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May 2013 - Posts

Sudan’s Vice President warns newspapers against offending its ‘holy fighters’

May 31, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese 2nd Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef warned today that his government will not allow newspapers or university activists to make any insults against its "mujahideen" (holy fighters).

"We don’t want any foolish talk," Youssef said. "Those who are fighting the rebels and lose a martyr every morning for their homeland, we will not allow by any means that they be stabbed in the back".

Youssef’s remarks come days after Khartoum announced that it has recaptured South Kordofan area of Abu-Kershola from rebels belonging to Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) who took control of it in late April.

Around the same time, SRF briefly occupied North Kordofan’s second largest town of Um Rawaba taking the government and observers by surprise given the ease by which they overran it and the fact that it is outside the rebels normal operation zones that has been largely confined to South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

The government launched a fierce media and mobilization campaign vowing that they will now move to crush the rebels once and for all. It also accused SRF rebels of committing atrocities against civilians in Abu-Kershola.

Sudanese officials also claimed that some opposition parties have privately lauded the SRF widening military offensive hoping that it will push the government into collapsing.

The Sudanese 2nd VP speaking in Omdurman said that the rebels and the "fifth column" were jubilant when Abu-Kershola fell to SRF but that the Sudanese army is capable of chasing them to their "holes".

He also claimed that rebels are receiving external help and pledged that the government will kick out the "fifth column" and send them to join the rebels.

South Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun paid a visit to Abu-Kershola today and made statements afterwards asserting that rebels had a stunning defeat describing them as "agents and mercenaries from Darfur bandits along with militias from Kordofan and Blue Nile combined".

He hailed the Sudanese army for defeating the rebels and vowed to continue the campaign until entire Kordofan and the country is "cleansed" from their presence.

Police clash with herders in Sudan’s White Nile state kills one, injures nine

May 31, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – One person was killed and nine others were injured including five policemen during clashes that broke out between herders and police in Sudan’s White Nile state, an official said today.

The spokesman for the White Nile state government Major General Tayeb Mohamed Ahmed al-Jazzar said that a security committee managed to contain the situation and paid condolences to the family of the lone victim whom he identified as al-Sadig al-Tayib Haj Nur.

He revealed that a committee headed by a local prosecutor was formed to probe the incident and submit its findings within 3 days.

The cause of the clash was said to be an attempt by the herders to have their cattle drink from a conduit belonging to the White Nile Sugar Factory. But police sought to block them resulting in the havoc that ensued.

While citizens accused police of using excessive force, the head of the state’s police Major General Madani Badawi al-Madani condemned the repeated trespassing by citizens on projects and vandalizing of properties.

He said the incident was unfortunate and demonstrates inappropriate behavior and unacceptable violence.

Sudan downplays negative impact of Ethiopian dam project

May 30, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has declared that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) does not pose a threat to Sudan, disclosing existence of consultations and understandings among Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on the project.

Sudan’s foreign ministry denied statements attributed to the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo, Kamal Hassan Ali, in which he expressed Sudan’s rejection of the dam’s construction.

The foreign ministry spokesperson, Abu Bakr Al-Siddig, said on Wednesday that Sudan’s ambassador to Cairo didn’t describe the Ethiopian move to change the course of the river Nile as "shocking", denying reports that Sudan and Egypt would resort to the Arab League.

Al-Siddig added that Sudan’s ministry of water resources and electricity has affirmed that the Ethiopian move doesn’t impose any threat to Sudan, asserting that Sudan is committed to cooperate with Ethiopia and Egypt on issues of the river Nile’s water to serve the common interests of the three countries.

Sudan’s embassy in Cairo, for its part, denied the statements attributed to ambassador by a correspondent of the Anadolu Agency, adding that they were made on May 23 which is prior to the Ethiopian decision to change the course of the river.

The embassy further said that Ambassador Ali focused in his statements on the permanent and continuous coordination between Sudan and Egypt over all water issues, and relations between the two countries and the Nile Basin countries.

In April 2011 Ethiopia launched construction of the $4.8 billion dam on the Blue Nile, at about 40 km east of Sudan in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia began changing the course of the river Nile. According to a Ethiopian government official the diversion would only cover "a few meters" after which the river will continue flowing on its natural course.

The chief executive officer of the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, Mihret Debebe, explained that the "dam is being built in the middle of the river; hence construction work can’t be carried out while the river is flowing".

The Ethiopian official further said that changing the course of the river "would allow us carry out civil engineering works without difficulty".

The construction of the dam project on the Blue Nile led to outcry from the downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt; which had control over most of the water resources using a treaty signed during colonial era.

Some Egyptian news media have responded negatively to the Renaissance Dam and demanded sacking the minister of irrigation.

