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January 2009 - Posts

Establishment of Islamic Bank in Uganda Discussed

Khartoum, Jan. 27 (SUNA) - Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan Osman Hamad received Tuesday a delegation of Ugandan businessmen and a number of leaderships of Sudanese banks. The meeting discussed establishment of the first Islamic bank in Uganda with support of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank and partnership of five Sudanese Islamic banks. IF/BT

President Al-Bashir receives message from Libyan Leader

Khartoum, Jan. 27 (SUNA) - President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir has received a verbal message from the Libyan Leader, Mouamar Al-Gaddafie, dealing with the bilateral relations and issues and concerns of the African continent as well as the arrangements for the summit conference of the African Union in Addis Ababa at the beginning of next February. This came when the President received the Envoy of the Libyan Leader, Bashir Salih Bashir, at the Guest House Tuesday. The Libyan Envoy said in a statement to SUNA after the meeting that the message comes as part of the continuous consultations between Presidents Al-Bashir and Al-Gaddafie on various issues, specially the coming African summit which will witness the establishment of the African Union Government. The Libyan Envoy affirmed keenness and readiness of his country to increase its investments in Sudan for the benefit of the two sisterly countries. MF/ BT

Government Reaffirms Commitment to Protection of Peacekeeping Troops in Darfur

Khartoum, Jan. 27 (SUNA) - The government has reiterated its commitment to fulfill its international commitments with regard to protection of the peacekeeping troops in Darfur. Official Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Ali Al-Sadig pointed out in a press statement Tuesday that the government is committed to make a success the missions of the two UN missions in Sudan as long as the international organization is keen on them and on realizing and implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the south and keeping peace in Darfur. Responding to a question on statements by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with regard to military operations in Darfur, the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman explained that the military operations carried out by the Armed Forces are based on two basic principles, the first is self-defense against attacks and targeting by the armed movements and the second is maintaining of security and stability and protection of relief convoys. He stressed that reports that the army targeted civilians are totally untrue and baseless, pointing out that all army operations are based on preservation of the lives, security and stability of the citizens. IF/BT

Joint AU-UN Mediator arrives in Khartoum to move ahead Darfur peace process

Khartoum, Jan. 27 (SUNA) - The Joint Chief Mediator of the African Union and the United Nations, Djibrill Bassolé, arrived Tuesday in Khartoum. Bassolé came from Paris, France, where he and the Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Bin Abdallah Al Mahmoud, held talks with French officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the peace process in Darfur. In this regard, Sudan's Ambassador to Paris Dr. Suliman Mustafa expressed in a statement to SUNA his hope that these movements would lead to positive results toward making all the concerned parties of Darfur issue to sit at the negotiations table. Ambassador Suliman explained that Sudan's Embassy in Paris urged the French officials to exercise pressures on the armed movements, particularly the movement of Abdul-Wahid Mohamed Nour who is in Paris, to resort to peace and to respond to the peace initiatives in Darfur. Ambassador Suliman pointed out that contacts are continuing with the French officials in order to activate all the bilateral files, with special focus on the peace process in Sudan. MF/ BT

Sudan to host 2nd. conference of ministers in charge of childhood in Islamic world

Khartoum, Jan. 27 (SUNA) - The Islamic conference of ministers in charge of childhood will hold its second session in the Friendship Hall in Khartoum in the period of 2-4 February under the patronage of the President of the Republic, under the theme: "Towards a Brighter Future for Our Children". The Conference will be held in collaboration with the Islamic Education, Science and Culture Organization (ISESCO). The conference will be attended by ministerial delegations from 57 Islamic states as well as 25 international organizations. The Conference will discuss a number of working papers. The major paper will be under the title of: "Towards a better future of our children," which will focus on education, health, social protection and impacts of globalization on children. Minister of Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs Samia Ahmed Mohamed is the chairperson of the conference's steering committee, which includes 12 sub-committees. The conference will hear statements and reports by Heads of Delegations. The technical experts will also make a number of presentations. It is to be noted that the ministers in charge of childhood in the Islamic world held their first conference in Rabat, Morocco, in 2005 and issued the "Rabat Declaration on Child issues in the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which explained that the conference was guided by the teachings of Islam which stress the need for taking due care of children and granting them their full rights. MF/ BT

Foreign Ministry's Undersecretary to Head Sudan Delegation for Tripartite Meetings in Addis Ababa

