September 2012 - Posts
September 30, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese security forces prevented the publication of an opinion article hostile to the agreements signed by the Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents over a number of outstanding issues relating to South Sudan’s independence last year.
- JPF leader Al-Tayeb Mustafa among his supporters celebrating the secession of South Sudan in July 2010 (Getty)
Al-Tayeb Mustafa, owner of Al-Intibaha, and head of the far-right Just Peace Forum (JPF), was prevented by the Sudanese security service from publishing his weekly column on Saturday where he spoke about Addis Ababa agreements.
The two countries signed nine accords dealing among other with the inclusion of the Mile 14, a disputed area, in the buffer zone between the two countries and the 4 freedom, which guarantees to the southerners the right of residence in Sudan.
In its printed edition of Saturday, the daily newspaper wrote "censored" in the empty column where Mustafa used to publish his article.
However on Al-Intibaha’s website, Mustafa wrote an article where he begged the Security apparatus to stop censoring his newspaper and to allow it to criticize the agreements to "enlighten the government on some imperfections" included in the deals.
He stressed that the positive points in the deals more than items which he saw as disadvantages.
Mustafa went further to say he was surprised by the return of censorship on newspapers describing it as unfortunate matter that continues to happen even after the Arab Spring revolutions which allowed to people in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia overcome the dark phase of totalitarian rule, as he said.
Alluding to the censorship practiced against other dailies, he underscored that his party and newspaper are different from the opposition forces which seek by all means to overthrow the government pointing out that he only wanted to focus only on the four freedoms and the security arrangements.
Sudan and South Sudan inked in March 2012 a framework agreement allowing citizens of both states to enjoy freedom of residence, freedom of movement, freedom to undertake economic activity and freedom to acquire and dispose property.
At the time, Tayeb Mustafa, called on his nephew President Omer Al-Bashir to scrap this humiliating compromise warning that his party, the JPF, intends to oppose the deal through all possible means, including the launch of a popular campaign using religious leaders.
New York, Sept. 29 - The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States appreciates the wise leaderships of Sudan and South Sudan, a matter which led to the signing of some agreements between Sudan and South Sudan in Addis Ababa.
She also expressed her gratitude to the government of Sudan for protecting the compound of the US Embassy in Khartoum as well as the US diplomats during the recent wave of protests over the movie which was considered anti to Islam and Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be upon Him).
She also expressed the intention of the United States of America to work to boost the relations linking the two countries.
This came when the Minister of foreign Affairs met with the US Secretary of State in Waldorf Astoria in New York Thursday afternoon as part of his meetings and discussions with his counterparts of the Member States of the United Nations, particularly the countries of permanent memberships in the Security Council.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs briefed the US Secretary of State on Sudan's efforts to realize security and Stability, commending the role played by the USA in this connection and urged the USA to meet its promises to assist Sudan, particularly to lift its name from the counties sponsoring terrorism as well as lifting the unilateral sanctions imposed against Sudan.
The Minister stressed the importance of exerting joint efforts to normalize the relations linking Sudan and the USA in order to serve the interests of the peoples of the two countries.
The US Secretary of State, on her turn, emphasized the necessity to exert joint efforts in order to boost the bilateral relations as well as to solve the remaining issues between Sudan and South Sudan.
The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State agreed to retain communications at all levels in the coming period.
September 28, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released figures on Thursday projecting that Sudan’s external debts will hit an all-time high next year, the latest evidence of a growing economic crisis engulfing the East African nation.
- Sudan’s new currency sits behind a window at the central bank in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
Sudan’s external debt are estimated to have grown by 27% since 2008 from $32.6 billion to $41.4 billion in 2011. The IMF forecast that the debt level will reach $43.7 billion in 2012 and $45.6 billion in 2013. The latter represents 83% of Sudan’s 2011 GDP, which was $55.1 billion.
In its annual review of the Sudanese economy, the IMF Executive board urged Khartoum to "step up their dialogue with creditors and donors to garner support for debt relief".
Around three quarters of Sudan’s external debt are owed to the Paris Club of creditor nations and other non-member states. The remaining balance is equally divided between commercial banks and international and regional financial bodies.
Sudan’s economy was hit hard since the southern part of the country declared independence in July 2011, taking with it about 75% of the country’s oil output.
On Thursday the negotiating teams from the two countries signed an agreement in the Ethiopian capital by which Khartoum will "retain all external debt liabilities". This will be in return for both countries working jointly on reaching out to international creditors to cancel the debt.
Should the two countries fail to secure a commitment from the creditors on debt relief, new negotiations would commence to split up the liability. This is believed to be a thorny issue as Juba asserted in the past that the loans taken by Khartoum were used primarily towards financing military efforts during the north-south civil war.
Several countries such as United States, United Kingdom and Germany expressed readiness to offer debt relief but political conditions attached will likely slow down the materialization of the pledges.
This year Sudan announced that China - a major investor in oil, construction and other sectors of the Sudanese economy - had agreed to extend Sudan’s debt maturity by an extra five years in light of the loss of revenues.
The loss of oil revenue severely curtailed Sudan’s foreign currency inflows putting pressure on the Sudanese pound and pushing inflation rates even higher.
Sudan’s low levels of foreign currency reserves held by the central bank also meant the latter could do little to intervene to support the pound against other currencies.
The IMF is expecting Sudan’s international reserves to drop from $1.3 billion in 2011 to $1.1 billion in 2012 before rising slightly to $1.2 billion in 2013. These levels are enough to cover a little under two months of imports according to IMF calculations.
Sudanese officials traditionally treated the amount of reserves held in foreign currency as a heavily guarded secret refusing to make it public.
In recent months there were news reports attributed to government officials saying that they have received billions of dollars from Arab nations namely Qatar and Libya.
But critics allege that the government intentionally spread the "false" news for the purpose of pushing the price of the dollar on the black market lower as the pound continued to slip.
