guarantee economic stability in the event that the south chooses to secede, as is widely expected.

Haile Menkerios, the head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), which oversees implementation of the 2005 peace accord that put an end to the civil war, said on Friday that this year had seen "a few regrettable incidents" related to legitimate apprehensions "and a degree of continuing mistrust."

"At no point, however, did these tensions escalate or threaten the peace process," he added.
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[5] Darfur mediation team voices commitment to peace negotiations
Source: UN News Centre - www.un.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
Members of the Darfur mediation team, including the United Nations, the African Union and Qatar, today stated their continued commitment to negotiations aimed at achieving peace in the strife-torn Sudanese region.

In September a committee involving members of the mediation team produced a preliminary draft peace document aimed at ending the bloody conflict in Darfur in which some 300,000 have been killed and 2.7 million other driven from their homes in the past seven years.

In a statement issued today in the Qatari capital, Doha, where talks have been continuing, the team called on all parties to continue to cooperate towards finalizing the peace document.

“The Mediation remains committed to the continuation of all tracks with the aim of achieving the desired goal of producing a peace document that will be the basis for finding a just and comprehensive solution for the conflict in Darfur very soon,” it stated.

The team urged all parties to cease hostilities that have erupted recently in Darfur in order to spare citizens displacement and suffering and create a favourable atmosphere for the Mediation to finalize the peace process as planned.

It plans to convene a meeting for the Joint Afro-Arab Inter-Ministerial Committee for Darfur and another meeting, in the first week of January, for the Special Envoys to the Sudan of the Security Council’s permanent members and the European Union.

In addition, it will hold consultations with the neighbouring States and other effective regional forces.

Once the peace document is completed, the team intends to present it to all stakeholders in a “broad” conference to be held in Doha.
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[6] Darfur peace negotiations to continue in Doha: Minister
Source: Peninsula News Paper - www.thepeninsulaqatar.com
Date: Saturday, 01 January 2011. Full copy:
Doha: The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs H E Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud said that the Darfur peace negotiations is continuing in Doha and that all parties concerned with peace are committed to Doha platform until a just and comprehensive peace that all of the people of Darfur and the Sudanese people are seeking is reached.

Addressing a press conference last evening at Doha Sheraton Hotel jointly with UN/AU Joint Mediator for Darfur Djbrill Bassole, Al Mahmoud said that the mediation will hold two meeting in Doha on January 6.

One of them will be for the joint Arab-African ministerial committee on Darfur, while the other will be for special envoys of the Permanent Security Council Member States and the European Union. He also explained that the mediation through the Darfur peace process in Doha has been following two tracks in its policy to end the conflict.

One of them is negotiations, while the second is consultations, Al Mahmoud said.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs added that the mediation has two principles, namely achieving a comprehensive peace backed by people concerned and a vision for a lasting peaceful resolution in Darfur.

Al Mahmoud stressed that the Sudanese government was committed to negotiations, adding that “they (the Sudanese government) have officially informed us that they back this platform”.

He pointed out that the return of the government delegation to Sudan does not mean putting an end to the peace process and talks in Doha, adding “We have agreed with the government side to remain in touch, and they are ready to return to the peace process when it is required.”
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[7] Issues Of Contention Between Government And Darfur Antigovernment Groups In Doha
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
31 December 2010 – (Doha) - Speaking to SRS from Doha on Friday, the chief negotiator for the Darfur anti government group, the Liberation and Justice Movement, Tajalden Bashir Niam explained the contentious issues between the two parties.

[Tajalden Bashir Niam]: “The only contradicting position on this is the amount of money to be deposited for compensation. LJM is saying we need 500 million dollars while the government is saying 200 million dollars. So the difference is not that much, it can be compromised. There are huge differences on the status of the region of Darfur, we want to retain the three states but also we want to have a region of Darfur. Darfur has been an independent state. Now the present regime has divided Darfur into three states. The purpose of diving it actually is the implementation of the policy of divide and rule. We want to retain Darfur as one united region with the three states but any contact between the states and the central government should be done through the regional government, the government has rejected this proposal or this demand for the people of Darfur.”

Another issue of disagreement according to Niam is the distribution of power.

[Tajalden Bashir Niam]: The Darfur constitute 20 percent of Sudanese populations, they are hence saying we don’t want to provide any position for the people of Darfur in the presidency. So we strongly believe that this is injustice which has made the south to call for self determination.”

According to Niam, the government delegation will be back in Doha after 5 days.

