SUDAN WATCH: December 2010

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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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sudan's President Bashir sets Darfur talks deadline - Unity still viable in Sudan, says SPLM leader

SUDAN'S President Omar Al-Bashir has threatened to withdraw his delegation from the Doha peace talks if the Darfur anti-government group fails to reach a consensus by tomorrow, Thursday, 30 December 2010.

"If we reach an agreement tomorrow, praise be to God. But if there is no agreement, we will withdraw our negotiating team and the talks will then be held in Darfur," he told thousands of supporters in the South Darfur capital Nyala.

Al-Bashir added that the government rejects any humanitarian aid to Darfur and will abolish all internally displaced persons’ camps.

"We will fight those who choose to take up arms, but we will sit next to those who want development," he added in a speech broadcast live on state television.

In other news
  • President Bashir said that his government will be the first to recognize southern Sudan’s independence, should the south opt for secession in the referendum scheduled for 9th January 2011.
  • The two CPA partners, the NCP and the SPLM have reached agreements on most of the outstanding post referendum issues which include citizenship, security as well as international agreements.
  • The GOSS Minister for CPA Implementation and the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum told SRS on Tuesday from Khartoum that he is optimistic that an agreement will be reached on the issue of citizenship before the referendum. Amum said that they have agreed on the principles on protection of northerners and southerners on either side in case of secession.
  • President Bashir has strongly reacted to the call by the national opposition forces for the formation of a national government in case the south secedes. The National coalition of opposition parties on Sunday threatened to remove the ruling National Congress Party from power if it continues to ignore their demand for a constitutional reform and national government.
  • The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for a two day visit where he will meet with senior officials in Khartoum and Juba.
  • The League of Arab Nations has donated on Wednesday ten mobile clinics to the Government of southern Sudan to boost health services within the region.
  • The governor of Blue Nile State who is also the deputy chairman of the SPLM Malik Aggar says a united Sudan is still viable. Addressing a joint press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, Aggar stated that he is still optimistic that Sudan would remain united.
  • The SPLM says it would continue as a political party in the north if the country split in two after the self determination referendum in January.
  • The twenty-second inter-school national sports’ tournaments ended on Wednesday in Khartoum. President Bashir who attended the closing ceremony, said the tournaments have for the 1st time unified students from all over the country.
  • Thousands of people have expressed interest to return to Abyei from the north following a statement made by President Bashir early this week. Mr Bashir announced that northern Sudan will move fully into an Islamic law state after the likely secession of the South in next month’s referendum. The SPLM secretary in Abyei, Chol Changat has attributed the large turnout of returnees from the north to Bashir’s statement.
  • The UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan says it believes that the south 2011 self-determination referendum will be very transparent as the voter registration exercise was peaceful. All materials are in place for voters in South Sudan to cast ballots for self-determination in January, a U.N. election official said.
  • Sudan, Egypt and Libya vowed on Tuesday to respect the outcome of the south’s self determination referendum in January 2011. According to Sudan state radio, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi issued a statement calling for a peaceful, calm, transparent and credible environment that will reflect the will of southern Sudan's people. The statement follows a two hour meeting on Tuesday with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and GOSS President Salva Kiir in Khartoum.
  • Ahmed Haroun the Governor of South Kordofan state has pledged to provide adequate security to protect internally displaced persons returning to their ancestral areas in Abyei and various parts of south Sudan.
  • In western Sudan, aid continues to flow into makeshift camps outside UNAMID team sites in North and South Darfur, where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought refuge from recent clashes. However distribution to Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur has been momentarily suspended today after new restrictions on movement were put in place. UNAMID is collaborating with local security officials to gain access to all affected areas and ensure the safe delivery of aid.
SOURCES: See reports below.

Sudan's Bashir sets Darfur talks deadline
Source: AFP - www.google.com
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Excerpt:
(Khartoum) - Sudan will withdraw from the Darfur peace talks in Doha and organise its own negotiations if no agreement with the rebels is reached imminently, President Omar al-Bashir said on Wednesday.

"If we reach an agreement tomorrow, praise be to God. But if there is no agreement, we will withdraw our negotiating team and the talks will then be held in Darfur," he told thousands of supporters in the South Darfur capital Nyala.

"We will fight those who choose to take up arms, but we will sit next to those who want development," he added in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Sudanese officials had earlier set December 31 as the deadline for a Darfur peace accord, with a referendum on independence for the south, now just 11 days away, due to dominate the government's agenda next month.

Bashir's special adviser on Darfur, Ghazi Salaheddine, was expected to arrive in the Qatari capital on Wednesday to push the talks, according to Sudan's official SUNA news agency.

