Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ICC webcast on situation in Sudan's Darfur


The press conference by the Court's Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, on the situation in Darfur, Sudan, scheduled to take place on Tuesday 27th February 2007, from 13:00 to 14:00 GMT or 14:00 to 15:00 hours Central European time, will be broadcast live internationally via satellite and web-cast of the press conference in English, French, and Arabic will also be available through the International Criminal Court website www.icc-cpi.int.

ICC's Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Photo: Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Via ST/Reuters report. Note, the report tells us a spokeswoman said the prosecutor's office planned to issue a statement before a news conference due at 1300 GMT today, 27 Feb 2007.

Feb 27 2007 BBC report excerpt:
The chief prosecutor is expected to detail alleged war crimes and give the Hague-based court a list of suspects from the government and rebel sides.

Our correspondent in the Sudanese capital, Jonah Fisher, says that joint attacks on villages have been well-documented and there is little doubt the militia have been given weapons and vehicles to fight rebels.

The BBC's Fergal Keane, reporting from The Hague where the ICC is based, says the presentation of evidence will be a highly significant moment in the Darfur crisis.
Feb 27 2007 Reuters report (via SL) excerpt:
Moreno-Ocampo has said he would examine whether Sudan's government is conducting its own judicial proceedings over Darfur as the ICC is only supposed to prosecute when national courts are unwilling or unable to act.

The ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court, started work in 2002 and is now supported by 104 nations, although still not by big powers Russia, China and the United States. Washington fiercely opposed the creation of the ICC, fearing it would be used for politically motivated prosecutions of its citizens.
Feb 27 2007 AP report by Mike Corder (via chron.com) excerpt:
It remained unclear whom prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo would name, but his mandate is to prosecute the most senior figures responsible for atrocities.

Since the U.N. Security Council asked Moreno-Ocampo to launch a Darfur investigation in March 2005, his investigators have carried out 70 missions in 17 different countries tracing victims, taking statements from more than 100 victims and witnesses and collecting documents.

They have been unable to carry out investigations in Darfur itself because of the ongoing violence there.
Feb 27 2007 Reuters report via FT.com excerpt:
Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked pre-trial judges to issue summonses for Ahmed Haroun, interior minister during the height of the conflict, and militia commander Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb.

Haroun is currently Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister. Ali Kushayb was identified in press reports from 2003-2004 as a leader of attacks on villages around Mukjar, Bindisi, and Garsil where witnesses said hundreds of men were executed.

In a written filing, Moreno-Ocampo said there was reason to believe Haroun and Ali Kushayb "bear criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur in 2003 and 2004".
Feb 27 2007 IWPR report by IWPR reporter in The Hague Katy Glassborow, independent Hague-based Darfur expert Jan Coebergh, and Washington-based IWPR reporter Stacy Sullivan - excerpt:
The coming days will be important for future legal jurisprudence on "complementarity" between domestic judicial systems and the ICC and, in the short term, could have major political consequences for those involved in Darfur.
ICC's Chief Prosecutor

Photo: The Chief Prosecutor Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, sworn in on the 16th of June 2003. (ICC)

ICC:  Judge Sir Adrian Fulford (UK)

Photo: Judge Sir. Adrian FULFORD (United Kingdom). Elected for a 9 year period from the Western European and others Group of States (WEOG). (Source: ICC photo gallery of The Judges)

Further related news reports at POTP and CFD.

Also, see Feb 26 2007 ICC and Darfur - Time running out for Sudanese killers (comments invited or, if you prefer, please email me - address in sidebar)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tribal massacre reported in Darfur (UPI)

Feb 26 2007 UPI report (via B92):
DARFOUR -- African Union troops have confirmed reports of a tribal massacre of 32 people in Darfour.

The AU troops based in the town of Kaas were alerted to the massacre Sunday by people who fled the village of Amar Jadeed, 20 miles away, the report said.

The village is home to the Arab Terjem tribe, and survivors said the attackers were from the Arab Reizegat tribe, who rode in on camels and began shooting.

The two tribes have traditionally been friendly but four years of violence in the region has led to shortages of water and food.

The Terjem tribe accused the Islamist government of arming nomadic Arab tribes, echoing claims by other tribes since violence flared in the impoverished region, the report said.

The AU peacekeepers took no action after viewing the smoldering remains of the village, as their mandate only allows them to observe and shoot in self-defense, VOA said.
See more by VOA at huliq.com

French troops secure airstrip in CAR

French troops secure airstrip in CAR

Photo: French troops secure the airstrip outside the town of Birao, the small sun-blasted capital of Vakaga, a region held for a month by rebels until late 2006, Central African Republic, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007. Central African Republic has struggled for more than a year to contain a homegrown low-intensity rebellion in the northwest. Now, a new insurgency in the northeast near Sudan's Darfur region has compounded this fragile nation's troubles and displaced tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Kony, Otti and 400 LRA rebels arrive in CAR

Feb 26 2007 via Uganda-CAN:
Major Felix Kulayigye, Uganda's defence minister, confirmed reports that LRA commanders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti and 400 other LRA rebels have arrived in the Central African Republic after fleeing the DR Congo several days ago. The LRA has been under pressure to leave the DR Congo by authorities in Kinshasa, which intensified last week after a meeting between Ugandan, Congolese and South-Sudanese security officials about how to handle the LRA threat. Read more at AllAfrica.com.
For more on the LRA, see sidebar here for link to Sudan Watch's sister blogs: Uganda Watch and Congo Watch.

ICC and Darfur - Time running out for Sudanese killers

Tomorrow (Feb 27) the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands (homeland of Jan Pronk) is to release the names of Darfur war crimes suspects. Black Kush, a Sudanese blogger (from Darfur, according to Werner) writes of time running out and asks:
The important point is what this all mean for Darfur? Will it help resolve the Darfur crisis or make it worse? Will the Sudan agree to hand over the suspects? Will Sudan later agree for the UN force?

I just have a feeling it is going to have the reverse effect . . .
I agree. What do you think? This blog receives visits from the ICC. Have your say here, they are listening. I'm still thinking about this issue, victims of crimes and forgiveness. It seemed right that Saddam was returned to Iraq. If the Iraqi people had decided to jail and/or free him, fine by me. At least the atrocities committed were aired and documented. I do not support the death penalty. Hess in Spandau, and all that went with it over so many years, wasn't a bad thing for victims, and relatives and friends of dead victims, to see.

After three years of blogging Darfur, I am still trying to understand why Sudanese people are still killing each other these past 50 years, holding their country back and to ransom. I'd like to see the ICC advise Sudan on how to make its justice system world class, credible and respected. People under arrest deserve to go through proper procedures and quickly, without fear of disappearing into a black hole. Those who hamper emergency aid or physically attack any aid worker and/or peacekeeper in the field (anywhere in the world, not just Sudan) should be jailed for life and publicly shamed as cretinous barbarians.

As for the Janjaweed and rebels I do not know who they are, not sure that Khartoum knows either. Surely, Khartoum can't disarm the so-called Janjaweed and Arab tribal leaders without fear of retaliation, if they could, they would have done so by now. Sudan's Arab tribal leaders are a law unto themselves, it's how things work there. They lord it over huge swathes of Sudan, ruling through fear and benevolence. Sudan is a country (I can't emphasise this enough) the size of Europe, with just as much diversity. It took years for the British government to sort out Northern Ireland where horrendous killings and conflict had gone on for hundreds of years.

What is going on in Darfur is far more complex than the media and activists lead us to believe and I feel they are doing the people of Sudan a disservice. Read this blog and you will see why. As if. These days, most people want little sound bytes that don't involve much reading or homework. "Stop genocide in Darfur" is easier to understand than "stop tribalism, desertification and droughts in Sudan" (or, in other words, too many people in the wrong place). I'm still pondering the Arab v African thingy and still don't get it. Everyone loves Sudan and its beauty. Great weather for growing food and stuff. Could be wonderful for tourists from all over the world.

The way I see it, Sudan has a serious national identity problem requiring charismatic leadership. I can see why Sudan, home to millions of uneducated villagers and nomads, is ruled by a stick. The Sudanese government (incuding South Sudan) is doing a good job of holding it all together. Better the devil you know than the one you don't. The shambolic rebels and their slippery leaders and child soldiers stopping aid from reaching those in need, could do worse if their coup succeeds.

I'd like to see a World Law that bars gun toting rebels anywhere in the world from working in government, for life.


Photo: Arab tribal leaders (from left) Ramadhan Daju Hassan, Mohammed Idris Maghrib and former member of parliament Obeid Habullah Dico calling for peace in West Darfur, Sudan. Source: Sudan Watch entry Sep 26, 2004.

Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi

Photo: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is greeted by rebel, tribal and opposition Sudanese leaders from Darfur at his tent in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, May 11, 2005. Two main rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur declared Monday their commitment to a cease-fire and to unconditionally resuming talks with the Sudanese government. (AP/Yousef Al-Ageli/Sudan Watch archive)

Soldiers believed to be Janjaweed

Photo: Soldiers believed to be Janjaweed (BBC/Sudan Watch archives)


Photo: Sultan Timan Deby, the traditional ruler of Bahai - a Chadian settlement and refugee camp on the border with Sudan's Darfur region - is pictured in the desert outpost of Bahai, Chad Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007. Tribal leaders and local officials in Chad are pushing hard for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed to stop violence and protect refugees spilling over from desperate Darfur into next-door Sudan. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)


Photo: Displaced Sudanese (Source: Soldier of Africa blog)

Alfredo in Kalma

God help the children of Sudan and please return the Norwegian Refugee Council to Kalma Camp in Darfur, home to 93,000 displaced Sudanese.


A prayer for the janjaweed rape babies
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Feb 26 2007 AFP report (via ST) - Sudan rejects ICC authority over Darfur

Feb 26 2007 Sudan Tribune report - Sudan sets up special court to try Darfur criminals

Feb 26 2007 Reuters report (via Alarab) - Sudan suspicious of UN Darfur plan - "Resolution 1706 of the U.N. Security Council actually confirmed our suspicion because the content of the resolution places Sudan under international trusteeship of the United Nations," [Sudanese president] Bashir said at a press conference in Addis Ababa. "That plan to transform the peacekeeping job in Darfur from African Union (AU) to United Nations held a hidden agenda aimed at putting Sudan under the United Nations trusteeship." He said the AU force deployed in Darfur had been doing an "excellent job" until the Abuja agreement was signed. "Immediately after the signing of the agreement, talks shifted into transforming the responsibilities of the AU force to an international peacekeeping force," he said in Addis Ababa [today] where he attended a heads of state meeting on Somalia. "Our position was to maintain AU force to keep security in Darfur and to be supported logistically and financially by the U.N.," he added.

UN chief proposes changes to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Disarmament Affairs

Via UN Pulse - a service/blog of the United Nations Library - Connecting to UN Information - Feb 22 2007:
A new letter from the Secretary-General outlines proposed changes to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Disarmament Affairs (A/61/749). The current Department of Peacekeeping Operations would be reconfigured to two departments, a Department of Peace Operations and a Department of Field Support. The proposal for the Department for Disarmament Affairs would establish a new office directly reporting to the Secretary-General. The document includes organization charts for the proposed departments.

New deputy UN chief is a woman

Great news, long overdue. A woman is now deputy chief of the United Nations. Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, pictured here, assumed office 6 Feb 2007 as the third Deputy Secretary General. - UNSG.org


If the UN, full of ambitious men, can do it, so can Sudan. See Feb 26 2007 - Wake up Sudan, more women needed in your government - Rwandan women offer a blueprint.

Wake up Sudan, more women needed in your government - Rwandan women offer a blueprint

Great commentary - Rwandan women offer a blueprint - by Zainab Salbi Feb 23, 2007 (via sfgate.com) Excerpt:
The genocide in Rwanda literally left the women behind to pick up the pieces. After the violence subsided in 1994, 70 percent of the remaining population of Rwanda was women. If communities were going to survive, and if the country was ever going to recover, it was up to them to make it happen. They forced themselves to face the inconceivable and they rebuilt. It was women who cleared the dead bodies from the streets; women who rebuilt the homes and women who solved the national orphan crisis -- more than 500,000 children with nowhere to go. Nearly every woman took at least one child into her home.

The government of Rwanda was quick to acknowledge the significance of women in the rebuilding process. In 1996, President Paul Kagame mandated that 30 percent of the parliamentary seats be designated for women. Kagame stressed that he saw them as key agents in the country's reconstruction, and argued that the government must train, support and mobilize them. As we see from today's revived Rwanda, he was right on target.

Rwandan women represent 49.8 percent of the country's lower house of parliament, a larger percentage than any other country in the world. Women also occupy nearly 50 percent of the positions in Rwanda's ministries from the village to the province to the national government level.

Thus, Rwanda was the obvious and fitting location for the 2007 Women Parliamentarians International Conference, under way now, whose theme is "Gender, Nation Building, and the Role of Parliaments." More than 400 world leaders and dignitaries have gathered in Kigali, among them, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia, Gertrude I. Mongella, president of the Pan African Parliament, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, an organization that helps women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives by giving them financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights education, access to capital and assistance for small business development. www.womenforwomen.org

Source: ComingAnarchy.com - Women and Political Development in Africa - where this insightful comment was posted Feb 26 2007:
snow said:
Very interesting. Certainly makes alot of sense. I've always figured that a society that doesn't allow its women to step forward is one that is leaving half their talent un/underdeveloped (not to say that it doesn't take talent to raise children and run households, but that women can have an influential public life as well as a private one). In this day and age, no country can hope to get a competitive edge when half the population is not allowed or restricted from participating outside the home. To me, its a question of taking advantage of talents and skills rather than a gender equality one.
Well said. Thanks.

Note, Feb 26 2007: New deputy UN chief is a woman!

Celebrating miserable African leaders

Notable quote from The sub-Saharan African roundtable:
Unless Africa gets honest leaders such as Nyerere, Mandela, Kaunda and...... we are doomed.
[hat tip GVO - celebrating miserable African leaders]

Al-Bashir affirms Sudan's desire to establish firm relations with European Union

If true, here is a rare item containing words of appreciation from Khartoum. Reportedly, on Saturday Sudan's President Bashir met with new Sudan Ambassador to Belgium and the EU and Sudan Ambassador to Sweden and expressed Sudan's desire to establish firm relations with European Union. Today, according to Sudanese News Agency (SUNA), Mr Bashir is due in Ethiopia for the Sana'a Grouping Summit.

Via SudaneseOnline.com 25 Feb 2007 via SUNA:
President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, has affirmed Sudan keenness to establish stable and distinguished relations with the European Union which are based on cooperation, the exchange of benefits and the principles and values governing the international relations. This came during his meeting Saturday with the new Sudan Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Nagib Al-Khair Abdul-Wahab, and Sudan Ambassador to Sweden, Moses Akol. President Al-Bashir expressed Sudan government appreciation to the role of the European Union in the humanitarian field, as well as support to the mission of the African Union. He also appreciated the stances in support of the peace and stability in Darfur. In a statement to SUNA, Ambassador Al-Khair affirmed the keenness of himself and Ambassador Moses Akol to do their best in serving Sudan issues and causes at the bilateral level and the regional and international forums.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Clash with West - Africa's top film festival opens

Feb 24 2007 BBC report says this year, the vast majority of the films on show are in French, despite the recent rise of South African cinema. Many of the films deal with issues of traditional values and modernity. Another emerging theme seems to be the clash between Africa and the West, says the BBC's James Copnall in Ouagadougou.

UN Secretary General proposes 11,000 UN peacekeepers to deter cross-border attacks in E Chad

Feb 24 2007 MaximsNews Network - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed sending some 11,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops to protect civilians and deter cross-border attacks in eastern Chad from forays by Sudan-based militia.

Photos - see Chad/Sudan/CAR map: A dry river bed delineates Chad-Sudan border

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chad/Sudan/CAR map: A dry river bed delineates Chad-Sudan border


1. JANJAWEED AND CHAD REBELS: Chad says Sudan government-backed militias are attacking villagers in Chad. Some 200,000 Darfur refugees are also in Chad. Chad also accuses Khartoum of backing the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), which is a coalition of small armed groups and army deserters who have launched cross border attacks from Darfur. These attacks have raised communal tensions in eastern Chad, which has a similar ethnic make-up to Darfur.

2. DARFUR REBELS: Sudan accuses Chad of backing the Darfur rebels. There have also been allegations that many of these rebels have become assimilated into Chad's national army - a charge Chad's government denies. Some Darfur rebels come from the same Zagawa ethnic group as Chad's President Idriss Deby. Chad has called for United Nations peacekeepers to patrol the border. Sudan is resisting any UN deployment.

3. CAR REBELS: Chad says it will send troops to help CAR fight the rebels. The Central African Republic (CAR) says Sudan backs Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebels who have seized towns in CAR. The government says the UFDR are operating from Darfur with the support of the Sudanese authorities. French forces have already deployed against CAR rebels in support of the government

4. CHAD TROOPS: CAR says Sudan backs rebels who have seized towns in CAR. It accuses Sudan of attempting to destabilise both Chad and CAR and has suggested an anti-Sudan alliance. Almost 50,000 refugees have arrived in Chad in recent weeks, fleeing fighting in CAR.

