Friday, February 11, 2005

UN Security Council agrees to peace mission for S. Sudan

Unfortunately, there is still very little news of the UN Security Council meeting held a few days ago. A report today Feb 11 at IRIN confirms the council has started working on a resolution to establish a peacekeeping operation in Sudan to support the peace process, the Council's President, Ambassador Joel Adechi, of Benin, said on Tuesday.

Also, the news report says "council members, Adechi noted, remained gravely concerned by the dire situation prevailing in Darfur and called upon the parties to do their best to bring the conflict to an end quickly through a sustainable political settlement."
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Blair stands firm with Annan

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was in London yesterday Feb 10 giving a speech on UN reform at The Banqueting House, Whitehall. Click here for a copy of the speech.

10 Feb news report says British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed support for Mr Annan Thursday, calling him a tremendous unifier.

Photo: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (R), shakes hands with Ali Osman Mohammed Taha (L), Vice-President of Sudan, in New York February 8, 2005. A senior UN envoy called for robust outside troops in Darfur to supplement those from the African Union. (Reuters/Chip East)
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British FM urges Sudan to restart Darfur peace talks

So far, the press has not made much of a meeting in London today between British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn and Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail.

A report today Feb 11 by AFP says they called for peace talks on Darfur in the Nigerian capital Abuja to resume.

Straw held talks with Ismail on Thursday as the Sudanese minister called into London on his way home from a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

Britain would continue to back a recent peace deal ending Sudan's 21-year civil war, Straw said in a later statement. "But the situation in Darfur is still extremely worrying," he added. "I urge all sides to stop the fighting, to abide by the commitments they have made and then to return to the negotiating table in Abuja. This can be the only way to a lasting peace in Darfur."

Hilary Benn, who held a separate meeting with FM Ismail, noted that while Khartoum had publicly committed itself to peace, "the world will judge the government by the action it takes".

Note, as far as I am aware, it is not the Sudanese government delaying Darfur peace talks, it is he Darfur rebel group JEM that is refuses to attend any more peace talks until the UN gives in to their request for the UN mediate the talks instead of the African Union.
Photo: Feb 8 Darfur rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) wait in their base in Gellab, North Darfur, Sudan. The SLM called on the UN to oversee peace negotiations with the government. (AFP/File/Marco Longari)
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Mauritania sends military observers to Darfur Sudan

10 Feb Associated Press confirms a group of armed observers from the Arab-dominated West African nation of Mauritania, flew to Darfur to join in the African Union peace mission, police officials said Thursday.

The military and police observers, 30 in all, arrived Thursday in Sudan to join about 1,400 ceasefire monitors and protection troops sent by the AU, a senior police official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Before departing, the observers met with Mauritanian President Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya, who called upon them to "rightly fulfill their mission" which he said was to be "peace messengers," the official said.
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South Africa sends two police teams to Sudan on peacekeeping mission

11 Feb ReliefWeb report from Cape Town, South Africa (Xinhua via COMTEX) says South African police are sending two teams to Darfur on a peacekeeping mission this weekend.

The office of the national police commissioner said on Friday the 12-strong party would form part of an AU operation and will fall under the authority and guidance of the continental body.

National police Commissioner spokesperson, Director Sally de Beer, said Pillay's team would be deployed to Sudan for six months, while an advance team would be deployed for a period of three weeks. Both teams would consist of six people.

"The task for these 12 members will be to establish a headquarters in El Fashir and Nyala and to ensure that accommodation and logistical requirements are put in place as speedily as possible to receive the ten teams of 10 SAPS civilian police monitors as requested by the AU," said de Beer.

"It must be emphasized that the members of the SA Police Service will be regarded as civilian police monitors and will be performing monitoring and advisory duties only," she said.
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Sudan Tribunal would take a year to set up while 100,000 die

11 Feb Former UK foreign secretary Robin Cook (who was replaced by Jack Straw) has an article in today's Guardian saying that US hostility to the international criminal court knows no bounds. He writes:
The gravest, most grotesque crimes against humanity since the international criminal court was set up are to be found in Darfur. The UN commission of inquiry has provided a compelling account of the harrowing brutality with which Sudanese forces are pursuing a strategy of ethnic cleansing, and concluded that the victims are "living a nightmare of violence and abuse". That nightmare has included men being dragged over the ground behind camels by a noose around their necks, women being kept naked in rape camps and girls as young as eight being violated.
Wryly, he adds:
A state department official expressed to a visiting European: "No US citizen is going to be tried by a Belgian", which raises doubts as to whether the Bush administration actually knows in which European country The Hague is located.
Also, Mr Cook points out that Condoleezza Rice has been using her contacts in Europe to lobby privately for the Darfur atrocities to be referred anywhere but the international criminal court. He notes:
It would take at least a year But it would take at least a year before any tribunal starting from scratch would have the staff, premises and procedures to get down to work. In the meantime, while the UN tried to accommodate the ideological antipathy of the Bush administration to the international criminal court, another 100,000 people would have been killed in Darfur. One of the six reasons cited by the UN commission for recommending the international criminal court was precisely that it could be activated immediately, without any delay.
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Reporter's Notebook: Actor Don Cheadle in Sudan

Here is an excerpt from "A View from the Ground on the Killing in Northeast Africa" by American actor Don Cheadle:

I was invited to join five members of Congress on a fact-finding mission to see refugees and the way they are forced to live.

Late last month, we traveled with Paul Rusesabagina, the man I portray in the film "Hotel Rwanda," which is about the genocide of 800,000 people in Rwanda more than a decade ago. Rusesabagina used his hotel as an impromptu refugee camp and saved more than 1,000 lives.

I agreed to go to Sudan because I think it would be very disingenuous for me to have been saying all this time since we made the movie, "We can't allow this to go on," and "We have to get involved" -- and I had the opportunity to get involved and didn't.

We entered Sudan from neighboring Chad. Our first stop was a military base belonging to the 53-nation African Union, which is monitoring the activities in Sudan. Full Story.

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