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Posts tagged ‘Omar al-Bashir’

Sudanese Bishop Pleads for End to Suffering.


Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail
The Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, the bishop of the Kadugli Diocese, is calling for tough actions against the Sudanese regime.

A Sudanese bishop has written to U.S. President Barack Obama, calling for prompt actions to save the lives of those still alive in the country’s Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, the bishop of Kadugli diocese, called for tough actions against the Sudanese regime. He reminded world leaders to not just focus on the Syrian conflict, but pay more attention to the war raging in various parts of Sudan.

According to Elnail, his country is currently plagued by “government-sponsored crimes against humanity,” which deserve Obama’s attention.

“As a victim and survivor of genocide, I would like to remind your respected office that great effort is needed to end the deaths and displacement and restore peace to our community, which has suffered for so many years,” Elnail wrote in the letter, published in the Sudan Tribune.

“Our people feel as though the world has forgotten them. We wonder why you have not acted to end our people’s suffering or that of the people of Darfur, who are still suffering and whose plight is getting worse.

“We continue to be bombed from the air daily. Bombs land on farms and schools, churches and mosques, clinics and markets. Innocent civilians, women and children, are killed carrying on their daily lives. Those who survive live in constant fear, and for two years they have lived in caves in the mountains.”

The bishop also deplores the conditions of people living in the war-affected Sudanese territories, citing starvation conditions in the Kao Nyaro and Warni areas of the Nuba Mountains.

“If the political situation is not addressed and aid is not delivered to the people immediately, the catastrophe will grow until it is too late,” he says.

Meanwhile, Elnail urged Donald Booth, the newly appointed U.S. envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, to develop a new pro-democracy and civilian protection-oriented policy on Sudan.

In another strong call for action, a collection of 20 international human rights organizations sent a letter on Sept. 9 to the U.N. Human Rights Council outlining serious human rights violations in Sudan during the past year, urging them to address these during its session ending Friday.

The letter cited specific violations by the government forces and allied militia, accusing them of continued abuse against civilians—including failure to protect civilians, indiscriminate bombings of civilians, denying of humanitarian access in conflict areas, use of excessive force to subdue protesters and mass detention of perceived enemies. The violations occurred in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and also spread to Northern Kordofan.

According to this detailed critique, the human rights abuses also included religious freedom violations targeting Christian minorities:

  • “Since South Sudan’s independence, public rhetoric by Sudanese leaders and religious figures has become increasingly intolerant. In 2013, there has been a marked increase in harassment of ethnic Christian groups and individuals. Authorities have shut down Christian educational institutes and harassed and arrested employees and church members.
  • “On Jan. 15, authorities closed down the Life Institute for Learning, an Egyptian Christian educational institute in Khartoum teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers. The non-Sudanese owner and students were ordered to leave Sudan, and the institute’s assets were confiscated. On the same day, three other Christian educational organizations, including the Karido Institute for English Languages and Computer Studies, the Nile Valley Academy for Primary Education and the Aslan Academy for English Language and Computer Studies, were closed down and had their assets seized.
  • “On Feb. 3, an undersecretary in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs sent a letter to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Sudan threatening to arrest the church members if they began any missionary activity.
  • “On March 2, a group of armed security forces raided the New Life Church in Omdurman Town, arrested two church members and interrogated them about sources of funding and whether the church had any foreign members. Since the raid, church members have reportedly been afraid to enter the church to worship. A large number of other non-Sudanese church members have also been deported in 2013.”

Sudan is due to adopt a new permanent Constitution, which the government has declared will be based on Islamic Sharia, and is preparing for national elections in 2015.

The Sudan Tribune reports that President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) sees the general election as a crucial means to renew its contested legitimacy and vote in a new Constitution in the country since the secession of South Sudan.

The paper reported that al-Bashir has said the armed rebellion and tribal clashes will be brought to an end by the end of next year, so that the 2015 general elections will be held in a Sudan that is “free of wars”.

“We are concerned about increasing restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms at a time when Sudan is preparing for these important processes that will determine the future of the country,” the human rights organizations said. “Despite passing a 10-year action plan for human rights this year, Sudan has not demonstrated political will to change its abusive and restrictive practices.”

Among other actions, the organizations called on the Human Rights Council to condemn the human rights violations, establish an independent investigation into the matter, and urge the Sudan government to grant humanitarian agencies access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. They expressed concerns over the ongoing restrictions of basic civil and political rights, harassment, arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment and restrictions on association and assembly.

