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December 2014 - Posts

UNSC fails to reach common position on response to Sudan’s expulsion of UN officials
UNSC fails to reach common position on response to Sudan’s expulsion of UN

December 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met in a closed session on Tuesday to discuss Sudan’s expulsion of two senior officials this month but failed to reach a consensus on how to respond.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
   

The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti told reporters in Khartoum on Tuesday night that attempts by some UNSC states to condemn Sudan were unsuccessful because of backing by friends of Sudan led by Russia and China.

"[The UNSC] did not come out with anything," Karti said.

Last week, Sudan ordered the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Ali al-Za’atari and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) country director Yvonne Helle to leave the country.

Khartoum said Za’atari’s ejection was over an interview he made with a Norwegian newspaper in which he made remarks deemed insulting to the Sudanese people and president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

Helle on the other hand, was described as being “extremely prejudiced” against the government and dealing with local officials in an “arrogant and cocky” manner.

“She has also taken decisions without consulting the Sudanese government to stop the financial and technical support to a number of programs and strategic projects with developmental, political and economic yield to Sudan which runs contrary to her functions and role as a representative of the United Nations in addressing the developmental conditions, reducing poverty, increasing growth as well as developing and building public institutions” the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement last week.

The UNSC meeting chaired by its rotating president Chad, listened to a report presented by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and after deliberations the council members were split between those who wanted a statement condemning Khartoum’s move and others who opposed any rebuke.

These countries included United States, France, Australia and Lithuania who argued that Sudan deliberately targeted the UN and its employees against the backdrop of the dispute between the world body and Khartoum over events in North Darfur village of Tabit.

A Darfuri media outlet based in the Netherlands reported accusations last month that Sudanese soldiers had raped some 200 women and girls in Tabit.

Following these allegations, Sudanese authorities initially prevented a verification team from the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from probing the claim but allowed them to visit the area one week later.

After the visit, UNAMID said they found no evidence confirming the mass rape claims.

However, Sudanese officials were angered by the remarks of UN officials who stressed the need for further investigation mentioning the heavy presence of military and police during the first probe.

Since then , Sudan refused to authorize a second investigation and called publicly for an exit strategy for the joint mission from Darfur.

Russia, China, Nigeria, Rwanda and Argentina strongly opposed issuance of any condemnation, given that the Sudanese government exercised its sovereign right that is guaranteed by international law and the UN Charter.

In Washington, the United States State Department released a statement today deploring Sudan’s expulsion of the two UN officials.

“The expulsions of Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari and Ms. Yvonne Helle, two highly regarded UN professionals, are detrimental to Sudan’s relations with the international community and to the protection and well-being of the people of Sudan. The United States will continue to press the Government of Sudan to desist from actions that hinder the United Nations’ ability to meet its humanitarian and security objectives in Sudan”.

SUDAN UN AMBASSADOR REPLACEMENT

In a related issue, local Sudanese newspapers quoted diplomatic sources as saying that Khartoum decided to replace its UN ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman and have him return home by mid-January.

Some sources declined to link the decision to his performance asserting that this is a routine procedure that takes place regularly in the Sudanese foreign ministry.

But other sources attributed the move to his unjustified absence from the UNSC briefing this month by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda.

Osman assumed this post last April. He was previously the foreign ministry undersecretary.

Sudan’s current ambassador to Juba Mutrif Sideeg is speculated to replace Osman.

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Sudan’s Bashir says CIA and Mossad behind recent opposition accords
Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir waves to the crowd during a rally with Sufi supporters in Hajj Yusuf at Khartoum district December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir lashed out again at opposition forces and rebel coalition of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and described them as agents, traitors and mercenaries for cooperating with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli intelligence service (Mossad).

Hajj Yusuf in Khartoum
   

Bashir, who was speaking during a rally with Sufi sect supporters in Hajj Yusuf in Khartoum on Saturday, claimed that the CIA and Mossad were behind the accords signed by the SRF and opposition parties recently known as the “Paris Declaration", "Sudan Call" and the "New Dawn".

The Sudanese leader also questioned the strength of his opponents domestically and whether they have any presence on the ground or supporters.

On December 3rd, Sudanese political and armed opposition forces and civil society organizations signed the “Sudan Call” accord in Addis Ababa calling for ending the war, dismantlement of the one-party state, achievement of a comprehensive peace and democratic transition in the country.

This was preceded by the signing of the “Paris Declaration” last August between the SRF and the National Umma Party (NUP) headed by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi which calls for a comprehensive solution involving all the political forces including rebel groups. It further stresses on the need to create a conducive environment in order to hold a genuine national dialogue.

Bashir launched a national dialogue initiative last January and urged political opposition and rebel groups to join but his call faced major setback after the NUP withdrew following the one month detention of al-Mahdi in May.

Rebel movements and leftist forces refused to join the dialogue from the start.

Bashir said at the rally today that SRF and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) are nothing but names that do not reflect the names of their leaders because they are "agents and traitors and mercenaries".

"If they believe that the Sudanese people are with them, then the door for political activities is open, and we have an active communist party…we [even] have communist parties, Ba’athist parties and Nasserite parties, and if the [Sudanese] Revolutionary Front or the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) had followers then they would have came and worked from inside Sudan,” he said.

“Why do you work abroad, and why are they shuttling between the hotels of Paris and Israel?" Bashir asked.