Khartoum, Jan. 13 (SUNA)- The Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, Dr. Mutrif Siddiq, will lead Sudan delegation to the meetings of the tripartite mechanism of the government, the United Nations and the African Union, scheduled to be held in Addis Ababa during January 19 - 20. In a press statement, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ali Al-Saddiq, said that the mechanism will discuss the issue of speeding up the deployment of the hybrid forces in Darfur. He reiterated that Sudan is committed to its role regarding the deployment of the hybrid forces. Ambassador Al-Saddiq said the deployment of the hybrid forces in is progressing according to the plans in this respect. MO/MO

President Al-Bashir receives Saudi Justice Minister

Khartoum, Jan. 13 (SUNA) - President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir received at the Guest House Tuesday evening the Saudi Minister of Justice, Dr. Abdallah bin Mohamed Al-Shiekh, in the presence of Justice Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat. The Saudi Minister of Justice said in a press statement following the meeting that he conveyed to President Al-Bashir the outcome of his meetings in Sudan, referring to the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two countries in the justice field. He referred to the deep-root relations between Sudan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Minister of Justice, Abdel-Basit Sabdarat, on his part, affirmed the strong and deeply rooted relations between the two sisterly countries, pointing out that the visit would boost further these relations. BT/BT

President Al-Bashir back home from Syria, affirms strong support of Sudan to Palestinian cause

Khartoum, Jan. 13 (SUNA) - President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir has affirmed strong support of Sudan to the Palestinian cause. President Al-Bashir, who returned home Tuesday after a two-day visit to Syria, conveyed to the Palestinian factions during his meeting with them in Damascus the stance of the Sudanese people supporting the Palestinian cause. State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ali Karti said in a statement to SUNA President Al-Bashir discussed during the meeting developments of the Palestinian issue. The minister pointed out that the Sudanese and Syrian leaderships shared identical views during their summit on what is going on in Gaza and the developments of the situation after the failure of the Security Council to effect cease-fire and the massacres being committed daily there. Karti pointed out that the issues of the Palestinians are represented in the cessation of the aggression, withdrawal of forces outside Gaza Strip, opening of the crossings and lifting the blockade completely, pointing out that these are natural demands to people who want to live on their territories without being subjected to any harm. BT/BT

Saudi Justice Minister: ICC Surpassed its Objectives

Khartoum, Jan. 13 (SUNA)- The Saudi Minister of Justice, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohamed Al Al-Sheikh, said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has surpassed its objectives, hoping that the court will abide by the goals for which it was established. In a statement to SUNA after his meeting Tuesday with the Minister of Justice, Abdul-Basit Sabdarat, the Saudi Minister of Justice said that the deliberate efforts will put things back on the right track, and that the ICC will then understand that its allegations were lacking evidence. The Saudi minister said that his visit to Sudan comes in the framework of the distinguished relations between the two countries, indicating that the judicial agreement signed by Sudan and Saudi Arabia will pave the way for more consolidation to the bilateral relations in the legal field. He appreciated the great progress achieved by the Sudanese Judiciary, expressing hope that Saudi Arabia will benefit from Sudan experience in this field. Meanwhile, the Chief Justice, Jalal-Eddin Mohamed Osman, praised after his meeting with the visiting Saudi Minister of Justice progress of the deeply-rooted relations between Sudan and Saudi Arabia in all fields. He said that the judicial agreement signed between the two countries will boost the cooperation between them in the judicial field, especially with regard to the exchange of legal experiences. The Chief Justice, accompanied by the Saudi Minister of Justice, inaugurated Tuesday the Complex of Al-Imtidad Court in Khartoum which includes a juvenile court. MO/MO

Dr. Salahuddin Informs American Delegation about Real Situation in Sudan

Khartoum, Jan. 13 (SUNA)- The Presidential Advisor, Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin, has reiterated Sudan welcome to efforts of delegations from different nations to get informed about the reality of the political situation in Sudan. This came when he received Tuesday morning a visiting American religious and media delegation. Dr. Salahuddin acquainted the American delegation with the political situation in Sudan, mainly with regard to Darfur issue, especially that the delegation wanted to know about the reality of the situation in the country, and that some mass media tend to reflect a distorted image about Sudan. He said that the meeting tackled several issues toward informing about the reality and enhancement of the relations between peoples. MO/MO

Obama sounds a message of hope in trying times
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President-elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are seen on their train en route to Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Pool, Chang W. Lee)
Associated Press
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President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Associated Press
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President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, center, stand with Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe as they lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Associated Press
+ Enlarge This image
President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden stand with Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe as they lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Associated Press
Barack Obama sang along _ at one moment bobbing his head to the music, at another somberly absorbing the words of speakers _ and the U.S. capital came alive in the hours ahead of his inauguration Tuesday as America's 44th president.