A year ago, the Bank of Sudan governor called on Arab states to provide up to $4 billion in deposits to shore up the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
The nationwide Forex shortfall hammered the value of the Sudanese pound on the black market, causing it to fall to as low as 6.2 pounds to the dollar last April while the official rate has remained at around 2.7 pounds.
"In order to stabilize the domestic currency and stop the draw-down on the country’s foreign exchange reserves, the authorities introduced various administrative restrictions. These measures were, however, unsuccessful in preventing the depreciation of the exchange rate in the curb market" the IMF said in its assessment of Sudan’s handling of the deteriorating exchange rate.
Authorities in Khartoum decided last May to devalue the pound in a long awaited bid to stabilize the local currency and reverse the chronic shortage in Forex that has plagued the market and frustrated businesses.
However, the devaluation of the pound that was coupled with lifting other restrictions on Forex trade has yet to bear fruit which analysts attribute to the drop in exports and investment levels.
’MORE ECONOMIC REFORMS NEEDED’
The IMF lauded Sudan’s austerity measures which included raising certain taxes, reducing fuel subsidies and cutting non-priority spending but said more is needed to achieve full potential.
"These measures are a positive step towards restoring macroeconomic stability and addressing Sudan’s macroeconomic imbalances. However, reaching fiscal sustainability and enhancing growth potential will require a determined continuation of the reform momentum. Stepping up structural reforms will also help address the underlying structural challenges facing the economy. Key reforms include: (i) a comprehensive civil service reform, (ii) banking sector restructuring, (iii) ambitious privatization program, and (iv) improving governance" the IMF statement said.
The measures triggered a rare but small outburst of protests in the country last summer demanding that the government rollback the new policies.
IMF figures project a sharp drop in revenue to 12.9% of GDP in 2012 compared to 18.7% last year. Expenditures however fell at a slower rate from 20.0% to 16.6% during the same period leaving a negative net balance that is expected to continue throughout 2013.
Last week the Sudanese finance minister complained that the government is facing a number of obstacles in slashing its spending as planned primarily due to non-responsiveness by state governments in adopting the measures and suggested that this may require an intervention by the central government to force compliance.
The government said it would downsize its bureaucracy through a reduction in the number of constitutional post holders in both federal and regional governments from 572 to 318. It also announced elimination of five ministries, mergers between others, sacking of six presidential advisers and reductions in official perks.
The IMF appeared critical of Sudan government for resorting excessively to the banking sector to finance its budget deficits saying it resulted in reserve money growing at 28% and subduing credit to other sectors of the economy.
But today’s agreements signed between Juba and Khartoum could offer a relief to the beleaguered economy since it will allow the landlocked South Sudan to resume oil exports though Sudan, which will provide both ailing economies with desperately needed cash.
Last January South Sudan suspended its entire output of 350,000 barrels a day over a dispute over transit fees.
The former central bank governor Saber Mohamed Al-Hassan said that the deal will provide Khartoum with $2 billion annually and will enhance trade between the two nations.
September 28, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The signing on Thursday of nine agreements between Sudan and South Sudan over a host of post-secession issues, including border security and oil, has generated positive reactions both domestically and abroad, notwithstanding the failure to reach a deal on the hotly contested region of Abyei.
- President Omer Al-Bashir, left, and President Salva Kiir, right, gesture after the signing ceremony of a deal on economic and security agreements on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 in Addis Ababa (AP)
Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit inked a cooperation agreement committing their countries to the implementation of eight other agreements signed in a ceremony held at a five-star hotel in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, which has been hosting their marathon talks since Sunday, 22 September; one day after the countries missed a UN deadline for the conclusion of negotiations.
Defense ministers of both countries, John Kong Nyuon of South Sudan and his counterpart Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussain, preceded the two presidents by signing an agreement on security arrangements which will pave the way for the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone with a depth of 10 kilometers along the unmarked 1,800-km common border.
Beside the security arrangements agreement, the other seven deals include the following: an Agreement on Banking, which aims to enhance cooperation in the management of monetary policy, an Agreement on Border Issues, which deals with the demarcation of common borders, an Agreement on Post-Service Benefits, which addresses the situation of workers who served on both sides of the borders before secession, an Agreement on Trade, which mainly deals with regulation of trade, an Agreement on Certain Economic Matters, which deals with assets, liabilities and debt, an Agreement on Oil, which deals with the management of oil resources and exportation, and an Agreement of Nationals, which grants citizens of both countries the four freedoms of movement, ownership, work and residence in the other country.
Following the signing, Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir shook hands to a cheering crowd of their delegations and addressed the ceremony.
Al-Bashir said that Sudan is committed to implementing the agreements signed and promised to “open a new page” in the relations between Khartoum and Juba in order to enhance the deep ties between the people of the two countries.
He further declared his commitment to opening the borders between the two countries and facilitating cross-border trade and movement of citizens “but in accordance with the international law”
The Sudanese leader hailed the agreements as a role model of the ability of Sudanese and Africans to resolve differences through dialogue and described Kiir as “a partner in peace”
He also praised Ethiopia’s hosting of the talks and efforts of the mediation team of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
For his part, Salva Kiir described the signing as “a great day in history of the region", saying it ended a long conflict between the two countries.
Kiir however did little to disguise his frustration at the absence of a deal on Abyei, blaming Khartoum’s rejection of an AUHIP proposal for holding a referendum in the oil-producing region.
Sudan and South Sudan agree on the principle that Abyei’s status should be determined via a referendum but they disagree on the issue of who can vote, with Juba persisting that only the area’s indigenous population of Dinka Ngok should be allowed to vote and Khartoum saying that the Arab nomadic tribe of al Messriyah, who reside in Abyei for few months a year to graze their cattle, should also be allowed to vote.
“Unfortunately my brother Al-Bashir and his government rejected the proposal in its totality” he said.
Whereas South Sudan accepted the AUHIP proposal, which calls for holding a referendum in the region in October 2013, Khartoum categorically rejected the proposal.
