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September 2011 - Posts

Bashir says could not negotiate with Sudan rebels

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said Sudanese government forces were poised to attack a stronghold of armed rebels in Blue Nile state, and vowed not to negotiate with what he called mutineers, state news agency SUNA reported on Wednesday.

Omar-al-Bashir1
         Bashir vows to pray in the Kurmuk soon

Tensions between Sudan's army and groups allied to the ruling party in the newly established South Sudan, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), in the Blue Nile area turned into armed clashes earlier this month, with each side accusing the other of starting the fighting.

"President Omar al-Bashir declares that the armed forces will pray in al-Kurmuk soon," SUNA said, meaning that his military intended to take the town near the Ethiopian border that is seen as an SPLM-North stronghold.

It said the president told a gathering in Al Qadarif state in eastern Sudan during a visit that the mutiny would be brought to an end and "those who committed crimes against citizens will be brought to account through the application of the law".

"The government will not negotiate with outlaws living outside the country," SUNA quoted Bashir as saying, adding that those who wanted peace should return home and seek change through normal channels.

The Washington-based Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), which monitors imagery gathered from space-based sources, said last week that Sudan has deployed at least 3,000 government troops on a road leading to Kurmuk.

Analysts say the fighting with the rebels in Blue Nile, along with separate clashes in South Kordofan state, risk drawing the newly independent South Sudan into a proxy war.

The Sudanese government has accused the south's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of being behind the violence. The SPLM-North, the movement's branch in Sudan, has blamed Khartoum.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a border security agreement on Sunday, taking a step towards improving ties after tensions over border violence and sharing oil revenues.

The SPLM's northern wing, the SPLM-N, fought with the south before a 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan's independence in July. It has supporters in north Sudan, particularly the border areas.

Al-Bashir vows to defend Sudan against “traitors”

September 28, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has vowed to show no laxity in defending the country against “traitors”, urging fighters in the war-hit states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile to lay down arms.

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Sudan President Omer AL-Bashir (FILE)

Sudan’s border states of South Kordofan descended into violence since early June and late August respectively after clashes erupted between the country’s army (SAF) and forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which was aligned with the independent state of South Sudan.

The Sudanese government insists that SPLM-N combatants who fought alongside the south in Sudan’s north-south civil war be disarmed or move to the south as stipulated by the security arrangements protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the war.

After the outbreak of war in Blue Nile, the Sudanese government officially banned the SPLM-N as a political party and closed its offices in the north.

Al-Bashir, who was addressing a graduation ceremony in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday, said that there would be no compromise in the country’s security or in dealing with traitor.

“There will be no neglect in dealing with traitors because Sudan is protected by strong hands and an army that does not know defeat,” he said, according to reports by Sudan’s official news agency.

Al-Bashir stressed that the government was still committed to the CPA’s security arrangement in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, adding that the doors were wide open for anyone who wants to return.

Furthermore, Al-Bashir called on the people fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile to renounce arms and return to participate in the development, saying that Khartoum will not “sanction the existence of two armies in one country.”

He also added that the constitution and rules of political activities state that no political party is allowed to have an army, in reference to the SPLM-N.

The Sudanese president this week said his government was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the crisis in Blue Nile and South Kordofan but stressed that his government would not negotiate on any terms other than those already existing in the CPA.

Chad’s president reassures Sudanese counterpart over border security agreements

September 28, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — President Idris Deby dispatched a special envoy to Khartoum to reassure his Sudanese counterpart that Chad is committed to the security cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in January last year.

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Chad’s President Idriss Deby (L) walks next to his Sudanese counterpart Omar Hassan al-Bashir (R) at Khartoum airport Feb 8, 2010 (Reuters)

Khartoum showed discreet anger against Ndjamena recently after the return of the leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Khalil Ibrahim to Darfur, fearing that he might hamper the implementation of a peace agreement signed last July in Doha with another rebel groups, Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) .

Sudanese intelligence service believes that Khalil successfully came back to Darfur through the Chadian border after crossing from Libya to Niger to avoid the Sudanese army deployed along the Libyan border.

The Chadian envoy, Muhammad Ismael Chibou, handed a letter to the President Omer Hassan al-Bashir in a meeting held Tuesday at the presidential palace. Mohamed Atta al-Moula, director of the National Intelligence and Security Services attended the meeting.