On a gloomy Sunday afternoon, tens of thousands of concertgoers blanketed the grounds below the neoclassical memorial that houses a giant statue of Abraham Lincoln, the country's 16th president who led the nation through the Civil War and emancipated slaves.

Lincoln, Obama's fellow Illinoisan, opened the door on the racial divide for African Americans nearly 150 years, and the 47-year-old president-elect stood before the massive crowd in testament to America's lumbering and imperfect progress toward racial equality.

Taking the rostrum to end the concert, Obama again warned the nation and those assembled under gray skies and in chilly temperatures that Americans face a vast assignment in battling to stop their economy from sliding into another Great Depression. But he smiled, too, reminding of his message of hope.

When he takes the presidential oath of office at noon (1700 GMT) Tuesday, Obama said he and the nation would bask in the dream that motivated his run for the country's highest office: "a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together ... then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process."

Obama, his wife, Michelle, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, appeared genuinely to enjoy the concert. The Obama girls, Sasha and Malia, snapped pictures of the performers, an A-list of the American music, entertainment and sports world.

Obama, Biden and their families arrived the night before by train from Philadelphia, a symbolic journey recalling that of Lincoln in equally troubled times in 1861 before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War.

The president-elect and Biden began Sunday with a somber wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Obama and Biden stood, hands over hearts, as a bugler played Taps, the military call sounded over soldiers' graves.

The Obamas and Bidens then attended church services separately.

At Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in northwest Washington, the congregation erupted in applause when Obama and wife, Michelle, walked in with daughters Malia and Sasha and Michelle Obama's mother. They sat in the second row, which had been set aide for them.

Obama was told anew that his rise follows the achievements of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the slain civil rights leader whose memory the nation celebrates on Monday.

When times turn tough and critics sound off, Pastor Derrick Harkins said, Obama should turn to the strength of his wife and to God.

"Understand that God has prepared you, and God has placed you, and God will not forsake you," Harkins told the incoming president.

Biden and his wife attended mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. At one point, when newcomers and visitors were welcomed, congregants laughed and started applauding until Biden stood up. Then everyone stood up for sustained applause.

The crowd gathered for the concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial erupted in cheers when Obama and his wife arrived, walking down the steps of the memorial.

Bruce Springsteen sang "The Rising" to open the concert which included, among other stars, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and U2.

Somewhere between 1 million and 2 million people are expected to make their way to Washington for the swearing in ceremony and inaugural parade. Nearly a quarter million tickets have been issued for the festivities at the Capitol.

Although he may not get to bed before 3 a.m. (0800 GMT) after the inaugural balls, Obama plans to make Wednesday, his first full day as president, a jam-packed affair of prayer, diplomacy, war discussions and welcoming hundreds of visitors to the White House.

The new president will start Wednesday at Washington's National Cathedral for the National Prayer Service, which dates to George Washington's time. His office said Friday that he and his wife, Michelle, will welcome "hundreds of special guests" on "day one, when we open the doors of the White House to you."

Perhaps most importantly, however, will be Obama's plan to fulfill his pledge to assemble the nation's military leaders to take a hard look at starting the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq _ six years after outgoing President George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" following the initial U.S. invasion of the Mideast nation.

Obama said in July: "I intend to end this war. My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war responsibly and deliberately but decisively."

David Axelrod, a top Obama adviser, said on CNN Sunday that the next commander in chief would do just that at the White House session that also will include military commanders and aides outside the Joint Chiefs.

His first day could be crowded as well with the Middle East and the bloody Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip. Both sides agreed to a cease-fire after three weeks of intense fighting since Israeli forces moved into the tiny Palestinian territory to stop the militant Hamas group from firing missiles into the south of the Jewish state.

One worry seemed to be under control. Obama's soon-to-be White House press secretary pronounced the president-elect relieved to already have a version of Tuesday's inaugural address down on paper.

Robert Gibbs said the speech would stress responsibility and openness _ words that Obama emphasized along the train route in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore the day before.

Incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Obama will call on Americans to embrace a new era of responsible behavior _ in government and in business. Emanuel said the speech will harken back to John F. Kennedy's call for personal sacrifice in his 1960 inaugural address and will ask the nation to reject the "culture of anything goes."

Sudan admits Darfur rebel bombing
Darfur rebels
Rebels in Darfur have splintered into a confusing array of rival factions

Sudan's military has admitted carrying out a wave of bombings in the Darfur region on Tuesday.

An army spokesman said they had targeted rebels who had failed to back the ceasefire announced in November.

The BBC's Sudan correspondent says it is highly unusual for the military to admit aerial attacks in Darfur.

It comes amid renewed tension over whether the International Criminal Court will charge Sudan President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

Sudan's government has always rejected charges that it armed the Janjaweed militias accused of widespread atrocities against civilians in the region.

A commander from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) confirmed that government planes carried out the attack, around the southern Darfuri town of Muhajiriya.


In a statement, a military spokesman said the army had bombed the area to protect civilians living there.

Senior government officials say they have intelligence to suggest that Jem will launch a series of attacks ahead of an International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling, the BBC's Amber Henshaw in Khartoum reports.

Judges at the ICC in The Hague are expected to make a decision about issuing an arrest warrant for Mr Bashir by the end of the month.

The government has warned an arrest warrant could lead to an escalation of the Darfur conflict because it may embolden rebel groups in the region.

On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton - who is to become the next US secretary of state after Barack Obama is inaugurated as president next week - said the US was considering creating no-fly zones over Darfur.

The UN estimates that up to 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes in Darfur and some 300,000 have died during nearly six years of conflict.

So far only half of the 26,000 troops authorised for the joint United Nations and African Union peace force have been sent to the remote region, the size of France.

Timeline: Sudan A chronology of key events

A chronology of key events:

1881 - Revolt against the Turco-Egyptian administration.

Mosque at sunset, Khartoum
Khartoum: Capital is part of a major metropolitan area

1899-1955 Sudan is under joint British-Egyptian rule.

1956 - Sudan becomes independent.

1958 - General Abbud leads military coup against the civilian government elected earlier in the year

1962 - Civil war begins in the south, led by the Anya Nya movement.

1964 - The "October Revolution" overthrows Abbud and a national government is established

1969 - Jafar Numayri leads the "May Revolution" military coup.

1971 - Sudanese Communist Party leaders executed after short-lived coup against Numayri

1972 - Under the Addis Ababa peace agreement between the government and the Anya Nya the south becomes a self-governing region.

1978 - Oil discovered in Bentiu in southern Sudan.

1983 - Civil war breaks out again in the south involving government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by John Garang.

Islamic law imposed

1983 - President Numayri declares the introduction of Sharia (Islamic law).

SPLA rebels drill
Civil war pitted Muslim north against Christian, animist south

1985 - After widespread popular unrest Numayri is deposed by a group of officers and a Transitional Military Council is set up to rule the country.

1986 - Coalition government formed after general elections, with Sadiq al-Mahdi as prime minister.

1988 - Coalition partner the Democratic Unionist Party drafts cease-fire agreement with the SPLM, but it is not implemented.

1989 - National Salvation Revolution takes over in military coup.

1993 - Revolution Command Council dissolved after Omar al-Bashir is appointed president.

US strike

1995 - Egyptian President Mubarak accuses Sudan of being involved in attempt to assassinate him in Addis Ababa.

1998 - US launches missile attack on a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, alleging that it was making materials for chemical weapons.

1998 - New constitution endorsed by over 96% of voters in referendum.

1999 - President Bashir dissolves the National Assembly and declares a state of emergency following a power struggle with parliamentary speaker, Hassan al-Turabi.

Advent of oil

1999 - Sudan begins to export oil.

2000 President Bashir meets leaders of opposition National Democratic Alliance for first time in Eritrea.

Main opposition parties boycott presidential elections. Incumbent Bashir is re-elected for further five years.

Shifa plant in Khartoum; US alleged that it was making materials for chemical weapons
A US missile targeted a Khartoum pharmaceutical plant in 1998

2001 Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi's party, the Popular National Congress, signs memorandum of understanding with the southern rebel SPLM's armed wing, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Al-Turabi is arrested the next day, with more arrests of PNC members in the following months.

Government accepts Libyan/Egyptian initiative to end the civil war after failure of peace talks between President Bashir and SPLM leader John Garang in Nairobi.