“We regret that previous resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council failed to condemn the widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Sudan, and did not identify concrete priority areas of action to improve the protection of basic human rights,” they added.

HRW Expresses Concern Over Independent Expert Report
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also written a letter to the Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council, commenting on the Sept. 10 report of the Independent Expert on the Human Rights situation in Sudan.

The organization expressed concern that the report of the Independent Expert, Professor Mashood Adebayo Baderin of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), portrays small steps taken by the Government of Sudan on legislative and institutional matters as “signs of progress.”

In particular, the Expert’s view that “the Government has made progress in putting in place necessary legislations and institutional mechanisms for improving the situation of human rights in the country” caused concern. According to HRW, it refers merely to the government’s promise to retain bill of rights provisions in the current Interim National Constitution (INC) in a permanent constitution, which has yet to be adopted.

“The only other two indicators referenced by the Expert are the adoption of a UPR [Universal Periodic Review] implementation plan and a 10-year human rights plan of action, which is still in bullet point form.”

HRW says that to date neither a) the adoption of a plan to implement UPR recommendations, nor b) the establishment of various bodies such as the Advisory Council on Human Rights, the National Commission for Human Rights and other commissions to promote human rights, nor c) the adoption of a 10-year action plan for human rights, have led to changes to laws, policies or practices that violate the rights of the Sudanese people.

It criticized the report for downplaying the continuing, serious violations and repression of basic rights across Sudan. As an example, it stated the lack of prominence the Expert gave to continued indiscriminate aerial bombings of civilian areas in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“The Expert failed to include a recommendation to the government of Sudan to immediately stop this indiscriminate bombing on civilians in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which has killed hundreds of women, men, and children. This reprehensible practice, for which the Sudanese government is directly responsible, violates basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, and should be a primary concern for the Independent Expert,” HRW said.

It also protested that the report did not make clear the government’s role in Darfur’s complex conflict dynamics. While it described “tribal clashes” in Darfur, it failed to note that at best Sudan is failing to protect civilians, and at worst it is allowing its security forces to participate in killing civilians.

HRW cites research showing Ali Kosheib, a known former militia leader, participating in attacks on civilians in ethnic Salamat villages in Central Darfur in April this year, in his capacity as a commander in the government’s Central Reserve Police. Kosheib is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes in Darfur in 2005.

“Moreover, the report did not accurately reflect the continued use by security forces of violence to break up peaceful protests, or the well-established practice of stifling dissent by arbitrarily detaining people with real or perceived links to rebel groups or their continued use of torture and ill-treatment to exact confessions from detainees,” HRW said.

Despite what HRW called “a long-standing and entrenched tactic of repression,” it noted that the 20-page report included only a paragraph listing some examples of arbitrary arrests.

“Once more, we urge member states of the Human Rights Council not to overlook the gravity of the human rights situation in Sudan, to condemn violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the on-going restrictions of basic civil and political rights across the country.

HRW urged the Human Rights Council to explicitly call for reporting on the on-going violations in Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, and repression of human rights in other parts of the country, including attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and critics.

“Given the gravity of the current situation in Sudan, the Human Rights Council should call on the Expert to report on these matters at its next session,” HRW concluded.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

WORLD WATCH MONITOR

Mia Farrow: Obama Missing in Action on Sudan’s Genocide.


Image: Mia Farrow: Obama Missing in Action on Sudan's Genocide

By Dan Weil

President Barack Obama is shamefully doing nothing to fight the genocide being perpetrated in Sudan by its president, Omar al-Bashir, says actress and activist Mia Farrow.

“There was a time when Mr. Obama expressed outrage over the mass murder and aerial bombardment of civilians in the Darfur region of western Sudan,” she writes in The Wall Street Journal along with author Daniel Goldhagen.

That was in 2007, when he sought the presidency.

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“Now President Obama has joined that silence,” the two write. “Mr. Obama has managed to avoid scrutiny about his most tragic foreign-policy failure: standing by as Sudan’s Islamic regime perpetrates a slaughter against its own citizens who belong to non-Arab ethnic groups.”

Bashir has killed tens of thousands of his own people, the pair note, adding that Obama, meanwhile, cites “humanitarian reasons to intervene in a crisis” only “when politically convenient.”

“He entered Libya ‘to prevent a bloodbath,’ despite no mass slaughter of civilians in that country. This disingenuous explanation only damaged his credibility as a humanitarian, though it did placate the international human-rights community,” Farrow and Goldhagen say, adding that Sudan merits at least the same treatment.