Source: BBC special report 6 Dec 2006.
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Dry river bed delineates Chad-Sudan border

Sudan and Chad seem as one vast dusty plain, no fences or signposts. Reminiscent of a bygone era in North America's Wild West.

A dry river bed delineates Chad-Sudan border

Photo: Darfur rebels make little note of the border between Chad and Sudan as members of one rebel unit from the Sudan Liberation Army play cards in the dry river bed that delineates the border between the two countries on Friday, Feb. 16, 2007. Attacks on civilians and aid groups have intensified sharply along the Chad-Sudan border in the last two weeks, as the violence in Darfur continues to spill over into its African neighbor and cross-border guerrilla raids mount. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)
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Darfur rebel on Sudan-Chad border wearing a captured Sudanese army officer's uniform

Some news reports say Darfur rebels steal most of their weapons and trucks from the Sudanese army.

SLA rebel wearing Sudanese officer's uniform

Photo: A section leader from the Sudan Liberation Army, center, wearing a captured Sudanese officer's uniform with three stars, and other rebels are pictured along the Chad-Sudan border on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)
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JEM's Ibrahim is in Chad

The head of one Darfur's main rebel groups said he is willing to call a cease-fire if the Khartoum government stops attacks on civilians in the war-torn region and agrees to re-negotiate the Darfur peace deal -- but warned of a new offensive if it fails to do so. Khalil Ibrahim heads the Justice and Equality Movement, which along with most other rebel groups have refused to sign onto the Darfur Peace Accord.

Photo: [Insert link]: The head of one Darfur's main rebel groups Khalil Ibrahim is seen during an interview in the town of Abeche in eastern Chad, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. (AP Photo)
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Chadian soldiers patrol Adre and Abeche, Chad

Chad's National Army

Photo: Soldiers from Chad's National Army man a tank in Adre, bordering Sudan's Darfur region, February 5, 2007. The leaders of Sudan and Chad said they agreed on Wednesday to redouble efforts to end violence spilling over their border from Darfur. (Emmanuel Braun/Reuters)

Chad's National Army in E Chad

Photo: Soldiers from Chad's National Army patrol the road to Abeche in eastern Chad, February 7, 2007.
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Tora Bora fighters ride on top of a pick-up in Adre, Chad

Tora Bora fighters ride on top of a pick-up in Adre Chad

Photo: Tora Bora fighters, members of a Sudanese group long famed as arms smugglers operating along Sudan's borders with Chad and Central African Republic, ride on top of a pick-up in Adre, February 6, 2007. A dawn concerto of war woke this scruffy Chadian border town of mud-brick houses and dusty streets on Tuesday, sending the few residents who were out scuttling back to their homes. (Reuters)

Tora Bora fighters dress up after taking bath at small lake in Adre, Chad

Tora Bora fighters dress up after taking bath at small lake in Adre

Photo: Tora Bora fighters, members of a Sudanese group long famed as arms smugglers operating along Sudan's borders with Chad and Central African Republic, dress up after taking bath at small lake in Adre, bordering Sudan's Darfur region, February 6, 2007. (Reuters)

Tora Bora fighters sit in a vehicle in Adre, Chad

Tora Bora fighters sit in a vehicle in Adre Chad

Photo: Tora Bora fighters, members of a Sudanese group long famed as arms smugglers operating along Sudan's borders with Chad and Central African Republic, sit on a pick-up track near a small lake in Adre, February 6, 2007. (Reuters)
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Ugandan LRA rebels move towards CAR

See Feb 24 2007 Reuters report: Ugandan rebels move towards CAR - Sudanese official.

Cotton in CAR

Photo: A farmer examines raw grain cotton in a plantation outside Bossangoa, Central African Republic, February 13, 2007. The country's cotton harvest has fallen to less than one tenth of the harvest in the late 1990s, but now a government body has taken control of the industry and hopes to revive the sector, which is an important source of foreign exchange for the deeply poor country. Picture taken February 13, 2007. (Reuters)

UPDATE: See Feb 25 2007 news report: UN Secretary General proposes 11,000 UN peacekeepers to deter cross-border attacks in E Chad

Sudan-specific websites

Rift Valley Institute - Sudan Internet Resources 2006

Amnesty International Links page

SORA News - tabs at top of page lead to more links.

Lord Soley of Hammersmith on Iraq

Note to self, for future reference on issues of intervention. As I recall, when it came to Iraq, the UK, right from the start, told the US not to get rid of the Iraqi army but they refused to listen. Lord Soley, in his latest blog entry on Iraq says the question of intervention will be with us for some time, Iraq will not be the last difficult case. Here is an excerpt from his great speech on Iraq (see in full at Lords Hansard text for 22 Feb 2007):
It is not impossible that we will have other Kosovo-type problems around the borders of Europe, so we really do need to think about this issue of intervention.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, yesterday made the point that intervention involves a plan before, a plan during the military operation and a plan after it. I do not think that it is true to say that the United States or the British Government did not have a plan for post-conflict - they did. The trouble is - and the noble Lord, Lord Jay, made this point very well - that there was not enough focus on it here, for reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has given. But, more importantly, two key mistakes were made.

The first mistake, to which a number of noble Lords have referred, was that there was a lack of sufficient numbers of troops on the ground to deal with policing the situation. The other mistake was profoundly important. If you are going to make the assumption that we have lost Iraq, although I do not think we necessarily have, the period in which we lost it was between 16 and 23 May 2003. Why? Because on 16 May Paul Bremer, who was put in charge very suddenly by the United States, took the decision to get rid of the whole civil service in Iraq just because it was B'athist. Before that, of course, you could not get a job in the civil service in Iraq unless you were a member of the Ba'ath party - so there were good and bad people in that civil service structure. Then, on 23 May, the truly disastrous decision was to get rid of the Iraqi army, sending all those people with training and knowledge of weapons and who knew where the weapons were into long-term unemployment without any pay. At that stage, we lost control on the ground.
The rest is history. See? The Americans didn't know best, like they don't know what's best for Sudan. By the way, after Iraq defied countless UN resolutions, I supported intervention in Iraq and still do.

New Arab League office in southern Sudan

The Arab League Administrative and Financial Standing Committee on Saturday approved the appointment of Mohammad Munsef Amin Murad as head of the UN mission in the southern Sudan area of Juba for a four-year mandate. A final statement issued at last year's Arab Summit in Khartoum had recommended that an Al office in Jouba should open as soon as possible. - KUNA (via SO) 24 Feb 2007.

AU says it does not have the capacity to end Darfur rebellion

Spero News article (originally appeared in Africa Reports, produced by IWPR, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting). Excerpt:
Fiona Lortan, senior political officer in the AU's defense and security division, told IWPR that the situation in Darfur will not improve unless the government accepts the entire "hybrid" peacekeeping package. "The AU does not have the capacity to end the conflict," she said. "If the situation is not resolved soon, the suffering and death toll in Darfur will increase. It is clear that the AU is not able to keep the government forces and the different rebel groups in check. They need the support of the UN as soon as possible."
Werner, a South African Military Observer currently serving in Darfur, blogged the following at Soldier of Africa 15 Feb 2007:
Another Day in "Paradise" - "I have been in Darfur long enough now. Time to go home." That is the attitude of most guys who have been here for more than eight months. For most of us it is a matter of getting the days over. I also hope that the UN takes over this mission sooner rather than later. The presence of the AU has probably prevented genocide from continuing, but it is too uncoordinated and mismanaged to do the job properly.

Another day in "Paradise"

Photo: Maj Nawa, Maj Askvik and Snr Supt Elder, and I was taking the photo. We were trying to figure out exactly what the AU wants us to do in the JOC (Joint Operations Centre). At this stage we do not have a mission statement.
I think it is a scandal that African peacekeepers are still not paid correctly on time. Isn't there a law against such a thing? These people are paid to risk their lives to help others, miles away from home, and they're not getting paid! On 4 Feb 2007, Werner writes:
Dreaming of our Pay - I thought this photo to be appropriate since it seems we have a better chance of going to the moon than to get our money on time. When I returned from my leave in early January I received my money for October and that was the last money I have seen. This situation of late payments by the AU has been ongoing for all the time I have been here and has already forced me to have to change my leave plans once. A while back a friend of mine had to loan a woman $600 since the money she was entitled to was not yet paid to her and that would have meant she would have had to miss spending Christmas with her husband and children even though she was entitled to and had already planned her leave for this occasion. This is only one of many such problems caused to loyal members of AMIS and it seems as if nobody can or wants to change the current state of affairs.
Who is accountable for this state of affairs? And why are they getting away with it - is it corruption or incompetence or both? Hundreds of million pounds have been donated by Europe to make African peacekeepers in Africa a reality.