He scoffed at demands to annul Islamic law saying it is next to impossible.

"We tell them you could only lick your elbows,” he said.

The government delegation that negotiates with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), said after the adjournment of the recent round last month that the rebel negotiators called for the cancellation of Islamic law in the areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan and the dismantling of military, security and police forces.

But Bashir affirmed that they are determined to enforce Islamic law and categorically rejected demands to dismantle the Sudanese regular forces and added that the beneficiary of such a proposal are "collaborators, traitors and agents".

"We are on the lookout for them," he said.

"Who is the beneficiary when Sudan disintegrates? Do you like what is happening in South Sudan, Iraq and Syria which is boiling because of agents," Bashir added.

The president called on Sufi sects to stand united against those who want to cancel Islamic law.

For its part, the representative of the Supreme Council of Sufism Mohamed Saleh Mohamed Sharif called on Bashir to make concessions in the national dialogue and ease the suffering of the citizens and fight against corruption and recover stolen funds and fight against inflation.

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Sudan expels two senior UNDP officials
Sudan expels a second United Nations official

December 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities on Thursday asked the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator , Ali al-Za’atari to leave the country, Khartoum sources within the world body.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Ali al-Za’atari
   

The expulsion order comes less than 24 hours after Khartoum’s decision to give the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director Yvonne Helle 72 hours to leave the country.

Za’atari refused to comment on the decision and the Sudanese government has neither confirmed nor denied the news.

Innercitypress website reporting from UN headquarters in New York published an email from al- Za’atari to UN staff in Sudan.

“I regret to inform you that the government had requested me today to leave Sudan. I will do so on 2 January,” the purported email reads.

Hours before that, UNDP country director said in an email to her staff also obtained by Innercitypress that Khartoum informed al- Za’atari that Helle must leave.

"The Government of Sudan has informed Ali [Al-Za’atari] that I am no longer welcome in Sudan and have been asked to leave by Monday. You can imagine the state of shock I am in... As you all know, I loved working and living in Sudan. Given the timing it will be impossible to say goodbye to all of you in person, so herewith my heartfelt goodbye to you in writing," Helle’s email reads.

Al-Za’atari replied to her email saying that “a government decision was made and formally delivered regarding Yvonne’s stay in Sudan... I will miss Yvonne as a leader of thought and creativity".

On December 2nd, the government sponsored Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) website claimed that Za’atari directed insults at the Sudanese people and president Hassan Omer Hassan al-Bashir in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Bistandsaktuelt.

SMC said that the UN official described Sudan as a country living in a humanitarian and economic crisis and that the society has become dependent on aid.

But Za’atari told at the time that statements attributed to him were not entirely true adding that "It is inconceivable that I offend Sudan”.

While he acknowledged being interviewed by the Oslo-based newspaper, Za’atari suggested that there is a possibility that the transcript contained errors due to mistranslation from English to Norwegian.

He also did not rule out that SMC website distorted the interview as well.

The Jordanian-born official said that statements attributed to him warrant an apology from the newspaper.

"This is unfortunate and I did not utter this serious talk," Za’atari said before noting that he has an audio recording of the interview.

He went on to say that he did describe the humanitarian situation in Sudan as difficult but emphasized that he cannot cross the boundaries of decency and politeness.

Za’atari also denied receiving any summons from Sudanese authorities to inquire about those statements.

SMC website said that Za’atari criticized president Bashir by saying that he ruled Sudan for decades “with an iron fist”. But Bistandsaktuelt website showed that this description of Bashir was part of a preface to the interview written by the Norwegian media house and not part of Za’atari’s statements.

It also pointed out that Za’atari told the newspaper that the UN is striking a delicate balance in dealing with a person accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"We must accept the fact that Bashir is the president of Sudan. We may or may not like it; the reality is that we must cooperate with him. Failing to deal with this is the same as condemning a nation and its people to great suffering,” Za’atari told the newspaper according to the interview transcript published on Bistandsaktuelt website.

SMC quoted Za’atari as sarcastically describing Sudanese people as finding it hard to live without aid and that the situation is getting worse every month.

It cited experts in international law as saying that Za’atari statements are considered offensive to the state and requires accountability and actions that preserve the prestige of the state and the dignity of the country.

Sources speaking to Innercitypress believe Bashir has now taken on himself to target UN activities in Sudan

Sudan had already shut the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) human rights office in Khartoum and called on the mission to prepare an exit plan, days after denying peacekeepers permission to pay a second visit to the site of alleged mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in Tabit, a village in Darfur.

But the UN peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous, said UNAMID was unlikely to bow to Sudan’s request to leave when the situation there appears to be worsening.

Sudanese authorities routinely accuse UN agencies working in the country of non-neutrality and seeking to serve the agenda of foreign intelligence agencies and going beyond their mandate. The security apparatus also closely monitors UN workers in Sudan.

Last April, the foreign ministry expelled the head of United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) in Sudan on charge of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Immediately after the first arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Bashir in March 2009, Sudan expelled 13 aid groups from Darfur accusing it of collaborating with the war crime courts.

Since then, the Sudanese government intensified its crackdown on foreign aid agencies.

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China to send 700 combat troops to South Sudan
China to send 700 combat troops to South Sudan

Tuesday 23 December 2014 (Guardian Network) – China is to send 700 combat troops to South Sudan in what analysts describe as a significant shift from its stated policy of non-interference in African conflicts.