The head of the program on Sudan and Nile basin at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) said the approval of the minister of irrigation for the construction of the dam reflects submission and negligence as well as ignorance of the strategic repercussions of the dam, calling for dismissal of the minister.

Egypt and Sudan had previously argued that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be blocked, calling on international donors against funding it.

However Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir announced his support to the project in March 2012, saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.

Last Saturday, Egyptian minister of irrigation, Mohamed Baha Eddin, said his country is not opposed to the Ethiopian dam project as it does not impair Egypt’s interests.

He told reporters that the Ethiopian prime minister emphasised his country’s eagerness to prioritise Egypt’s interests above their own.

Ethiopia on 28 May held in Guba area in Benishangul-Gumuz state a ceremony to celebrate the successful diversion of the start of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Speaking at the event, president of the GERD construction council and deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnin said the diversion of the river has been successfully done to utilise the resource for the interest of Ethiopia and the neighbouring countries.

Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, Alemayehu Tegenu, also made some statements in the same direction stressing that the construction of the dam is being carried out in such a way that it maintains the mutual benefit of the Nile basin countries.

He underscored that the dam would enhance cooperation and economic integration and would not do any damage to the lower riparian countries.

South Sudan says Sudan plans to derail cooperation deal

May 29, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan on Tuesday dismissed its northern neighbour’s claims that it supports rebel opposed to the latter, saying the allegations were a mere plot to derail agreements both countries signed last year.

Speaking at a media briefing in the capital, Juba, the country’s information and broadcasting minister said the new nation was committed to peaceful dialogue and settlement of all outstanding issues with Sudan, which he said, could only be achieve through the implementation of the September 2012 agreements.

 “We have said this number of times that the republic of South Sudan does not provide any support to any of the rebel groups in Sudan and our commitment to peaceful resolution is demonstrated by our actions especially in the implementation of the cooperation agreement,” said Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

We have all withdrawn our forces from the border areas and this has been verified and confirmed by the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the international force, which the two parties had agreed to extension of their monitoring and verification activities along border line, he added.

The minister’s remarks cam a day after the Sudanese president, Omer al-Bashir threatened he would order cut-off of oil flow of oil from South Sudan, should the latter allegedly continue to providing support to rebels.

 “Such threats from president Bashir clearly show intentions and plans to derail peace process. The production of oil and export through Sudanese territory has economic benefits for both countries,” Marial told journalists.

He further warned that a halt in South Sudan’s oil flow would deprive citizens from both countries benefits associated with oil resources.

While meeting South Sudan president Salva Kiir, early this month, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti claimed Khartoum had evidences that some circles in the Juba government continue to support the rebels opposed to the northern regime.

Karti further transmitted a demand from Bashir asking to allow the Sudanese troops to chase them inside the South Sudanese territory and to close some business offices in Juba allegedly importing military logistics for the rebel groups.

But president Kiir announced that he had rejected these requests as the deployment of joint patrols with the cooperation of a UN force permits to monitor the common border.

In September of last year, the two countries signed a series of cooperation agreements which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, and border trade among others.

After several months of an apparent setback, the two parties signed an implementation matrix in March of this year for these cooperation agreements.

However observers agree that mistrust will continue to prevail between the two countries unless the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is peacefully settled.

Juba and Khartoum in “delicate place” over Abyei, US warns

May 29, 2013 (JUBA) – The US government has warned Sudan and South over the contested region of Abyei, saying the two countries were in a “delicate place” regarding the status of the oil-producing region.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, said Abyei remains one of the significant challenges, which the two Sudan’s will have to settle, alongside the other outstanding post-session issues.

“I think North and South [Sudan] are in a very delicate place right now. It is important to build on the peace process, the comprehensive peace agreement, to build on the new independence of the young state, and to put the focus and energy on the people and on developing the future, not on fighting the issues of the past,” said Kerry.

That’s our challenge, all of us, and we are certainly going to continue to work at it, he added.

The senior US official further pledged his government’s support for conduct of a referendum in the contested region, which he said was the only way to resolve the conflict. He however stressed that the voting should exclude the nomadic Arab members of the Misseriya tribe allied to Sudan.

“Abyei presents a special challenge, obviously. And I think we agreed that it was critical that Abyei be able to have a referendum with the appropriate Miseriya – that is the Miseriya who actually live in Abyei and have residence there year round, not the migrant Miseriya – that they be able to vote together with residents and then to decide the future”, Kerry’s statement reads in part.

Last year, the African Union mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this October, but that only those residing permanently in the area will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.

This proposal would effectively make the majority of voters come from the Dinka Ngok tribe, aligned with South Sudan thus putting the Arab Misseriya nomads, who spend several months in Abyei every year for grazing, at a disadvantage.