“An enormous number of civilian lives are at risk in Darfur. Bashir’s assaults against the people of Sudan have escalated in intensity. Some three million people are living — if you can even call it that — in refugee camps under wretched conditions.”

They say the outside world, meanwhile, doesn’t know what’s going on in Sudan because it’s not letting in outsiders, including the media.
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“There is a moral imperative to help the people of Darfur, which President Obama once articulated well,” Farrow and Goldhagen continue, referencing a statement he made in 2007 calling the “slaughter of innocents” wrong and advocating a “protective force on the ground.”

But, “those suffering in Darfur can expect no such ‘protective force’ from the U.S.,” they write.

“For reasons that are unclear, Sudan doesn’t meet Mr. Obama’s threshold for action . . . Mr. Obama has abandoned his own moral standards and left the people of Darfur to perish.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Group Wants President Al-Bashir Arrested In Nigeria On Monday.


 

Sudan President Omar Bashir
By SaharaReporters, New York

The Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) has called on the Nigerian government, as a partner to the Rome Statute, to observe the treaty and arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir should he set foot on Nigerian soil on Monday.
Reports say that Al-Bashir is expected in Nigeria on 15 July to attend a summit on HIV/AIDS.

In a statement by its spokespersons, Chinonye Obiagwu and Theodora Oby Nwankwo, NCICC reminded the government that Nigeria has an obligation to support the court.

“Nigeria is expected to arrest the Sudanese President and ICC suspect Omar Al-Bashir if he visits Nigeria in the next few days as planned,” the statement said.  “In the alternative, we call on Nigeria to cancel his proposed visit to Nigerian territory.”

The group pointed out that if Nigeria and other members of the ICC are committed to ending impunity in the world, they must not allow ICC arrest warrants to go unenforced, and at the very least must not accept visits from suspects such as the Sudanese leader.

It further recalled that Al-Bashir has been wanted by the Court since 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, and that the Court in 2010 issued the arrest warrant for Al-Bashir for the charge of genocide.

NCICC also noted that the victims of the conflict in Darfur have suffered without justice for more than a decade due in part to the reluctance of some ICC member states to abide by the arrest warrants for Al-Bashir and other ICC suspects in Darfur.

“We, the members of Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) urge Nigeria to stand with the innocent victims of the Darfur conflict, and the rule of law and arrest ICC fugitive Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir or bar him entry into Nigeria,” the group stressed, adding that Nigeria should not ignore their right to justice.

In that regard, NCICC drew attention to the fact that in the past, Nigeria has joined states such as South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, and Zambia which prevented the isolated Sudanese leader from visiting or had other officials come in his place.

The ICC investigation in Darfur began in June 2005 after being referred by the United Nations Security Council, which had determined the conflict there a threat to international peace and security.

NCICC noted today that the Council has subsequently failed to ensure the cooperation necessary for ICC prosecutions to take place.

Africa News In Brief: International Court Stung By Charge Of ‘Hunting Africans’ Because Of Race.


African leaders at the recently concluded AU meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
By Global Information Network (GIN)

May 28 (GIN) – As the African Union summit drew to a close this week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn leveled a stinging blow at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that prosecutes human rights violators, when he accused it of “hunting Africans” as 99% of those indicted by the ICC are from the continent.

“This shows something is flawed within the system of the ICC and we object to that,” he said.

He continued: “The intention (of the ICC) was to avoid any kind of impunity and ill governance and crime, but now the process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.”

The Hague-based ICC, set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes, insists it is an impartial body and is determined to continue with its case against Kenyan President Kenyatta and others in Africa.

“The International Criminal Court will not be reacting to African Union resolutions,” ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told the AFP news wire. He pointed out that four out of eight cases under investigation in Africa were referred to the court by the countries themselves.

Also, 43 African countries signed the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, which 34 have ratified, “making Africa the most heavily represented region in the court’s membership.”

Africans currently charged with crimes by the ICC include former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and Sudan President Omar al-Bashir who defied an international arrest warrant to attend the summit in Addis Ababa. The ICC has charged Bashir with genocide over the conflict in Darfur.

AU Peace and Security Council head Ramtane Lamamra echoed those who questioned how the UN Security Council could refer Mr Bashir to the ICC when three of its five permanent members – the United States, Russia and China – had either not signed up to or not ratified the Rome Statute which established the ICC.

“How could you refer the cases of others while you yourself don’t feel compelled to abide by the same rule?” he was quoted to say.

