Friday, November 19, 2004

UN Security Council gives Bashir, Taha, Garang and the Darfur rebels another 6 weeks

Today, the United Nations Security Council voted 15 to 0 to adopt a resolution giving Sudan more than $500 million in aid and deploying at least 10,000 UN peacekeepers to the oil-rich nation after its war ends.

The government of Sudan and South Sudan rebels (not to be confused with the Darfur rebels in West Sudan) today signed a memorandum committing them to reach an accord to end the 20-year war over the nation's oil by December 31, 2004.

Yesterday, after the security council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, US Ambassador John Danforth said, "They will sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow, committing themselves to completing their peace agreement and signing a peace agreement by the end of this year.''

What remains to be ironed out, said Mr Danforth, is limited to "almost a math problem" about which side pays for rebel fighters who do not join regular government forces after the peace settlement. "Sudan must become a nation that respects human rights and replaces violence with political dialogue,'' he said after the vote.
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Note, During the past week, Mr Danforth referred to one sticking point in the peace talks as a "math problem". He makes it sound like a minor detail. As of today, it seems it has not been sorted. Also, he recently referred to previous agreements with Sudan as being written in disappearing ink. How can we believe Bashir, Taha and Garang?

One wonders how the Arab militias, Hilal and all the other perpetrators of atrocities fit in with the peace agreements. Not to mention east Sudan and the far north, where some reports say they soon may feel left out and marginalised. Fighting could start up any day in those regions as December 31 draws near. A few weeks ago, there were reports of fighting in east Sudan. Newly formed rebel groups could easily spring up out of nowhere or from over the border.

Naturally, any sign of peace for Sudan is great news but without tens of thousands of peacekeepers in place, it's bound to fall apart because the warring parties in Sudan have proved untrustworthy. It will take years before a decent government and proper law and order are in place. The children of Sudan are the key to the future - and education. Hopefully, the West will support Sudan for as long as possible and everything will be done to ensure Sudanese children received a good education.

Perpetrators of atrocities belong behind bars. It's estimated that at least 300 victims of Darfur are dying each day. While everyone waits for a "math problem" to be sorted, and for a handful of men to sign another piece of paper on December 31 (why the six week delay, is it to do with oil prices?) at least another 14,000 Sudanese people will be added to the death toll.
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Quotes of the day

"We will do our best in order not to disappoint you, the Sudanese people, the international community,'' the rebel group's deputy leader, John Garang, told the Security Council. "We will do our best to fulfill our commitments and we also appeal to you to fulfill your commitments.''

Vice President Ali Osman Taha said the government will fully participate in the peace process.

"We are more committed than in other times that our people will reap the fruit of this process,'' Taha said. "Peace remains a strategic option to the government of Sudan. We have knocked on all doors and looked in all angles in search for peace.''

"In Darfur, chaos and atrocity remain the order of the day,'' John Danforth said. "The process of bringing justice to the oppressed people of Darfur must continue. I want to be clear. The atrocities perpetrated in Darfur must end now.''
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Sudan's government-backed Arab militias have driven as many as two million black Africans from their villages in Darfur and caused as many as 300,000 deaths from violence or disease and hunger.

Today's UN measure makes no direct reference to sanctions, including against oil trading, threatened in UN resolutions adopted July 30 and September 18 unless the government ends abuses of villagers in Darfur.

China relies on oil from Sudan and cannot afford for its country to be affected by oil shortages. So oil sanctions are out.
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Against any party failing to fulfill its commitments

Today's UN resolution promises aid and "possible'' debt relief after a comprehensive peace agreement is signed "on the understanding that the parties are fulfilling their commitments'' to previous cease-fire and power-sharing accords.

The UN Security Council will "take action against any party failing to fulfill its commitments'' to stop what the U.S. has called genocide in Darfur.

Critics including Human Rights Watch said the measure doesn't go far enough to end violence in Sudan's western Darfur region.

I'm not sure that I agree. It sounds to me like this rather cleverly worded sentence achieved unanimous agreement. If they fail in their commitments, action (although unspecified could be anything from a slap on the wrist to military intervention) will be taken.

The Sudanese government has denied involvement in the atrocities, and council members Algeria, China, Pakistan and Russia have blocked imposition of sanctions.

The U.K. ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, defended the resolution, saying it "hasn't been a dilution at all.''

The envoy said the U.K. will give Sudan 100 million pounds ($186 million) and the European Union will donate 400 million euros ($520 million) after the warring sides sign a truce.

"We will hold these guys to account,'' Jones Parry said.

The way the three UN resolutions have been worded, along with Tony Blair's five point plan - that he personally delivered to Khartoum (with an ultimatum of peace by January - or else - it's possible peacekeeping troops with an expanded manadate could go in by their thousands within the next 6 - 8 weeks.

If Sudan disregards the agreements (which surely they will, they can't help themselves, peace is not in their blood - other rebels groups will probably spring up) it is up to us to keep the pressure up on governments to give the money and support needed by the AU. AU have done a great job so far but if they can't get enough soldiers together in time, they need to be backed with UN peacekeepers holding Chapter 7 mandate.
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Oil Production

Sudan produces about 345,000 barrels of crude oil a day, a figure that could reach 750,000 barrels by the end of 2006 if planned production expansion is completed, according to the U.S. Energy Department. China and India are the major buyers of the crude. Southern Sudan, the stronghold of the rebel force, has proven reserves of 563 million barrels.

The aid package would total at least $500 million, according to Carl Ulrich, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He said the Netherlands has pledged $130 million and the U.K. has pledged $186 million in development aid. Norway will host a donors' conference to raise more money for Sudan, Ulrich said.

"The issue of reconstruction of southern Sudan is of paramount importance and we will need and expect your assistance,'' Garang said. "The failure to manage diversity has led to these series of wars,'' he said. He said rebels must be helped to return to civilian life.
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To determine how many soldiers will be need to monitor a peace accord

The Security Council voted on June 11 to prepare for the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan after the civil war ends. The resolution authorises Kofi Annan to send an advance team to Sudan to determine how many soldiers will be needed to monitor a peace accord.

Any deployment would be larger than the 10,576-strong peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Nick Birnback, spokesman for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

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