The mediators said that the exclusion of the Misseriya nomads comes in line with the decision of the Hague-based arbitration court, which defined the territory of the Ngok Dinka nine chiefdoms in July 2009.

However, Sudan swiftly rejected the plan, which received the blessing of the AU Peace and Security Council, suggesting the matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to make it binding.

South Sudan president, Salva Kiir last week urged African leaders to provide the necessary support needed for resolution of the final status of Abyei.

Kiir, who was speaking at the 50th anniversary of the inception African body, also rejected Sudan’s proposal for formation of a joint interim administration in the area, arguing that time for the referendum was running short and that it is imperative that only a referendum commission is established in order to organise the vote.

Luka Biong Deng, a senior members of the south-ruling party (SPLM) said president Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer al-Bashir could not agree on the formation of the joint interim administration in the region.

“Our President Salva Kiir met Sudanese president Omer El Bashir today, but they did not agree. President Kiir expressed the need to establish the referendum commission but Bashir insisted on the formation of joint interim administration first”, Deng told from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, Edward Lino, the Co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight committee representing South Sudan said Tuesday that the people of Abyei will not accept any more delay of the referendum beyond October this year.

He called on the people of South Sudan and the international community to provide support needed for the conduct of the vote in the area, saying the vote will only determine the fate of the region.

Sudan's Bashir threatens to cut oil flow from South Sudan

May 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has threatened to close "forever" an oil pipeline that carries oil from South Sudan to Sudan's Red Sea coast.

He said on Monday that Sudan will stop the flow of oil if South Sudan supports rebels operating on Sudanese soil, speaking on state TV.

The Sudanese army is fighting a rebel insurgency in at least three regions.

Despite the South's independence in 2011, tensions over oil and land disputes have continued.

"I now give our brothers in South Sudan a last, last warning that we will shut down the oil pipeline forever if they give any support to the traitors in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile," President Bashir said on state television, referring to rebels operating in these regions.

An umbrella rebel group called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) has launched attacks on several towns, briefly occupying the major city of Um Rawaba in central Sudan in April.

The group, which hopes to topple President Bashir's government, withdrew from Um Rawaba, but held onto the town of Abu Kershola, in the neighbouring oil-rich region of South Kordofan.

SPLM-North rebels joined the Darfuri rebel groups, Jem and two main factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front last year.

President Bashir delivered his speech live on Sudanese state TV following the army's announcement that it had recaptured Abu Kershola from the rebels.

"Thank God, Abu Kershola has been liberated," Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein said, quoted on state TV.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the rebels told AFP news agency that the fighters withdrew from Abu Kershola to ease a government blockade on its residents.

Oil disputes
 
Relations between the two countries have been fraught since 2011, when the South became independent after decades of civil war.

Key issues related to oil production, territorial disputes and border demarcation remain unresolved.

South Sudan took with it nearly three-quarters of Sudan's oil production when it declared independence. The two sides fell out over how much the South should pay to export its oil through Sudanese pipelines.

At the height of the dispute last year, the South shut down its entire oil output, badly hitting both struggling economies.

Oil started flowing again last month after both sides struck a deal in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in March, helping to ease tensions.

They also agreed to withdraw troops from their border area.

However, the latest violence has put further strain on relations.

President Bashir warned on Monday that "failure to abide by any agreement will nullify the nine accords" agreed in March.

Sudan’s security suspends and confiscates pro-government daily newspapers

May 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has suspended the pro-government Al-Intibaha and Al-Migher Al-siyasi daily newspapers saying that they addressed sensitive military issues without referring to official sources, as well as confiscating Saturday issue of Al-Mashhad Alaan daily.

On its Friday issue, Al-intibaha daily carried a headline attributed to familiar sources saying that the presidency has entrusted major general, Kamal Abd Al-Marouf with the mission of liberating Abu-Kershola area in South kordofan state which has been captured by the rebels last month.

Abd Al-Marouf is the military commander who played a major role in restoring Heglig area from South Sudan’s army last year.

Last week, The Sudanese National Council for Press and Publications circulated a directive notifying newspapers to refrain from addressing military and security issues unless information is provided by the army’s official spokesperson.

NISS also suspended Al-Migher daily after publishing several articles written by Al-Hindi Izz Al-din in which he drew sharp criticism of the military policy and leadership as well as criticizing statements made by the National Congress Party (NCP) leading figure, Qutbi Al-Mahdi, declaring that NCP decided to re-nominate president Omer Al-Bashir in the 2015 presidential elections.

Al-Hindi further called for change in leadership and asked president Al-Bashir to lead the change "before the flood inundates the country", criticizing performance of the ministry of defence.