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

Earlier in December, the government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the most heavily armed group, resumed talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire.

The Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM), an alliance of rebel splinter factions, was expected to finalise a peace deal with Khartoum in mid-December after agreeing a ceasefire in March. But the accord was never signed.

Deadly violence in Sudan's war-torn western region since December 10 has displaced around 32,000 people, according to UN estimates.

"These clashes are deplorable and demonstrate the importance of a ceasefire... If the violence escalates, the general atmosphere in the negotiations will deteriorate," Djibril Bassole, the UN-African Union chief peace negotiator for Darfur, told AFP on Tuesday.

Bassole said he would try to persuade the different parties not to abandon the peace process, even if an agreement was not reached in the coming days.

"I am among those who want a swift and satisfactory solution. But mediation by someone with a stopwatch in his hand is not good mediation," he added. [...]
- - -

Bashir Threatens To Withdraw Government Delegation From Al-Doha Peace Talks
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Full copy:
29 December 2010 – (Nyala) – The Sudanese president has threatened to withdraw his delegation from the Doha peace talks if the Darfur anti-government group fails to reach a consensus by 30th December, 2010.

Omar Hassan Al-Bashir said that the negotiations will be transferred to Darfur and dealt with internally other than in foreign nations.

He was addressing a gathering in Nyala town, South Darfur during a signing ceremony of a charter on peaceful and social coexistence amongst Darfur people on Wednesday.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “We want it to be the end of the rebellion. We thank our brothers in Qatar and the mediators for their patience and mediation. But we are saying this is enough, peace will be here from inside Darfur, because the people of Darfur are the ones who will bring about peace. We have put a deadline till tomorrow (Thursday), if peace is achieved, that is what we want. But if there isn’t an agreement, we will withdraw our delegation from Doha and the negotiations will be done inside Darfur. The people of Darfur are the ones who will determine the present and future of Darfur, but not anybody who is carrying a gun.”

Al-Bashir added that the government rejects any humanitarian aid to Darfur and will abolish all internally displaced persons’ camps.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “We don’t want humanitarian aid and we don’t want internal displaced persons (IDP) any longer. All of us are citizens, and first class citizens for that matter. No one will be considered as a second or a third class citizen.”

President Al-Bashir warned that the government will use force against any armed group that rejects peaceful resolutions in Darfur.
- - -

Further Reading

President Bashir To Recognize South's Independence Incase Of Separation
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Full copy:
29 December 2010 – (Wad Medani) - President Omar al-Bashir said that his government will be the first to recognize southern Sudan’s independence, should the south opt for secession in the referendum scheduled for 9th January 2011.

Al-Bashir’s statement comes a mid preparations for the south Sudan referendum, where southerners will choose to vote for either unity or separation of the Sudan.

Al-Bashir was addressing a gathering on Martyrs Day on Tuesday in Wad-Medani town.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “We want to tell our people there in the south, that now the ball is in your ground, and the decision is yours, if you vote for unity, you are most welcome and we are brothers. If you vote for separation, you are most welcome as well, and you are welcome as a new neighboring country, so as we co-operate and work together in every thing.”

On Tuesday, the two partners to the CPA, the SPLM and the NCP said they have reached an agreement on most post-referendum contentious issues, and hope that an agreement will be reached on the issue of citizenship before the referendum.
- - -

CPA Partners Agree On Most Post Referendum Issues
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:
28 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - The two CPA partners, the NCP and the SPLM have reached agreements on most of the outstanding post referendum issues which include citizenship, security as well as international agreements.

The GOSS Minister for CPA Implementation and the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum told SRS on Tuesday from Khartoum that he is optimistic that an agreement will be reached on the issue of citizenship before the referendum.

Amum said that they have agreed on the principles on protection of northerners and southerners on either side in case of secession.

He stressed that the rights of people will be protected and guaranteed and return would be voluntary. He however said only one issue on citizenship has not been agreed upon.

[Pagan Amum]: “The only issue that is left for us is the issue of according those northern Sudanese who are attached to southern Sudan who have been living permanently in southern Sudan, the right to choose between citizenship of southern Sudan and nationality of southern Sudan or retaining the right of Sudanese citizenship in the north. The same also to southern Sudanese who are permanent residents in northern Sudan that need also to be given the right to choose either the citizenship in the north or retaining or assessing citizenship in the new state of southern Sudan. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement on the all the issues of citizenship before the referendum.”

Amum said that the two parties reached an agreement on security issues with the exception of security arrangements for the two areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

According to Amum, another unresolved issue pertains to the currency.