Chibou told reporters following the meeting he discussed issues related to the close relations between the two countries particularly the security cooperation.

He further said that the two countries are linked by different political and security agreements which led to the formation of the joint force deployed along the Chad-Sudan border.

Sudan and Chad formed a joint force to monitor the joint border and to curb cross-border infiltration into each others’ territories by Sudanese and Chadian rebels. Khartoum and Ndjamena also agreed to expel rebel groups from the both sides.

Chibou stressed that the bilateral cooperation stopped any rebel activities from the boundary.

The return of JEM leader jeopardizes Khartoum’s plan to secure the region before to launch a dialogue conference seen by the Sudanese authorities as part of their efforts for peace in the restive region.

Sudanese officials made contradictory statements about the location where JEM leader is present in Darfur. Some said in Wadi Hoar, a valley crossing Sudan and Chad, other said he has no presence in the restive region.

Reliable sources said Nafie Ali Nafie who was in Paris last week discussed with French authorities the eventual facilities provided by Chadian officials to secure Khalil Ibrahim’s return to Darfur.

The Sudanese presidential assistant, during his meetings in Paris, held a discourse similar to what Khartoum repeated before the deterioration of bilateral ties in 2005: "Deby’s family members" facilitated Khalil’s return but the Chadian president was not personally involved in any support.

Khartoum announced today that the foreign minister Ali Karti will visit Paris this week for talks with the French officials on bilateral relations.

Foreign ministry spokesperson said today that Karti will meet on Thursday his French counterpart Alain Juppé, the French minister of international cooperation Henri de Raincourt, and the presidential adviser for African affairs André Parant.

Ambassador El-Obeid Marawah said Karti will discuss the situation in the Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Darfur. Nafei did not meet with Alain Juppé who was outside the country.

JEM leader extended a friendly message to the Chadian President Idris Deby stressing that the latter can play a positive role in the ongoing efforts to reach a peace agreement with the government in Khartoum.

However, Khalil Ibrahim said they want a "just" peace responding to the legitimate demands and expectations of Darfur people. he further called on the Sudanese opposition forces to reunite their efforts to overthrow the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

Iran and Sudan stand together against western pressures

September 27, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan and Iran vowed to strengthen the join political and economic cooperation as the Iranian president reiterated thei determination to face international pressures particularly form western countries.

Iran and Sudan
Sudanese men wave Iranian and Sudanese flags celebrating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit with President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. (AP)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met on Monday with his Sudanese counterpart after arriving during the first hours of the morning to Khartoum from New York where he attended the UN General Assembly and after a short stop in Mauritania.

Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN general Assembly prompted a walkout of US and European delegations as he slammed the West for its support to the "Zionism and Imperialism". He further denounced the "undemocratic and unjust governance structures of the decision-making bodies in international economic and political fields", stressing that capitalism was on the verge of death.

After a meeting with President Bashir on Monday, Ahmadinejad stated that "Iran and Sudan will stand together as defenders of the Islamic world and the independence of the region".

"Both countries are facing pressure from the colonialists, who want to impose things that affect our people negatively. They are trying to apply pressure on independent states, because they don’t want them to be strong," he further said.

The two countries are facing economic sanctions from the US and Europe because of Iranian nuclear programme and Sudan’s war crimes in Darfur. Both also are considered by Washington besides Cuba and Syria as sponsors of terrorism.

In a speech delivered before a crowd of youths, and supporters at the Friendship Hall, in Khartoum, the Iranian president criticized the United States and Europe for taking for riches of the black continent.

"They stole the riches of Africa," he said, adding "despite this wealth, we see poverty and deprivation".

Speaking to the press before the departure of President Ahmadinejad, Bashir said the relations between the two friendly countries is founded on sincere and honest cooperation.

In a final communiqué released at the end of bilateral talks, the two countries pledged to develop the bilateral relations particularly in the economic, industrial and technological fields. Tehran also declared its readiness to transfer its experience in the scientific and industrial sectors; particularly technical and engineering services in order to improve Sudan’s infrastructure.

The two countries sealed a number of agreements and protocol to develop their economic and military cooperation. Bilateral committees meet annually to discuss issues of concerns.

Sudan is hit by inflation and where is a dire need for hard currency. The country lost 75 percent of its income from oil revenue after the secession of South Sudan.