South Sudan country profile
   

The first Chinese infantry battalion to take part in a UN peacekeeping mission will be equipped with drones, armoured carriers, antitank missiles, mortars and other weapons, “completely for self-defence purpose”, state media reported.

China is Africa’s biggest trade partner but has taken an arm’s length approach to the continent’s myriad of political and military disputes. But it has been unusually proactive in diplomatic efforts to pacify South Sudan, where it has invested heavily but where civil war has slashed oil production by a third.

Richard Poplak, an author and journalist studying Beijing’s influence on the continent, said: “This does seem to announce a new era in the way China is engaging with Africa. It runs contrary to China’s foreign policy of, ‘We don’t interfere’. It’s an enormous renunciation of that.”

Poplak, who has visited 18 African countries including South Sudan for a forthcoming book, added: “It comes down to interest. The Chinese have poured billions and billions into South Sudan, so many resources that it’s almost baffling. This is a shift in realpolitik: you can’t just talk all the time and not carry a big stick. The Chinese have realised that.”

China is the biggest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN security council and currently has more than 2,000 posted around the world. But nearly all are engineers, medical and transport workers and security guards.

Poplak said it has previously sent small contingents of elite troops to Mali and South Sudan to guard its personnel but that the new infantry battalion would be of a different order.

However, China would still have far less military presence in Africa than other major powers, at least for the time being, he said. “I don’t think they will be anything as visible or machinelike as France or America but they’ve realised that as well as white hats they need blue hats.

“It’s not possible for anyone here or anyone in Beijing to say where this ends. It’s a precedent and any precedent is a dangerous precedent.”

A rally for the departing Chinese battalion was held on Monday in the city of Laiyang, Shandong province, according to the official Xinhua news agency. An initial contingent of 180 soldiers will fly to South Sudan next month, with the rest of the battalion following in March.

“The 700-strong infantry battalion included 121 officers and 579 soldiers. Forty-three members have participated in peacekeeping missions before. An infantry squad composed of 13 female soldiers will participate in a peacekeeping mission for the first time,” Xinhua reported.

The UN has more than 11,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan in 2011. Oil accounts for more than 90% of the new country’s foreign revenues.

Fighting broke out in December last year when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup. The fighting in the capital, Juba, set off a cycle of retaliatory massacres across large swaths of South Sudan, claiming thousands of lives and pushing the country to the brink of famine. Oil-producing regions have endured some of the worst violence.

The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said last Sunday it had signed a deal with the government in Juba to increase production. The CNPC said it would use heavy oil recovery technologies in “stabilising and increasing crude output”.

On Monday, Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said South Sudan’s leaders could face punitive sanctions from their neighbours as a “last resort” if peace talks fail to end the war. Negotiations in Addis Ababa have led to several ceasefire deals but each has been violated within hours.

A 2011 report by the NGO Saferworld found that, despite its stated neutrality, China is gradually using diplomatic means to push for the resolution of certain conflicts. It also said the Asian power is becoming a major supplier of conventional arms to African states and has increased its contributions to UN peacekeeping missions twentyfold since 2000, with the majority based in Africa.

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Sudan’s elections commission announces slight delay in 2015 polls
Hala'ib Triangle

December 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A top National elections Commission (NEC) official in Sudan disclosed on Saturday that the general elections scheduled for April 2nd will be pushed back to April 13th in a move designed to avoid a legal problem arising from an upcoming constitutional amendment.

Voter registrations close for Sudan’s 2015 elections
   

The Sudanese national assembly is expected to discuss amendments to the constitution proposed by the presidency last November which empowers the president to appoint state governors rather than having them elected.

But the amendments, which are almost certain to pass, would not become effective until 60 days after the parliament approves it.

The delay would therefore allow the NEC to remove the elections for governors before the start of the nomination period on January 11th. It was originally supposed to start on December 31st.

Mokhtar al-Assam, the NEC chairman, did not mention the constitutional issue in comments to Reuters today but said: "The postponement came for very important reasons that we will announce tomorrow [Sunday]".

The government-sponsored Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) website quoted al-Assam as saying that the receipt of filled out nomination forms will be accepted only from each party’s registered agent.

He recalled that requirements for running in the presidential race according article 41 (2) of the National Elections Act of 2008 amended in 2011 and 2014 stipulates that the candidate must be Sudanese by birth, of sound mind, be at least forty years of age and literate with no conviction for any offense related to honesty or moral turpitude.

Furthermore the potential candidate must be able to collect signatures from 15,000 registered voters in at least 12 out of the 18 states with a minimum of 200 voters from each state.

According to official data, the number eligible voters in the 2010 elections was 19.8 million people and approximately 50% of them cast their votes. These statistics South Sudan which became an independent state since July 2011.

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Khartoum again warns Juba against supporting Sudan’s JEM rebels
Khartoum again warns Juba against supporting Sudan’s JEM rebels

December 17, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta, has reiterated warning to South Sudan against supporting and funding Sudanese rebels particularly the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

South Sudan against supporting and funding Sudanese rebels particularly the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
   

Last week, Atta, threatened to pursue rebel groups inside the South Sudanese territory, adding they have endured enough Juba support to the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels. He further said they will “pursue them anywhere”.

Also, the Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesperson on Sunday said “the government has documented information” about this support and demanded that Juba swiftly implements the signed agreements, to stop harbouring and supporting the SRF rebels.