He said he is optimistic that there are high chances that the two parties can reach an agreement and end the suffering of the people of Darfur.
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[8] Southern Kordofan State ready for voter registration : HEC
Source: Radio Miraya FM - www.mirayafm.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010, 10:05. Full copy:
The chairman of the High Electoral Commission in Southern Kordofan State, Abdul Jabbar Ibrahim, has confirmed that preparations for voter registration are complete. The process will begin on the eight of January. Southern Kordofan will be holding gubernatorial and legislative assembly elections. The polls in Southern Kordofan were postponed last year following disputed census results.

Meanwhile, the head of the joint DDR commission in Southern Kordofan, Ali Dafallah, said the counting of disarmed Sudan People's Liberation Army soldiers in Jullud and Kauda is over.

The first phase of demobilization of SPLA and Sudan Armed Forces and the Popular Defense Forces has ended in Jullud and Kadugli.

The process in Kauda has ended the second phase.

Listen to Abdul Jabbar Ibrahim [by clicking into the original report]
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[9] Athor's Forces Say They Will Not Disrupt Conduct Of The Referendum
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
31 December 2010 – (Juba) - Forces loyal to the renegade SPLA general George Athor are in talks with the SPLM ahead of the referendum in January in an attempt to ensure security prevails during the exercise.

General Athor threatened to disrupt the referendum process in the south in August if the SPLM failed to talk peace with him.
However in an interview with SRS from Jonglei on Friday, the political organizer in the SPLA new forces led by the general George Athor, Peter Koul said that their delegation is meeting SPLA and may sign a ceasefire soon.

[Peter Koul]: “Our military delegation has gone to Malakal to discuss some of the things concerning the military activities.
Yesterday, in Juba, our delegation reached an agreement with the SPLA delegation on where we can all assemble. They also agreed that they will all go to Juba for the declaration of the ceasefire. If this is achieved, then we will have a breakthrough.”
Kuol further assured southerners of security during the referendum saying they will not disrupt the conduct of the referendum. He cited political differences as the only main problem between the renegade group and the SPLM.

[Peter Koul]: “My message to the people of southern Sudan and particularly the people of Jonglei is that I wish them a happy new year and that they should go for the referendum peacefully. They should know that we are nationalists and we are not here to discuss or undermine the rights of the people of the south, so they should not worry. If they keep in mind that we all have one objective, then nothing should disturb them. They should be happy and vote rightly. We are not all enemies to ourselves so much; the only thing is that we have political differences which I hope we will achieve a consensus on because the most important thing is the objective of southerners.”

In October 2010, GOSS President Salva Kiir issued a decree pardoning Gen. Athor, Gen. Gabriel Tanginye and others who rebelled against his government to rejoin after disarming their forces. Athor has however maintained his position saying his demands have not been met.
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[10] People Of Abyei Are Contemplating On Their Future, Says SPLM Official
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Friday, 31 December 2010. Full copy:
31 December 2010 – (Abyei) - The National Congress Party said that it has received information showing a plan by the Sudan People Liberation Movement to take unilateral actions on Abyei.

An NCP member in charge of the Abyei file, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, said that the Public International Law & Policy Group or PILPG advised the SPLM that a unilateral referendum within a united Sudan would be considered an internal self-determination which does not require an approval from the federal government or the NCP.

However, the SPLM secretary in Abyei, Chol Changath told SRS on Friday from Abyei that it is the Abyei people through the civil organizations who are contemplating on a possible opinion for an internal self determination.

[Chol Changath]: “The SPLM and the NCP are still hanging on the issue of Abyei to negotiate. What I would like to say here is, it is not the SPLM it is the people of Abyei who are organizing themselves I would say by civil societies, traditional leaders and Ngok Dinka civil society are the ones thinking to organize something like that. Already there is no referendum for Abyei, and if there is no referendum in Abyei then they would like to express themselves about their status. The status of Abyei being in the north is what is making the NCP accuse the SPLM and accuse the leadership of the SPLM that they want to organize the Dinka Ngok to make an internal self determination. However it is the people themselves making it.”

Changath added that regardless of the decision of the people of Abyei the federal government will not accept any resolution the Ngok Dinka will come up with.

[Chol Changath]: “As there is no referendum, however there must be a kind of way of a political solution for that. But I don’t think Khartoum will accept anything where the Dinka Ngok will say they will rather secede, because they will not be happy about that. And even if the SPLM says, can you allow the people to exercise what they would like to do, Khartoum will never accept that. But what I would like to say is that when you want to exercise your right you do not need any request from anyone, you do it according to how you want to do it.”