The army spokesperson, Al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad on Saturday, told the state official news agency SUNA that Al-hindi’s quote "money is in the hand of the miser and the sword is in the hand of the coward" has infuriated the army and the other regular forces who are holding arms in defence of the country.

Al-Sawarmi further considered Al-Hindi’s quote as contradictory to the mobilisation efforts carried out by the Sudanese people to support the army, saying that journalists shouldn’t send messages which weaken the people and undermine the role of the army.

NISS also confiscated Saturday’s issue of Al-Mashhad Alaan for reporting that military forces loyal to the ousted president of the Central African Republic, François Bozizé, have entered Sudan.

Al-Mashhad was confiscated despite publishing Al-Sawarmi’s denial of the news in the same report.

Suspension and confiscation of newspaper comes less than a week after the Sudanese authorities have officially began implementing the directives of 1st vice-president Ali Osman Taha to lift direct pre-publication censorship on newspapers.

In April, Sudan security forced Al-Sahafa newspaper editor-in-chief, Al-Nur Ahmed Al-Nur to resign, and detained Al-Jazeera T.V bureau chief.

Last year authorities suspended columnist Haidar Al-Makashfi who works for the same newspaper for 11 months and prohibited him from writing in any newspaper.

They also shut down three newspapers including the independent al-Tayar newspaper and two Islamist newspapers - Alwan and Al-Rai Al-Shaab.

In 2010 Sudan suspended the broadcasts of the BBC Arabic on FM radio and also revoked license of Monte Carlo, the Arabic service of Radio France Internationale (RFI) which also used FM airwaves in Sudan.

Bashir and Kiir meet in Addis as Sudan reportedly demands permission to pursue rebels

May 25, 2013 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir discussed Friday evening in Addis Ababa issues related to oil flow, rebel groups and Abyei, among reports that Khartoum asked to allow its troops to pursue rebels inside South Sudan.

The two leaders met for the last time in Juba where the two leaders reiterated their commitment to the signed agreement and pledged to resolve issues of Abyei, and disputed border zones.

However, Sudan accused some circles in Juba of continuing their support to rebel groups and dispatched its foreign minister Ali Karti to hand a presidential message to president Kiir. The latter last Monday disclosed that it included a demand to close business offices managed by rebel groups.

During the two-hour meeting, Sudanese president reiterated his demand that Juba should stop its alleged support to the rebel groups.

Foreign minister Karti who participated in the meeting said the issue was expensively tackled during by the two presidents. He added that Bashir "strongly" expressed his position on the matter.

He further said that president Kiir reiterated his commitment to not allow any support to rebel groups in South Kordofan, Blue Nile or Darfur.

In Juba a presidential source told that Kiir briefed the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who paid a short visit to the country for the first time since assuming office after presidential elections early 2013.

According to the source, Kiir said that beside the closure of business allegedly providing logistics to the armed groups, Bashir’s demanded a message handed over by his foreign minister to allow Sudanese troops to pursue the rebel fighters inside the South Sudanese.

“They (the Sudanese government) want us to do impossible things. They are also asking us to allow troops to come into our territory in order for them to pursue their own rebels," Kiir told Kenyatta.

"We said no because there is already a joint border verification and monitoring team", Kiir added, according to the source.

Khartoum in the past requested that Juba should disarm rebels before to allow the follow of the south Sudanese oil to the Red Sea from where it is exported to the international market.

The two countries established, in line the cooperation agreement, a buffer zone on five disputed zones along the common border. Before its activation Khartoum long time demanded to include the Blue Nile and South Kordofan border with South Sudan.

Karti who was speaking from Addis Ababa further said Bashir explained with documents that the his government did not hinder the border trade between the two countries or the free circulations of nationals of the two countries.

ABANDONING ABYEI ?

Regarding Abyei; the Sudanese minister said the two said agreed to implement the arrangements already sealed by the two parties like the establishment of a temporary administration, adding the joint security committee will soon meet to discuss this matter.

The talks on Abyei administration are deadlocked due to their difference over the composition of the 20-member legislative council.

Khartoum demands the half of the seats but Juba considers the 60% that it obtained during the past is a right that will it would not concede. The Sudanese government on the other hand, insists that it was a gentleman agreement it accorded during the interim period to encourage South Sudanese to vote for unity.

On the issue of the referendum over the fate of the disputed area, the two sides still diverge on who can participate in this crucial vote. Khartoum say the Misseriya pastoralists have a historical right and have to take part. On the other hand Juba rejects this claim.

The African Union mediation team last year supported the South Sudanese position and proposed that only the Nogk Dinka and Misseriya residing permanently in Abyei vote in a referendum to be organised in October 2013. But Sudan refused this proposal.