Addressed a military parade that included 5,000 of NISS members on Wednesday, Atta repeated that Juba must refrain from harbouring Sudanese rebel groups and named in particular the JEM.

He said that JEM forces are currently present in Khor Shamam and Daim Galad in North Bahr el-Ghazal, pointing they will consider any hostile actions by JEM or any other armed group from inside South Sudan territory an “act of aggression” by Juba.

The Northern Bahr el-Ghazal is close to East Darfur state. The Sudanese authorities say the rebels use a bridge on Bahr al-Arab or Kiir River to cross into the Sudanese territory.

Atta further accused the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) of colluding with Juba in denying presence of Sudanese rebel groups inside South Sudan territory, emphasising the latter launch military attacks from within South Sudan.

In a report released on 8 April 2014 UNMISS mentioned the presence JEM combatants in Unity state and said they fight the South Sudanese rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar alongside the SPLA soldiers loyal to president Salva Kiir.

Following the creation of the SRF in 2011, the Sudanese rebel groups established a joint command with a military headquarters in the Nuba Mountains, South Korodfan. Since JEM moved a large number of its fighters to the area from Darfur.

Recently, it is reported that rebel group decided to move its troops back to the western Sudan region ahead of talks on a cessation of hostilities agreement and security arrangements in Darfur.

The chief of the Sudanese intelligence and security services called upon South Sudan’s government to apply principles of good neighbourliness and reciprocity by stripping all Sudanese rebel groups of their arms, considering the move would represent “an acceptable solution” to all parties.

The Sudanese official underscored that his government stripped South Sudan’s rebels of their arms and military vehicles when they entered Sudan’s territory.

Reacting to the recent statements by the Sudanese officials, South Sudanese foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin , blamed Khartoum for raising the issue publicly.

“What is said in the Sudanese press receives different interpretations and generates different feelings from members of our public but we have always found a way to handle it because we know war is not in the best interest of the two countries,” Benjamin said.

Khartoum and Juba continue to trade accusations of support to rebel groups from both sides since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011.

The Cooperation Agreement of 27 September 2012 provides to stop supporting or harbouring rebel groups, to establish a buffer zone on the border and to form a joint monitoring team to prevent rebel infiltration.

However, Juba backtracked last November from implementing the deal, under the pressure of the pastoralists Dinka Malual who fear that the inclusion of 14-Mile area in the demilitarised zone will allow Sudan to disown them the disputed area.

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Sudan accuses ICC prosecutor of seeking to escalate Darfur crisis
Sudan accuses ICC prosecutor of seeking to escalate Darfur crisis

December 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Tuesday warned that the announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, that she will freeze her office’s Darfur investigations is an attempt to escalate the issue of Sudan’s troubled western region and to seek new United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions to arrest those wanted by the court, including president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefs the Security Council December 13, 2014
   

The UNSC has referred the Darfur case to the ICC under a Chapter VII resolution in 2005 since Sudan is not a state party to the court.

From the government side, Bashir, defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, former state minister for interior Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb have been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.

Sudan has cooperated with the court until the first arrest warrant against Kushayb and Haroun were issued in 2007.

Despite repeated non-cooperation findings referred by ICC judges to the UNSC, the council has declined to take action mainly over China’s likely move to block any resolution that would compel Sudan to cooperate.

“Given this council’s lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases. It should thus be clear to this Council that unless there is a change of attitude and approach to Darfur in the near future, there shall continue to be little or nothing to report to you for the foreseeable future,” the ICC prosecutor told the UNSC last week.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to appear before you and purport to be updating you when all I am doing is repeating the same things I have said over and over again,” she added.

Bashir hailed Bensouda’s decision as a victory for his country and a sign of surrender by the ICC.

“The charges of the court was an attempt to subjugate and humiliate, but it has now lifted up its hands and surrendered,” Bashir said last week.

“The court is not a failure because the government has refused to cooperate with it, but because the Sudanese people rejected it,” he added.

On Tuesday, Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, appeared to pour cold water on Bashir’s victory lap.

In response to inquiries by the Council of States Congress on Tuesday, Karti stated that the ICC’s decision to refer Sudan to the UNSC is an attempt to escalate the crisis in Darfur.

“This is a new technique for issuing new decisions to arrest [those] whom the court were was unable to arrest,” Karti said.

Sudan’s top diplomat also accused international organizations working in Sudan of sending negative reports to the ICC and enforce accusations leveled against Khartoum.

Following the ICC warrant for him, Bashir has ordered the expulsion of nine international humanitarian agencies operating in Sudan under the pretext of its intelligence activities.

Karti stressed that political discord in Sudan paved the way for foreign organisations to invest politically and pursue their interests.

“The nature of our differences and internal issues affected the country’s relations abroad,” he said.

Southern Sudan TV Live :: SSTV :: شاهد تلفزيون جنوب السودانSudan TV Live :: SUDAN TV :: شاهد تلفزيون السودان
Juba reiterates commitment to cooperate with Khartoum
Juba reiterates commitment to cooperate with Khartoum

December 16, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan has remained its full committed to implement the 2012 cooperation agreement it signed with neigbouring Sudan.

South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin
   

South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin said it was unfortunate the Sudanese government opted for the media to channel its complains instead of following proper channels and mechanisms to address matters.