Sudan based its objection to the AUHIP proposal on the fact that it only allows “permanent” residents to vote in the referendum, arguing in a response to the AHUIP that the criterion fits Dinka Ngok and excludes al Messriyah.
Abyei is the most prominent of six disputed border regions whose status are yet to be determined. Those include Hofrat Al-Nuhas, Mile 14, Kaka Al-Tigaria, Al-Muqaines, and Goda.
Kiir underscored the urgency of resolving Abyei dispute, calling on AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki to refer the issue to the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and to the UN Security Council. “This situation must be resolved sooner rather than later”
Implementation of agreements to start within one month
The spokesman of Sudan’s foreign ministry, Al-Obaid Adam Marawih, said that the agreements had put Sudan-South Sudan relations “on the right track”
Marawih pointed out that the implementation of the agreements should start within one month.
However, he acknowledged that the real challenge lies in the implementation. Marawih said that Khartoum considers the agreement on security arrangements as the most important one.
He explained that the security deal stipulates that South Sudan army should withdraw from five areas it controls, including from the “Mile 14” area which will be fully demilitarized.
“Mile 14” is a grazing territory occupying 23 kilometers between Western Bahr El-Ghazal State in South Sudan and East Darfur State in Sudan.
Marawih revealed that the monitors from the UN and the UNISFA peacekeeping force of Abyei will verify the withdrawal of South Sudan army from Mile 14.
Sudan has learned that the representatives of both countries at the Joint Defense and Political Committee have decided to return to Addis Ababa after a week to follow-up the implementation of the Security Arrangements Agreement, which is due to go into effect as soon as it is approved by the parliaments of the two countries within a deadline of one month.
Oil production to resume by end of the year
Meanwhile, South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum has expected that the production of oil would resume by the end of the year. “We’ve already began the preparations. I think the oil will start pumping by the end of the year” he said on Thursday.
On the other hand, Sudan’s negotiator and former head of the country’s central bank, Sabir Mohammed Al-Hassan, welcomed the agreement on oil, saying it will generate revenues estimated at 2 billion US dollars a year.
The oil deal, which was already agree in August, stipulates that South Sudan pays 9.48 US dollars on average for every barrel it transports via Sudan plus a one off payment of 3.028 billion US dollars in direct financial assistance to Sudan over a period of 3 1/2 years.
Al-Hassan told reporters in the capital Khartoum on Thursday that the oil deal will have a positive impact on Sudan’s economic situation which has been deteriorating since the country lost three quarters of its oil production to South Sudan when the latter seceded in July last year.
Reactions to the deal
The signing of the agreements has been welcomed and commended by local and international parties.
US President Barack Obama welcomed “the historic agreement” between Sudan and South Sudan.
“This agreement breaks new ground in support of the international vision of two viable states at peace with each other, and represents substantial progress in resolving the outstanding security and economic issues between Sudan and South Sudan” he said in a statement issued by the White House on Thursday.
Obama pledged his country’s support to Sudan and South Sudan un implementing the signed agreements and expressed hope that they will encourage progress in resolving the conflicts in Sudan’s conflict-hit regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile as well as bringing peace to Darfur.
Likewise, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has welcomed the agreements and congratulated the leadership of both countries for signing them.
“These agreements provide vital elements in building a strong foundation for a stable and prosperous future between the two countries” the UN chief was quoted in a statement released by his spokesperson on Thursday.
He went on to urge both governments to find solutions to disputed border areas and determine the final status of Abyei.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union (EU) High Representative said the agreement reached between Sudan and South Sudan represents a historic step for both countries.
Ashton, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, said it was essential for both sides to implement the agreements without delay, citing the importance of immediate resumption of oil production and cross border trade activities to improve lives of ordinary people.
“The agreement on security arrangements will also contribute to
stabilising the border area through the deployment of the Joint Border
Verification and Monitoring Mission. The EU stands ready to support
the implementation of the signed agreements,” Ashton noted in the
She however said while Thursday’s agreement proves an achievement, there are still some outstanding issues like on Abyei region to be resolved.
Locally, the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) of Sudan welcomed the development but demanded that the agreements be subject to plebiscites.
In a statement issued on Thursday, NUP said that the two presidents should cast the agreements for debate with members of the public and opposition parties especially on the issues of four freedoms and border disputes.
September 27, 2012 - Sudan and South Sudan have inked a series of deals on security and
co-operation after four days of presidential talks, but failed to reach a
comprehensive deal on the most contentious areas.
The former civil war foes have agreed on a package of deals that will
ensure the newly separated nations "will thrive and become two viable
states", African Union official Barney Afako said at the start of the
signing ceremony on Thursday.
President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan
and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir signed a "co-operation
agreement", after marathon talks that began on Sunday, a day after the
rivals missed a UN Security Council deadline.
They shook hands after signing the deal with delegates in the crowded room cheering and clapping in support.
Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein and his counterpart John
Kong Nyuon also signed a security agreement, which paves the way for a
demilitarised border zone for their volatile and contested frontier.
deals including agreements to restart stalled oil production were also
reached at the ceremony, held in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital.
However, the deal does not tackle issues including contested border areas or the flashpoint Abyei region.
Those issues would be addressed during another round of talks, officials said.
September 27, 2012 (KHARTOUM/WAU) – Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit managed, after another round of marathon talks on Wednesday, to strike a deal on border security issues but failed to do likewise on contested border regions including Abyei.
- Bashir and Salva Kiir stand in Juba during the second CPA anniversary celebration (Reuters/file)
The partial deal was confirmed by both countries following the sixth closed-door meeting between the two leaders in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which has been hosting the summit for the past five days under the mediation of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
Sources on both sides told that the issue of establishing a demilitarized zone along the unmarked 1,800-km common borders has been resolved after the two countries agreed to redeploy their troops out of the 10 kilometers-buffer zone which includes the “Mile 14” area, a disputed territory occupying 23 kilometers between Western Bahr El-Ghazal State in South Sudan and East Darfur State in Sudan.