NASA: Satellite debris has hit Earth

A 12,500-pound decommissioned satellite that was lazily falling toward the Earth over the past two days finally came down around midnight Friday, NASA said early Saturday.

The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. Friday and 1:09 a.m. Saturday, NASA said in an update on its website. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said the satellite penetrated the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, the agency said. The precise reentry time and location are not yet known with certainty, NASA said.

The satellite took longer than expected to return to Earth after 20 years in space. Unpredictable, and completely out of control, the satellite was expected to shower 26 pieces of space junk across a 500-mile linear crash zone. Most of its parts are believed to be burned up.

At 10:30 p.m. Friday, NASA said the satellite’s reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere was expected between 11:45 p.m. Friday and 12:45 a.m. Saturday, and its path was over Canada, Africa and the Atlatic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The risk to public safety is very remote.

Small variations in reentry timing means vast differences as to where UARS would come down. The satellite, designed to help scientists understand climate change, circled the planet at a 57-degree inclination to the Equator, a path that took it every hour and a half from the frozen north to the frigid seas beyond the southern coast of Australia — and back again.

“It’s dancing all over the place. It looks like the trend is to go longer than we think,” said Bill Ailor, an engineer with the Aerospace Corp., who has been monitoring the satellite.

For two days, NASA had predicted that its satellite would arrive Friday afternoon or evening. But the satellite slowed down Thursday and Friday, showing no eagerness to leave space.

“There are random forces of nature acting on the satellite that we can neither control nor predict,” NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey said Friday evening. “Very small changes have very large consequences over time, and in this case, the change has been in the orientation of the spacecraft.”

The difficulty in predicting the satellite’s behavior was demonstrated by changing predictions even over small periods of time. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, NASA put out an update saying the satellite was on track to come down between 11 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday.

On Friday morning, the satellite was 100 miles up, NASA said. UARS was expected to heat up, partially melt and break into pieces, NASA said this week.

The biggest piece would weigh more than 300 pounds, which would pose a hazard if it fell on a populated area. But most of the planet is open ocean.

The Aerospace forecast Friday night, based on Air Force tracking data, showed that UARS would hit the atmosphere over the southern Indian Ocean at about 1 a.m. Eastern time.

That might mean that fiery fragments could be seen in Australia about 15 minutes later.

South Sudan president meets Israeli PM

September 23, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir met on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.

South Sudan president meets Israeli PM
In this photo released by the Israeli Government Press Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in New York Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 (AP)

Israeli media quoted Netanyahu as telling Kiir that the story of South Sudan is an inspiration and teaches how it is possible to establish a new independent state in an area that has been – and is yet – embroiled in painful conflict.

"South Sudan was established after long negotiations and with the agreement of all parties involved and the international community. Israel was among the first countries to recognize South Sudan, less than 24 hours after it was declared, and will be pleased to contribute knowledge and experience to it in a variety of fields that can help the new country,” Netanyahu said.

"I hope that everyone will see that this is the way to establish a state – through direct negotiations and not via unilateral measures," he added.

The statements by Netanyahu come as Israel and the US seek to frustrate efforts by the Palestinian authority to be recognized as a state through the United Nations.

US President Barack Obama told Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas that he will veto such a move if it comes to the United Nations Security Council. He said that only Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, not actions at the United Nations, could bring peace

Palestinians have cited the precedents of South Sudan and Kosovo to justify their push to declare their own state after years of fruitless peace talks with Israel.

South Sudan became an independent state last July after its citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of separation from the Arab-Muslim dominated north. The referendum was stipulated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between North and South Sudan.

South Sudan among many nations has pledged to support the Palestinian bid at the United Nations. It is not clear if Netanyahu sought persuade Kiir not to do so.

Israel is home to thousands of Sudanese refugees, including hundreds from South Sudan, and the country’s independence was greeted with celebration parties in Tel Aviv, home to much of Israel’s Sudanese community.

The Jewish state promised to assist South Sudan n areas of infrastructure, communications and agriculture.

 

Foreign Minister participates in Arab foreign ministers meeting in New York devoted to discuss Palestinian demand for UN membership

New York, Sept 23(SUNA) Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Ahmed Karti, who arrived in New York Thrusday to participate in the (66) session of the General Assembly of the United Nations has participated in the meeting of Arab foreign ministers devoted to the Palestinian demand for the membership of the United Nations.

