Thursday, April 21, 2005

South Sudan: SPLM/A willing and ready to deploy 10,000 of its troops to Darfur

On April 11, 2005 southern Sudan former rebel group SPLM/A issued a statement making clear its position on UN resolution 1593 [re ICC] rejected by Khartoum, and reaffirming its offer to help with security in Darfur as well as assisting Darfur and eastern Sudan to achieve a settlement along the lines of the comprehensive peace agreement for southern Sudan.

According to the statement, the SPLM/A stands in solidarity with all the marginalised people of Sudan and urges both the UN and Government of Sudan to sit down to agree on the next steps to resolve the impasse in a manner that will achieve both peace and justice in Darfur. Excerpt:
The SPLM wishes also to reaffirm its willingness and readiness to help on the two tracts of security and political settlement in Darfur. In this regard the SPLM renews its offer of deploying 10,000 SPLA troops in Darfur drawn from its component of the Joint Integrated Units (JIU's) that are stipulated in the CPA. Under this scheme, the GOS would also deploy 10,000 troops. From its component of the JIU's while the AU upgrades its present contingent in Darfur to 10,000 troops. A tripartite command structure from GOS, SPLM and AU would then be formed to command the combined force, with logistical support from the international community. This combined force would be robust enough to provide security, stabilize Darfur and enhance prospects for a fair and just political settlement as well as forestall foreign interventions.
Somaliazation of Sudan

Note, final point No. 6, in statement above - also at SPLMToday - contains the phrase "Somaliacization of Sudan." It is a typo. The word should read "Somaliazation." A quick search on google shows Somaliazation means 'the division, partition of a country'.
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UN sees AU as best choice to settle Darfur situation

Radia Achouri, spokeswoman for UN Advanced Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said in Khartoum yesterday, April 20, that the UN sees the African Union (AU) as the best choice to settle the situation in Darfur.

At a press conference, Achouri backed her claims by citing the AU's experience in African affairs, as well as the capability and wisdom it showed in handling the security situation in Darfur.

Achouri said the AU acted as a mediator between the conflicting parties of Darfur and between disputed tribes to prevent any possible clashes. She stressed there is a need for the upcoming meeting of the AU's security council to adopt a resolution to increase the number of AU monitoring forces in Darfur. - via (Xinhua) April 20, 2005
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UN Commission approves Sudan resolution and calls for increased UN force in Darfur

The UN Human Rights Commission today, April 21, unanimously adopted a milder resolution condemning "continued, widespread and systematic" violations by both sides in Darfur, without directly blaming Khartoum for abuse or mentioning war crimes.

It also called on the Sudanese government to disarm allied militia "and to stop supporting them", called for an increased UN monitoring force in Darfur, and upgraded the status of a UN human rights expert for a year.

The resolution had support from Sudan and other African nations, the US, the European Union and others. It was approved after the EU withrdrew a more stiffly worded document.

The 53-member Commission, effectively rallied around a strengthened African motion, which also called on the government and rebels in Darfur to resume peace talks, respect a ceasefire agreement and investigate crimes.

Khartoum had warned the UN this week against appointing a special human rights rapporteur for Sudan, arguing such an "irrational" move would only complicate the Darfur crisis. But it backed down Thursday, allowing a UN "special rapporteur" to replace the existing "independent expert" with a one-year mandate.

Shortly before the draft was due to be debated in the Commission, a Luxembourg diplomat said cooperation with the African group and Sudan had "produced an agreement which offers the best chance of halting human rights violations in Sudan, which we are concerned about and which we condemn".

Commenting on the resolution passed Thursday, the UN High Commisioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said: "The substance seems very appropriate."

US delegation chief Rudy Boschwitz gave full backing to the resolution. "That it condemns those responsible for atrocities, including the government of Sudan, and that it provides for a strong mechanism for investigating ongoing human rights abuses and bringing about their end means that this Commission is, unlike last year at this time, doing its job responsibly," he added.

The EU motion withdrawn Thursday had sought condemnation of "the fact that most attacks have been deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians, many of them under the direct responsibility or tolerated by the government of Sudan". It had also warned that "continuing, widespread and systematic violations of human rights" in Darfur "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity".

The final resolution was the result of weeks of heavy negotiations between the EU, the US and African nations.

The Africans agreed to remove wording that praised the Sudanese governments steps to improve the situation in Darfur, while the Western countries dropped specific condemnation of the Sudanese government. - via AP Geneva Apr 21, 2005.
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El-Waha in El Fasher will be the Falluja of Sudan

Note, the UN Situation Report for April 6 [published here during that week] states:
UNMIS officials held an introductory meeting in El Fasher with Muslim leaders from North Darfur, including the Director General of the Ministry of Social and Cultural Affairs.

During the meeting, UNMIS explained its mandate in assisting civil society in reconciliation. All participants showed a willingness to cooperate, and scheduled further information sharing meetings for the near future.

The local radio station in El Fasher announced that in a meeting with tribal leaders on 4 April, the Commissioner of El-Waha locality in El Fasher (a locality of nomadic tribes in North and part of South Darfur) rejected Security Council Resolution 1593, and proclaimed that El-Waha will be the Falluja of Sudan if any of its people are taken to the ICC.
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US risks fuelling militant Islam in Sahara

Note this excerpt from an article April 11, 2005 [via] by Nick Tatters all, titled "US risks fuelling militant Islam in Sahara":

"The United States will only fuel a rise in Islamic militancy in countries bordering the Sahara desert if it takes a heavy-handed approach to fighting terrorism in the region, an influential think tank says.

Proselytizing Pakistani clerics, an Algerian fundamentalist group allied to al Qaeda and growing resentment of US foreign policy were causes for concern but did not make West Africa a hotbed of terrorism, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Thursday.