Under the deal, South Sudan army known as SPLA should withdraw from six areas it controls along the borders, including “Mile 14”. Sudan army will also withdraw from “Mile 14” which, also under the deal, will revert back to being run through a traditional and joint administration system between Al-Riziygat Arab tribe of Darfur and Dinka Mulawl of South Sudan until such time that the area’s final status is determined.
The establishment of a buffer zone will enable the two countries to implement a deal they reached in August but not signed yet to resume exporting South Sudan oil via Sudan and help their contracting economies after an eight-month hiatus that saw the two neighbors fighting a brief war in April around border oilfields.
It also means great logistical difficulty for both of them to engage in supporting each others’ rebel groups across the border.
Sources told that the last hours of the meeting between Al-Bashir and Kiir on Wednesday had witnessed exchanges of tough language between the two leaders in the presence of AUHIP mediators including its chief and former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
According to sources, Al-Bashir reacted angrily to Salva Kiir when the latter insisted that the SPLA would only withdraw 10 kilometers outside of “Mile 14”, telling him “we ceded the whole south for you and you’re refusing to withdraw from [few] kilometers”
Sudanese government sources also told that President Al-Bashir is expected to travel back to Khartoum as soon as the summit concludes today.
The deal, due to be signed today, includes eight protocols on border security arrangements, oil, economic and trade issues, and the four freedoms agreement which will allow citizens of each country the freedoms of movement, property ownership, work and residence in the other country.
The implementation of those protocols should come into effect after being endorsed by the parliaments of both countries.
South Sudan Information Minister and official spokesperson, Barnaba Marial, said on Wednesday that "significant steps" had been made at the talks and agreements were reached on most of the outstanding issues.
The official confirmed that the “four-freedom” issue had already been settled. He added that only “small details” on the oil deal are left for further talks.
The two countries also agreed to implement the demarcation of their agreed borders which, according to sources from both sides, represent 80 percent of the border strip. The remaining 20 percent represents five disputed territories which are: Hofrat Al-Nuhas, Mile 14, Kaka Al-Tigaria, Al-Muqaines, and Goda.
The final status of these disputed regions will be determined either through political agreements or international arbitration.
NO AGREEMENT ON ABYEI
On the issue of Abyei, the key disputed region, no agreement was reached after Sudan strongly rejected the AUHIP proposal on holding a referendum by October 2013 to determine the final status of the area.
Whereas Juba accepted the proposal, which was handed to the two parties on 21 September, Khartoum said in a letter sent to the AUHIP that it “categorically rejects the proposal in its entirety”
Sudan based its objection to the AUHIP proposal on the fact that it conditions the eligibility to vote in the referendum on the “permanent” residence in Abyei.
Khartoum argued that such criterion fits the Dinka Ngok tribe of South Sudan and excludes the Sudanese nomads of al Messriyah who reside in Abyei few months a year to graze their cattle.
Al-Bashir and Kiir, however, agreed to continue the implementation of the agreement they signed in June 2011 on Abyei, which stipulates the establishment of joint administrative and legislative bodies to run the region. They also agreed to keep the UN-mandated force of 4200 Ethiopian peacekeepers who are deployed in Abyei as part of the same deal.
A South Sudanese official, speaking to Sudan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, confirmed on Wednesday that the two leaders failed to reach an agreement over Abyei and other disputed regions.
The official revealed that the dispute over Abyei would therefore be referred to the AU Peace and Security Council and later to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
KIIR TALKS OF PAINFUL CONCESSIONS
Meanwhile, President Kiir has expressed rejection to what he described as pressure on his country to make concessions more than the “painful” ones it already made.
“We have made painful decisions to concede over some of the demands with hope to achieve lasting peace and promote mutual cooperation and viability of the states but yet we are still feeling a pressure to make additional concession. This is not feasible. Our people are no longer accepting any suggestion”, a highly placed source speaking to Sudan Tribune quoted Kiir as saying on Wednesday.
According to the source, Kiir made the remark during a consultative discussion with mediators on the sideline of the summit in Addis Ababa.
President Kiir, whose remarks appear to be directed at Sudan’s refusal of the AUHIP proposal on Abyei, called for the immediate implementation of the proposal and on the international community to prepare for the necessary support.
“The proposal has certainly addressed key issues even if it has not resolved all the concerns”, Kiir said. The source said that the South Sudanese leader had rejected a proposal from Khartoum during the summit to either include al-Messriyah in the vote or divide the area so that the northern part of Abyei would administered by Sudan as the southern side would be administered by South Sudan.
“There is no reason to divide the area which has already been defined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. All these claims have been addressed by the court and we all accepted the ruling as final and binding decision. We just need the referendum to be conducted for Dinka Ngok and other residents” the source quoted Kiir as telling the mediators.
Abyei is one of the issues that the UNSC ordered the two countries through resolution 2045 to resolve by the extended deadline of 22 September.
Sources told that AUHIP chief Thabo Mbeki informed Sudan and South Sudan that he intends to address the UNSC and ask for another extension of the deadline to settle the outstanding issues.
September 26, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Sudan rejected a proposal submitted by the African Union mediation aiming at breaking the deadlock over Abyei referendum saying it ignored that the eligibility of Misseriya was the main cause of discord.
- woman displaced by fighting in Abyei in southern Sudan waits for assistance in the village of Agok May 21, 2008 (Reuters)
Khartoum was reacting to the proposal on the final status of Abyei by the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) during a summit bringing together Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir in Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
The African mediation, on 21 September before the meeting proposed to the two parties to hold a referendum on Abyei where the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya settled in the region can vote to determine the future of the area.
The two countries failed to hold a referendum on whether Abyei can remain in the north or join South Sudan because they disagree on the eligibility of the Misseriya nomads who spend several months in Abyei every year for grazing.