“In the non-aggression and cooperation we have signed with Sudan in 2012, we agreed that complaints and allegations from either side should be raised through joint political mechanism. In that agreement, we have also agreed not to support hostile groups operating against the other,” Marial told on Monday.

“We agreed to not support any cross border operations and no supporting proxy forces operating with an objective to destabilize the existence of the other,” he added.

The agreement, Marial said, obliges the two sides to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and from launching any attack, including aerial bombardments.

“What is said in the Sudanese press receives different interpretations and generates different feelings from members of our public but we have always found a way to handle it because we know war is not in the best interest of the two countries,” he said.

“It is also important the media play a role in both countries to educate our citizens of the significance of supporting peaceful relations between the two countries,” he added.

The minister’s reactions came a day after several Sudanese government officials were quoted accusing neighbouring South Sudan of allegedly support to Sudanese rebels.

“These are unfortunate statements and we would not wish to use the media. But I can give the government of the republic of South Sudan that we remain committed to the full implementation of the cooperation,” Marial said.

Political analysts and observers, however, say the renewed accusations by the Sudanese government stems from its frustration with the presence of the Ugandan forces in its southern neighbour. Khartoum also accuses Uganda of backing its armed rebels.

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Sudan’s Bashir vows to quash rebellion by end of the year
Sudan’s Bashir vows to quash rebellion by end of the year

December 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has accused leaders of opposition parties allied with the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) of being agents of foreign powers and warned them against returning to the country.

Gezira scheme on Saturday
   

On 3 December, Sudanese political and armed opposition forces and civil society organisations signed in Addis Ababa the “Sudan Call” for the end of war, dismantlement of the one-party state, achievement of a comprehensive peace and democratic transition in the country.

The agreement was signed by the head of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, deputy chairman of the SRF Minni Minnawi, leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al Mahdi and head of the Alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organisations, Amin Maki Madani.

Bashir, who addressed a gathering of farmers from Gezira scheme on Saturday, described the opposition parties allied with the SRF as “agents and mercenaries”.

“Yes, I say loudly they are mercenaries. SRF fought alongside forces loyal to Libya’s former leader Muammer al-Ghadafi during the Libyan revolution for money and they are fighting in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan for money also,” he said.

He added that leaders of the SRF have “sold themselves to the enemies of Sudan”, saying he who wants to align with them should stay abroad and meet us in the battlefields in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Last week, the Sudanese security apparatus arrested Abu Issa, and Madani besides former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) member, Farah Agar, and his office manager, Mohamed Eldoud after their return from Addis Ababa where they signed the Sudan Call with rebel groups.

Bashir further said the army and the other regular forces will declare the country “free of insurgency” by the end of the year.

“Those (rebel leaders) who live in hotels abroad and spend money and seek to sabotage Sudan, we tell them there will be no insurgency in the country any more beyond this year, everything must come to an end,” he added.

The Sudanese army has been fighting rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011 and Darfur rebels since 2003.

Bashir underscored they will continue to extend their hands to the opposition to achieve peace but warned that they will not sign any new agreement with rebel groups.

“We won’t sign any new agreement. Regarding the Darfur [problem] we have the Doha peace accord and it is a final agreement; those who want to sign it [are welcome] and those who refuse to sign shall meet us in the battlefield,” he added.

He reiterated that his government will not combine the issues of the Two Areas and Darfur in one forum, saying the former must be negotiated according to arrangements included in the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.

Bashir also stressed they wouldn’t accept to discuss issues of Shari’a law and self-rule in Addis Ababa talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Earlier this month, the African Union mediation announced suspension of the ninth round of talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N on the Two Areas in Addis Ababa.

Negotiations stalled after the government delegation insisted that the objective of talks is to settle the conflict in the Two Areas, while the SPLM-N team has called for a holistic approach to resolve ongoing conflicts across Sudan.

Bashir emphasised his government’s seriousness to proceed with the national dialogue initiative to bring the Sudanese people to agree on fundamental national issues in order to achieve political stability.

He stressed they would only relinquish power through ballot box, saying those who seek to change the regime should work hard to win the election.

UNAMID IS “WEAK”

Bashir described the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) as “weak”, saying its troops are being protected by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

“That is why we said to them goodbye and thank you and may Allah reward you [for your efforts]”, he said.

He underscored that no one could impose his point of view on the Sudanese government regarding the decision to expel the mission.

Differences between the Sudanese government and the UNAMID have escalated following the former’s decision not to allow the latter conduct a second inquiry on the alleged rape of some 200 women and girls by the Sudanese soldiers in Tabit, a village 45km south-west of the North Darfur capital, El-Fasher.

On 21 November, Sudan said it asked the UNAMID to put in place an exit strategy from the restive region.

CHINA AND WHEAT EXPORTS

The Sudanese president further denied existence of any political agenda or pre-conditions governing Sudan’s relations with China, saying they have true partnership with Asian giant.

China has been Sudan’s largest foreign investor particularly in oil and telecommunications after western firms shunned the East African nation due to conflicts and sanctions.

Bashir said Sudan will soon export wheat to all nations of the world, pointing his country has vast land resources which could be utilised for international food security.

He revealed the country will see large agricultural investments in the coming period.

On Friday, the Russia Today (RT) website said the Sudanese ministry of commerce asked Russia to open a line of credit line to finance two million tonnes of wheat imports from Russia to Sudan.