The South Sudanese official who was speaking under the cover of anonymity said Bashir’s in his letter told Kiir that Khartoum would release its claim over Abyei if Juba implements its demands related to the rebel groups.

"They are now telling us to disarm their rebels, allow their troops to come into our territory to pursue those fighting them because they think we are providing support and close down businesses run by those they think [are] link[ed] to the rebel groups so that they can release Abyei to Bahr el Ghazal," Kiir told Kenyatta, according to the source.

"We said no and told them that [the] people of Abyei should be allowed to decide their own fate at the referendum", Kiir is quoted as saying to the visiting Kenyan president.

The African mediation did not show up recently since the recent attacks in South Kordofan and North Kordofan states by the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) which includes the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North and three rebel groups from Darfur region.

Khartoum media broadcast on daily basis reports about an imminent comprehensive attack on the rebel groups while the SRF rebels say they are preparing for an attack on the Sudanese capital calling on the people to support their action and stage an popular uprising against the regime.

Sudan demanded Kiir to close business offices held by rebel groups - official

May 24, 2013 (KHARTOUM) -Sudan dismissed on Thursday statements by president Salav Kiir saying that Khartoum had asked him to expel all the Sudanese traders working in Juba.

On 17 May, Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti flaked by the director of intelligence and security services Mohamed Atta met president Kiir in Juba to hand him a message from his counterpart Omer Al-Bashir.

On Monday, the South Sudanese president said Khartoum asked him to expel all the Sudanese traders working in Juba. He pointed out that there is no progress in the normalization process with Sudan ,adding that the latter continues to hold Juba responsible of its internal conflicts.

The Undersecretary of the Sudanese foreign ministry Rahmatallah Mohamed Osman on Thursday told foreign ambassadors in Khartoum that Karti asked only to close the business offices held by rebel groups in Juba.

He further said this offices import vehicles and supplies for the rebels, stressing they operate with the knowledge of the South Sudanese authorities.

"The minister demanded to not allow these offices to provide the rebels with vehicles they use to attack Sudanese towns and villages", Osman stressed..

A joint political and security mechanism agreed recently to discuss complaints related to rebel issues.

In Khartoum the defence minster Abdel-Rahim Hussein on Thursday told the council of ministers that the rebel groups received recently important foreign support to use it in their recent attacks in South and North Kordofan.

He added that rebel attacks aim to consolidate their presence in Kordofan and Darfur and and to work from these regions to weaken the Sudanese army before to bring down the regime.

South Sudan resumes oil flow via Sudan after "temporary blockage"

May 24, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s oil minister said late on Wednesday that it had resumed oil production and flow to the international markets through the territory of neigbouring Sudan after a temporary blockage at Jebellen.

Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau did not provide any reason for the blockage, which sparked uncertainty in the country whose budget relies heavily on oil revenue due to the neglect of agriculture and the problems in establishing a reliable taxation system.

The minister assured commitment of his government to fully implement the cooperation agreement which Juba signed with the government of Sudan in September 2012.

Early this week Juba accused Khartoum of instructing oil companies to stop production from some oil fields, although this has been denied by the Sudanese government, who have described fall in oil flow as a technical issue.

South Sudan’s foreign minister, Nhial Deng Nhial, said Wednesday that the government had "received information that these technical problems apparently are being addressed and the pumping station number two apparently is going to open sometime in the course of today."

Minister Dhieu told on Wednesday from Sudanese capital Khartoum that the implementation of cooperation agreement "will build trust and confidence between the countries. The implementation of oil agreement will be a catalyst to the other agreements.”

Dhieu said he was invited to Khartoum by his Sudanese counterpart Awad Ahmed Al-jaz for a discussion on the way the two ministers could work together to ensure that a similar incident is avoided from occurring in the future.

In Juba, South Sudanese Minister of information and broadcasting service Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the oil will resume at its previous capacity of 200 barrels per day.

"The oil will flow again this afternoon today. There was a temporary blockage at station number two (2) at Jebellen and it has been resolved", Marial told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

He said the visit of the minister to Khartoum will clear the air and resumption of normal operation of the oil workers in the area but also did not give a reason for the blockage.

Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, chaired by president Salva Kiir Mayardit, was dedicated to the oil shutdown, with the minister of petroleum and mining submitting a report on the visit of the technical committee which was dispatched to the site on Monday.

KIIR’S SHUTDOWN WARNING

President Salva Kiir had warned on Monday that South Sudan could once again be forced to shut down the flow of oil to the international markets through Sudanese territory.

President Kiir made the remark at a police graduation ceremony in Juba on Monday during which he called on the public to continue tightening their belts and help his government to address post-secession disputes with the government of neigbouring Sudan with which they have been unable to settle sticking issues.