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The Foreign Minister has been engaged upon arrival in a series of bilateral meetings and interviews which started with his Ethiopian counterpart where they discussed issues of border demarcation between the two countries and the development of trade and economic relations , also they agreed on the visit that the Ethiopian Minister due to pay to Sudan next October.

 
The Minister met with the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and congratulated him on his address to the General Assembly and communicated to him a message from the President of the Republic Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir concerning sudan's joining the East African Group (EAG) and the role that Tanzania would play in this regard.

The Foreign Minister also met with his counterpart, the Foreign Minister of Togo and discussed with him means of boosting bilateral relations between the two countries beside the support of Sudan to Togo in its candidacy for membership of the Security Council non-permanent seats.

The Foreign Minister met on the sidelines of the works of the UN General Assembly king of Bahrain, Emir of Qatar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia, Mr. Djibril Bassole and the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso.


He also participated , Thursday evening , in the meeting of the Arab Ministers convened on the sidelines of the (66)session of the United Nations General Assembly, where he described the meeting as historic, being held at a sensitive stage of the Palestinian question.

 
The meeting which has been devoted for the issue of Palestinian membership at the United Nations, in which the Arab foreign ministers dealt with all aspects of the proposal for Palestinian statehood where the all ministers have agreed to support the choice of the Palestinian people.

Sudan appoints new governor in Blue Nile

September 21, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has issued a degree appointing a new governor for the country’s unrest-hit southern state of Blue Nile, state media reported on Tuesday.

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New Blue Nile governor Al-Hadi Bushra smiles as he holds Sudan’s defense minister Abdel-Rahim Hussein

Lieutenant-general Al-Hadi Bushra was named governor of Blue Nile which has been racked by clashes between Sudan’s army (SAF) and fighters of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North since 1 September.

Bushra will take over from the state’s interim military ruler who was appointed following the declaration of a state of emergency in Blue Nile and sacking of the state’s elected governor and the SPLM-N’s chairman Malik Aggar.

The new appointee is a former oppositionist who was associated with the National Umma Party of former prime minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.

He left the country after the 1989’s coup which brought Al-Bashir to power, at which point he was serving as a director of military intelligence in the army.

However, he later made peace with the government and returned to Sudan in 1996.

Since that point, he served several stints in the government, including as a minister of roads and bridges and governor of some states.

Colone Sawarmi: Army Clashes with JEM Groups, Inflicts Heavy Losses on them

الصوارمى خالد الناطق الرسمى للقوات المسلحه

Click on the image to normal size
Sudan, South Sudan sign deal on cross-border arrangements


Khartoum, Sept 20 (SUNA) - The Army Spokesman, Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad has disclosed that the Armed Forces troops currently combing and closing the northern borders with Chad and Libya, clashed, Tuesday with little groups of the Justice and Equality Movement(JEM) and inflicted it heavy damage .


Colonel Saad outlined that the heavy loses inflicted on the rebels represented in two trucks loaded with fuel, arms and ammunitions which were looted from Libya, adding that one of the rebels was killed during the clasher while the others flee to their heels ,

He said the Army sent new reinforcements to secure the area .

Sudan, South Sudan sign deal on cross-border arrangements

September 19, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and South Sudan have signed an agreement to monitor shared borders and open crossing points, few days after Khartoum said it was experiencing an influx of southerners returning to the north.

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Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein (2nd L) speaks during joint news conference with his southern counterpart John Kong Nyuon after signing an agreement, in Khartoum September 18, 2011 (REUTERS PICTURES)

The agreement was announced on Sunday following a meeting in Khartoum between Sudan’s defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein and his southern counterpart John Kong Nyuon.

Hussein told reporters that ten crossing points would be opened along the 2200 km borders, which remain partially un-demarcated even after South Sudan gained full independence in July this year.

The deal comes amid rising tension between the ex-war foes after fighting erupted in Sudan’s borders states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile between the country’s army and combatants who fought alongside southerners during the civil war.

Sudan accuses the south of supporting its erstwhile allies in the two states, a charge Juba denies.

Hussein revealed that 300 monitoring teams consisting of six individuals from north Sudan army, six from the southern army and six Ethiopian peacekeepers would oversee cross-border arrangements and investigate any violation on the ground.

According to the Sudanese minister, the crossing points would be devoid of the northern and southern army.

Sudan says that 80 percent of the administrative borders with the south had been defined. The South recently accused Khartoum of blocking trade routes to the south, saying the action had led to increasing prices of fuel and basic commodities.