Khartoum started its letter by blaming the mediation for taking the side of South Sudanese government and ignoring its position on the eligibility of Misseriya. It further stressed that the panel had to focus on resolving the "only pending issue" of who can participate in the vote.
"The government of Sudan, whose position on this matter is ignored altogether, has no alternative but to categorically reject the proposal in its entirety," Khartoum said in a letter handed to the mediation.
"The proposal contradicts the Abyei protocol which does not provide for permanent abode or residence as a condition for voting in the referendum. It also contradicts Abyei protocol by not observing the parity between the Misseriya nomads and Dinka Ngok in power and resource sharing," the letter reads in part accusing the mediation of "stripping" the Misseriya rights.
Juba accepted the proposal which calls to give South Kordofan 20% of Abyei oil revenue during a period of 5 years for development projects.
In its rejection letter, Khartoum says that the proposal should abide by the 2005 peace deal which provided specific protocol on the future of Abyei and the 2010 Abyei Referendum Act.
The letter also mentioned that Sudan’s accepted proposal made by US Special Envoy, Scott Gration together with the African Union panel which recommends either division of the area by presidential decree or to allow the participation of Miseriya who have resided in the area for a minimum of 185 days.
Juba after two months talks (October –November 2010) brokered by the US special envoy, rejected Gration’s plan saying it breaches the rule of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which gave South Sudan most of the land including Abyei town and huge areas of fertile land.
Sudan, in its letter to the mediation, also warned against conducting a referendum which excludes one of the two rival communities, recommending that the AU panel uses the previous proposal of 27 November 2010 which recommends the division of the area by the presidential decree.
Khartoum says the partition of the region – northern part goes to the Sudanese government and southern part transferred to the South – accommodate the interests of both sides.
"It is futile to think of any referendum on Abyei that excludes one of the two communities. Far from advancing a win-win formula, such exclusion, if agreed, is a likely recipe for instability and strife in the Abyei Area," the letter further warns in part.
The Sudanese government also demands the formation of a joint Abyei administration and recognition of the Misseriya as residents of the area and for them to participate in the referendum vote, without limiting their rights to access to water and pastures.
Khartoum and Juba governments are under huge pressure from the two communities of Ngok Dinka and Misseriya which were involved in the North –South war before the independence of South Sudan.
Abyei’s referendum was initially agreed to be simultaneously held with the vote on the independence of South Sudan. The establishment of a new state in the South after six year interim period marred by mistrust and difficulties complicates the ongoing efforts to settle Abyei issue.
South Sudan rejected Khartoum’s demands to include the Misseriya nomads in the vote and its proposal seeking division of the area as well as allocation of equal share of resources generated from the region, describing Sudan’s demands as irrational.
Juac Agok, deputy chairperson of South Sudan’s governing SPLM in Abyei accused Khartoum government of always seeking to grab the land of Ngok Dinka.
"There is no way Missiriya can be allowed to vote because the area of Abyei has been clearly defined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The referendum in Abyei will therefore be conducted in the area defined by the court," Juac said on Tuesday.
He called on the Government of South Sudan to make its position on the issue clear, explaining the issue was no longer between the two communities. He also called on members of the Dinka Ngok to "defend" the area.
"What do you do when someone wants to take your house, your land by force?" asked Agok. "If you are overpowered you go and prepare and come back when you have gained momentum. The issue of land everywhere is never easy," he said.
South Sudan’s information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said that the presidential summit had resumed on Tuesday and was still "progressing well" in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
He went further to say that the two presidents are determined to a reach peaceful settlement on all outstanding issues.
In Addis Ababa the mediation announced that the talks are extended to Friday to allow the two presidents to strike a comprehensive deal on the outstanding issues.
September 25, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – Sudan’s President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir decided to continue direct talks on security and disputed areas for the third day, after failing to reach an agreement on Monday.
Since Sunday the two presidents flanked by their top negotiators have discussed the operationalization of a border buffer zone, which will allow oil exports to resume. Sudan has given a conditional acceptance of the mediation’s map put forward by the African Union after long refusing it.
On Abyei, which is the main topic of the summit, the mediation in its proposal supported the South Sudan point of view on the eligibility of voters but asked Juba to accept to share Abyei oil resource with South Kordofan and to endorse a special status for the movement of nomads.
Juba accepted Abyei proposal but Khartoum wants further concessions to soften the eligibility conditions in a way to ensure the participation of a large number of the Misseriya tribe who are very hostile to the African map.
There is no sign of progress on reaching a comprehensive agreement on the outstanding issues between the leaders of the two former civil war rivals, a South Sudanese diplomat close to the talks told under the condition of anonymity late on Monday.
The face to face talks between the two leaders will continue Tuesday, and it is highly expected that both sides will strike a deal on the issues remaining from the 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war between North and South Sudan, he added.
The two leaders held three meetings on Monday in an attempt to reach a comprehensive agreement on all outstanding post-partition issues including a safe demilitarized border zone.
The spokesperson of the Sudanese foreign ministry El-Obeid Murawah told reporters in Addis Ababa that some progress has been achieved over the issue of Mile 14. He further said the discussions resume on Tuesday at 10:00 am expressing hopes to reach a comprehensive deal.
But the spokesperson of the South Sudanese delegation, Atif Kiir, told reporters after the last meeting there are still some hurdles preventing the two president from striking a comprehensive deal over the outstanding issues.
Leaks in Addis Ababa, say the two parties reached a compromise over Mile 14 as the South Sudan accepted to pull out its troops from the disputed grazing land. The deal was reached following a meeting attended by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and chief mediator Thabo Mbeki in the afternoon.
In Khartoum the speaker of the Sudanese National Assembly, Ibrahim Al-Tahir, reiterated Sudan’s rejection to make any concession over Mile 14. He also added that there are some Dinka residing the area but added that they can remain Sudanese citizens.
The head of the opposition National Consensus Forces, Farouk Abu Issa blamed the government for excluding the opposition from the ongoing process saying what is going in Addis is a "farce rejected by the opposition and the Sudanese people."