Head of International Committee Red Cross sees "gross violations" by all sides in Darfur

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Jakob Kellenberger, speaking after a five-day trip to Sudan which included stops in Darfur, said all sides of the conflict were committing human rights violations against civilians.

"It is a context of very gross violations of international humanitarian law, with a main responsibility on the government side, but not only on the government side. There have also been gross violations on the side of armed groups," he said.

Full story by Reuters (Stephanie Nebehay) 23 Feb 07.

Sudan's Bashir: "We're all Africans, we're all black - talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie"

Reuters report (via ST) 24 Feb 2007 - excerpt:
[Sudan's President] Bashir acknowledged Sudan was facing a "problem" in Darfur, but placed the blame squarely on rebel groups which did not sign on to a peace agreement concluded in Abuja, Nigeria in May 2006. "There is a problem, and the main cause of that problem is the rebellion ... we've done everything to possible to try to convince those who bore arms against the state and the people ... but all efforts and mediation failed," he said.

"There's a discourse in Western media about the number of people killed in these events, and a lot of organisations and the American media refer to imaginary numbers, up to 400,000 dead. All these are false."

He dismissed claims of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. "Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie. The government of Sudan is a government of blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds ... We're all Africans, we're all black."
I agree with all of the above. Read through three years of this blog and you wil see why. Pity I can't find a transcript or video link of whole discussion instead of a short report by the BBC - excerpt:
Speaking via satellite to a conference in Detroit, he [Sudan's President Bashir] said that his government welcomed help on Darfur, but not at the expense of its sovereignty.

The Sudanese leader was addressing the national conference of the American Muslim organisation, Nation of Islam, at the invitation of controversial leader Louis Farrakhan.

He said he was speaking to a US audience because he wanted to correct the "campaign of distortion by the media" towards Sudan.

Mr Bashir also accused the international community of unfairly pressurising his government.

"We welcome the help of everyone to solve our problems, including the problem of Darfur, but not at the expense of our sovereignty and the unity of our homeland," he said.

"Those who want to topple the government in Khartoum, we will not allow them to do so," he warned.
Clearly, the aim of the Darfur rebel leaders is to topple the Sudanese government - they've admitted it themselves, noted here in the archives of Sudan Watch. JEM's even talked of making Darfur their own country. I wonder if the financing and brains behind the insurgents are that of black Africans.
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See The Sudanese Thinker �on Sudan: Arab or African?

Racism in Our Subconsciousness?

See Ola's blog entry at Cinnamon Zone: Racist inner child

(via Global Voices Online - Palestine: Racism in Our Subconsciousness? 21 Feb 2007)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Languages of Sudan

See Ethnologue report for Sudan.

Chad prime minister flown to France after heart attack

Feb 21 2007 Reuters report excerpt:
Chad's Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji was flown for urgent medical treatment in France after suffering a heart attack early on Wednesday, a source at his office said.

Infrastructure Minister Adoum Younousmi will take over as the interim head of the cabinet during Yoadimnadji's absence, another government source said.
UPDATE : Reuters Feb 23 2007 (via CNN) - Chad's Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji died from a brain hemorrhage in Paris on Friday after he was flown there for urgent treatment following a heart attack. He was 56.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

ICC to name Darfur suspects on Feb. 27

Feb 22 2007 Reuters report (via ST) says ongoing fighting in Darfur has hampered the work of ICC investigators, who have had to interview witnesses outside Sudan, and divisions among Darfur's rebel factions have contributed to delaying an effective peace deal with Khartoum. Excerpt:
"[ICC Prosecutor] Moreno-Ocampo will submit evidence, in connection with named individuals, of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur," his office said in a statement, adding that the prosecutor would hold a news conference at 1300 GMT on Feb. 27.

Once Moreno-Ocampo has filed the evidence, pre-trial judges will decide whether to issue summons or arrest warrants for the named individuals. Formal charges will only follow later.
For more details see ICC media advisory at http://www.icc-cpi.int/press/pressreleases/225.html

UNMIS says 300 Maaliya militiamen attacked S. Darfur village

UN News Centre report 21 Feb 07 - excerpt:
UNMIS reports that earlier this week about 300 Maaliya militiamen attacked a village in south Darfur, with unconfirmed reports stating that 7 people were killed and 4 injured. In west Darfur, the Mission said that eight more families of internally displaced people (IDPs) had recently arrived in El Geneina after fleeing militia attacks.

AFP report 21 Feb 07 via ST - excerpt:
The Janjaweed militia backed by the Sudanese government killed at least 20 people in an attack in a southern region of strife-torn Darfur, a rebel official said on Wednesday.

"Hundreds of Janjaweed mounted on camels with four all-terrain vehicles attacked the area of Umm Dhai," said Kamal Eddin Haj Daoud, head of humanitarian affairs for the Sudanese Liberation Movement, the sole rebel signatory of a peace deal with the Khartoum government.

Daoud, whose statements appeared in the press, gave the names of seven dead, indicating that the others had not yet been identifed and their corpses had been burned.

He also said the pro-government militia also made off with 350 head of cattle.
Strange how the media savvy rebels have access to hi tech gadgets yet rarely, if ever, publicise photos or film footage of attacks.
- - -

See Feb 21 07 Reuters report - AU says Janjaweed massing north of el-Geneina, Darfur

Democrats disingenuous in their anti-war rhetoric

Notable quote from op-ed by Victor Davis Hanson at RealClearPolitics:
The next time a Democratic administration makes a case for using America's overwhelming military force to preempt a Milosevic or a mass murderer in Darfur - and history suggests that one will - the Democrats' own present disingenuous anti-war rhetoric may come back to haunt them, ensuring that such future humanitarian calls will probably fall on ears as deaf as they are partisan.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing author@victorhanson.com.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AU says Janjaweed massing north of el-Geneina, Darfur

Feb 21 2007 Reuters report by Aziz el-Kaissouni (via Swissinfo - also at Aljazeera) - excerpt:
Janjaweed militias have been concentrating forces to the north of el-Geneina, the capital of Sudan's West Darfur state, an African Union military source said on Tuesday, corroborating a U.N. report.

The AU source, who asked not to be named, said: "They are massing (north of el-Geneina) ... They have vehicles with machineguns on top and they're Janjaweed. We can't say what their intentions are."

The source declined to give numbers, but described the forces gathered as a "huge amount of personnel", with pick-up trucks, camels and horses.

A U.N. mission spokeswoman said the militia numbered in the hundreds. The AU source said an African Union helicopter was keeping the force under surveillance.

A spokesman for the Sudanese military said the assembled tribesmen were preparing to migrate from the area, after having come under attack by non-Arab tribes.

"There was a clash between Arab and non-Arab tribes ... and because attacks by non-Arab tribes had increased ... they (the Arab tribe) gathered to leave the area, not to fight."

A former rebel movement said a separate Janjaweed force had been attacking villages far to the east of the Darfur region for the past two days, killing six civilians.

That Janjaweed activity was north of ed-Da'ein, a town about 450 km (300 miles) southeast of el-Geneina.

A spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), the only rebel faction to sign a May peace accord with the government, said the militia had pillaged food and burnt houses in an attack which began on Monday and continued on Tuesday.

Six civilians were killed and two injured, he added.

The military spokesman blamed the violence on intertribal disputes between Zaghawa and Maalia ethnic groups, exacerbated by the involvement of militia from the SLM on the Zaghawa side.

On Monday, a report by the U.N. Mission in Sudan said "armed militia had been mobilising in large numbers over the past five days in the general area of Abou Souroug and Sliea (approximately 50 km north of el-Geneina). The reason behind the massive militia mobilisation is so far not known."

Tribal clashes in South Darfur killed up to 100 people last week, the United Nations said.

Darfur, an arid area the size of France, has been ravaged by violence since 2003, when rebels took up arms, accusing Khartoum of ignoring the region.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has resisted pressure to authorise a deployment of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers to support the 7,000-strong African Union mission, saying the AU force was strong enough and the United Nations could give money and logistical help to a hybrid force.

Bashir arrived in Libya on Tuesday for talks aimed at advance peace efforts in Darfur. The talks were due to begin late on Tuesday but were delayed until Wednesday morning because Chad's President Idriss Deby had not arrived, an official said.

The discussions will also be attended by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and U.N. and African Union envoys.

Gaddafi is expected to try to persuade the National Redemption Front Darfur rebel group to join the peace deal.

