Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sudan News Update: Flights Resume to Eritrea; North Darfur Clashes; Southern Peace Threatened

Sudan Air resumes flights to Eritrea after 13 years

Monday 25 May 2009

May 24, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — After a hiatus of more than 13 years, Sudanese air launched today the first flight to the Eritrean capital Asmara from the airport, of Kassala.

As it was previously announced, a plane of the Sudan’s national carrier, Sudan Air, left the capital of Kassala state, eastern Sudan to Asmara transporting an official delegation to participate to Asmara.

The Sudanese delegation will participate in the celebration of the 18th anniversary of the Independence Day taking place there.

The return of Sudan Air to Asmara, is the latest step in the process of normalization between the two countries who had tense relations in the past.

In 2002, Eritrea and Sudan withdrew their ambassadors and closed the border, after trading accusations of supporting respective opposition groups.

But after the January 2005 signing of a peace agreement to end Sudan’s north-south civil war, the two nations have warmed to each other with Eritrea playing a lead role in ending the conflict in east Sudan in October 2006.

Sudan now tries to develop balanced relations with Asmara and its arch foe Ethiopia who fought a 1998-2000 border war that claimed some 80000 lives.

Sudan tribesmen attack security force, scores killed

Tue May 26, 6:22 PM

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Scores of people were killed when 3,000 armed Arab tribesmen on horseback attacked security forces in Sudan's oil-producing Southern Kordofan region on Tuesday, tribal sources and officials said.

Sudan's Interior Ministry said the security forces were attacked close to the town of Meiram soon after arriving to try to prevent a fresh outbreak of fighting between warring Misseriya and Rizeigat nomads.

"While our forces were making administrative and security arrangements (on Tuesday morning) to prevent the parties from fighting, the Rizeigat started heavy firing and attacked," said the ministry's statement.

"It is estimated the attackers were made up of 3,000 fighters on horseback and 35 vehicles."

One tribal source, who asked not to be named, said more than 100 tribesmen, security officers and civilians may have been killed in Tuesday's clashes and other skirmishes between the tribes in recent days.

It was impossible to verify the figures. The ministry statement said there had been deaths and injuries among the security forces and civilians, but gave no figures and no reason for the attack.

The clashes were a reminder of the tense political situation in Southern Kordofan, which borders both the strife-torn Darfur region and southern Sudan, where tensions are still simmering four years after the end of a civil war with the north.

The Rizeigat and Misseriya have clashed in the past, in fighting often rooted in disputes over grazing land and access to water.

Clashes in recent years have been particularly fierce, fueled by bad blood over past killings and a ready supply of arms from other conflicts. A series of reconciliation conferences have failed to achieve lasting settlements.

"They were armed to the teeth, both the Misseriya and the Rizeigat. There were heavy losses on both sides over the past few days," said one senior member of the Misseriya tribe who asked not to be named.

"There were also deaths among the police who were also caught up in it all."

The government raised the political temperature in Southern Kordofan earlier this month by naming a new governor -- Ahmed Haroun, a divisive figure distrusted by local residents and wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

On taking up his new post, Haroun said one of his first priorities would be to arrange a reconciliation drive to end conflicts between all the region's warring communities.

(Reporting by Andrew Heavens, editing by Tim Pearce)

Hundreds still sheltering at UN-AU camp as Darfur fighting lulls

Sudan Tribune
Wednesday 27 May 2009

May 26, 2009 (EL-FASHER) – More than 210 civilians were still seeking shelter near the UN-African Union military camp in a small town in North Darfur that was temporarily overrun by rebels following an attack Sunday, peacekeepers said Tuesday.

During earlier fighting that continued into Monday, about 350 civilians had gathered around the peacekeepers’ camp in Um Baru, as well as about 100 unarmed army forces and militiamen, the peacekeeping Mission (UNAMID) stated today.