The opposition always demanded to be involved in the discussions over national issues like Abyei and demarcation of borders, but the ruling National Congress Party ignored their demands.
However, some tribal leaders loyal to the government were allowed to visit the venue of the talks and to meet the mediation or the Sudanese negotiating team to express their point of view.
MACHAR TO NEW YORK
The South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar arrived in New York in Monday to represent his country at the meetings of the UN General Assembly, as Salva Kiir has failed to leave for New York due to the talks .
His delegation includes foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial, finance minister Kosti Manibe, justice minister John Luk Jock, presidential advisor Telar Deng and other officials.
Machar will give a speech on Thursday where he is expected to focus on challenges facing the young nation and ongoing process with the Sudan in Addis Ababa.
SPLM-N WANTS TO JOIN SECURITY TALKS
Yasir Arman, secretary general of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) said they want to join the security talks between Sudan and South Sudan.
"It’s important to involve the SPLM-North," he told Bloomberg on Monday. The rebel official went further to explain that they controls parts of the border in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile stressing the need to take this fact into consideration.
The buffer zone if established will cut off the Sudanese rebels from South Sudan. The rebels who are holding separate talks with the government said they are ready to sign a ceasefire with Khartoum but urged that a humanitarian deal reached last August is o implemented.
By Ulf Laessing | ADDIS ABABA | — Sudan and South Sudan leaders will try again on Tuesday to seal a border security deal after failing to achieve a breakthrough in the previous two days, officials said on Monday as both sides disagreed over whether progress had been made.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and southern counterpart Salva Kiir have been meeting in Ethiopia since Sunday in hopes of wrapping up peace talks after coming close to all-out war in April.
The African Union has been striving to broker a demilitarized buffer zone at the unmarked and disputed border to allow South Sudan to restart oil exports through the north, which would give a big lift to both battered economies.
Both nations are under pressure after a U.N. Security Council deadline expired on Saturday, although it was extended unofficially until Thursday when AU mediator Thabo Mbeki will report on whether a deal has been done, diplomats said.
Bashir and Kiir originally planned a one-day summit but have so far failed to agree during three long meetings on the details of a buffer zone map proposed by the AU.
Sudan has reservations about a 14-mile-(23-km)-long strip of land mapped out, while Juba has accepted the formula.
Sudan said it was hopeful that Bashir and Kiir would successfully conclude the talks on Tuesday.
"Both leaders will discuss the issues tomorrow at 10 o'clock ... We expect all issues to be solved positively," El-Obeid Morawah, spokesman for Khartoum's foreign ministry, told reporters after Bashir and Kiir met for two hours.
"There (was) progress today regarding the issue of 14 miles and the controversial issues were minor today compared to other days," he said.
SOUTH SEES OBSTACLES
But South Sudan's delegation appeared more doubtful.
"We have been facing some obstacles during the presidents' discussions. We haven't been able to solve this yet but tomorrow a final session will be held," Atif Keir, spokesman for Juba's delegation, told reporters.
He said the talks would only succeed if Sudan complied with a road map for peace proposed by the African Union, which has been trying to broker a comprehensive peace deal.
The armies of both nations fought for weeks in April along the unmarked and disputed border after a dispute escalated over how much South Sudan should pay to use oil pipelines that traverse the north to Red Sea ports.
The two reached an interim deal in August to restart oil exports from landlocked South Sudan after Juba turned off its wells in a row over export fees.
But Sudan insists on first reaching a security accord.
South Sudan, where most people follow Christianity and animism, seceded from the mainly Muslim north in July 2011 under a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war.
Western and African officials had hoped for broad peace accord but several rounds of talks in Addis Ababa have brought no visible progress on settling the fate of five disputed border areas. This will probably be left to a future round of negotiations or possible lengthy arbitration.
September 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents ended Sunday evening a first round of talks without announcing a deal as they are expected to meet again on Monday for further discussions mainly on disputed areas including Abyei and security arrangements
- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) listens as his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir speaks during a joint news conference, at Khartoum Airport October 9, 2011. (Reuters)
Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir held Sunday a first meeting late during the evening after reports saying the discussions will start on Monday. They were in a close-door meeting for three hours, together with the top negotiators of the two sides, Pagan Amum and Idriss Abdel Gadir.
At the end of the meeting, the two leaders did not make any comment to the reporters waiting outside the meeting room in the hotel as they took the lift together to their rooms.
Earlier, Sudan’s defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein announced that his government accepted to include Mile 14 in the buffer zone but put some conditions.
The spokesperson of the Sudanese negotiating team Badr El-Din Abdalla, pointed out that Khartoum wants first some security and administrative arrangements over Mile 14.
Sudan says Mile 14, which is a grazing land located between Western Bahr El-Ghazal state in South Sudan and East Darfur in Sudan, is a Sudanese land and figure in the maps of Sudan since 1924 as part of Darfur region.
The meeting between Kiir and Bashir was initially convened to discuss the proposal the African Union mediation submitted to the two parties over Abyei.
The mediation, in the proposal, supports the idea that only the few permanent residents of the Misseriya nomads can only participate in the referendum . This proposition opens again the door for the long past quarrels on how to determine a permanent resident. Khartoum demands six months and Juba speaks about three years.
South Sudanese cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor told reporters that a deal might be reached on Monday but did not give further details
But Badr El-Din stressed that the two parties continue to disagree on the security issues but confirmed that there is an agreement over other issues.
In Khartoum, Sudanese vice-president and head of political sector at the National Congress Party, Haj Adam Youssef, reiterated that Juba has to demobilise and disarm its soldiers -SPLM-North fighters- in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and to cease any support to the Sudanese rebel group.
He further renewed the position of the ruling party rejecting any South Sudanese claim on the ownership of the contested area of Mile14, calling on Juba to show flexibility and determination to agree on the remaining issues and to achieve peace and stability in the relations between the two countries.