[Pagan Amum]: “The last issue is the economic sector. There are progress that we have made in the area of currency where we have agreed that southern and northern Sudan will issue their own currency and that will be coordinated and there is going to be an interim period in which the current Sudanese Pound will continue to be the legal tender for both south and north and we are left with only one item on the issue of currency, it is the question of who pays the cost of recovering the Sudanese money that is in the hands of the people or in the economy in the market. Is it the Central Bank of Sudan or both sides? This is one issue we have not reached an agreement on.”

Amum stressed the importance of the registered people to come out and participate in the forth coming referendum.
- - -

Bashir Strongly Criticizes Opposition Over Demands For National Government
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:
28 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir has strongly reacted to the call by the national opposition forces for the formation of a national government in case the south secedes.

The National coalition of opposition parties on Sunday threatened to remove the ruling National Congress Party from power if it continues to ignore their demand for a constitutional reform and national government.

Bashir was addressing a gathering on Martyrs Day on Tuesday in Wad-Madani town.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “Let us come to those who talk, they are traders of politics and are known to you all. You have experience with all of them. What did they say? They said they will dismantle our salvation regime, they will remove the regime from power, and they will sweep the salvation. The salvation regime is currently the Sudanese people, it is not the revolution command council, or the national assembly or governments, it is the Sudanese people. When the Sudanese people voted for the symbol of the tree in the last elections, they voted to the salvation and projects of salvation, principles of salvation and vision of salvation, anyone saying he wants to uproot salvation, let him lick his elbow.”

The NCP Information Secretary Fateh Al-Rahman Sheila, said that the regime derives its legitimacy from the National Constitution which was approved by all political forces. He said the opposition political forces are a key part of the National Assembly, which passed the Constitution.
- - -

Arab League SG Visits Sudan
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:
28 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa is expected to arrive in Khartoum on Tuesday for a two day visit where he will meet with senior officials in Khartoum and Juba.

The purpose of the trip is to review the implementation of the CPA and to get acquainted with preparations for the south Sudan referendum that is due in less than two weeks.

The Arab League Ambassador in Khartoum Mr. Salah Abuhalima spoke to SRS from Khartoum on Tuesday.

[Salah Abuhalima]: “The purpose of the visit is to look into the referendum, and the articles regarding the implementation of the CPA, to make sure that the referendum is carried out in a transparency and peaceful manner, relations between both ruling parties in north and south to be based on common interests and good neighborliness and peaceful coexistence. We will meet many political leaders.”

Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa will meet both President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and GOSS President Salva Kiir among other senior officials.
- - -

GOSS Receives 10 Mobile Clinics From League Of Arab Nations
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Excerpt:
(Juba) - The League of Arab Nations has donated on Wednesday ten mobile clinics to the Government of southern Sudan to boost health services within the region.
- - -

Unity Still Viable In Sudan, Says SPLM Leader
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Friday, 24 December 2010. Full copy:
24 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - The governor of Blue Nile State who is also the deputy chairman of the SPLM Malik Aggar says a united Sudan is still viable.

Addressing a joint press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, Aggar stated that he is still optimistic that Sudan would remain united.

[Malik Aggar]: “I am still dreaming of unity and I will work for unity until I feel that unity is no longer possible. The nature of things may change and the nature of things may change from the person who is calling for it and he is not taking effective part in it. I think that very few of us here will go to the polls in order to determine the destiny of the country but some people in a certain geographical area in the country will be the ones to determine the future of the country, but we hope that there will be unity. If it is so, all of us will rejoice and if it is the reverse then that would mean that the people in a certain geographical area in Sudan have decided their destiny and have chosen their way. We will respect the way they choice regardless of our feeling towards the same.”

Meanwhile, the deputy governor and SPLM Chairman in Southern Kordofan State, Abdul-Aziz Adam Al-Hilu warned that if Southern Sudan secedes, the areas should not be forgotten.

[Abdul-Aziz Al-Hilu]: “There are attempts to sideline the two areas: The Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, but I would like to assure that these two areas are part and parcel of the CPA and parts of the dividends enshrined in the six protocols: power sharing, wealth sharing and security arrangements. There is also a special protocol concerning the two areas due to their special situation. And because of the concern for these areas that was why there is a special protocol for the two areas which gives them special status and gives them rights to recognize their situation. And in case of secession of southern Sudan, this does not mean that the CPA has collapsed completely and that the dividends achieved in it are lost. There were people behind these dividends.”

Mister Al-Hilu also warned that in case of secession, any new constitutional arrangements in northern Sudan should be done with the approval of the people of the two areas.

[Abdul-Aziz Al-Hilu]: “If it happens that the south chooses secession and any constitutional arrangements, they must be presented to the people of the two areas for approval. This is not something that should be done unilaterally or done by one party without consulting the two areas, but we also think that anything of this kind should be subjected to the opinion of all political forces and all political social categories and also other parties.”