The two sides agreed on Sunday to meet next month, after consultations by a joint technical committee with the members of border demarcation, to decide where to locate the ten crossing points.

"This agreement will strengthen the exchange between the two people ... We don’t see any conflicts," Hussein said

For his part, John Kong Nyuon described the relations between the two countries as improving and important, adding that "without border security citizens won’t be happy."

Southerners "returning" to the north

Meanwhile, Sudan has claimed that dozens of southern Sudanese families had been returning to the north.

The governor of Sudan’s southern state of White Nile Youssef al-Shambali reported to the US-funded Sudan Radio Service (SRS) on Friday that these families are returning on daily basis and for unknown reasons.

"Between 40 to 45 South Sudanese families and not individuals, to the north generally, not only to Whit Nile State alone. They are on their way back to Khartoum and to different States in Sudan for reasons best known to them. That is what we are experiencing," he said.

In response, South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told SRS that those southerners were going back to retrieve their belongings which Khartoum did not allow them to carry across the borders.

"These people are going back to bring their dues that have been blocked and delayed by Sudan government. They (Sudan government) refused to allow them come back to South Sudan with their dues and their own belongings. They have to go back to bring their dues. They just want to hide the truth without admitting the real reasons behind their returning," the minister said.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir will arrive to Khartoum on his the first foreign trip

September 18, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – According to a source familiar with the government in Juba, Salva Kiir, will arrive to Khartoum over the next 72 hours, on his the first foreign trip since the announcement of the nascent state last July.

Salva Kiir, will arrive to Khartoum over the next 72 hours

According to the same source, the Salva Kiir during his visit he will meet with President Omar Bashir and the pillars of his government to discuss the outstanding issues, and explained that the visit aims to emphasize the South's strong and unique relationship with the North.

The source added that Salva Kiir, who will arrive accompanied by a large delegation of his new government, will discuss the outstanding issues, particularly the oil issue and the border, The source did not rule out that Salva Kiir he will looking with Bashir the situation in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan and how to reach stability in the two regions.

Ethiopia denies advising US to overthrow Sudan’s government

September 16, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Ethiopian government has disputed allegations that its Prime Minister Meles Zenawi advised the US Administration that toppling the Sudanese government of president Al-Bashir is the “preferred option” for Washington.

Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, duirng a stop over in Sudan
Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, duirng a stop over in Sudan on his way to the UN General Assembly in New York, at Khartoum International airport on September 19, 2010 (GETTY IMAGES)

Allegations of Zenawi’s advice were revealed by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks in a diplomatic cable detailing discussions that took place on 30 January 2009 between the Ethiopian PM and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Phil Carter in the presence of the Director of Sudan Programs Group (SPG) at the US State Department Tim Shortley.

In the talks, which focused on the widely expected issuance of an arrest warrant against Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes he allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, Zenwai reportedly said that Washington should consider two options in dealing with Khartoum.

The first one, which he clearly conveyed as the preferred choice according to the US cable, would be to "remove the Bashir regime.”

Acknowledging that such an option was unlikely, Zenawi advocated for making a clear representation to the Khartoum that the United States is not "out to get them" and laying out clear benchmarks of actions expected of the government on both Darfur and South Sudan that would be necessary to "avoid continued challenges" with the US.

In a press release issued on Saturday, Addis Ababa said that the Wikileaks cable seems to suggest that the former US ambassador in Ethiopia informed Washington that the Ethiopian PM spoke with the US officials about the necessity of overthrowing Khartoum’s government.

The release strongly denied these allegations, saying that in the contrary, the full text of the release shows that Zenawi counseled Washington that the option of toppling Al-Bashir’s government was not appropriate.

Addis Ababa went on to say that Zenawi had actually advised the US administration to devise clear proposals to persuade Khartoum to overcome challenges with South Sudan and Darfur.

The press release laid stress on Addis Ababa’s firm position that the responsibility to change any government of a sovereign country rests solely on the people of that country and not on any foreign powers.

It went on to allege that Zenawi told US officials during the talks that Washington should not appoint itself as an alternative to the Sudanese people who are the only party entitled to change the government.

"The Ethiopian government acknowledges that any attempt to topple the government would yield a negative effect not only on Sudan also on the entire region,” Addis Ababa said.