Darfur rebels say not concerned by Tripoli tripartite meeting

Darfur rebels seem to be holding up peace for Darfur. See Feb 20 2007 (Tripoli) Sudan Tribune article : Darfur rebels say not concerned by Tripoli tripartite meeting:
Darfur rebel groups denied participation in a mini-summit held in Tripoli in a bid to find a common ground allowing them to join the Darfur Peace Agreement signed last May between Sudanese government and one rebel faction.

While Abdelwahid al-Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) told Sudan Tribune that they were not contacted by the talk's sponsors, the spokesperson of the National Redemption Front (NRF), Ahmed Hussein Adam said they received an invitation from the Eritrean mediator but they declined it.

In Tripoli, the Libyan leader affirmed they expect the arrival of the rebel leaders to take part in the meeting.

Also, in spite of the absence of the Chadian president, the tripartite summit - with the participation of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki - discussed Tuesday night ways to persuade Darfur holdout rebels to join the DPA.

The leader of the SLM said such meeting would not facilitate the resolution of the conflict, as the Sudanese president is not really serious to reach a peace accord. He considers that attention must be given first to the protection of the displaced by international peacekeepers and their resettlement in their villages.

The NRF spokesperson pointed out that Justice and Equality Movement had apologized for not participating because they had not been consulted beforehand over the time and place for talks. He further said that Sudanese president participates in this meeting for Public relations.

Eritrea, which had failed to convince Darfur rebels to negotiate with Khartoum in Asmara, seems attached to continue its efforts for peace in Darfur. The rebels declined the Eritrean invitation because Asmara had closed the door for the participation of the UN and the international facilitators.

Rebel groups of the NRF have good relations with the Libyan authorities but the SLM seems distancing its self from Tripoli.

It was agreed in a compromise reached in Addis Ababa on Nov. 16, 2006 between the UN, AU and the Sudanese government that "The various initiatives must be brought under one umbrella and the AU and UN are best-placed to lead a credible process." The UN and AU envoys for Darfur were absent from the summit.

Observers say it is clear that this tripartite meeting would not be followed by a decisive resolution on Darfur crisis and that it might mean to amend relations between the Libyan leader and the Sudanese president.

Last month, the Sudanese president Omar al Bashir unexpectedly skipped on a 5 way summit that was held in Sirte, Libya. Also, Libya had stopped the transfer of 50 million US dollar to the African peacekeeping force in Darfur and didn't support Sudanese candidacy for the African Union presidency.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sudan's Bashir + Eritrean president + UN & AU envoys to meet Darfur rebels in Libya

Right on, Col Gaddafi! I hope this news report from Khartoum is true.

Copy of Kuna report Feb 19 2007:
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will leave here for Libya on Tuesday morning to meet Darfur rebels, who failed to sign Abuja peace deal.

Negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels are to be held under the sponsorship of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and to be attended by Eritrean President Isaias Afworki and UN and African Union envoys for Sudan's Darfur, the Sudan News Agency reported.

The agency quoted the Sudanese president's advisor Ali Masar as saying that the meeting would be a springboard for a fresh stage of dialogue between the Sudanese government and rebel movements in the troubled region of Darfur, which would be held in the Eritrean capital of Asmara later.

In May 2006, a peace deal was signed between the Sudanese government and main rebel movements under the patronage of the African Union. Other smaller rebel movements joined the peace deal.

But, another two rebel factions declined to ink the agreement, which, they claimed, failed to meet their expectations and demands for which they took up arms in face of the Sudanese government.

The Sudanese president has recently voiced his government's total willingness to negotiate with Darfur rebel movements which were reluctant to sign the peace deal, in a bid to put an end to the four-year armed conflict between the government and rebels, which has now left over two million people dead or homeless.

Feb 21 2007 Sudan Tribune report - Darfur rebels say not concerned by Tripoli tripartite meeting

Feb 21 2007 Reuters report - AU says Janjaweed massing north of el-Geneina, Darfur

Monday, February 19, 2007

UN, AU envoys meet with Sudan's Bashir

Feb 18 2007 UN press release - excerpt:
The AU's Salim Ahmed Salim and the UN's Jan Eliasson on Saturday briefed President Omar Hassan Al Bashir on the outcome of the discussions they held with senior government officials and both signatories and non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

President Al Bashir "stressed the commitment of the Government to support the dialogue with non-DPA signatories and expressed Sudan's keenness to improve relations with Chad," according to the UN Mission in the country (UNMIS), which said the Sudanese leader also pledged to boost humanitarian work and cooperate with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Why still no news of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) - who is now running Kalma camp housing 93,000 IDPs?

250,000 Sudanese and Somali refugees living in Kenyan refugee camps

Feb 18 2007 AusAID press release (via ReliefWeb) tells us there are 250,000 Sudanese and Somali refugees living in Kenyan refugee camps.

And an additional $5.8m support for WFP's operation in Darfur will bring Australia's assistance to Sudan since May 2004 $55.6m.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Darfur rebel talks delayed

Feb 17 2007 Reuters report via Alarab - excerpt:
A conference aimed at trying to unite the divided rebels of Sudan's western Darfur region has been postponed again, this time to enable a new breakaway rebel faction to join the talks, a rebel commander said on Sunday.

Commander Jar el-Neby said that a faction had broken away from the National Redemption Front (NRF) rebel group and asked to attend the talks, prompting a delay to await their arrival.

"We believe they'll be a valuable addition to us, and thus we've decided to postpone the conference temporarily," Neby said.

He gave no new date for the meeting, originally scheduled for Monday.

Divisions among Darfur's rebel factions have been a factor in delaying peace talks with Khartoum, and the conference to try to unite their positions has been delayed many times, twice because of government bombardment.

The NRF, a coalition of rebels who rejected a peace deal with the government in May, fragmented after disagreements about whether to accept a ceasefire negotiated last month by Bill Richardson, governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico.

One of the largest rebel factions said on Thursday it had agreed to the ceasefire with the government.
A child at Abu Shouk camp, N Darfur, W Sudan

Photo: A child's hand grasps barbed wire at Abu Shouk camp, located 7km north-west of Al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, in 2006. A planned UN human rights mission to the strife-torn region of Darfur said that it would carry on its work outside Sudan after being denied entry visas.(AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)

Note, 17 Feb 2007 Sudan welcomes EU envoy for DDDC.

CHAD: Obstacles to getting peacekeepers on ground

Feb 17 2007 IRIN report excerpt:
As the United Nations Security Council prepares for discussions this week on sending peacekeepers to eastern Chad, aid agencies working there are pressing the humanitarian need for rapid deployment, but observers in New York say significant political and logistical obstacles remain to getting boots on the ground.

The UN Security Council has been considering sending peacekeepers to Chad since last November when it asked the UN to send an assessment mission to Chad, Sudan and CAR to the south, which has also suffered from a spill-over of fighting.

The November mission concluded Chad's government and the rebel groups there needed to reach a peace agreement before peacekeepers could go in. But in January the Security Council demanded another assessment.

The report from that mission is expected to be ready by Monday.

Britain's Security Council representative, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said he recognised the urgent humanitarian need for military support, and said the UN has a "responsibility" to help protect civilians there.

Britain is one of the five powerful permanent members of the Security Council (P5) with the power to veto any resolution.

"The plight of those living in Chad and north-eastern CAR, in particular those in IDP and refugee camps, is getting worse and worse as violence from Darfur spills over the border," Parry told IRIN on Friday.

"The Secretary-General's recommendations on the options available to the UN are expected soon. The Security Council should respond urgently. If a UN mission can help to provide the protection that is needed, we would support it," Parry said.
Chadian soldiers at Gaga refugee camp, E Chad

Photo: Chadian army soldiers from the refugee camp's protection force play cards and prepare dinner at the refugee camp of Gaga, eastern Chad Tuesday Feb. 13, 2007. At least 230,000 ethnic Africans have fled Darfur to take refuge in camps in neighboring Chad and their numbers are steadily growing. But the refugees crowded into 12 camps are now facing increased tensions with Chadians in a competition for scarce resources in the large, barren border region. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)

Sudan welcomes EU envoy for DDDC

On 17 Feb 2007, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the UN to set a date for deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, it also called to enforce a non-fly zone in Darfur.

Note, excerpt from Sudanese Media Center report 18 Feb 2007:
Following his deliberations on the DPA with the European Union Envoy for Darfur-Darfur Dialogue Conference, the Presidential Advisor Majzoub Al-Khalifa told Sudan Vision Daily that Sudan welcomes the EU move as it sustains peace in Darfur. He stated that the EU, which has affirmed commitment to the DPA implementation, has identified its Envoy from among its personnel available in Sudan.