Mister Al-Hilu stressed that the popular consultation is the only solution to the problems of the remaining part of the Sudan that will be in northern Sudan.
- - -

SPLM To Operate In The North In Case Of Secession, Says Official
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Thursday, 23 December 2010. Full copy:
23 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - The SPLM says it would continue as a political party in the north if the country split in two after the self determination referendum in January.

The SPLM Deputy Secretary-General for Northern Sector Yasir Arman addressed a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday.

[Yasir Arman]: “The SPLM is there to stay in northern Sudan and it will remain in northern Sudan for two main reasons: it will work for the realization of a new northern Sudan that enjoys lasting peace and sustainable development and democracy. Two, the SPLM will remain in northern Sudan also for re-unification of Sudan once again on a new basis even if the south seceded.”

Arman also suggested that the National Congress Party should accept rotational presidency in order to convince southern Sudanese to vote for unity at last moment.

[Yasir Arman]: “The NCP has up to twenty-five hours before the referendum on the 9th of January a chance but it must present a new constitutional arrangement to Southern Sudan. It must suggest to the people who would vote on the 9th of January that it would accept rotational presidency and must accept the presence of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army even in case of unity of the Sudan, must accept new wealth sharing arrangements for the people of southern Sudan. This new arrangement is good even if Southerners vote for secession perhaps it would convince some southerners to vote for unity because this gives hope for the re-unification of Sudan in the future.”

Arman also said once a new country is declared in Southern Sudan on the 9th of July next year, the SPLM would want the war in western Sudan’s region of Darfur to stop.

He said the SPLM leadership is ready to lead mediation between northern Sudan and the Darfur factions in order to bring lasting peace in the region.
- - -

Bashir Says Inter-School Tournaments A Prove Of Coexistence
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Thursday, 23 December 2010. Full copy:
(Khartoum) - The twenty-second inter-school national sports’ tournaments ended on Wednesday in Khartoum.

President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir who attended the closing ceremony, said the tournaments have for the 1st time unified students from all over the country.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “For the first time in Sudan’s history, Sudanese students gathered in the south, since independence. Our people in the south are now happy because they saw their children and they were received well. We thank the people of Wau, Kwajok and Aweil for receiving the students and celebrating with them. It would have been a great shock for the students if our brothers in Khartoum state did not decide to host the games in a short time. This is because this is Khartoum; it is the capital of Sudan, where all the people of Sudan are represented.”

The governor of Khartoum state Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Kiddir said the games unified the people of Sudan.

[Abdulrahman Al-Kidir]: “Regardless of the shortage of time and confusion caused by the cancellation or postponement of the session to unknown date at Wau, regardless of all these, but thanks to God the session completed in well. We are happy that it accomplished its objectives; it achieved the practical unity between different parts of Sudan. Looking at the field I am sure that the whole of Sudan is presented here, therefore this is greatest achieved message that the Sudan is united and by God’s will it will never be separated and nobody will be able to do that.”

The tournaments which started on December 14th had been canceled in both Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Warrap states.
- - -

Influx Of Returnees To Abyei Attributed To Bashir's Statement
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Thursday, 23 December 2010. Full copy:
23 December 2010 – (Abyei) - Thousands of people have expressed interest to return to Abyei from the north following a statement made by President Bashir early this week.

President Omar Al-Bashir announced that northern Sudan will move fully into an Islamic law state after the likely secession of the South in next month’s referendum.

The SPLM secretary in Abyei, Chol Changat has attributed the large turnout of returnees from the north to Bashir’s statement.

He spoke to SRS on Thursday from Abyei.

[Chol Changat]: “Abyei administration was planning to get 20 thousand but when I was talking yesterday with the organizing committee they said it has reached to 70 thousand. The number has shot up. The reason is that the NCP said that if the south separates from the north then we do not have any ethnic group. It is only going to be sharia law and you only speak in Arabic. This statement by Bashir has made people to come out. To go to the square and say they want to come home. That is the fear. That is what made the number go to 70 thousand people who want to come back.”

The SPLM and the NCP are still deadlocked over who is eligible to vote in the Abyei referendum slowing down the formation of the Abyei Referendum Commission.

Abyei which is supposed to be conducting a referendum concurrently with the south on the 9th of January as it was stipulated in the CPA may not hold the vote.
- - -

UN Panel Optimistic That Referendum Vote Will Be Transparent And Peaceful
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Wednesday, 22 December 2010. Full copy:
22 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - The UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan says it believes that the south 2011 self-determination referendum will be very transparent as the voter registration exercise was peaceful.