Sudan imports more than two million tonnes of wheat annually at a cost of $1.5 billion dollars. The government plans for achieving self sufficiency has failed since 1993 while domestic consumption have increased significantly.

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ICC prosecutor to freeze new Darfur investigations
ICC prosecutor to freeze new Darfur investigations

December 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced in her semi-annual briefing before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday that she will suspend new investigations into the Darfur situation citing lack of UNSC support and stretched resources.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefs the Security Council December 13, 2014
   

The UNSC referred the Darfur case to the ICC under a Chapter VII resolution in 2005 since Sudan is not a state party to the court.

From the government side, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, former state minister for interior Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb were indicted by the ICC for war crimes allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region.

According to UN estimates, at least 300,000 people have been killed since then, and another 2 million have fled their homes since the conflict erupted in 2003.

Sudan has cooperated with the court until the first arrest warrant against Kushayb and Haroun were issued in 2007.

Despite repeated non-cooperation findings referred by ICC judges to the UNSC, the council has declined to take action mainly over China’s likely move to block any resolution that would compel Sudan to cooperate.

"Given this council’s lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases. It should thus be clear to this Council that unless there is a change of attitude and approach to Darfur in the near future, there shall continue to be little or nothing to report to you for the foreseeable future" ICC prosecutor told the UNSC.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to appear before you and purport to be updating you when all I am doing is repeating the same things I have said over and over again," she added.

Bensouda emphasized that a “dramatic shift” is needed in the UNSC approach to arresting Darfur suspects.

She noted that “To date, none of these individuals have been brought to justice, and some of them continue to be implicated in atrocities committed against innocent civilians”.

The ICC prosecutor underscored that the situation in Darfur continue to deteriorate with women and girls suffering the most.

“Victims of rape are asking themselves how many more women should be brutally attacked for this Council to appreciate the magnitude of their plight,” she said.

She recalled the recent allegations of rape in North Darfur village of Tabit which prompted Khartoum to block a second UNAMID investigation into the claims and asking the peacekeepers to prepare for departure.

“It is unacceptable that investigations of such sensitive and serious crimes were conducted in a situation in which perpetrators had effective control over their victims in their homes and in their villages, and where investigators can offer no protection to victims after they have left the scene of the crime,” she said.

UNSC members did not appear moved by Bensouda’s blunt statement with China saying it supports Khartoum’s efforts to promote a political solution.

Rwanda on the other hand recalled the African Union (AU) decision calling for deferral of proceedings against Sudan president in the interest of peace.

The US on the other hand emphasized that justice will not bring back lives but will serve as a foundation for healing.

Argentina called on all states to cooperate with the ICC and said that fight against impunity is not restricted to court members.

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Security Council welcomes talks between leaders of Sudan, South Sudan

December 12, 2014 – Welcoming recent talks between Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan, the United Nations Security Council today called on both governments to hold a high-level security meeting as soon as possible and urged all parties to refrain from violence against civilians and to expedite humanitarian access for the timely delivery of aid to all civilians in need of assistance.

General Katumba Wamala, of the UPDF, shakes hands with a soldier during a visit to his troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), January 9, 2013.
South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang at Khartoum airport

In a statement to the press issued this afternoon, Council members also reiterated their grave concern about the dire situation resulting from continued fighting in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan.

Earlier this week, the 15-member body was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, the head of the UN Office to the African Union and Special Representative to the African Union Haile Menkerios, and Acting UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) Force Commander Major-General Halefom Moges on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan under resolution 2046 (2012) and the situation in Abyei.

By resolution 2046, the Council decided that the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) must cooperate with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) to reach a negotiated settlement on security arrangements in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, strongly urging them to accept the tripartite proposal of the African Union, the United Nations and the Arab League to permit humanitarian access to the population in those two areas.

Council Members today welcomed the stated commitment of both Presidents to implementation of 27 September 2012 Cooperation Agreements, particularly on security matters, and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor from Sudan to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected populations in South Sudan, but noted with concern that there has been no further progress on the agreements since November 2013.

Both Governments must fully implement the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVBMM), in accordance with Security Council resolution 2046 and the 24 April 2012 AU Peace and Security Council Roadmap, Joint Political and Security Mechanism, and other agreed joint mechanisms to ensure the security and transparency of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ), including the “14 Mile Area’’, Council members states.

Members also welcomed the recent peace talks between the Government of Sudan and Sudanese rebel groups under the auspices of AUHIP in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While noting the progress made, they expressed regret at the absence of a final agreement.

They renewed their calls upon the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N to cease hostilities, engage in the next round of direct talks without conditions in January as planned by the AUHIP, and make the necessary concessions to reach agreement on ending the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States in accordance with provisions of resolution 2046 (2012).

Additionally, the Council reiterated their grave concern about the “relatively calm but highly volatile security situation” in Abyei Area, and the absence of progress in implementing the 20 June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Security and Administration of the Abyei Area as reported by the Secretary-General, while condemning the recent deadly attacks on civilians.

Members welcomed the 5 December appointment of the South Sudan Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) and urged the immediate resumption of the work of the AJOC without preconditions.

Further, they reiterated their demand in resolution 2179 (2014) that Sudan and South Sudan urgently commence the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration and Council, and constitute the Abyei Police Service, to enable it to take over the policing functions through the Abyei Area, including the protection of oil infrastructure.

