Wednesday, April 13, 2005

World leaders pledge $4.5 billion for Sudan while pressing for peace pact

Yesterday, Sudan was promised $US 4.5 billion. Seen any word of gratitude or thanks from Sudan? Me neither.

Sudan's vice president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, told yesterday's donors conference that his government was committed to reaching a peace agreement with rebel groups in Darfur.

Former southern rebel leader John Garang, now a member of Sudan's new government, said everything, from roads to power, was needed in the south.

"Give me $10bn and I assure you, I will spend it," Garang said.

The $US 2.6 billion in Sudan's 2005-07 aid request was about a third of estimated initial needs of $US 7.9 billion. Most of the cash will come from Sudan's oil output of 320,000 barrels per day.


US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick warned the Sudanese government but it took the warning simply as a message to work hard and move on Darfur. [Photo via Aljazeera.Net report 'Sudan pledges reach $4.5 billion']

Mr Zoellick said: "If the government of Sudan and all those in Darfur fail to act against the violence to help strengthen security and create a serious peace process, then my country and others will not be able to sustain the CPA fully."

Zoellick later clarified at a press conference that his country was interested at this stage in supporting Sudan's mostly Christian south and Darfur and that none of the pledged US funds would target northern areas where the current government is based.

"We want to try to support the north-south process but I've emphasised that it is difficult to work with the government in Khartoum," he also said. A national unity government including southern Sudan's former rebels is to be formed in the beginning of July.

Sudanese Vice President Ali Usman Taha played down Zoellick's warning while insisting that Khartoum needed to be encouraged rather than threatened with sanctions.

"I don't think the US statement this morning was meant as a strict condition, it was in my mind a message for us to work hard and move on Darfur," he said.

[He may be right. A report on the conference in the FT April 12 says: "The US has not expressly declared its pledges of aid conditional on resolution of the conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur, which is separate to the north-south conflict. The US has accused the Sudanese government and allied Arab militia of committing genocide against mainly African villagers there.]

Sudan aid

Photo: The US has tied its funds to improvements in Darfur [via Aljazeera report 'Sudan pledges reach $4.5 billion']

Note this excerpt from April 12 FT report:
John Garang, a southern rebel leader who is to become vice-president of a transitional government under the power-sharing agreement, said it would be a mistake to link implementation of the accord and "peace dividend" to resolution of the Darfur crisis.

US sanctions, which are unlikely to be lifted unless dramatic progress is made resolving the Darfur crisis, prevent American development funds being spent in the north, where there is also widespread under-development. The US made clear that its aid would go directly to southern Sudan and not through Khartoum even after formation of the central coalition government, which has fallen behind schedule.
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World leaders pledge $4.5 billion for Sudan while pressing for peace pact

Report by Joel Brinkley April 12, 2005, New York Times. Copied here in full incase the link breaks:

OSLO, April 12 - Leaders from more than 50 nations pledged more than $4.5 billion for Sudan in a donors' conference here today, but one official after another warned that continuing violence in Darfur would undermine the peace agreement they were here to support.

The Sudanese government and rebels in southern Sudan reached a peace agreement in January after more than 20 years of warfare. But the violence in Darfur's western province - that has already claimed 300,00 lives - broke out anew while those negotiations were under way.

"This is time of choosing for Sudan," Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick said in an address to the conference this morning. "The leaders of Sudan must realize that the eyes of the world are on Sudan. The world knows what is happening in Darfur, and the government cannot escape the consequences of that knowledge."

German and Norwegian officials, among others, echoed that sentiment. The Norwegian prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, said, "There is no peace in Sudan until the situation in Darfur has been solved."

The United States pledged between $1 billion and $2 billion to support the north-south peace agreement. The monetary span results from uncertainty over how much Congress will approve of the administration's requests for Sudan.

A report by the United Nations and the World Bank found that Sudan needs $2.6 billion in outside aid to meet its $7.9 billion budget for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in the south over the next two years.

The European Commission promised about $760 million. Britain offered $545 million and Norway, $250 million. Several officials speaking at the conference praised the donor nations for their pledges while urging them to make the actual payments. Pledges made at conferences like these are often followed by failure to make all of the payments promised.

In remarks to reporters on Monday and in his speech today, Mr. Zoellick said the United States and other countries would have trouble meeting their funding commitments if the government in Khartoum does not quell the violence in Darfur.

Sudan, he said today, "could slip back into the depths."

Sudan's vice president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, told the conference that his government was committed to reaching a peace agreement with rebel groups in Darfur. However, the government in Khartoum has made such promises many times in the past year.

As Mr. Zoellick put it after Mr. Taha made his statement: "We'll have to follow up on that."

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