“There could be oil shutdown again if [the Sudanese government] continue to use playing tactics and denials. We are still working with them [Sudan] in a diplomatic way. We want to see that they are the ones who have started it so that we are not blamed again by their friends”, Kiir Monday.

Kiir’s comments are presumed to have prompted the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation to summon the Chinese and Sudanese ambassadors over issue.

Officials at the country’s petroleum and mining ministry say the stoppage began on Saturday when security operatives “tied nuts” and chased away oil workers from the Tharjath oil field in Unity state.

The White Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which runs the oil field has declined to make a comment.

The Sudanese ambassador to Juba, Mutrif Sadiq, said his government did not authorise the closure but said there may have been a misunderstanding which he thinks was not brought to the attention of the leadership.

Sadiq said he has been in contact with Khartoum over the issue and they were making necessary efforts to find out what actually happened; adding that he hopes it will be resolved soon.

The Sudanese diplomat made the remark after he was summoned by the South Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation on Tuesday after Chinese ambassador pledged his country would make some contacts with Sudan to issue is addressed promptly.

Oil production resumed last month after Juba stopped exports through Sudan in January 2012 due a transit fee dispute.

REACTIONS TO THE FEARS OF OIL CLOSURE

South Sudanese minister of information, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, on Monday told he was not aware of the closure but later accepted there was “a technical matter” which the government was investigating.

The undersecretary at the ministry of petroleum and mining, Machar Aciek Ader, declined to give any comment on Monday and Tuesday.

Ader was one of the senior government officials dispatched to the site to investigate the incident.

Officials at the ministry claimed he had forwarded the report to the minister confirming initial reports indicating that the flow of oil had been restricted by Sudanese security operatives who had interfered in the technical activities of the oil workers.

A senior government official at the ministry parliamentary affairs told on Wednesday that South Sudan’s 2011 independence was incomplete if it continues to rely on Sudan for oil exports.

“I never felt in life that Sudan would not one day honour any agreement to our satisfaction. There are numerous examples I can cite. The most recent example is the implementation matrix. Our forces withdrew but what did they do, they refused and the international community is quiet”, he said, referring to the September cooperation agreement in which both sides agreed to pull their troops back from the tense and disputed border.

The official who did not want to be identified said the government abandon the idea of relying on the Sudanese pipeline and concentrate efforts in the construction of the alternative pipeline to the East Africa coast.

Jok Dut, resident of Juba from Upper Nile State says Khartoum does not understand diplomacy and said South Sudan should pursue the possibility of an alternative pipeline to Kenya, through Uganda to Kenya, or to Djibouti through Ethiopia.

Khartoum denies blocking South Sudan oil flow

May 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese oil minister Awad Al-Jaz on Tuesday denied reports that his government hampered the exportation of South Sudan crude through the Heglig pipeline, stressing it functions normally.

In statements to the official news agency, SUNA, Al-Jaz said South Sudan’s oil is flowing normally on Sudanese soil to the export ports.

“South Sudan’s oil is flowing normally on Sudanese soil to the export ports,” the Sudanese minister said.

The oil minister added that the work between Sudan and South Sudan is continuing according to the matrix of the joint cooperation signed by the two countries.

Mutrif Sadiq, the Sudanese ambassador to South Sudan said Tuesday that his government did not authorize closure of the oil flow and was making necessary efforts to find out what actually happened in the field.

The diplomat, who was summoned by the foreign affairs ministry, also distanced his government of any involvement in the oil matter.

A South Sudanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told on Monday that Khartoum had shut down the pipeline transporting oil produced from Unity state’s Tharjath oil fields through Heglig.

An official from the South Sudanese petroleum and mining ministry went to say that Sudanese security agents shut down the pipeline and chased the workers.

The foreign affairs ministry on Monday summoned the Chinese ambassador over the alleged blockage of the oil flow by the Sudanese government.

Mawien Makol Arik, the spokesperson for the ministry confirmed this, but said the summons had nothing to do oil blockage, but a “sudden” decline in South Sudan oil production.

“The foreign affairs ministry did summon the Chinese ambassador to explain why there was a sudden decline in oil output, yet no explanations had been given,” Arik told Tuesday.

He said the country’s oil production, in recent days, fell to just 105,000 barrels per day, from the 200,000 previously produced daily.

“We suspected there was something wrong and that’s why we asked the Chinese envoy to meet us over the matter. Discussions are still in progress,” ministry spokesperson said.

Chinese companies dominate the South Sudanese oil industry having been welcomed into Sudan before the South seceded from the north in 2011 taking with 75% of the country’s 350,000 barrels per day of oil production.

South Sudanese oil production was halted in January 2012 due to a dispute between Khartoum and Juba over transit fees but, as part of a cooperation deal, production resumed last month.