In accordance with the 2005 peace accord, the population of Abyei is to decide on whether they want to be part of the north or join a possible new country in the south. This vote which will not take place was supposed to happen simultaneously with the south Sudan referendum.
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[11] Government Warns SPLM Against Adopting Unilateral Plans on Abyei
Source: Sudan Vision Daily by Al-Sammani Awadallah - www.sudanvisiondaily.com
Date: Thursday, 30 December 2010. Full copy:
(Khartoum) - SPLM is seeking to impose a unilateral plan on Abyei area with assistance of U.S. law firm, Ambassador Al-Derridiri told Sudan Vision.

Al-Derridiri who is official in charge of Abyei file disclosed that SPLM plans to hold a unilateral referendum exclusively for Dinks Ngok south Bahr Al-Arab and that said referendum should be conducted prior to South Sudan referendum adding that a U.S. law firm advised SPLM that such a referendum could be considered an internal one or may be considered as conducting internal self-determination which doesn't need approval of the central government.

Al-Derridiri pointed out that the objective is to include Abyei area within south Sudan referendum of January, 9. he further warned SPLM from adopting such a plan describing it as a step in undermining the whole referendum thus obstructing as it scheduled, explaining that self-determination referendum according to CPA should be conducted with regard to 1956-borders.

He regretted SPLM plans to involve Abyei area and that the movement should be held responsible of any consequences of the referendum delay.

Al-Derridiri said that SPLM in particular and South Sudan in general to be aware of the negative consequences of this plan if it will be adopted by SPLM on the name of Dinka Ngok describing it as risky and calling for direct negotiation between the two parties instead of adopting unilateral positions.
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[12] Dr. Nafie: UN missions behind disputes in Sudan
Source: SUNA - www.sunanews.net
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Full copy:
Khartoum, Dec 29 (SUNA)- The Assistant of the President of the Republic, Dr Nafie Ali Nafie said that the United Nations missions have major role in instigating disputes in Sudan.

Dr Nafie gave the remark Wednesday in a symposium on the occasion of 55th anniversary of the Independence Day and the marking of 2010 as year of peace and stability in Africa.

He attributed the African disputes to tribal intermingling as manifested in Darfur crisis, saying the Western military bases have supporting role in fuelling the dispute. Dr Nafie has pointed to Israel's hand in dispute over resources especially water.

Dr Nafie underscored the importance of combating the tribal fanaticism and that negotiations over Darfur should not remain open forever. He said that there is misconception about power sharing, saying the call for power sharing comes from individuals rather institutions.

Dr Nafie has called for reshaping the world bodies which he said maintain the hegemony of the Western countries through the veto.

On the suitable rule in Sudan, Dr Nafie said that the federal government system guarantees wider participation of the people in power. AH/MO
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[13] Referendum material handover ceremony in Juba 23 Dec. 2010



Photo by The Associated Press: Eamon Omordha, right, Deputy Director of the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division, hands over a referendum ballot to Justice Chan Reec Madut, left, Chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, during a material handover ceremony in Juba Thursday, 23 December 2010. (Credit: VOA News report by Ashenafi Abedje, Friday, 31 December 2010, Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Excerpt:
Reports out of the southern capital of Juba suggest ballots for the upcoming referendum have yet to be printed. Many question why it’s taking so long to have the documents issued. But southern Sudan’s chief representative in the U.S., Ezekiel Gatkuoth downplays its significance. He says there could be delays here and their but that wiil not affect the referendum date.
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[14] New Year, New Sudan?



Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - www.blogs.fco.gov.uk
Author: Nicholas Kay, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Sudan
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010 (Khartoum, Sudan). Full copy:
Thank goodness the blistering heat has gone. Khartoum is blessed now with gentle, sunny days. The Nile flows slowly. Living and above all thinking is easier. Just as well really. There is plenty to contemplate as 2011 starts. And a great need for cool heads.

The referendum to decide on Sudan’s future rushes nearer. The ballot papers have arrived on time (printed by a UK company). Most of the EU’s 110 observers are now here, as are others from the US, Asia and Africa. The world’s media circus will grow over the coming days. UK Ministers have been busy working the phones to Sudanese colleagues and others: urging calm, underlining the UK’s commitment to both north and south Sudan and trouble-shooting potential security and humanitarian risks.

Sudan is on people’s minds. Just before Christmas I was in London for a few days and had the honour of an audience with Her Majesty the Queen. She was last here in 1965, but is following with care this current chapter in Sudan’s history. As is the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who was keen to hear what more can be done to help the Sudanese – north and south - over the coming months. It was our second meeting since he took office in May. He stressed again how he reads all our official cables and how committed he is to supporting the Embassy team’s efforts.