According to the leaked cable, Zenawi argued that the ruling party in Sudan is disappointed over US refusal to normalise ties despite signing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended more than two decades of civil war with the South.

At the time, Washington promised Khartoum that it will normalise ties as a reward. However, the conflict in Darfur made the US hesitant to do so amid intense domestic pressure to take action that would reverse the growing humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s western region.

“While the [Government of Sudan] GoS thought that they had moved away from a climate of bad relations with Washington when they signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha, they perceive the United States as having shifted the goal posts on them since" Zenawi said.

As a result, Zenawi asserted that the GoS believes that "the U.S. will get them one way or the other," and from that perspective, they are already in a corner. "Believing they will lose, they perceive no benefit to them of resolving the problems of South Sudan”, the Ethiopian top official said.

Zenawi said that the NCP’s strategy as a result will be to deploy delaying tactics such as postponing the January 2011 referendum, buy time on Darfur and "hope for a miracle" in 2011. South Sudan’s self determination did go ahead in January resulting in a massive vote for independence, which it achieved in January. Sudan was the first country to recognise South Sudan’s secession.

"To die today or die tomorrow, they will choose to employ delaying mechanisms allowing them to die tomorrow" Zenawi explained.

He said that while the "Islamic agenda" may have motivated the regime ten years ago, today they are interested only in money and power.

He pressed the case that direct negotiations between Khartoum and Washington could lead to rational discussions.

Sudan needs $4 billion in forex reserves, calls on Arab states to make deposits

September 16, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Bank of Sudan (BoS) governor Mohamed Khair al-Zubeir on Thursday made a subtle acknowledgment of the country’s shortage in hard currency.

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Bank of Sudan governor Mohamed Khair al-Zubeir Ahmed attends a meeting of Arab central bank governors in Doha September 15, 2011 (Reuters)

Al-Zubeir told Reuters in an interview from the Qatari capital that he asked his Arab peers for deposits to shore up Sudan’s foreign exchange reserves.

"I have requested the governors to deposit some reserves in the central bank and also in Sudanese commercial banks," he said following a meeting of Arab central bankers in Doha.

While he did not specify an amount al-Zubeir said that Sudan needs about $4 billion for this year. He did not say if any pledges were received at the Doha conference.

Khalid al-Tigani, a Sudanese political analyst, wrote in the independent Al-Sahafa newspaper on Thursday that two senior Sudanese officials were dispatched to a “major Arab rich nation” over the last few months have failed to convince it to provide financial support or invest in the agricultural sector.

The remarks contrasted with al-Zubeir’s is the latest Sudanese official to give a more upbeat assessment of the Sudan’s economy over the next few months. Al-Zubeir asserted that the country will be able to overcome the loss in oil revenue after the South’s secession which became effective last July.

The local currency continued its downward trend in recent days with the US dollar buying 3.9 to 4 Sudanese pounds on the key black market, compared with around 3.7 previously. This is well above the official rate of around 3.

This year the Sudanese government adopted amendments to the foreign exchange law which stiffened punishment on black market traders.

Travelers are also restricted in the amount of hard currency they can buy and carry with them abroad. They are also required to submit documentation on the reasons for their travel to qualify for buying hard currency.

BoS has kept injecting hard currency into the market but it is believed that the central bank’s low level of foreign exchange reserves is hampering its ability to make a meaningful intervention. The highest financial authority in Sudan refuses to disclose how much it has in foreign exchange reserves.

Last year, Sudan temporarily devalued the Sudanese pound to match the black market, hoping to bring more foreign currency into official trade and destroy the parallel market. So far it has met with limited success with banks still unable to meet the demand for foreign currency.

Observers say that these steps do not address the heart of the problem which is the drop in exports and investment levels. They blamed the situation on expanded government spending and neglecting the industrial and agricultural sectors and focusing instead on extracting oil and selling it abroad to fund security and army apparatuses.

Khartoum said it will boost oil and gold production which would become the primary source of the desperately needed hard currency. The Sudanese presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail said this week that he expects revenues of up to $3 billion from gold exports alone.

The North has lost 75 percent of the country’s oil production of 500,000 barrels per day after South Sudan gained independence.

Ismail said he expects Sudan’s oil production to reach 150,000 barrels per day in 2012.

Many analysts say that the Sudanese economy suffers from structural problems and recent measures taken by the government such as cutting spending and banning certain imports does not go far enough.