US extends unilateral sanctions against Sudan for another year, citing its record on terrorism and rights violations.

Peace deal

2002 - Government and SPLA sign landmark ceasefire agreement providing for six-month renewable ceasefire in central Nuba Mountains - a key rebel stronghold.

Sudanese vice-president Ali Osman Taha (L) and Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang
Eight-year peace process ended with deal to end conflict in south

Talks in Kenya lead to a breakthrough agreement between the government and southern rebels on ending the 19-year civil war. The Machakos Protocol provides for the south to seek self-determination after six years.

2003 February - Rebels in western region of Darfur rise up against government, claiming the region is being neglected by Khartoum.

2003 October - PNC leader Turabi released after nearly three years in detention and ban on his party is lifted.

Uprising in west

2004 January - Army moves to quell rebel uprising in western region of Darfur; hundreds of thousands of refugees flee to neighbouring Chad.

Refugees from western Sudanese region of Darfur, 2004
Darfur: Conflict has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions

2004 March - UN official says pro-government Arab "Janjaweed" militias are carrying out systematic killings of African villagers in Darfur.

Army officers and opposition politicians, including Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, are detained over an alleged coup plot.

2004 May - Government and southern rebels agree on power-sharing protocols as part of a peace deal to end their long-running conflict. The deal follows earlier breakthroughs on the division of oil and non-oil wealth.

2004 September - UN says Sudan has not met targets for disarming pro-government Darfur militias and must accept outside help to protect civilians. US Secretary of State Colin Powell describes Darfur killings as genocide.


Peace agreement

2005 January - Government and southern rebels sign a peace deal. The agreement includes a permanent ceasefire and accords on wealth and power sharing.

Former southern rebel leader John Garang
Ex-rebel John Garang's time in government was cut short

UN report accuses the government and militias of systematic abuses in Darfur, but stops short of calling the violence genocide.

2005 March - UN Security Council authorises sanctions against those who violate ceasefire in Darfur. Council also votes to refer those accused of war crimes in Darfur to International Criminal Court.

2005 June - Government and exiled opposition grouping - National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - sign reconciliation deal allowing NDA into power-sharing administration.

President Bashir frees Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, detained since March 2004 over alleged coup plot.

Southern autonomy

2005 9 July - Former southern rebel leader John Garang is sworn in as first vice president. A constitution which gives a large degree of autonomy to the south is signed.

2005 1 August - Vice president and former rebel leader John Garang is killed in a plane crash. He is succeeded by Salva Kiir. Garang's death sparks deadly clashes in the capital between southern Sudanese and northern Arabs.

2005 September - Power-sharing government is formed in Khartoum.

2005 October - Autonomous government is formed in the south, in line with January 2005 peace deal. The administration is dominated by former rebels.

Darfur conflict

2006 May - Khartoum government and the main rebel faction in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, sign a peace accord. Two smaller rebel groups reject the deal. Fighting continues.

2006 August - Sudan rejects a UN resolution calling for a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, saying it would compromise sovereignty.

African Union soldier in Darfur, 2006
African Union has struggled to contain Darfur violence

2006 October - Jan Pronk, the UN's top official in Sudan, is expelled.

2006 November - African Union extends mandate of its peacekeeping force in Darfur for six months.

Hundreds are thought to have died in the heaviest fighting between northern Sudanese forces and their former southern rebel foes since they signed a peace deal last year. Fighting is centred on the southern town of Malakal.

2007 April - Sudan says it will accept a partial UN troop deployment to reinforce African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, but not a full 20,000-strong force.

War crimes charges

2007 May - International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for a minister and a janjaweed militia leader suspected of Darfur war crimes.

US President George W Bush announces fresh sanctions against Sudan.

2007 July - UN Security Council approves a resolution authorising a 26,000-strong force for Darfur. Sudan says it will co-operate with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid).

2007 October - SPLM temporarily suspends participation in national unity government, accusing Khartoum of failing to honour the 2005 peace deal.

2007 December - SPLM resumes participation in national unity government.

2008 January - UN takes over Darfur peace force.

Within days Sudan apologises after its troops fire on a convoy of Unamid, the UN-African Union hybrid mission.

Government planes bomb rebel positions in West Darfur, turning some areas into no-go zones for aid workers.

2008 February - Commander of the UN-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, Balla Keita, says more troops needed urgently in west Darfur.