The Chairperson of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan, the former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa addressed a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday.

[Benjamin Mkapa]: “We have based our assessment first from our own observations because we did visit a couple of registration centers. We have field officers of our own as panel who have reported so. There are observers: international observers as well as domestic observers in both north and south who have attested to the transparency of the process and we have no reason to doubt them, and they have given statements to that effect. Whether this referendum vote will be more transparent than the ones in the elections in April, I can only say that in the south we have certainly been told that they believe that the voting this time round will be more transparent than the April’s voting.”

Mkapa said that the court cases filed against the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission pose real challenges to the process leading to the 9th of January referendum.

[Benjamin Mkapa]: “We are concerned about the court cases naturally and our hope is that they can be concluded so that we can know one way or another whether the 9th of January will hold. We have heard that there are as many as possible; it rises from four to six cases we don’t know. We do know for the fact that the commission has received information about one case where they have been asked to response to the petition and I believe they will do so speedily. Our hope is that the court will settle these cases as urgently as possible so that work can go on.”

Mkapa further assured the press that his panel has not received any report on insecurity in southern Sudan that may delay the conduct of the referendum.

On the Abyei referendum, Mister Mkapa stated that they are concerned about the delayed process and urged everyone involved in the negotiations to do their utmost best to reach a peaceful and permanent settlement acceptable to all.
- - -

Everything in place for South Sudan vote
Source: UPI - www.upi.com
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Excerpts:
All materials are in place for voters in South Sudan to cast ballots for self-determination in January, a U.N. election official said. [...] U.N. officials delivered more than 4 million ballots to regional voters after severe weather in Europe threatened delays. Ballots were distributed to election officials in Juba, the capital of South Sudan; and in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. Eamon O'Mordha, the deputy director of the U.N. Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division, said in a statement that everything was set for the vote, scheduled to take place for one week starting Jan. 9. "I am happy to say that all the materials and plans are in place to meet the goal of a timely start to the referendum," he said. [...] The ballot features two symbols -- one featuring a single hand for independence and another depicting two hands for unity.
- - -

Egypt And Libya To Respect Outcome Of Self Determination Referendum For South
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org
Date: Wednesday, 22 December 2010. Full copy:
22 December 2010 – (Khartoum) - Sudan, Egypt and Libya vowed on Tuesday to respect the outcome of the south’s self determination referendum in January 2011.

According to Sudan state radio, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi issued a statement calling for a peaceful, calm, transparent and credible environment that will reflect the will of southern Sudan's people.

The statement follows a two hour meeting on Tuesday with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and GOSS President Salva Kiir in Khartoum.

The adviser to the federal minister of information Rabie Abdullaati spoke to SRS on Tuesday.

[Rabie Abdullaati]: “The presidency assured both the Egyptian leader, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and the Libyan, Muammar Gaddafi to look into how to support efforts by both partners to reach agreements over pending issues, which include the post referendum issues, concerns of security and peaceful coexistence and issues related to preserving joint and to avoid interfering with regional security whatever the result of the self determination referendum for the people of southern Sudan.”

Both presidents have in the past called for the nation to remain united.
- - -

South Kordofan governor pledges adequate security for returnees
Source: B'Nai Darfur - www.bnaidarfur.org
Author: Sudan Tribune
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Excerpt:
December 26, 2010 (ABYEI) – Ahmed Haroun the Governor of South Kordofan state has pledged to provide adequate security to protect internally displaced persons returning to their ancestral areas in Abyei and various parts of south Sudan.

Haroun was speaking at the briefing held at Abyei administrative headquarters office with the regions chief administrator, Deng Arop Kuol on December 23.
- - -

Sudan: 29 Dec 2010 - Update on security situation
Source: United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
Reprinted at ReliefWeb - www.reliefweb.int
Date: Wednesday, 29 December 2010. Full copy:
29 December 2010 - Aid continues to flow into makeshift camps outside UNAMID team sites in North and South Darfur, where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought refuge from recent clashes. However distribution to Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur has been momentarily suspended today after new restrictions on movement were put in place. UNAMID is collaborating with local security officials to gain access to all affected areas and ensure the safe delivery of aid.

An assessment mission carried out by UNAMID and several UN aid agencies today met with local authorities and IDP leaders in Khor Abeche and Shaeria in South Darfur, where over 10,000 people have been sheltered. UNAMID peacekeepers today escorted a four-truck humanitarian convoy to Shaeria.

The Mission is also investigating reports of conflict in Kazanjadeed, about 40 km from Shaeria, which has allegedly resulted in thousands of new displacements.