The displaced require humanitarian assistance, including food, water and tents, said UNAMID, though the peacekeepers are able to provide medical assistance. At least seven people – including three civilians – still need to be evacuated for further medical treatment, said the peacekeepers.

According to UNAMID, relative calm has returned to Um Baru, adding that the situation in unpredictable. Peacekeepers at Um Baru say Sudanese soldiers and allied SLA/MM elements are now in control of their military position near the town following the fighting.

Aerial bombardments were reported in the area Monday as government forces rushed to re-take the town, JEM military spokesperson Ali Alwafi told Sudan Tribune yesterday.

Sunday’s clashes represent the second time in eight days that JEM elements have attacked a Sudanese military position in North Darfur. On 16 May, they attacked government forces based near the town of Kornoi. In both battles they claimed victory over army forces backed by a former rebel wing led by Minni Minawi.

South Sudan warns peace deal under threat

Tue May 26, 3:24 PM

JUBA, Sudan (AFP) - Southern Sudanese president Salva Kiir warned on Tuesday that the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's 22-year civil war was "seriously threatened" by growing levels of violence.

Kiir, who is also first vice president of Sudan, said the north-south Comprehensive Peace Agreement was being put at risk by recent conflict.

"The CPA, that we concluded as a result of our enormous sacrifices, is seriously threatened by enemies of peace from within our realm and without," Kiir told a rally in the capital of the semi-autonomous south.

Several rival ethnic groups have clashed in the south in recent months, leaving more than 1,000 dead and many thousands more displaced.

Cattle rustling and tribal clashes occur regularly in the south, but the ferocity of recent attacks has shocked many.

Kiir, who said the violence was an "abnormal pattern of insecurity," suggested that the fighting was being caused deliberately to destabilise the south. He blamed unnamed outside and internal forces.

It is a tense time for Sudan, with national elections due in February and a referendum on independence for the south scheduled for 2011.

"This is a well designed strategy to discredit you as people who cannot govern themselves, particularly as we approach general elections and referendum," he told crowds.

Kiir was speaking at a rally in the southern capital Juba to mark the 26th anniversary of a revolt by southern troops in the Sudanese army, who formed the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

He made his speech to large crowds gathered at the mausoleum of the first southern president John Garang, who signed the peace deal in 2005.

Soldiers from the SPLA, now the official army of the south, marched past Kiir and other top southern officials, in a parade that included three tanks and heavy artillery pieces.

The parade was seen by some as a show of force to the south's former northern enemies, now partners in a unity government.


The following statement was issued yesterday, 25 May, by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned by recent fighting between Government forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), in the area of Umm Baru, North Darfur. Noting that this clash was reportedly initiated by the JEM, the Secretary-General condemns such military action, which puts civilian lives directly at risk and which seriously undermines efforts to achieve a peaceful end to the conflict in Darfur. The Secretary-General further reminds both the Government of the Sudan and the JEM of the commitment they made in Doha on 17 January 2009, to settle the conflict between them through peaceful negotiation. In this regard, the Secretary-General calls on both the Government and the JEM to suspend military action and apply themselves fully to achieving a negotiated, inclusive and lasting resolution to the conflict.

Sudan issues new tender for Nile blend crude

Thursday 21 May 2009

May 20, 2009 (LONDON) – Sudan has issued a new tender to sell 1.2 million barrels of heavy sweet Nile Blend crude for July loading, traders told Reuters yesterday.

The tender for the two 600,000-barrel cargoes closes on Thursday, the trader added.

Last month, state oil firm Sudapet sold via tender a total of 2.6 million barrels of Nile Blend for loading in June at discounts from around $4.40 to $5.10 a barrel to the Minas Indonesia Crude Price.

Minas, the benchmark for heavy sweet crudes sold in Asia, such as Nile Blend, normally trades below light sweet Brent crude, except at times of acute power shortages in Japan.

The Greater Nile project which produces this heavy sweet, high-quality, Nile Blend crude has been experiencing diminishing productivity lately from 325,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 200,000.

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