He pointed out that Khartoum is committed to fully implement the remaining issues in the 2005 peace deal related to the Two Areas and the referendum of Abyei Area. H also underlined the need to establish the interim administration in the contested area as agreed in June 2011.
The mediation in its proposal over Abyei Area said a referendum should be held in October 2013, but before asked to establish an administration that Juba refused in the past because the NCP refused to appoint a Ngok Dinka as speaker of the regional legislative assembly.
September 23, 2012 (LONDON) — The African Union mediation proposed to organise a referendum in October 2013 in the disputed Abyei area but said the parties have to agree on a number of measures to restore confidence and guarantee customary rights of the Misseriya herders.
- People displaced by fighting in Abyei wait to be registered at a UN WFP distribution point in the village of Abathok May 19, 2008. (Reuters)
Abyei’s ownership is one of the most important issues that Sudan and South Sudan are discussing in Addis Ababa where a special summit is organised on Sunday 23 September between the presidents of the two countries to decide on a proposal forged by the mediation.
The main idea of the mediation that Abyei, in accordance with the peace agreement of 2005, is supposed to be a bridge between North and south Sudan but in fact it was a source tension and a factor of division during the interim period.
It also represents a threat to the ultimate goal of the process which is the establishment of two friendly and viable states in Sudan and South Sudan.
To preserve peace and promote good relations between the two nations the African Union mediation proposed in an initiative, presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir containing a number of measures to build confidence and to hold a referendum within one year.
Before this referendum, the parties have to clearly commit themselves to a number of issues allowing to preserve Ngok Dinka’s right in Abyei as "historical land" and "the historic role of the Misseriya" in Abyei whatever the outcome of the referendum is.
The mediation pointed out that this "historic role" means to establish a soft border between Abyei and the neighbouring states of Southern Kordofan and South Sudan in order to protect Misseriya’s rights of residing in the Area and to enable the free movement of people, livestock and good in both directions.
"South Sudan shall also guarantee by law the customary rights of all pastoralists to migrate, and utilize pasture and water, within South Sudan in accordance with their traditional seasonal migratory routes," the mediation said in its proposition.
The mediation says that the two parties, before the referendum also have to implement the 20 June 2011 agreement and to establish the interim administration. South Sudan’s demand to appoint a speaker from the Ngok Dinka delayed the process.
The African panel details also a number of points dealing with economic development and sharing of oil revue after the referendum where South Kordofan state will get 20% of the revenue of oil produced in Abyei.
It further proposes that Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) continues until the implementation of the referendum decision.
The committee will assist the referendum commission once formed in its duties and to oversee the implementation of the result of referendum .
The AJOC, on the other hand, shall form a special force to protect Diffra oil fields. Currently Sudan refuses to pull out its troops from the oil area because of the rebel activities in South Kordofan.
Regarding the vote of Abyei residents in the referendum to determine the future of the region on whether to remain in Sudan or to join South Sudan, it is proposed to give the chairmanship of the referendum body to an African personality agreed with the mediation.
Sudan and South Sudan will appoint two members from the two sides.
The two parties failed to agree over the formation of Abyei Area Referendum Commission because it has to determine who is eligible to take part in the vote.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 speaks about the Ngok Dinka and other Sudanese residents, as voters to determine the fate of the area. However, the two parties disagree over who from the pastoralists will participate.
Khartoum and Juba, with the support of the former U.S. envoy Scott Gration held a series of meeting in New York and Addis Ababa in October and November 2010 but they failed to agree on the participation of Misseriya herders who reside only several months in the area every year.
South Sudan says only the Misseriya residing permanently in Abyei can participate in the referendum .
The proposition made by the African Union provides that all the Ngok Dinka community and "other Sudanese residing in the Abyei Area” are entitled to vote in the referendum.
"The criterion for qualifying (the Sudanese residents) shall be permanent abode within the Abyei Area," the text of proposition says.
September 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese security forces tightened security around a number of Western embassies in Khartoum in anticipation of a new wave of protests after Friday prayer following the publication of new anti-Islam cartoons in France .
Last week protesters attacked German and U.S. embassies in Khartoum following the release of an anti-Islam movie. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle protested against the attack and called on Sudanese authorities to provide "comprehensive protection" to the mission, stressing that " diplomats need to be able to carry out their work without fear."
The security measures came after calls by Islamic groups and student organisations in Khartoum to protest after Friday prayer against the publication of new anti-Islam cartoons by a French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.
The protest is planned to move to the French embassy from the mosque of the University of Khartoum on Friday afternoon.
The police vehicles were deployed nearby the western embassies in the Sudanese capital including German and British missions.
The French government distanced itself from the cartoons as foreign minister Laurent Fabuis said their publication was an irresponsible decision by the newspaper. Paris also decided to temporarily close its embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in more than 20 Islamic countries.
On Thursday Fabius asked the governments of the concerned countries to take special security measures to protect French diplomatic missions and other premises. He also urged French diplomats and nationals in the countries to keep alert.
GERMANY CALL OFF SUDAN CONFERENCE
In Khartoum, the foreign ministry said that Germany has decided to postpone a conference aiming to promote economic investment in Sudan, and a new date will fixed later.
El-Obeid Marawah, foreign ministry spokesperson, said German foreign minister Westerwelle in a letter sent to his Sudanese counterpart decided to adjourn the economic conference initially scheduled to be held next month.
Westerwelle said the protesters who stormed the embassy damaged the consular service and all the documents related to the preparations of the conference.
Germany, one of few Western countries to have good economic ties with Sudan, planned to hold a conference on mid-October to push German companies to work in the east African country. The economic forum was expecting to gather German and European groups interested by Sudan.
JUBA – Written by Aping Kuluel- President Salva Kiir has urged Police officers to fight crime and keep away from corrupt practices, He was speaking during the graduation ceremony of 109 Police cadet officers, the first since Independence, held in Juba on Monday.