The Security Council also reiterated, in accordance with relevant resolutions, in particular resolutions 1990 and 2046, that the Abyei Area shall be demilitarized from any forces, as well as armed elements of the local communities, other than UNISFA and the Abyei Police Service.

They also urged UNISFA, the AU, and the Government of Ethiopia to work in collaboration with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan, to use creative provisions based on mutual understanding to expedite implementation of the outstanding administrative and security elements of the June 2011 Agreement, as appropriate, in order to address the law and order vacuum in Abyei within the context of inter-communal dialogue.

The members of the Security Council called for steps to enable, inter alia, the withdrawal of the Oil Police in Diffra while ensuring the security of oil installations, resuming the AJOC meetings, and resolving the dispute over the May 2013 killing of the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief.

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Sudan’s security agency says forces ready for final showdown with rebels

December 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta al-Mawla Abbas, underscored the readiness of the armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militias to crush rebellion in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Security Services (NISS) director, Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula
   

Abbas’s remarks come a day after similar assertions made by defence minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein before parliament in which he said that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is capable of stopping infiltration carried out by rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as defeat the insurgency.

SAF accused the Sudan people Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) over the past few days of trying to sneak into some of its positions in South Kordofan. But the rebel group denies the claims and says that SAF are attacking their positions.

The escalation of military operations between the two sides comes in conjunction with the African Union’s mediation’s announcement of suspension of the 9th round of talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N on the Two Areas in Addis Ababa.

The government has been fighting SPLM-N in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011 and Darfur rebels since 2003.

The spy chief said at the graduation of two RSF divisions in Khartoum on Wednesday that the uniformed forces are ready to for the final showdown with rebels to end the insurgency once and for all.

He criticised the SPLM-N calls for annulment of Islamic Shar’ia law in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and asked “Do the people of South Kordofan reject Shar’ia law?”

Abbas pointed out that Sudan’s desire for peace was misinterpreted by the other side in reference to the SPLM-N.

“Our sons will demonstrate that they are able to kill the insurgency and stop political auctions and trading platforms in the name of the citizens,” he said.

The NISS chief said that questioning RSF integrity by some was intended to undermine the morale of regular troops and prevent their forward progress to eradicate the rebels.

This year the NISS arrested National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and the head of the Sudanese Congress Party (ScoP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh, after denouncing the RSF government militia and accusing its members of committing abuses against civilians in conflict zones.

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Sudan’s defence minister renews pledge to crush rebellion
Sudan’s defence minister renews pledge to crush rebellion

December 10, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, has underscored before the parliament on Tuesday the ability of the army to stop rebel infiltrations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile as well as ending rebellion in the country.

Sudan’s defense minister, Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussein
   

Last week, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) accused the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) of launching several attacks against its positions in South Kordofan.

However, the SPLM-N denies these accusations and said its forces only repulsed attacks carried out by SAF troops on its defensive positions around South Kordofan capital, Kadugli.

Hussein, who deposited his ministry’s 2015 plan at the parliament on Tuesday, said the government is keen to upgrade the combat capabilities of the army, adding the “Decisive Summer campaign operations will crush rebellion” in the country.

He also underscored that SAF is capable of ending the infiltration operations carried out by the SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
On Monday, SAF acknowledged that the SPLM-N had shelled the outskirts of Kadugli using Katyusha rockets.

Last week, SAF accused SPLM-N of launching attacks in Blinga and al-Atmoor villages in South Kordofan, which follow another attack the day before near Alahimar area.

The defence minister further stressed that the army is resolved to end rebellion in all states of the country, saying they will continue to raise combat capabilities of SAF through training particularly at the air and naval defence forces.

On Sunday, SAF said it will deploy troops extensively across the country to enforce the state authority, stressing that they will continue their “Decisive Summer” campaign aimed at eradicating the insurgency.

Hussein pointed that his ministry’s plan for 2015 aims to promote social security and the rule of law besides localisation of military industries in Sudan.

CALLS TO CRUSH REBELLION

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the council of the national unity government’s parties, Aboud Jabir, called for enabling SAF and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and the police to crush the rebels and prevent them from imposing their agendas through negotiations.

He accused, in statements to the pro-government Sudan Media Centre (SMC), the SPLM-N of opting for war and seeking to impose agendas that has nothing to do with the crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

On Monday, the African mediation announced suspension of the ninth round of talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N on South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Addis Ababa.

The process, which resumed on 13 November, has very quickly stalled over the priorities that should be addressed by the African Union brokered process.

Khartoum said the negotiations should focus on a ceasefire and the security arrangements in the Two Areas, but the rebels insisted on a comprehensive cessation of hostilities pointing that its purpose is to include all the rebel groups in the national dialogue process.

South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile state have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and SAF since 2011.

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African mediators suspend talks on Sudan’s Two Areas
African mediators suspend talks on Sudan’s Two Areas

December 9, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - The African Union mediation on Monday suspended the peace talks on the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, among statements by both sides accusing each other of obstructing efforts for a comprehensive peace in Sudan.

Opposition, rebel forces sign joint declaration for peace and democracy in Sudan
   

The process, which resumed on 13 November, has very quickly stalled over the priorities that should be addressed at this stage of the discussions on the framework agreement based on a roadmap for an inclusive process adopted by the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) last September.