President Salva Kiir is scheduled to join his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir in to witness the first Southern crude to be exported from Port Sudan on the Red Sea for almost a year and a half.

 

Ministerial reshuffle in Sudan and First Vice President Taha maybe the most prominent departures

May 20, 2013 (KHARTOUM) — Different sources have expected a large ministerial reshuffle in Khartoum, saying that the first vice-president Ali Osman Taha might be relieved from his position.

A presidential source told on Sunday that First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha is one of the most prominent figure that will quit the government in the upcoming reshuffle, adding he will dedicate his time as deputy chairman to the management of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

The source further revealed that defence minister Gen. Abdel-Rahim Hussein, will also be among those who will lose their ministerial portfolios.

Abdel Rahim recently disclosed to several journalists in Khartoum that he demanded to be relieved from his position for health reasons. The minister suffers herniated disc in his back.

Gen. Bakri Hassan Saleh, minister of the presidential affairs, is among the most prominent candidates to succeed him. Saleh is appreciated from the army and at different times the military preferred to speak with him about the problems they face than Hussein.

However other sources ruled out to appoint him at this position because he holds a prominent position in the Islamist Movement. In the past also, some sources speculated that Bashir was preparing him for the presidency of the country.

Finance minister Ali Mahmoud is also cited among those who will be removed in the expected ministerial reshuffle.

Also, the presidential assistant Jaffar Al-Mirghani would be appointed minister at an important portfolio and quit his current post.

The source stressed that the reshuffle will be comprehensive and touch most of the cabinet members.

The new cabinet was scheduled to be announced before the end of April but the attacks of the rebel groups in Kordofan region forced the presidency to defer it, it was learnt.

It was also reported that presidential assistant and NCP deputy chairman Nafie Ali Nafie is strongly opposed to the ministerial reshuffle because he says the moment is not opportune to make such important changes.

He also argues that the reshuffle may create a vacuum in the executive body.

But sources said that Nafie is probably fearing that Ali Osman may delimit his role in the leadership of the ruling party.

Currently, Omer Al-Bashir is the leader of the ruling party, Ali Osman is the NCP deputy chairman for executive affairs and Nafie is the deputy chairman for the party’s affairs .

Nafie led a wing within the NCP against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement negotiated by Ali Osman Taha with the late SPLM leader John Garang and signed in January 2005.

Following Garang death, he worked to weaken and marginalise Taha who since lost his influential role in the government.

Omer Al-Bashir at different times announced that he would not seek to remain in power after the end of his current term in 2015, and asked the party to chose a new candidate to replace him.

Observers say if Taha takes the control of the party this may give him the necessary means to prepare for his election in 2015.

South Sudan’s president promises to investigate Khartoum’s claims of support to Sudanese rebels

May 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has promised to verify the information given to him by the Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti, on claims of continued support offered by several bodies within his government to Sudanese rebel groups in Darfur and Kordofan states.

Last week, Sudan’s national intelligence and security services (NISS) accused the South Sudanese government of continuing to support the rebel groups in spite of the normalisation process launched last March.

On Wednesday, Sudanese first vice-president Ali Osman Taha said that some circles within the Juba government support rebel groups. He added that they want to implement the strategy of the "New Sudan" irrespective of whether the governing party in Khartoum is the National Congress Party (NCP) or another party.

Sudan’s foreign minister who visited Juba on Friday accompanied by NISS director, Mohamed Atta, delivered a letter from the Sudanese president to his southern counterpart containing information and documents proving logistical and military support received by rebel groups across the border.

According to the Sudanese official news agency (SUNA), president Kiir has promised to consider and verify the information and stressed that his country had no desire to harm Sudan’s interests, reiterating commitment to security agreements signed between the two countries.

In September of last year, the two ex-foes signed a series of cooperation agreements which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, and border trade among others.

After several months of an apparent setback, the two countries signed an implementation matrix last March for these cooperation agreements.

President Kiir further said that he would discuss the issue with president Omer Al-Bashir on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit which will be held in Addis Ababa late this month.

Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels recently attacked several areas in South and North Kordofan. They said these attacks are part of their war of attrition against the regime before to assault the capital Khartoum.

Yasir Arman, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) secretary general called on the opposition parties to agree with the SRF on a national program for the post-Bashir era asserting that popular uprising will accelerate the collapse of the regime.

Sudan officially lifts pre-publication censorship

May 17, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese authorities have officially began implementing the directives of 1st Vice President Ali Osman Taha to lift direct pre-publication censorship on newspapers.

Taha disclosed his orders on Wednesday which he said were effective immediately but officers from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) banned newspapers from publishing this portion of the VP’s remarks.