Earlier this year the government partially removed subsidies on sugar and petroleum products in a bid to tame the growing budget deficit.

The BoS governor reaffirmed Khartoum’s determination to move ahead with plans to put the country’s finances in order.

"We are now having a three-year emergency programme, which will basically address this problem. Within three years I think we can adjust our economy again" he said.

"We are going to make fiscal monetary policies, and also diversification of production particularly in the agro and industrial sector for import substitution and export promotion," Zubeir said.

"On the fiscal side there will be a drastic cut in government expenditures, more than 25 percent for this year…..there will be a change in the priorities of development" he added.

Last week, the Sudanese finance and national economy minister Ali Mahmood Hassanein said that $1.5 billion is needed in foreign aid to cover the budget deficit.

"According to our estimate we need not less than at least $1 billion, 1.3 billion, 1.5 billion a year," Hassanein said.

"We are still under sanctions from the African Development Bank, the IMF... our efforts are within Arab countries and the others like China, India, Turkey," he said, adding there was no imminent agreement.

Sudan has been hoping that transit fees for oil produced in South Sudan could provide a reliable source of revenue.

But the two sides have failed to agree on the figure to be assessed for using the pipelines in the North.

It has been reported that Sudan asked for $32 per barrel for the service, something which South Sudan vehemently rejected.

Despite the disagreement, Sudan has continued to allow the South to export its oil through Port Sudan which some attribute to fear of angering China which buys most of the country’s oil.

Sudan’s Bashir picked a Darfurian and member of the ruling party as vice-president

September 14, 2011 13, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir Tuesday appointed Ali Osman Taha as first vice-president and picked a Darfurian and member of the ruling party as vice-president.

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Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir (L) talks to his Vice President Ali Osman Taha (R) upon his return from Qatar, on March 31, 2011 at Khartoum airport. (Getty)

Since last July the position of First Vice President remained vacant since the independence of South Sudan. Salva Kiir Mayadrit the former first vice-president has become president of the Republic of South Sudan.

Also the Sudanese government committed itself to appoint a Darfurian as vice president during the current term, in accordance to the Doha peace agreement. However, the government refused to include it in the peace deal it signed with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in the name of equality between the Sudanese states.

Bashir issued Tuesday a presidential decree relieving Taha from his position as vice-president and promoted him to First Vice President for the second time. Taha occupied this position in the past from 1998 to 2005 before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The Sudanese president also named al-Haj Adam Yousef, a member of the ruling National Congress Party as vice president. Yousef is a member of the South Darfur Beni Helbah tribe. He is also one of the Islamists figures who supported Turabi since 1999 dissidence and was a leading figure of the opposition Popular Congress Party.

However in November 2010 he joined the ruling National Congress Party saying Sudan would face many threats after the expected secession of South Sudan. He cited possible conflicts over Abyei, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur stressing that the unity of the Islamists is vital to overcome all these challenges.

Ali Osman Taha has been marginalized since the singing of the CPA after the death of the SPLM leader John Garang three weeks after his return to Khartoum in July 2005. He was blamed by NCP hardliners for making too many concessions to the former rebel group during the negotiation process.

His appointment will likely quell speculations circulating in Khartoum about his possible removal from his position in the new government after the separation of the South Sudan.

LJM and the government on 16 July signed in Doha a protocol on the former rebels political participation in the national government and Darfur institutions. From the agreement it appears that the group was interested in Darfur regional authority and states more than the federal institutions.

In accordance with the July 16 deal, the LJM will get the chairperson position in the Darfur regional authority besides one national ministerial portfolio and two state ministers at the national level.

El-Tijani Sissi, LJM leader and former Darfur governor, indicated clearly he is not interested in the position of vice-president, saying Khartoum can give this position to a another rebel group.

President Al-Bashir issues two republican decrees appointing Ali Osman as First Vice-President

Khartoum, Sept.13(SUNA) - President Al-Bashir issues two republican decrees appointing Ali Osman as First Vice-President and Al-Haj Adam as Vice-President.

Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir will announce a new government
     Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a republican decree releiving Ali Osman Mohammed Taha from his post as Vice-President of the Republic and issued another decree appointing him as First Vice-President of the Republic.

He also issued a republican decree appointing Dr Al-Haj Adam Yousif Vice-President of the Republic.

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