African leaders have been reluctant to enforce ICC warrants or support the prosecution of their counterparts, some of whom enjoy broad support by nationals at home. Currently, the AU is opposed to the ICC trying Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity and wants the case moved back to Kenya.

Mr Kenyatta, elected in March, is due to be tried in July on claims that he fueled violence after disputed elections in 2007. He denies the charge.

Kenyan lawyer Wilfred Nderitu, who represents some 150 victims of the election violence, told BBC Focus on Africa, he was concerned about the safety of witnesses if Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were tried in local courts.

He also doubted whether Kenya’s judiciary was capable of dealing with such complex cases.

Meanwhile, University of Minnesota professor Abdi Ismail Samatar commented on the concluding AU meeting.”Much like the past 50 years, there are a few leaders who are fully aware of what must be done and who have the courage to take charge,” he wrote.

“Will current African leaders rise to the challenge of the next 50 years?” he wondered. “There is a fleeting opportunity for the continent … (but) sleeping on the switch by free-riding the current resource boom will only reproduce Africa’s “Dome of Shame.” w/pix of Pres. Hailemariam Desalegn

KENYAN LAWMAKERS, DEFYING PRESIDENT, AWARD THEMSELVES A GENEROUS RAISE

May 28 (GIN) – Taking a page from their U.S. counterparts busy stonewalling President Obama’s modest reforms, Kenyan members of parliament voted this week to raise their own salaries, defying the newly-elected president’s call for cuts.

“We do have the requisite number and quorum to pass that motion,” Joyce Laboso, the Deputy Speaker of the assembly said, after MPs on both sides of the house voted overwhelmingly for more pay.

The new wage will be $10,000 a month (851,000 shillings) or 130 times the minimum wage. Kenyan MPs are already among the best-paid legislators in Africa.

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, implored lawmakers to accept wage cuts to free up cash to pay for free maternity care, laptops for primary school children, better roads and a million new jobs a year, in a country where the unemployment rate stands at 40 percent.

Lawmakers counter that they need high wages because constituents expect them to provide charitable support.

To many Kenyans, the bloated pay raises are symbols of an “it’s our turn to eat” political culture, in which officials view public office as an opportunity for personal gain, which has poisoned Kenyan politics for decades since independence.

“Did we vote in the wrong guys? This is nonsense! What work have they done in the last two months to deserve this?” prominent businessman Chris Kirubi said on Twitter.

So far President Kenyatta’s program of belt-tightening has drawn little opposition.

Deputy President William Ruto, however, is in hot water over a tour to four African countries this month, for which his office leased a luxury jet it said cost between $200,000 and $300,000. The actual price, however, may be much higher.

OPPOSITION TO RIGGED ELECTIONS SPREADS ACROSS BORDERS

May 28 (GIN) – African leaders attempting to rush elections even where voter registrations are not complete or are incorrect are meeting fierce opposition in the streets.

A peaceful protest in Guinea turned ugly last week when police fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators after they deviated from a route approved by authorities and marched on one of Conakry’s main streets.

Mamadou Dian Balde, editor-in-chief of the Independent and Democrat newspapers, said a total of 15 people were killed by security forces during two days of protests.

The government denies its security forces targeted protesters. Instead it said the victims had been attacked by fellow protesters.

According to Balde, local observers dispute claims by the electoral commission that a successful parliamentary election can be held on June 30.

In neighboring Mali, elections have been called for July 28 despite the fact that nearly half a million people are displaced and living in refugee camps in the neighboring nations of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria and Burkina Faso as a result of a coup d’etat in January that saw a military president installed.

Besides the crucial city of Kidal, which is now under the de facto rule of the rebel National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, numerous towns and villages are still not fully under the government’s control, making it unclear how they will carry out the vote.

In Ivory Coast, local polls last month were boycotted by the opposition party of former President Laurent Gbagbo, highlighting the slow progress of reconciliation in the West African country.

A spokesman for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon acknowledged that campaign period had been marred by “regrettable incidents, including unacceptable intimidation in certain constituencies”.

Finally, polls this week in Equatorial Guinea were called seriously flawed, according to the London-based Amnesty International and NY-based Human Rights Watch. They cited reports of voter intimidation, denial of free speech to political groups and harassment of the opposition.

Tutu Alicante, head of EG Justice, observed: “President Obiang often says that Africans should demand a voice in global affairs, but he denies one to the people of Equatorial Guinea… The sad truth is that Equatoguineans have never experienced a free and fair election.” w/pix of Malian refugee

ETHIOPIA DIVERTS NILE RIVER FOR GIANT DAM, RAISING FEARS IN EGYPT, SUDAN

May 28 (GIN) – Ethiopian government officials this week celebrated the diversion of the Blue Nile river for what they’ve dubbed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which is expected to provide hydroelectricity for Ethiopia and neighboring countries by 2015.