“You combat crime because there is a lot of insecurity in our country. If you don’t know how to detect those harmful individuals from civilians, then you are not doing your job as Police,” the President said.
Kiir also took the opportunity to urge the ministers responsible for tax collection to ensure that no taxes are embezzled.
“I call upon the ministers of interior, finance and commerce not to allow taxes to go into the teeth of individuals,” he said.
The officers, led by justice minster John Luk, took an oath of diligence, presided by the President. The ceremony was attended by Government officials, as well as dignitaries from Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, India, Eritrea, Egypt and UN agencies.
The Police Training College was established in Rejaf, outside Juba, only five months ago. The cadets were trained in Uganda and Sudan and completed their final lapse at the training college.
Out of the 109 graduates, 71 were degree programme cadets who were dismissed by Khartoum when relations between Sudan and South Sudan soured in April.
The other 38 cops were sent to Kabalye Police Training School in Masindi District, Western Uganda, where they completed a 22-months training with a diploma in Police Sciences.
Among the new Police graduates, 26 are women. Seven officers, including one woman, were awarded for their excellent performance.
Cadet officers marching during the pass-out.
The officers completed several practical training sessions and fieldwork in various courses, such as law, police sciences, management and administration, explained the deputy Inspector General of Police, Kur Michael.
During the ceremony, the Inspector General of Police, Achuil Tito, reminded that it is the right of all citizens to get protection from the Police.
He, however, said the communities should assume part of the responsibility for the insecurity since their sons are the ones causing it.
He urged the officers to work closely with the communities and the community police in tracking down crime, adding that security was the basis for any development.
“I know you will efficiently deliver the services all over the ten states. In doing that, we will be able to achieve socio-economic development in our country,” he said.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has opened the country's first gold refinery, which officials say is one of Africa's largest plants.
- The refinery has a daily production capacity of 900kg of gold and 200kg of silver
Analysts say it is part of a strategy by the Khartoum government to deal with the loss of oil revenue following the session of South Sudan last year.
The Sudan Gold Refinery will produce more than 328 tonnes of gold each year.
Last month, the finance ministry said the export of gold ore from Sudan would be banned once the refinery opened.
According to the Reuters news agency, Sudan hopes to sell gold worth up to $3bn (£617m) this year, double last year's gold revenue.
The country has great mining potential, but overall production figures are hard to verify because unofficial miners account for a large part of the gold industry, the agency says.
The new refinery, which will also process silver, is intended to reduce the amount of gold smuggled to other markets, such as Dubai, as producers should receive more money for higher-quality gold, it says.
"The refinery is the first project of its kind in Sudan and the second in Africa for producing and extracting gold and silver with high quality and purity," China's official Xinhua news agency quotes the director of the refinery, Mohamed Hassan Osman, as saying at the inauguration.
Another refinery director, Azhari Altayeb, said the plant would also process gold from countries in the region such as Egypt, Eritrea, Chad and the Central African Republic, reports the Sudanese Media Center, a website which has close links to the government.
South Africa's Rand Refinery, which describes itself as one of the world's largest gold refineries - processing "most of Africa's gold", has a capacity to produce 600 tonnes of gold annually.
South Sudan seceded in July 201,1 taking with it three-quarters of the former country's oil production - though it relied on pipelines routed through Sudan for export.
In January, a row with Sudan over oil transit oil prompted Juba to shut down its entire oil production of 350,000 barrels a day.
The move cut government income in Sudan, forcing Khartoum to impose spending cuts. Negotiations to end the dispute are ongoing.
The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says Sudanese officials often state they hope gold will replace the lost oil revenues.
However economists say some of the revenue disappears into the blackmarket - and it still does not make up for all the oil money.
But in Sudan's difficult economic climate, it is one of the sectors providing some hope, our reporter says.
September 18, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Signs of a diplomatic standoff between Khartoum and London have unfolded following a phone conversation in which Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, reacted angrily to a request by his UK counterpart, William Hague, for beefing up security around the British embassy in Khartoum for fears of renewed protests over a film mocking Islam’s prophet Mohammed.
- FILE PHOTO - Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti (R) shakes hands with his British counterpart William Hague
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) reported on Tuesday that Hague phoned Karti and requested the Sudanese government to increase security around Western diplomatic missions in the capital Khartoum, citing concerns over the safety of UK embassy staff after Sudanese demonstrators targeted embassy premises during protests against the film last week.
Thousands of Sudanese protesters demonstrated on Friday, 14 September, outside the British and German embassies on Al-Baladiya Street in downtown Khartoum as well as outside the U.S. embassy in Suba suburb against the film, “Innocence of Muslims” which was made in the U.S. but has no known links to Germany or UK.
The protesters set fire on the German embassy and later attacked the adjacent British embassy after German diplomats fled to it. Two protesters died during confrontation with police outside the U.S. embassy.
In comments following the event, William Hague suggested that Sudanese police neglected to protect the embassy. "Sudanese police attended the scene, but demonstrators were able to break down a perimeter wall and cause minor damage to the compound.”
Eye witnesses of the demonstrations on Al-Baladiya Street said that the Sudanese police even helped the protesters to climb the walls of the German embassy.
Responding to Hague’s request and concerns over the phone, Karti said he does not accept to take lessons or reminders from anyone about the duty of the Sudanese state in protecting diplomatic mission. Karti also asked Hague to keep his country out of this affair since it is not involved.
Karti pointed out that a number of Sudanese protesters were killed and more than 50 policemen were injured as Khartoum adhered to its duty in protecting diplomatic missions.
Sudan’s top diplomat reminded his UK counterpart, according to SUNA, that Friday’s demonstrations originally targeted the German embassy but it was attempts by the guards of the British embassy to fire teargas on the protesters that provoked them. Karti stressed that the protesters avoided attacking the British embassy.
Sudan declined a request from the U.S. to send Marines soldiers to protect the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. The U.S. state department later ordered the departure of 20 diplomats out of Sudan.
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