"There are enough indicators to justify caution and greater western involvement out of security interests, but it has to be done more carefully than it has been so far," ICG's West Africa project director Mike McGovern said in a report.

Mindful of the al Qaeda training camps that emerged in Afghanistan, some US officials say countries like Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, which are among the world's poorest, make similarly fertile hunting ground for militants seeking recruits.

US Special Forces and military experts have trained soldiers in all four countries as part of efforts to help them fight the threat in the region's vast swathes of desert. But a military policy that offers no alternative livelihoods to already marginalised nomadic populations risked causing resentment and radicalising locals further, ICG said. Full Story.
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NATO ready to help Darfur if asked by AU

NATO is ready to help end the crisis in Darfur if asked for assistance by the African Union, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursday, April 21.

The 26-nation NATO military alliance would not be sending soldiers into Darfur, Scheffer underlined at a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Vilnius. But the organisation could provide planning and logistical support to the African Union in its efforts to end the crisis, he said.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier disagreed that there was a role for NATO in Darfur and stressed that Africans should retain the lead in peace efforts. "NATO does not have a calling to be the gendarme of the world," he told a news conference at the same meeting.

General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the aim was "not to have NATO boots on the ground" but to offer support.
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UN troops arrive in Sudan

A report today, April 21, from Khartoum, confirms more than 40 United Nations troops arrived in Sudan as the vanguard of a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force that is to support a January peace agreement which ended 21 years of civil war in the south of the country, a UN spokesperson said.

Radhia Achouri, spokesperson for UN special representative for Sudan Jan Pronk, told reporters the 44 staff officers from the multinational force arrived on Wednesday, April 20, 2005.
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Australian troops head to Sudan

The Australian government announced April 20 that it has approved fifteen Australian Defence Force personnel to be deployed for an initial period of 12 months as part of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

The Defence Minister Robert Hill says the group will include logistics experts, military observers and air movement specialists, and that some of them will leave Australia within days. Excerpt from Kim Landers' interview in World today April 20 with Robert Hill who said of the Australian troops:

"They're specialist roles. Three of them I know are in relation to air movements, managing, guiding the air movements of the force. The total military force including the infantry I think is about 10,000, so the logistic challenges of such a force are really quite considerable.

I suspect that the UN will be in Sudan for a long time. It's of course been a civil war that's gone on for decades; it is an historical opportunity. The fact that the international community is responding to support the peace agreement I think is very important and it is likely that we'll be requested to stay longer, we may well be requested to provide different specialised elements during the course of the UN program there.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says the UN mission that the Australians will be a part of, will also play a major role in supporting the African Union's mission to end the violence in Darfur.

Australian troops have served in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa before. Similar sized contingents have served in Mozambique between 1994 and 2002 and also in Ethiopia and Eritrea, a mission which ended earlier this year."

[Note, the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of UNMIS on March 24, 2005, after the government of Sudan and the SPLM agreed to end a civil war that has lasted for more than 20 years]
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Toyota Land Cruisers for agencies in Darfur

75 Toyota Land cruisers financed by ECHO have been approved - all of the vehicles must be used exclusively in the Darfurs.
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African Union keen to double Darfur force, says Rwanda

Excerpt from a Reuters report March 18, 2005:

"The AU is seeking to double its forces in Darfur to about 6,000 troops, a number that could stabilise Sudan's troubled western region, Rwanda's foreign minister said on Friday.

With security rapidly deteriorating, the commander of AU troops in Darfur has told Rwandan officials that a 6,000-strong force would be able to secure all major refugee camps and roads, Rwanda's Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said.

"They have asked us if we are willing to increase our participation and we have promised that we are willing. We are willing to give more troops to southern Darfur," Murigande told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Singapore.

The Nigerian commander of the AU's force in Darfur, Festus Okonkwo, told Rwandan President Paul Kagame that 6,000 troops would be enough to "bring the level of violence to probably what would be acceptable", Murigande said.

"He is talking from experience because where you have the AU force deployed, violence has stopped. Where you still have violence is in areas where you do not have AU forces," he said.
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Sudanese FM proposes "road map" to USA on Darfur

April 18, 2005 report from Khartoum (SUNA) - excerpt:

Foreign Affairs Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail revealed that the proposals the government presented to the US Administration on how to resolve the Darfur crisis were written proposals - an eight-point road map.

Regarding the interest by SPLM to participate in the Darfur peace talks at Abuja, Ismail said the government would welcome any efforts to resolve the problem, pointing out that the SPLM would be part of the government in two months time, and that if the problem would still rage on by then, the SPLM would take part in any policy on how to resolve the Darfur problem. Also, the SPLM, he said, would be part of any governmental delegation in charge of resolving the Darfur problem.

Mr Ismail said Resolution 1593 is being dealt with by the Justice Ministry which is studying it from a legal point of view and how Sudan should deal with it. However, Resolution 1590 on the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to monitor the ceasefire in the South is being dealt with by the Foreign Ministry, he explained.

Re the AU mediation between the government and the Security Council, Ismail pointed out that it was not a mediation. Simply, he explained, Resolution 1593 gave the AU a role which is not less important than the role of the ICC, and therefore the AU is only playing the role that it is supposed to be playing to resolve the Darfur problem. The position is clear, he added, any solution must be reached inside Sudan. Therefore, any suggestion that the talks should be held in a foreign capital is out of the question, he said.

Within this context, he added, the government is continuously in contact with African leaders to find a solution. For this reason an envoy of Nigerian President Obasanjo would be arriving in the country today, and Senegalese President Abdallah Wade would be making a stop over today on his way to kuwait, he said.

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