But downstream nations Egypt and Sudan are troubled by the huge hydropower dam going up on the Sudanese border. Planning stages of the project were shrouded in secrecy, much to the alarm of regional governments, Nile planning agencies and Ethiopia’s Western donors. There was no expert analysis that would normally accompany such a titanic project, remarked Sudanese hydrologist Haydar Yousif.

“No environmental assessment is publicly available for the project. And no steps were taken before its launch to openly discuss the dam’s impacts with downstream Nile neighbors Egypt and Sudan,” he said.

“The consequences for Ethiopia’s downstream neighbors could potentially be catastrophic,” Yousif wrote in a published analysis. “The Renaissance Dam’s reservoir will hold back nearly one and a half times the average annual flow of the Blue Nile. Filling the reservoir – which could take 3 to 5 years – will drastically affect the downstream nations’ agriculture, electricity and water supply. Evaporative losses from the dam’s reservoir could be as much as 3 billion cubic metres per year.”

“In addition, the retention of silt by the dam reservoir will dramatically reduce the fertility of soils downstream. Sediment-free water released from dams also increases erosion downstream, which can lead to riverbed deepening and a reduction in groundwater recharge.”

Further, the dam is in a quake zone and could be at risk from damage by earthquakes, yet no one knows if it has even been analysed for this risk. The failure of such a huge structure puts the more than 100 million people living downstream at risk.

“Whatever the outcome of political arbitration, it remains irresponsible for Ethiopia to build Africa’s biggest hydropower project, on its most contentious river, with no public access to critical information about the dam’s impacts – a flawed process which can hardly result in a sustainable project,” said Yousif.

“If the Ethiopian government is serious about maintaining good relations with its Nile neighbors, and if it truly wishes to develop projects that will carry its people and the broader region into prosperity, it must begin by allowing some light to penetrate this secretive development scheme.” w/pix of Blue Nile

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Sudan border rebellion risks unraveling South Sudan deal: UK envoy.


By Hereward Holland

JUBA (Reuters) – Sudan’s simmering border rebellions could yet unravel a freshly signed deal withSouth Sudan and jeopardise the expected resumption of the South’s oil flows through Sudan, a British envoy said on Friday.

Sudan and South Sudan, long-time foes, agreed last week on a timetable to create a demilitarised buffer zone along their contested 2,000-km (1,250-mile) border, capping months of acrimonious negotiations.

That move to secure the shared boundary cleared the way for landlocked South Sudan to order oil companies to resume pumping its crude oil through Sudan to the Red Sea, ending a 15-month shutdown that had hit both economies.

Diplomats who brokered the deal had to overcome deep distrust between both sides – and Khartoum’s repeated accusations that Juba was supplying weapons to rebels fighting in the Sudanese border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

“A lot of (the deal) risks being undermined if Sudan believes that South Sudan is continuing to support what they see as their rebels,” said Alastair McPhail, the British Ambassador to South Sudan.

“They don’t have to be good friends, they just have to be good neighbours.”

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan remain deeply troubled following decades of fighting fueled by oil, ethnicity, religion and territorial disputes.

The 1983-2005 civil war between Khartoum and southern rebels ended in a peace deal that paved the way for the South to declare independence from Sudan in July 2011.

But border skirmishes brought both countries’ armies close to war in April last year – and Sudan has continued to clash with the border state rebels, many of whom sided with the south during the civil war and say they want to overthrow the Khartoum government.

“If there is no agreement in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile there will always be tension because the border is so important at the moment,” McPhail, who is leaving South Sudan later this month, told Reuters in an interview.

Sudan’s repeated accusations that the South is backing the insurgents have scuppered past efforts to get an accord. Khartoum walked away from a deal in September, demanding guarantees that the support had stopped.

Juba rejects the charge and accuses Sudan of supporting insurgents in the South.

DIPLOMATS HARASSED

South Sudan’s decision to shut down its oil flow months after declaring independence took away its only real source of hard currency and devastated its already impoverished economy.

McPhail said the state needed to do more to improve its legal system if it wanted to have any chance of attracting more foreign investment.

Several foreign businesses have been forced to leave because they have been unable protect their investments, he added.

“(This) sends a very poor message to the international community. I think it’s a lot of isolated cases. It’s not just one or two but I’m not sure that it’s endemic,” he said.

