Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Darfur rebels sign peace deal with Sudan's government

A few hours ago, it was announced that London won the Olympic bid for 2012. It was a nail biting event, televised live this afternoon. Final round of votes left London pitted against Paris. France's President Chirac spent the past week making snide remarks about Britain and its cuisine so it is pleasing to see he had little influence. The French were gutted.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair spent the past few days in Singapore lobbying for Britain's bid. Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, was in Singapore during the vote. He said just before the result was announced, the French bid team were surrounded by 50 reporters, cameras and live TV while the London team, which included Princess Anne, Lord Sebastian Coe and David Beckham and many British gold medal athletes, were surrounded by just three reporters. The French were so confident they'd win, a rumour was leaked they had it in the bag. Heh.

Also, British television showed the G8 summit opening today in Scotland, UK plus live coverage of an MP speaking in the House of Commons about Darfur and calling for extra African Union troops, resources and an expanded mandate.

Various news reports are emerging today saying Khartoum has agreed a peace deal with the two main Darfur rebel groups SLA and JEM. Numerous ceasefire and peace agreements have been signed in the past but were worth the paper they were written on. Whenever the warring parties come close to agreeing on something, one side does something to incite violence or the rebels split or other groups spring up trouble elsewhere in eastern or central Sudan. Who knows if the following news is the real deal reported in today's Scotsman:

Sudan's government and two rebel groups last night signed the latest agreement on how to resolve the conflict in Darfur.

SLA and JEM all signed the declaration of political principles - outlining a long-term solution to the Darfur crisis - at a public ceremony in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Negotiators agreed to broad commitments, including upholding democracy, the independence of the judiciary and "justice and equality for all, regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender".

Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union's special envoy for Darfur, told negotiators: "By adopting the declaration of principles, you have demonstrated your determination that you will not let down the people of Darfur ... and you will not let down our friends in the international community."
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UK announces major funding to combat polio

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn today (July 6) announced a multi-million pound package of funding to eradicate polio by the end of 2005 or early 2006 and to boost the effort to ensure the world stays polio free after that.

He said the UK is to provide £60m over the next three years.

The UK is to immediately and unilaterally plug the remaining funding gap of £20m ($36m) so that polio can be eradicated. The UK will also give another £40m in 2006-08 towards the cost of vaccinating over 500m children to ensure polio can never break out again.

There are 12 countries where there are still cases of polio: Yemen, Nigeria, Indonesia, Sudan, India, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Niger, Mali, Cameroon and Angola. Polio mainly affects children under five and disproportionately affects children in Africa. In 2004, 90% of the 1,255 cases were found in the region. Full Story.


sleepless in sudan said...

No, not a real deal I'm afraid. Rather than a genuine peace plan the government and the rebels have actually produced no more than a 'declaration of principles' (something they were planning to do within the first few days of negotiations).

Is it a step forward? Well, at this stage, most things are. Unfortunately, it's a step so pathetically small that it will not make an ounce of difference to the 2 million people effectively imprisoned inside Darfur's camps by the very real threat of being beaten, robbed, raped or murdered if they try to return to their homes.

Sleepless in Sudan

Ingrid J. Jones said...

Yes I agree, it is a pathetically small step. Neither side has ever appeared genuinely interested in brokering peace.

It seems to me the rebels aim to weaken the regime in Khartoum while Khartoum aims to hang on to power at any cost.

In my view, after the loss of 2.5 million lives since the regime in Khartoum stole power through the barrel of a gun, they are all as bad as each other, using civilians as pawns in their power plays and games.

They all murder for power. None were voted in by the people.