Abyei clashes

2008 March - Russia says it's prepared to provide some of the helicopters urgently needed by UN-African Union peacekeepers.

Tensions rise over clashes between an Arab militia and SPLM in Abyei area on north-south divide - a key sticking point in 2005 peace accord.

Presidents of Sudan and Chad sign accord aimed at halting five years of hostilities between their countries.

Census official interviews youth
The 2008 count could have an big impact on Sudan's political future

2008 April - Counting begins in national census which is seen as a vital step towards holding democratic elections after the landmark 2005 north-south peace deal.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes says 300,000 people may have died in the five-year Darfur conflict.

2008 May - Southern defence minister Dominic Dim Deng is killed in a plane crash in the south.

Tension increases between Sudan and Chad after Darfur rebel group mounts raid on Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city across the Nile. Sudan accuses Chad of involvement and breaks off diplomatic relations.

Intense fighting breaks out between northern and southern forces in disputed oil-rich town of Abyei.

2008 June - President Bashir and southern leader Salva Kiir agree to seek international arbitration to resolve dispute over Abyei.

Bashir accused

2008 July - The International Criminal Court's top prosecutor calls for the arrest of President Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur; the appeal is the first ever request to the ICC for the arrest of a sitting head of state. Sudan rejects the indictment.

2008 September - Darfur rebels accuse government forces backed by militias of launching air and ground attacks on two towns in the region.

2008 October - Allegations that Ukrainian tanks hijacked off the coast of Somalia were bound for southern Sudan spark fears of an arms race between the North and former rebels in the South.

2008 November - President Bashir announces an immediate ceasefire in Darfur, but the region's two main rebel groups reject the move, saying they will fight on until the government agrees to share power and wealth in the region.

2008 December - The Sudanese army says it has sent more troops to the sensitive oil-rich South Kordofan state, claiming that a Darfur rebel group plans to attack the area.

Taha says West monopolizes information revolution

Khartoum, Jan. 7 (SUNA) - Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha explained that the West and the power dominating the world monopolizes the information revolution and concealed it from the peoples of the third world in a silent war. Addressing the opening sitting of the 2nd Forum of the Sudanese Experts who are working in the Regional and International Organizations and Finance Institutions at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum Wednesday, Taha urged the Sudanese Experts to extend their hands to their homeland. He explained that Sudan's major battle will be how to obtain its share of this information revolution. Taha further urged the Sudanese experts in the regional and international institutions to get involved in the realizing the goals of the national strategic plan, which are represented in building united, secure, civilized and developed Sudanese nation. He also briefed them on the current situations in Sudan, saying that the Government is now preparing for holding free and fair elections and implementing a comprehensive agricultural development programme despite the unjust blockade and the current international financial crisis. He also revealed that there is a challenge of achieving a voluntary and attractive unity as the country implements the comprehensive peace agreement. Taha referred to the efforts being exerted toward the achievement of the political and economic development as well as developing the private sector to realize social solidarity, urging the conferees to contribute in utilization of the huge resources in Sudan. He further explained that the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is progressing as planned. He also described the allegations by the International Criminal Court as a conspiracy against Sudan. He further conveyed to the conferees the greetings of the President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir and the First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Leadership of the Government of National Unity. MF/ BT

2nd Forum of Sudanese Experts Working in Regional and International Institutions opens session in Khartoum

Khartoum, Jan. 7 (SUNA) - The 2nd Forum of the Sudanese Experts who are working in the Regional and International Organizations and Finance Institutions, being held on 7 - 9 January, began its sessions Wednesday in the Friendship Hall in Khartoum under the patronage of the President of the Republic under the slogan of "our experiences at disposal of our homeland," amid wide participation from Sudanese experts, researchers and concerned bodies. State Minister at the Council of Ministers and Chairman of the Forum's Steering Committee, Kamal Abdulatif, said the committee counted more than 350 experts in the international and regional institutions, explaining that more than 150 of them are now participating in the forum. Meanwhile, Dr. Salahuddin Gindeil, who was elected as a Chairman of the Forum, expressed his pleasure in implementing development projects in Sudan and urged the conferees to put their experiences at the disposal of the country. The forum will be discussing a number of working papers such as the political situation, national accord, progress of implementation of the peace agreements, the situations in Darfur, the 25-year strategic plan, climate of investment and the challenges facing Sudan's relations with the regional and international funding institutions. MF/ BT

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