McPhail said he is also worried about the South Sudan government’s increasing intolerance of dissenting voices.

Several critics have fled the country in recent months. The government denies it is clamping down on critics, and says it is investigating shooting death of an outspoken columnist in December.

“It impacts on all of us. Not just the media but diplomats have been harassed. Foreign nationals have been harassed,” McPhail said.

“It’s about a pattern of behaviour and if some people in the organised forces are going beyond their mandates, if they are killing people extra-judicially, if they are detaining people, then that’s a concern not just to us but to South Sudanese.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Hereward Holland | Reuters

China envoy says there was no $8 billion South Sudan aid offer.


By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – China never promised South Sudan $8 billion in development funds when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir visited Beijing in April, but much more than this could be offered if the country achieves lasting peace, a senior diplomat said on Thursday.

South Sudan’s government announced the figure following the trip, and until now Beijing has neither confirmed nor denied it.

Speaking to Reuters in an interview, China’s special envoy to Africa, Zhong Jianhua, who has helped in mediation efforts between the two Sudans and knows both countries well, said there was no $8 billion development deal.

“If there was any promise, it was that after South Sudan achieves peace with Sudan then it is a very promising country and can ramp up development, and then China is willing to play a development role in South Sudan and help them. But those plans have to wait for peace before we can talk about this,” Zhong said, sitting in a meeting room inside the Foreign Ministry.

“I don’t believe that this is something both sides acknowledged following the visit. This was not mentioned in any of the official Chinese reports following the visit; there was nothing about $8 billion,” he added.

“It’s not impossible – maybe in the future, and maybe not only $8 billion,” Zhong said, without elaborating.

“Certainly, it needs a development plan, and a big one at that. It faces a lot of challenges. I’ve been to Juba many times. Running water, electricity, road lights, bridges — it needs a lot.”

Relations between the two Sudans soured soon after South Sudan achieved independence in 2011 following a long and bloody civil war, due to arguments over oil revenues and territory.

Landlocked South Sudan shut down its 350,000 barrel-per-day crude output in January last year in a row with Sudan over how much it should pay to send the oil through Sudanese pipelines to the Red Sea.

South Sudan said on Tuesday it would be ready to restart oil production within three weeks after finalizing a deal to resolve bitter border and security disputes with Sudan.

China has had to play a delicate balancing act.

It is already the biggest investor in oilfields in South Sudan, through state-owned Chinese oil giants China National Petroleum Corp and Sinopec. Beijing is also one of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir‘s major supporters.

Zhong said that while he was pleased this week’s agreement had been reached, he remained concerned about the peace process.

“These antagonistic feelings still exist. There are still people who think now is not the time for reconciliation … But the general trend is still progressing in a positive way.”

China would continue to work with the international community to mediate between the two sides, he added.

President Hu (Jintao) told President Kiir very clearly when he visited that if you want to develop, it will be very hard without peace,” Zhong said.

China’s parliament formally elected Xi Jinping as president on Thursday to replace Hu after 10 years in the job.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Ben Blanchard | Reuters

Sudan army battles rebels in border state with South Sudan.


KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan‘s army said on Monday it fought off a rebel advance in a volatile state bordering South Sudan, but the insurgents said they had made a “tactical withdrawal” after a successful operation.

The remote border area has been plagued by conflict since South Sudan broke away from Sudan as an independent country in July, 2011.

Fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels, who sided with the south in a decades-long civil war that led up to the secession, has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Sudan’s armed forces spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said the army had repulsed an insurgent attack on the Surkum area in Blue Nile state.

“The armed forces managed to … inflict heavy losses on the rebels,” in fighting had lasted from late Sunday until Monday morning, he told Reuters.

Arnu Lodi, a spokesman for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), gave a different account.

“We withdrew for tactical reasons,” he said, adding that the pull-out followed rebel attacks on government camps in the area on Sunday.

The rebels accuse the Khartoum government of discriminating against their communities on the border, and have joined an alliance with insurgents from other areas, vowing to topple Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

The two sides often give conflicting accounts of the fighting in the remote regions, which are extremely difficult to verify independently because of government restrictions on access for independent observers.

The violence in Blue Nile state and another border state, South Kordofan, has strained relations between the two countries.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting the rebels, which Juba denies.

South Sudan ordered its troops out of a buffer zone on the roughly 2,000-km border on Monday as agreed at African Union-brokered talks, but diplomats remain cautious and say they are waiting for concrete signs of movement.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

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