With regards to UN Human Rights Mission denied visit to Darfur, the Presidential Advisor was quoted as saying that Sudan has honored its conditioned pledge to UNSG Ki Moon to allow the HR Mission visit to Darfur. According to Khalifa Sudan has conveyed to Ki-Moon that some Mission members were classified as persona non grata for their biased stances against Sudan and, as such, they should be replaced by neutral individuals otherwise they would be rightfully rejected.

The Presidential Advisor wound up his statement by commenting that the Abuja Agreement is well in progress and that the Movements Field Commanders commitment to cease military operations demonstrates their genuine move to join the peace process.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Interview: Sudanese President Bashir

Feb 17 2007 Asharq Alawsat Newspaper, Michel Abu Najm's Interview with Sudanese President Bashir [via CFD]. Excerpt:

(Asharq Al-Awsat) There is talk about a tripartite Sudanese-Chadian-Central African summit on the sidelines of the Cannes summit. What do you hope to achieve in it?

(Al-Bashir) In the past, we held several summits of this kind. We signed several agreements with Chad, even before the Darfur problem, to control the border, which is witnessing problems because of the movement of tribes between Sudan and Chad--tribes that know no borders. There are 18 joint tribes with one leader each. They exist on both sides of the border. As for Darfur, the one that launched the rebellion there was a Chadian officer with the rank of colonel. Several rebellion leaders were Chadian officers. All the agreements we signed with the Chadians to control the border and establish a joint observation force have produced no results because of Chad's failure to honor its commitments. Members of the Chadian regime are from the same tribe that is leading the rebellion in Darfur. When Idris Deby was trying to overthrow the regime of Hissen Habre, he obtained the help of his tribe, the Zaghawa, which is present on both sides of the border. The tribe is asking him now to return the favor to their brothers in Sudan. His security and intelligence services are working to support the rebellion in Darfur. Despite the agreements and discussions, Chad has not fulfilled its commitments, although we must affirm that the existing situation does not serve the interests of Sudan or Chad. The two countries have no choice but to cooperate, because security anarchy negatively affects both sides. We want to exchange benefits and not disagreements. We hope that the summit would open the door for settling the differences.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) The Darfur issue is at the top of the political agenda of the French-African summit. How do you see the solution to the present crisis?

(Al-Bashir) Foreign parties are behind the issue. They have fabricated and exaggerated it. Frictions and conflicts have always existed between the tribes.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) But, the view of the United Nations, its organizations, and various nongovernmental organizations is different. They talk about various atrocities.

(Al-Bashir) On the issue of the report, remember the reports regarding Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. What happened later? We think that anti-Sudan elements have turned their attention to Darfur after we had achieved peace in southern Sudan. They accused us of ethnic cleansing and that government instruments and forces are doing this. Here I want to say that Darfur is divided into three provinces with their own governments and local councils. If we look at the situation closely, we can see that the governors of two of the three provinces are from Darfur and that most of the administration, police, and security forces are from Darfur. The Darfur Arabs are nomads. Their educational level is low. Therefore, their presence in the security forces, administration, and political councils is very weak. Can you imagine that Darfur citizens are ethnically cleansing Darfur? All this is false propaganda. There is a rebellion problem in Darfur, and it is the duty of a government in any state to fight the rebellion. When war takes place, civilian victims fall, and this has been exaggerated.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) The question today is will Sudan accept a UN force, according to UN Security Council resolution 1706, to replace the African force or accept a joint force?

(Al-Bashir) We totally reject resolution 1706. Its acceptance would mean placing Sudan under UN mandate. We will not accept such a situation under any circumstances and willingly, because it would turn us into another Iraq. I want to say that we signed a peace agreement about Darfur. Deputy US Secretary of State Zoellick, the British minister of state for international cooperation, African Union envoy Salim Ahmad Salim, Head of the African Commission Umar Kunari, and representatives of the EU and the European states drafted the final copy of the agreement. The agreement called for the deployment of African forces to maintain security in Darfur.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) But, these forces have been ineffective.

(Al-Bashir) The African forces are suffering from financial problems. All the reports talked about the positive role of these forces. However, when the Western countries stopped their financial support, problems began. We think that the African force plus UN support is sufficient. What would change if the force changed hats and became a UN force?

(Asharq Al-Awsat) What would change is that a UN force operating under UN command would have a moral power not enjoyed by the current African force.

(Al-Bashir) The force is the force of the African Union. It was the mediator. The force was entrusted with the peacekeeping task in Darfur. When the peace agreement was signed, the government signed it with one rebel faction--the Sudan Liberation Army. The agreement called for sanctions against the party that did not sign the agreement if it continued to oppose it. Resolution 1706 was to the contrary. It punished Sudan. The Darfur Peace Act, which the American President signed, imposed on us additional American sanctions. On the other hand, the elements that rejected the agreement are moving freely in the Western capitals. They are receiving unrestricted financial and military aid, and because of this aid, they have succeeded in seizing control of the northern part of Darfur. We only heard subdued reactions from the world. Is this not a direct threat to Darfur and to security and peace? These movements exist in the refugee camps in Chad where they are conducting military training. Chad has opened its borders and airports to allow weapons to reach these groups and facilitate their movements to Darfur. This is taking place within the view of the United Nations and its organizations. So far, no one has condemned Chad or the states that send the weapons. They are only criticizing the government and the Janjawid.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) Can we say then that irrespective of the pressure and the mediations, Sudan absolutely rejects a UN force or a hybrid UN-African force?

(Al-Bashir) Yes, this is our position. We accepted Kofi Annan's three-stage plan. The first stage is for weak logistical support, and this is taking place. The second is for heavy support involving equipment, systems, experts, and technicians from the United Nations. This is acceptable in principle and negotiations are taking place to implement it. The third stage is the hybrid force. We have expressed reservations about it and submitted these reservations to the African Peace and Security Council, which issued a resolution that we accepted. Based on this resolution, an understanding was reached about the appointment of a special envoy of the UN secretary general, the identity of the commander of the force (African), and the way of appointing him (the African Union would nominate one and the United Nations would approve it). An understanding was also reached about accepting elements from the United Nations in this force and about the level of command. This is what we are prepared to accept, and this is what we call the African Union force plus UN support. Anything else is unacceptable to us.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) Would you show some additional flexibility in Cannes?

(Al-Bashir) We have shown flexibility, but there is a limit and beyond it, we cannot go. In short, we cannot accept an agreement that would place us under a mandate and place our justice, police, and other systems under the control of others.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) What does the United States wants from you? Does it want to change the regime in Sudan?

(Al-Bashir) Yes. There are elements in the United States that want political change in Sudan. Some groups in the US Congress, for example, are hostile to us, and whatever we do, we are unacceptable and would never be acceptable to them.

(Asharq Al-Awsat) Does the administration of President Bush want change?

(Al-Bashir) I would not say the American administration wants change. It stood by us on the issue of peace in the south. The State Department played a positive role in reaching the Abuja agreement (on Darfur).

(Asharq Al-Awsat) But, the US President has imposed new financial and economic sanctions against Sudan recently.

(Al-Bashir) The American blockade is not new. The United States economic and financial boycott is also not new, and so is the boycott maintained by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Despite this blockade, we have reorganized our economy and achieved very high levels of development. Therefore, the American measures would not affect us. We turned toward the orient, and our relations are good and close with many of its countries. Our relations are excellent with China, for example.

Sixth Rwandan peacekeeper dies in Darfur

Salute. Feb 15 2007 The New Times (Kigali) article by James Munyaneza - via allAfrica.com Feb 16:
Another Rwandan peacekeeping soldier in the troubled Sudanese western region of Darfur died on Manday morning, the military has said. The Military Spokesperson, Maj. Jill Rutaremara, told The New Times on Wednesday, that Private Cyprien Barakengera died of a suspected malaria attack. "The RDF (Rwanda Defence Forces) has already sent condolences to the family of the late comrade," Rutaremara said. He said arrangements are underway to bring the body back home. His body is currently at the mortuary in El-Fashir, the headquarters of the peace force.

Survived by a wife and three children, Barakengera, 28, has been attached to RDF 15th Battalion which is currently stationed in Zalinge (Sector Seven) in Darfur. The Battalion is under the command of Lt. Col. Jean Bosco Kananga.

The late soldier's family is in Rubavu District in the Western Province.

Rutaremara said that the deceased has been serving in the AU peacekeeping force in Darfur for over six months.

Barakengera is the sixth Rwandan soldier to die from the war-torn Darfur since the troops' deployment in August, 2004. On October 26 Corporal Gafishi Ntirenganya died when an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) he was traveling in overturned near Tawila.

Corporal David Niyonsaba was the first Rwanda soldier to die while on an AU mission. He died in a Darfur hospital on October 20, 2005 after sustaining fatal injuries in a road accident in El Fasher, north of Darfur.

He was followed by Lt. William Ntayomba, who is the most senior RDF soldier to die in Darfur. He died from electrocution.