The Sudanese National Council for Press and Publications today welcomed the government’s decision and noted that they are understanding of the circumstances that prompted the imposition of censorship in the past.

The pro-government body said that Khartoum wanted to prevent the publication of items affecting the country’s security and movement of the army in operations and conflict zones which has the potential of weakening the internal front and providing a platform for hostile forces to exploit the press through disseminating disincentives and misinformation that would have a negative impact on public opinion.

"But in spite of all that the Council has always advocated lifting of pre-publication censorship on the press in accordance with the principle of freedom of expression and press freedom within the framework of social responsibility and betting on the ability of the journalism community to strike the required balance between freedom and responsibility" the statement said.

Pre-publication press censorship in Sudan has been on and off over the last few years and allowed NISS agents to direct items that cannot be published in newspapers or even decide what makes it to the front page.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in the past has expressed uneasiness over lifting censorship and warned newspapers not to cross what he described as "red lines".

In an interview last year the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV, Bashir said that he will not allow newspapers to publish item deemed insulting to the army and defended closures of some at the hands of the NISS.

“If we look at the two newspapers closed down there were objective reasons for security organs to intervene and shut down these newspapers” Bashir said.

“We are now fighting and we have an army battling. Any [negative] comments on the spirits of the armed forces or attacking the armed forces or endangering national security; no state accepts prejudice to its national security,” he added.

Last year Sudan shut down three newspapers including the independent al-Tayar newspaper and two Islamist newspapers - Alwan and al-Rai al-Shaab.

In 2010 Sudan suspended the broadcasts of the BBC Arabic on FM radio and also revoked license of Monte Carlo, the Arabic service of Radio France Internationale (RFI) which also used FM airwaves in Sudan.

Last month, Sudanese authorities forced the Editor-in-chief of Al-Sahafa daily newspaper Al-Nur Ahmed Al-Nur to resign without providing any reasons. They warned that if he does not comply they will shut down the entire newspaper.

Sudan's capital is safe from rebel attacks, khartoum governor says

 May 16, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The governor of Khartoum, Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir, asserted today that the Sudanese capital is safe amid growing concern among officials and residents of an imminent attack by rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

“Sleep [feeling] safe and feel secure”, al-Khidir said in a message to Khartoum residents while also warning rebels that the army will not wait for them until they reach Khartoum but will preempt and bring the battle behind their lines.

The governor, who was addressing the "Strategic Brigade" of Popular Police in Khartoum, affirmed the readiness of the army and other forces to defend the capital.

He also emphasized that the government assumed power through elections and would only abandon it through elections and not by "force, vandalism, intimidation of peaceful people, and destruction of civilian facilities".

At the same event, the director of Khartoum police Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Hafez Hassan Attia stressed that his forces are ready to defend the capital recalling its heroic role during attack on the twin capital of Omdurman carried out by the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

In 2008, JEM launched a surprise attack on Omdurman, on the West of the Nile from Sudan’s capital Khartoum. It was repulsed but caused shockwaves throughout the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

Last week, Sudan’s national parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, was quoted as saying “[They] won’t be able to attack Khartoum; however, if they dared to do so, their fate would be much worse than Khalil [leader of Darfur Justice and Equality Movement]”.

Following rumors in the Sudanese media that rebels were preparing to invade Dongola, in the north of the country last week, the SRF Chief of Staff Abd al-Aziz Al-Hilu, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that it is “not impossible” for his forces to enter Khartoum, Omdurman or Port Sudan.

Al-Hilu further said that the SRF “has legitimate rights” to move freely within the country’s territory, considering that its members are Sudanese nationals.

“If the NCP [ruling National Congress Party] troops can go to different places and wage war and attack civilians, we can follow them. Why did they go to Kadugli, Al Buram, Teludi? We have the same rights,” he asserted.

On Tuesday, the US embassy in Khartoum issued a security warning saying that it is "temporarily prohibiting all discretionary travel of U.S. Government employees and their family members to Omdurman because of recent increased security threats".

The embassy did not offer any specifics on the nature of the threat it was referring to.

In a rare attack late last month, SRF rebels swept through the city of Um Rawaba in North Kordofan, before withdrawing later on the same day.

In the past, fighting between the rebels and SAF has largely been limited to Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states bordering South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011.

North Kordofan, which includes Um Rawaba and forms part of Sudan’s commercial heartland, is a hub for the country’s agriculture, livestock and gum Arabic industries.

The Sudanese army now has it eyes on reclaiming Abu-Kershola district in South Kordofan which was overrun by rebels during last month’s assault.

Officials in Khartoum say that they have completely surrounded the area and pledged not to stop until they recapture Kauda which is the stronghold of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan.

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