An inter-agency mission to Zamzam camp, outside El Fasher in North Darfur, has observed that around one hundred IDPs, mostly women and children, have arrived from the Shangil Tobaya area. Revised figures put the number of IDPs in and around Shangil Tobaya at 14,000, with an estimated 5,000 at the UNAMID team site.

Tomorrow, UNAMID military, police and civilian peacekeepers are to embark on a four-day verification and confidence-building mission from El Fasher to Shangil Tobaya, Jebel Tin and Dar al-Salam.

Meanwhile, the security situation in all team sites remains tense and UNAMID has taken additional measures to ensure the protection of civilians and increased the frequency and scope of its day and night patrols.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Satellite Sentinel Project: George Clooney plans to hire private satellites to track troop movements in Sudan

George Clooney Is "The Antigenocide Paparazzi"
Source: Swampland blog at TIME.com - www.swampland.blogs.time.com
Author: Michael Scherer
Date: Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 3:40 pm. Full copy:



[Photo: UN Messenger for Peace George Clooney (L) and US President Barack Obama (R)]

Mark Benjamin breaks some news with a TIME.com story about George Clooney's plans (yes, that George Clooney) to hire private satellites to track troop movements in Sudan, in the hopes of stopping another genocide. He writes:
Starting Dec. 30, the Satellite Sentinel Project — a joint experiment by the U.N.'s Operational Satellite Applications Programme, Harvard University, the Enough Project and Clooney's posse of Hollywood funders — will hire private satellites to monitor troop movements starting with the oil-rich region of Abyei. The images will be analyzed and made public at www.satsentinel.org (which goes live on Dec. 29) within 24 hours of an event to remind the leaders of northern and southern Sudan that they are being watched. "We are the antigenocide paparazzi," Clooney tells TIME. "We want them to enjoy the level of celebrity attention that I usually get. If you know your actions are going to be covered, you tend to behave much differently than when you operate in a vacuum."
Read the whole story here:

Clooney's "Anti-Genocide Paparazzi": Watching Sudan
Source: TIME.com - www.time.com
Author: Mark Benjamin
Date: Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:



George Clooney visits Sudan to draw attention to the dangers that could result should southern Sudan vote to separate from the north. (Tim Freccia / Enough Project)

George Clooney and John Prendergast slumped down at a wooden table in a dusty school compound in southern Sudan. It was Oct. 4, and the two men were in the hometown of Valentino Achak Deng, whose experiences wandering the desert as a refugee during Sudan's last civil war were the basis for the best-selling book What Is the What.

Clooney, the actor, and Prendergast, a human-rights activist with 25 years of experience in Africa, had heard enough on their seven-day visit to know that a new round of atrocities could follow the January referendum on independence. If it did, the likelihood was that no one would be held accountable. Why not, Clooney asked, "work out some sort of a deal to spin a satellite" above southern Sudan and let the world watch to see what happens?
(See photos of Clooney in Sudan.)

Three months later, Clooney's idea is about to go live. Starting Dec. 30, the Satellite Sentinel Project — a joint experiment by the U.N.'s Operational Satellite Applications Programme, Harvard University, the Enough Project and Clooney's posse of Hollywood funders — will hire private satellites to monitor troop movements starting with the oil-rich region of Abyei. The images will be analyzed and made public at www.satsentinel.org (which goes live on Dec. 29) within 24 hours of an event to remind the leaders of northern and southern Sudan that they are being watched. "We are the antigenocide paparazzi," Clooney tells TIME. "We want them to enjoy the level of celebrity attention that I usually get. If you know your actions are going to be covered, you tend to behave much differently than when you operate in a vacuum."

You don't have to be a spook to have an eye in the sky anymore. Private firms with names like GeoEye, DigitalGlobe and ImageSat International have a half-dozen "birds" circling the globe every 90 minutes in low-Earth orbit, about 297 miles (478 km) up. The best images from these satellites display about 8 sq. in. (50 sq. cm) of the ground in each pixel on a computer screen. That is not enough granularity to read a car's license plate or ID a person, but analysts can tell the difference between cars and trucks and track the movements of troops or horses. "It is Google Earth on lots of steroids," says Lars Bromley, a top U.N. imagery analyst.
(See pictures of Southern Sudan preparing for nationhood.)

But you need money for it. A hurry-up order of what Bromley calls a "single shot" from a satellite covers an area of about 105 sq. mi. (272 sq. km) and costs $10,000. A rush job on a "full strip" image of land roughly 70 miles (115 km) long and 9 miles (14 km) wide could run nearly $70,000. Sentinel is launching with $750,000 in seed money from Not On Our Watch, the human rights organization Clooney founded along with Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, David Pressman and Jerry Weintraub. Clooney predicted he won't have much trouble raising more money once the project goes live.
(See the top 10 world news stories of 2010.)