And in August, 2006, two other RDF soldiers were killed in an ambush between El Fasher and El Nahud by one the Sudanese warring factions in Darfur.

Pte Barakengera's death came just two days before the government started the process of replacing all Rwandan troops and civilian police personnel from Darfur. Some of the troops being replaced have been in Darfur since February, 2006. The rotation involves 2040 RDF officers and men, and 49 civilian police personnel.
God bless all the peace makers.

Sudan's SPLM moves north to Khartoum

"We are going to relocate the headquarters of the SPLM to Khartoum so as to be more active in national politics," said SPLM spokesman Yasir Arman.

The SPLM headquarters was previously in the south Sudan capital Juba and observers had often criticised the SPLM for focusing on southern issues and neglecting national politics. - Reuters 16 Feb 2007 via ST.

AU head says Chad, Sudan, CAR seem ready to agree on AU/UN border peace force (BBC)

Feb 16 2007 BBC report - Chad may face genocide, UN warns - excerpt:
The warning comes as Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic signed a deal [at Africa-France summit] not to support rebels attacking each other's neighbouring territory.

African Union head, Ghana's President John Kufuor, said they seemed ready to agree to an AU/UN border peace force.

"They seem to be ready to accept a beefed-up force from the African Union and the United Nations to take control of the borders among them," Mr Kufuor told reporters at the French-African summit in Cannes where the declaration was signed.
See 24th Africa-France summit.

Don't let Chad become like Darfur, begs Oxfam (Telegraph)

The United Nations Security Council will soon decide whether to send a peacekeeping force to Chad. If approved, these troops are expected to deploy along the border with Sudan and protect civilians. - Full story by David Blair, Telegraph, 17 Feb 2007.

European Parliament urges UN force, non-fly zone in Darfur

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution urging the UN to set a date for deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, it also calls to enforce a non-fly zone in Darfur. - Full story ST 17 Feb 2007.
- - -

UPDATE: Also, see Feb 15 2007 Aegis Trust press release (via ST 17 Feb) European Parliament takes hard line on Darfur.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sudan's Bashir "ready" to accept UN fact finding mission on Darfur, with conditions (AP)

According to an Associated Press report today via International Herald Tribune - Sudan president "ready" to accept U.N. mission on Darfur, with conditions - excerpt:
Sudan's president said Friday he is ready to accept a U.N. fact-finding mission to Darfur, although not some of the members who have been proposed so far. He also gave no ground on a proposed U.N. peacekeeping deployment for Darfur, likening those forces to coalition troops in Iraq.

Al-Bashir suggested that Sudan could accept more African Union peacekeepers - with U.N. support.

"With regard to United Nations forces in Darfur, we have already said 'no' and that would be valid also for the frontiers. But we accept the presence of African forces to control the borders with Chad and Central African Republic," he said.

For Darfur, "we have accepted a hybrid operation. What does that mean? It means that the base of this force would be African forces, with a strong logistical, human, technical and other support so that the African Union can maintain peace," he said.

Al-Bashir said the resolution, number 1706, "practically puts Sudan under trusteeship and gives these forces a mandate similar to that of the coalition forces in Iraq."

"We cannot accept that Sudan is put under trusteeship," he said.
- - -

See Sudan's Plan for Darfur - Letter from UN's Ban to Sudan's Bashir Jan 24 remains unanswered

Sudan's Bashir reaffirms rejection of UN force, says packages still negotiated

Feb 15 2007 Sudan Tribune report by Wasil Ali - Sudan reaffirms rejection of UN force, says packages still negotiated - excerpt:
Speaking from Cannes where the question of Darfur and Sudan-Chad dominated the Africa-France summit, al-Bashir said the deployment of UN forces "will transform the country to another Iraq."

Al-Bashir indicated in his interview that Khartoum is not prepared to make further concessions on the issue.

Sudan's leader further accused some groups in the US Congress of seeking to topple his regime through sanctions. Nevertheless he added that US Administration had helped his regime during Navaivsha to end civil war in southern Sudan, and the US State Department also played a positive role during Abuja negotiations.

He also criticized "western" nations for harboring rebel leaders and proving them with "financial and military support" which helped them to control the northern part of Darfur.

The Case of Suleiman Jamous - Boycott of Darfur Commanders' Conference

A blog entry from Kadugli, Kordofan, Sudan 4 Feb 2007 - the arbitrary detention of suleiman jamous - excerpt:
A conference of the rebel commanders of Darfur is currently being planned. This conference was the idea of Suleiman Jamous, Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan Liberation Movement, who is currently trapped in the UN hospital in Kadugli, Kordofan.

The goal of the conference is to unite the rebel groups in order to be able to negotiate a sustainable and equitable solution to the conflict in Darfur. Suleiman Jamous's political experience and advice is needed at this conference in order for it to be successful. Therefore we will not attend the commanders' conference unless Suleiman Jamous is present at the conference.

Commander Abdalla Yahya Ahmed
Commander Siddeig Burra
Commander Suleiman Maragan
Commander Jar Elnebi Abdelkarim
Commander Abdellatief Abdelhameed
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UPDATE: Feb 15 2007 Eric Reeves - Is Khartoum Interested in Darfur Peace Talks? The Case of Suleiman Jamous

Sudan's Plan for Darfur - Letter from UN's Ban to Sudan's Bashir Jan 24 remains unanswered

Sad. Excerpt from Soldier of Africa: Another Day in "Paradise" Feb 15, 2007:
"I have been in Darfur long enough now. Time to go home." That is the attitude of most guys who have been here for more than eight months. For most of us it is a matter of getting the days over. I also hope that the UN takes over this mission sooner rather than later. The presence of the AU has probably prevented genocide from continuing, but it is too uncoordinated and mismanaged to do the job properly.
Hybrid force

New UN/AU insignia

Photo: This is what the new UN/AU hybrid force will look like with both UN and AU insignia. For now anyway. (Photo and caption by Werner K, Soldier of Africa Jan 2007)

Still no affirmative news on AU-UN hybrid mission

Reuters report (UN's Ban raps Sudan on visas for rights monitors by Evelyn Leopold 15 Feb 2007) - excerpt:
Ban said he was awaiting a report from his special envoy Jan Eliasson of Sweden, now in Sudan, as well as an answer to a letter he sent to Bashir late last month.

"So again, this continuing deteriorating situation in Darfur is just unacceptable," Ban said. "I'm still awaiting an official reply from President Bashir to my letter of Jan. 24, which outlines our detailed positions on force generation, command and control and funding."

"With an affirmative answer, we can pave the way immediately to the introduction of an AU-UN hybrid mission," Ban said.
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Six months ago, here in the sidebar at Sudan Watch, I linked to the full text of Sudan's Plan dated 2 Aug 2006. Yesterday, after reading that US special envoy to Sudan was quoted as saying the Sudanese government has lost control, I revisited the link and extracted the following from pdf English version entitled "Plan of the Government of the Sudan for the restoration of stability and protection of civilians in Darfur":

Excerpt from letter sent by Sudanese President Bashir to UNSG Kofi Annan 2 August 2006:
I have the honour in that connection to transmit to you herewith the plan of the Government of the Sudan to restore stability and protect civilians in Darfur. It is a national plan that relies on the provisions of the Darfur peace accord signed on 5 May 2006 in accordance with the timetable contained therein. For our part, we shall work to complete the implementation of the plan by the end of this year with the cooperation of and in coordination with the parties to the Darfur peace accord and the mission of the African Union in Darfur. We also have every confidence that the United Nations will spare no effort to support this plan in such manner as we consider necessary so that the plan may achieve its objectives.

Our national plan comprises a number of priorities for returning life to normal in Darfur, among the most important of which, as specified above, are the aspects that address control over the security situation, the attainment of stability, the protection of civilians, and the strengthening of mechanisms and systems for the enforcement of the rule of law. The plan also gives special consideration to a number of quick-impact economic programmes that are indispensable to support the stability that will be achieved through other features of the plan.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration. Omer Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir President of the Republic of the Sudan To His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan Secretary-General of the United Nations Khartoum, 2 August 2006
Excerpt from the plan's Introduction:
The detailed plan indicated below is based on the provisions of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the timetable established in it for the implementation of those provisions. It is also based on the Sudanese Government's understanding of the current situation in Darfur and its complicated security, social, humanitarian and economic aspects. The Sudanese Government, which holds the greatest and most fundamental responsibility in this matter, will exert itself to complete the implementation of this plan by the end of the year in coordination and cooperation with the parties signatory to the Peace Agreement and the African Union, to which the Agreement accords a fundamental role in the implementation process.
Excerpt from page 5 of the English version:

1. To perform the undertakings of the Sudanese Government under the Darfur Peace Agreement in coordination with the African Union, in accordance with the timetable established in the Agreement

2. To gain control over the security situation and achieve stability in Darfur;

3. To deal with the threats posed by the activites of groups that have rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement;

4. To secure and protect displaced persons' camps and livestock routes;

5. To tighten cooperation with the African Union with a view to strengthening the African Mission in the Sudan;

6. To remove all the obstacles and impediments that stand in the way of the work of the African forces in Darfur.

Activity: Deployment of additional forces in Darfur to gain control of the security situation and achieve stability in coordination with the African Union
Implementation measures and means:
Phase I
4,000 Government troops
2,000 SLM troops
Timing: 1 Aug - 30 Sep 2006
What is required of United Nations and partners: Participation in demining operations, especially in farming areas, on roads and on livestock routes.