I shan’t mention the four day nightmare journey to get back to Khartoum from a snowbound Britain. Nor the need to move house on Christmas Eve (quite another story). It was all good in the end and we had a great Christmas with our three children. The first time all five of us have managed to be together in Sudan. A few precious days in which to catch breath and recharge batteries for the days ahead.

But nothing has really stopped in Sudan for the festive period. The political rhetoric ebbs and flows. The police clashed with a small demonstration on Christmas Eve. And in Darfur, fighting has once again flared up in a number of places. On Boxing Day I had an excellent meeting with Foreign Minister, Ali Karti. The following day I was in the Ministry again with colleagues representing the five permanent members of the Security Council for another meeting on the referendum. No diplomat is in Sudan in search of a quiet life. We are here because there is a job of work to be done. In 2011 we shall be doing our best to help Sudan in what seems ever likelier to be a new beginning as two separate, peaceful and progressive states. War is often said to be the failure of diplomacy. But diplomats can only do so much. In the end it will be Sudanese leaders, north and south, who determine whether their people enjoy a happy and peaceful New Year.
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Postscript from Sudan Watch editor

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a lengthy history. By my reckoning, it’s about 5 years younger than the United States" ... Read more by Jimmy Leach at www.blogs.fco.gov.uk 01 December 2010: Google and the digitisation of the Foreign Office.
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Thought for the Day



Note to self as a reminder of Google's motto "Don't Be evil" - and Silicon Valley Watcher article 01 April 2009 entitled Google Quietly Drops Its 'Don't Be Evil' Motto - SVW.

Here is an extract from another article by Tom Foremski, published at www.zdnet.com 11 June 2008 entitled GOOG CEO says "Don't Be evil" is misunderstood:
This is interesting. Take a look at this story in which Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, says the company’s mantra of “Don’t be evil” is often misunderstood.

Reuters’ Eric Auchard: Google CEO talks of good, evil and monopoly fears
In an on-stage interview with writer Ken Auletta of the New Yorker magazine, Schmidt said “Don’t be evil” is meant to provoke internal debate over what constitutes ethical corporate behavior, rather than representing an absolute moral position.

“We don’t have an ‘Evilmeter’ we can sort of apply — you know — what is good and what is evil,” Schmidt said. . .
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HAPPY NEW YEAR

Happy New Year dear Sudan Watch readers and thanks to Google's Blogger and Picasa and to the great British Library web archive. Thumbs down to Yahoo's Flickr for deactivating my Flickr Pro Account and robbing me of 3,000+ photos and six years of work. More on this at a later date when I am feeling less upset by the deletion of all photos from my blogs and Flickr denying me access to my longstanding Flickr account and photostream, not to mention scores of maps painstakingly documented for future reference.

Enemies of this blog (of which there are many) will be pleased by the disappearance of all photos documented at Sudan Watch, and its sideblogs Uganda Watch and Congo Watch, in particular. I hope to be able to get to the bottom of how and why this sudden censorship occurred 27-28 November 2010 during the run up to the most important time in Sudan's history.

Over the past few weeks it has taken me quite a few hours to republish photos (and their credits) on the home page of Sudan Watch and its sidebar. If at all possible, it'd take me 10 hours every day for the next 6-12 months to republish all of the missing photos at Sudan Watch. Not to mention piecing together credits, sources, photographers names, etc., filed behind each of the photos I uploaded at Flickr over the past six years. All lost, including all of the photos at my other Sudan related blogs. Soul destroying and very sad. In my eyes, Flickr has done evil. Right now I am exhausted and having difficulty stringing words and sentences together to write this post. It has taken me two days to put together. Please forgive me if I owe you an email or not sent you a Christmas card as promised.

Further Reading

From The New York Times

Headlines Around the Web

What's This?
SUDAN WATCH

DECEMBER 4, 2010

Sudan: Arab or African? (The

Debate Continues)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DECEMBER 4, 2010

South Sudan Official: No Delay to

Jan Freedom Vote

INSIDE DATELINE

DECEMBER 3, 2010

Take action on Sudan now...

ECORAZZI.COM :: CELEBRITIES CAUGHT GREEN-HANDED

DECEMBER 3, 2010

George Clooney Sudan Special

Particularly 'Revealing' Warns Ann

Curry

SPERO NEWS - RELIGIOUS NEWS

DECEMBER 2, 2010

Sudan: Signs of hope and wonder

More at Blogrunner »

Note that the New York Times' excellent Blogrunner came to an unusual standstill fifteen days ago. What's going on?

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