The African plan provides to hold one process with two tracks on Darfur and the Two Areas. The bicameral operation was designed to pour into one forum including all the political forces to endorse a framework for the national dialogue which will be held inside the country.

However since the start of the discussions, the government kept referring to a draft framework agreement on the Tow Areas proposed by the mediation in April, while the SPLM-N said the PSC roadmap provides the necessary ingredients for a process on the whole Sudan.

Khartoum said the negotiations should focus on a ceasefire and the security arrangements in the Two Areas , but the rebels insisted on a comprehensive cessation of hostilities.

The SPLM-N further says the current stage should prepare for a “national constitutional dialogue” as the government rejects the inclusion of the opposition parties, pointing that the discussions should be limited to the armed groups.

The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which mediates the peace talks in Sudan, informed the two negotiating delegation of the postponement of the talks to the next January without further details.

The AUHIP head and chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, notified his decision to the two parties but he didn’t announce his decision publically.

On the other side, the head of the two negotiating teams, Ibrahim Ghandour for the government and Yasir Arman for the SPLM-N, held two separate press conference where they traded accusations of hampering the process.

Ghandour told reporters that the SPLM-N is not ready for peace but “prisoner of its alliances” with other rebel and opposition groups, pointing that Arman seeks to include them in the process and to impose new items.

He said that the rebel chief negotiator seeks to include Darfur region in the talks on the Two Areas and associate the other rebels and the opposition parties.

"The Movement wants to continue war and to achieve a political agenda under the name of the Two Areas," Ghandour further said.

Before to announce the suspension of the talks, Mbeki met with the two delegations after delivering them new propositions aiming to bridge the gaps between the two sides.

Arman told reporters that Mbeki suggested new ideas and posed some questions related to the self rule, security arrangements and its relation with the political arrangements and issues pertaining to the predatory all-parties conference at the AU headquarters.

The SPLM-N top negotiator said the government wants only an agreement on security arrangements without to reach a political deal on the issues of the Two Areas.

“It became absolutely clear to us that the government delegation wants the SPLA-N weapons but does not want solutions to the Two Areas. It does not want to talk about the final status of governance issues in the Two Areas, issues of citizenship in the Two Areas, economic issues in the Two Areas, and land issues in the Two Areas,” he emphasised.

He further said the government wants to limits the talks to the rebel groups and refuses to include the other political forces in the process, pointing to the propositions the AUHIP made on the preparatory conference and the concessions they showed on this regard.

Ghandour accused Arman of seeking to include the Paris Declaration groups and the Sudan Call parties, while the latter said that the former wants the preparatory conference includes only the national dialogue committee and the “Armed Movements”.

The two chief negotiators however reaffirmed their readiness to resume talks next month when the AUHIP determine a new date for the discussions.

Last week, the mediation already suspended the talks between the government and Darfur rebel groups. Khartoum said it is only disposed to negotiate a ceasefire agreement but the rebels said they want to discuss matters related to the western Sudan region.

Ghandour said the government will continue the national dialogue with the participation of those who have accepted to be part of the process.

The Sudanese government refuses opposition and rebel demands for the postponement of general elections scheduled for April 2014.

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Security apparatus arrests opposition leader and rights defender over Sudan Call
Security apparatus arrests opposition leader and rights defender over Sudan Call

December 6, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese security apparatus arrested the leader of the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) Farouk Abu Issa and rights defender Amin Maki Madani after their return from Addis Ababa where they signed Sudan Call with the rebel groups.

Opposition, rebel forces sign joint declaration for peace and democracy in Sudan
   

The arrest of the two leaders comes after a campaign launched by the government officials against the Sudan Call signed in the Ethiopian capital on 3 December by the opposition and rebel leaders . Also, the president Omer Bashir last week warned the opposition against inking deals with the rebel groups.

Different sources confirmed the simultaneous arrest of Abu Issa and Madani on Saturday evening from their houses, twenty four hours after their return from Addis Ababa.

The two leader are above seventy and suffering from several diseases.

According to reports, the security agents refused to allow Madani to take his medications with him. The latter is suffering high blood pressure.

The two Lawyers returned to Khartoum on Friday evening after a series of talks with the mediation on their participation in the national dialogue.

The Sudan Call reiterates the support of the opposition and civil society groups to the peaceful settlement of armed conflicts in the country, and the national dialogue process which is initiated by the president Omer al-Bashir.

The call which is an extension to Paris Declaration supports the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) n0 456 which calls for the implementation of confidence building measures, including the release of political freedoms.

During a meeting with Mbeki, Abu Issa reiterated their readiness to join the national dialogue if the government implements the PSC decision. Madani, from his part, asked the mediation to include the civil society groups in the process.

In statement on Friday after his return from Addis Ababa Abu Issa said they are ready for any move from the government.

“We will defend our position in the courts to show people that (Sudan Call) boosted the nation’s unity,” said the former secretary-general of the Arab Lawyers Union.

The head of the legal secretary in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP),al-Fadil Haj Suleiman told reporters on Friday that Abu Issa and the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi will be charged and prosecuted for the signing of Sudan Call, according to the criminal law.

The government had already threatened to try al-Mahdi who is residing in Cairo since the signing of Paris Declaration on 8 August.

The Sudan Call was signed by NCF chairman, Farouk Abu Issa, NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, vice-president of the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) Minni Minnawi and Amin Maki Madani for the Alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organisations.

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