Prendergast's group, the Enough Project, is the human-rights arm of the liberal Center for American Progress; it recruited Bromley's team at the U.N. and brought in analysts from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to pore over the images as they arrive. "Generally, what we have done in the past is an after-the-fact documentation exercise," Bromley explains. "This is proactive, wide-area monitoring," he says.

Clooney, who has made four trips to Sudan since 2006, believes Sentinel might have applications in other global hot spots. "This is as if this were 1943 and we had a camera inside Auschwitz and we said, 'O.K., if you guys don't want to do anything about it, that's one thing,'" Clooney says. "But you can't say you did not know.
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Related Reports

Harvard group joins effort to monitor Sudan
Boston Globe by Michael J Bailey - www.boston.com
Tuesday, 28 December 28, 06:25 PM. Excerpts:
WASHINGTON - A team of human right experts at Harvard University will begin analyzing satellite images of Sudan later this week in the hopes of staving off a civil war after the southern section of the troubled nation votes in a January referendum on whether to secede.

The Satellite Sentinel Project, which is being funded by actor and activist George Clooney's humanitarian group, Not on Our Watch, will rely on the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to assess the situation on the ground, where hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Darfur region have been slaughtered over the past decade in ethnic violence.

"We want to see if we actually make a difference in keeping people safe," said Nathaniel Raymond, the program director at Harvard.

The project, which will officially get underway on Dec. 30, is intended to influence the behavior of the Sudanese government, which is blamed for perpetrating the genocide. It will be funded over the next six months by $750,000 that will also cover the cost of buying time on privately owned imaging satellites.

The launch was announced earlier today by Clooney in an interview with Time. [...]

At Harvard's Kennedy School, three full-time analysts will pore over satellite images provided by the United Nations' Operational Satellite Applications Programme and gather other research from public and private sources to determine what Raymond called the "human rights context."

They will be supported by a variety of other specialists at Harvard, including experts in international law, the military, and humanitarian operations.

"What do the abuses shown in the images mean?" Raymond explained. "We want to determine the difference between an attack on a hospital, an attack on a village, or an attack on water supplies, and how that relates to international law and human rights standards."

The project, which will publish all of its findings at www.satsentinel.org, is also designed to shame the international community into taking action if the upcoming referendum prompts the Sudanese regime to perpetrate more abuses. [...]
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Clooney, Google, UN team up to watch Sudan border - Coalition will use satellite surveillance to watch border — and prevent civil war
The Associated Press - www.google.com
Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:
WASHINGTON (AP) - A group founded by actor George Clooney is teaming up with Google, a U.N. agency and anti-genocide organizations to launch satellite surveillance of the border between north and south Sudan to try to prevent a new civil war after the south votes in a secession referendum next month.

Organizers said Wednesday that Clooney's Not On Our Watch is funding the start-up phase Satellite Sentinel Project that will collect real-time satellite imagery and combine it with field analysis from the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

It will point out movements of troops, civilians and other signs of impending conflict. The U.N. Operational Satellite Applications Programme and Google will then publish the findings online.

The groups hope that early warnings will reduce the risk of violence.
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Clooney, Google, UN team up to monitor Sudan border
The Associated Press by Matthew Lee - www.msnbc.msn.com
Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Excerpt:
Clooney's Not On Our Watch is funding the start-up phase Satellite Sentinel Project that will collect real-time satellite imagery and combine it with field analysis from the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, organizers said.

The data will point out movements of troops, civilians and other signs of impending conflict. The U.N. Operational Satellite Applications Program and Google will then publish the findings online.

"We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we're watching, the world is watching," Clooney said in a statement. "War criminals thrive in the dark. It's a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight."

The groups hope that early warnings will reduce the risk of violence. [...]

Organizers said the Satellite Sentinel Project will be available online Wednesday at www.satsentinel.org.
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Sudan: George Clooney and Friends Fund Eye-in-the-Sky to Avert War
AllAfrica by Cindy Shiner - www.allafrica.com
Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Full copy:
A human rights project using satellite imagery that the general public can access is being launched tomorrow to help deter a resumption of war between north and south Sudan linked to a crucial referendum in January.

The Satellite Sentinel Project, which is backed by American actor George Clooney, combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google's Map Maker technology to monitor the area marking the boundary between and the nation of Sudan and Southern Sudan, which is expected to become Africa's 55th country, following the voting that begins on 9 January.

"There used to be a bumper sticker that said, 'What if they threw a war and nobody came?' said Jonathan Hutson, director of communications for the Enough Project, an anti-genocide group. "That's been rewritten: 'What if they threw a war and everybody came to stop it?' That's the power of crowd-sourcing information, using public technology platforms and leading edge advocacy for waging peace."