Implementation measures and means:
Phase II
8,000 Government troops
2,000 SLM troops
3,348 AU troops
Timing: 1 Oct - 31 Dec 2006
What is required of the United Nations and partners: Support for efforts to strengthen the mechanisms for the implementaiton of the Peace Agreement relating to security measures and training of the members of those mechanisms, including the representatives of the parties, in collaboration with the African Union.

Implementation measures and means:
Phase III
10,500 Government troops to consolidate the security situation
and for border control
Timing: After 1 Jan 2007

Activity: Securing and protection of displaced persons' camps
Implementation measures and means:
Deployment of 7,050 fully qualified members of the national police to secure the camps and the surrounding areas, to provide policing within camps and in areas where there are population clusters and to which people return voluntarily. Creation of police units specialised in crimes against women and children in the camps.
Timing: 1 Aug - 31 Dec 2006
What is required of the United Nations and partners: Provision of advisory expertise for the training of members of the national police and the civil police of the African Union to assist them in carrying out their missions. Provision of stationary and mobile police force crim laboratories to enhance their capacity to investigate violations, especially those directed against women and children.

Activity: Reinforcement of the African Union Mission in the Sudan
Implementation measures and means:
Guaranteeing of the provision of all the facilities and types of support provided for in the Agreement on the establishment of the Mission with a view to properly meeting the needs of the Mission and its mobility needs in a timely fashion. Maintenance of landing facilities and airport use in Darfur and expansion of such facilities to meet the Mission's strategic air transport needs.
Timing: 1 Aug - 31 Dec 2006
What is required of the United Nations and partners: Guaranteeing of the provision of the requisite levels of resources, air and land capacities and other mobility aids. Provision of both stationary and portable communication equipment to strengthen the Missions's communications network in order to cover all of Darfur. The provision of consultative expertise for the members of the Mission and training of its members in the fields of communications, administration, transport and data collection.

Photos from Darfur: Handing over ceremony of the UN Light Support Package to the AU

More great photos and captions at Soldier of Africa by SA Military Observer Werner K, currently on active service in El Fashier, N Darfur, W Sudan.

Handing over ceremony of the UN Light Support Package to the AU

Photo: A photographer grabs a photo at the handing over ceremony of the UN Light Support Package to the AU earlier today [in Darfur, W Sudan]. This package includes night sight equipment, GPS's, sleeping bags and so forth. AMIS already has many of these items, but thus far I have had the impression that few know how to use equipment like GPS's. I hope training in the use of the new equipment is part of the package or it will mean nothing for the people of Darfur. (Photo and caption by Werner K, Soldier of Africa Jan 2007)

Swedish UN member

Swedish UN member

Photo: A Swedish police officer, now working for the UN, on parade this morning as the UN Light Support Package was handed over to the AU. (Photo and caption by Werner, K Soldier of Africa Jan 2007)

UN chief of staff

UN chief of staff

Photo: On the left is Colonel van Staden. He is the new UN chief of staff appointed for the incoming UN elements to form part of the hybrid force consisting out of UN and AU personnel. I am also seeing many more UN personnel around AMIS HQ. (Photo and caption by Werner, K Soldier of Africa Jan 2007)

UN'S Pronk: Hidden forces undermining Sudanese president authority

Don't miss Wasil Ali's fascinating interview (Sudan Tribune 12 Feb 2007) with the former UN Secretary General envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk of The Netherlands.
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Town Hall Meeting

UN Town Hall meeting in Sudan

Via Jan Pronk Weblog:
Since my departure from Sudan, having been declared persona non grata by the Government of Sudan, my deputy Mr. Taye Zerihoun, has taken over as Officer in Charge. Taye Zerihoun had been the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sudan. In that capacity he had in particular dealt with political affairs. The second deputy, Manuel Aranda da Silva, will continue as well. He is dealing in particular with humanitarian affairs and fulfills at the same time the position of United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.

This picture has been taken at a so called Town Hall meeting attended by all staff of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, two weeks before my departure on 24 October.

From left to right: Taye Zerihoun, Jan Pronk, Manuel Aranda da Silva. Photo: Frederic Noy

US special envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios says Sudanese government has lost control

Reuters report 14 Feb 2007 (via Sudan Tribune) US envoy fears "blood bath" in Darfur - excerpt:
The U.S. special envoy to Sudan said on 14 Feb 2007 he feared aid groups could be forced out of Darfur and pro-government Janjaweed militia would try to close camps sheltering millions, resulting in a "blood bath."

"The government has lost control. There is anarchy in large parts of Darfur. The risk is that if the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) leave, the U.N. humanitarian agencies leave ... there will be no one to care for these people in the camps who can be trusted," he told Reuters in an interview.

"There is a potential for an explosion if the agencies leave that would match the risk to people of the 2003 and 2004 time period," he said.

He said U.S. diplomacy would focus on protecting the humanitarian aid effort in Darfur.

"It is a matter of people's lives being protected and preventing the expulsion of the aid community and any attacks on the camps. It affects people's lives in a very direct sense," he said.

The United States is losing patience with Sudan's government over its handling of Darfur and is considering a more robust response to put pressure on Khartoum, a strategy Natsios has referred to as "Plan B."

He declined to provide any details of Plan B, saying it was classified.

24th Africa-France summit - Sudan president says Darfur rebels Western-backed

Feb 16 2007 Reuters - Sudan president says Darfur rebels Western-backed - excerpt:
Speaking to the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on the sidelines of African talks in the French city of Cannes, Bashir said that instead of punishing rebels that rejected the peace deal, a United Nations resolution had put the onus on Khartoum.

"The elements that reject the agreement move with freedom in Western capitals and receive financial and military support ... and due to this support have been successful in controlling the northern section of Darfur," Bashir said. "Is this not a direct threat to Darfur and to security and peace?"
Chirac welcomes Bashir to Cannes

Photo: French President Jacques Chirac, left, welcomes his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir at the opening of the 24th Africa-France summit, Thursday Feb.15, 2007 in Cannes, southern France. Crises in the Sudanese region of Darfur and in Guinea overshadowed the gathering of 40 heads of state and government. The leaders of Sudan, Central African Republic and Chad were likely to meet on the sidelines to discuss Darfur. (AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik; Pool)

24th Africa-France summit

Photo: French President Jacques Chirac welcomes his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at the opening of the 24th Africa-France summit, Thursday Feb.15, 2007 in Cannes, southern France. (AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik; Pool)

24th Africa-France summit

Photo: French President Jacques Chirac, left, welcomes his Central African Republic counterpart Francois Bozize at the opening of the 24th Africa-France summit, Thursday Feb.15, 2007 in Cannes, southern France. (AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik; Pool)

Feb 15 2007 AP report via Sudan Tribune - Chad's foreign minister says Darfur meeting "useless" - excerpt:
A source close to French President Jacques Chirac said the three countries' presidents were likely to meet at a French-African summit in the French seaside resort of Cannes.

"This same meeting is useless because it is aimed at distracting international public opinion and moving it away from the real problem, which is that Sudan is attacking Chad," said Chad's Foreign Minister Ahmat Allam-Mi.
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France says progress made in Darfur crisis

UPDATE Feb 16 2007 AP report by John Leicester - excerpt:
Looking to end the crisis in Darfur, France won agreement on Thursday from three involved African countries that they would not support armed rebel movements on each other's territories.

Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic made the commitment in a declaration signed Thursday night, on the sidelines of an African summit that France hosted in the Riviera city of Cannes.
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UPDATE People's Daily Online -- Sudanese President calls for UN support: A mini-summit, which is organized on the sidelines of the 24th France-Africa summit, ended up in the Cannes declaration on Darfur. The declaration, which was signed by Chad, Central Africa Republic and Sudan, reiterates commitment by the three countries to respect each other's sovereignty and not to support armed rebel groups in accordance with the Tripoli accord.