Commercial satellites passing over the border areas between north and south Sudan will be able to capture images of possible troop movements and build ups, potential attacks on villages, the movement of displaced people, or other possible threats to civilians, Hutson said. The project aims to provide an early warning system to focus world attention and generate rapid responses on human rights and human security concerns.

"The launch of this project puts all parties on notice that they can be held accountable for their obligations under international human rights law as well as [Sudan's] Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005," Hutson told allAfrica. "The imagery will be out there for all the world to see and respond. This is public information from commercial satellites that will be published on open-source platforms and analyzed in a neutral way to hold all parties accountable."

Southern Sudanese armies fought a decades-long war against northern domination that claimed more than two million lives. The 2005 peace accord provided for a power-sharing arrangement leading to a referendum on self-determination for the oil-rich South. The voting will take place over five days in early January. The north, which has historically benefited from oil located largely in the south, has been hostile to southern independence, and there are fears that one of the world's longest and bloodiest conflicts could re-ignite over the poll.

The Sentinel Project is a collaboration between Not On Our Watch, the Enough Project, UNOSAT (the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme), the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Google, and Internet strategy and development firm Trellon, LLC. The Enough Project, co-founded in 2007 by Africa experts Gayle Smith and John Prendergast, contributes field reports, provides policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch, puts pressure on policymakers by urging the public to act. Not On Our Watch is a human rights organization co-founded by Clooney.

Hutson said there were a few proofs of concept using satellite imagery that helped inspire the Satellite Sentinel Project. Those included Amnesty International's Eyes on Darfur project, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Crisis in Darfur project, and use of satellite images by Physicians for Human Rights and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to gather evidence of mass grave tampering in Afghanistan.

But Hutson said the Sentinel Project is the first to use sustained, public effort to systematically monitor and report on potential conflicts and threats to security along a border, within 24-36 hours of their occurrence.

"Up until now, projects have documented mass atrocities after the fact. This visionary project aims to deter war crimes by observing troop buildups and troop movements in advance," he said. "The project offers an open source, anti-war platform to observe in near real time troop buildups and movements, and potential war crimes, and gather evidence if necessary that can be presented at the International Criminal Court."

A deterrent to using satellite images in the past has been the expense of commercial satellite images, which can cost about U.S.$2,500 per image. Not On Our Watch has funded a U.S.$750,000 six-month start-up phase of the Sentinel Project.

For the project, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative will provide system-wide research and lead the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the satellite imagery. UNOSAT leads the collection and analysis of the images and collaborates with Google and Trellon to design the web platform for the public to easily access the images and reports.

"The imagery tends to be worthless if no one looks at it - if no one can make use of it," Lars Bromley, an analyst at UNOSAT told allAfrica. "Once you get it out there and built into a site like this, that's really where it's getting exciting. Finally all these elements are starting to come together, where we are able to proactively address some of these issues instead of just documenting it after the fact."

The Satellite Sentinel Project will be available on December 29 at www.satsentinel.org. The aim of the project's funder, Not On Our Watch - co-founded by Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub - is to focus global attention and resources toward putting an end to mass atrocities around the world.

Hutson said one goal of the project is to teach the world best practices in using commercially available satellite imagery along with crowd-sourced mapping tools to provide better, faster responses. These could be responses to potential human rights abuses, conflicts, humanitarian crises, or natural disasters, he said.

"More simply put, we're leveraging technology 3.0 with stronger, better satellite imagery to create better, faster responses," he said. "Now the crisis at hand is in Sudan. But this project, we hope, will inspire other efforts around the world."
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Clooney, Google, U.N. watch Sudan using satellites
Reuters CANADA - Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Lou Charbonneau in New York; Editing by Chris Wilson
Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Excerpts:
Google and Trellon Llc, an Internet development firm, designed a Web platform for public access to information with the goal of pressuring Sudanese officials and other groups. [...]

On December 24, Vice President Joe Biden phoned Sudanese Second Vice President Ali Osman Mohmed Taha to express Washington's concern about violence leading up to the vote.
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Postscript from Sudan Watch editor
Thought for the Day:
How easy is satellite jamming?
And how many Sudan activists work within Google?
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UPDATE:

Televised Debate over Sudan’s Referendum Set Wednesday
VOA by Peter Clottey - Tuesday, 28 December 2010. Excerpts:
An official of the Sudan’s referendum commission said his organization Wednesday will begin the first in a series of debates between high-ranking representatives of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) ahead of the 9th January referendum.

The live debate is expected to be broadcast nationwide.

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