Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sudan News Update: President Omar al-Bashir Visits Djibouti

Sudan President Visits Djibouti

AFP) --KHARTOUM — Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, travelled Saturday to Djibouti, which is party to the ICC, for the inauguration of its re-elected leader, state media said.

Sudan's official SUNA news agency reported that Bashir went to Djibouti with a ministerial delegation to attend Sunday's inauguration ceremony of President Ismael Omar Guelleh, who won a third term in office in elections last month.

The first sitting head of state to be targeted by an ICC warrant, Bashir faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

ICC statutes dictate any member country should arrest him if he visits, and Bashir has not travelled to Djibouti since he was first indicted by the ICC in 2009.

The warrants have hampered Bashir's movements outside Sudan, although a number of African countries have hosted him with impunity, including Kenya and Chad, which are also states party to the court.

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

About 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum for a greater share of resources and power, according to UN figures.

Sudan's government says 10,000 have been killed.

U.S. & AU express concern over situation in Sudan’s Abyei
May 5, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The United States and the African Union (AU) today voiced concern over the growing tensions in the oil-rich region of Abyei that lies on the borders of North and South Sudan.

(AP)--South Sudan will become an independent state in July after the referendum that took place earlier this year resulted in a landslide vote in favor of splitting from the rest of the country.

But the dispute over Abyei remained a sticking point along with other post-referendum arrangements that are still being negotiated.

Abyei residents were supposed to have a referendum in January over whether to join the north or south. Disagreement over who is eligible to vote derailed that ballot and talks over the status of the region have stalled.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about the alarming situation in the Abyei region of Sudan. U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Ambassador Princeton Lyman met jointly with African Union High-Level Implementation Panel Member President Pierre Buyoya as well as UN Special Representative for the – of the Secretary General for Sudan Haile Menkerios, and Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir this morning on this issue," U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Thursday.

"Recent actions by both parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement run counter to President Bashir and President Kiir’s agreement to resolve the situation peacefully through negotiation and with the assistance of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel. The introduction of armed forces into Abyei by both sides violates the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and recently resulted in a violent clash in which Southern forces apparently killed at least 11 members of the Northern Joint Integrated Unit," he added.

This week a Sudanese army convoy clashed with Southern forces in Abyei resulting in the death of 14 people, according to UN figures. Both sides traded blame on who started the fighting.

The U.S. urged both sides to withdraw their troops from the contested area in line with previous accords signed.

"We welcome the May 5th agreement by the National Congress Party and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to immediately implement the Kadugli Agreements and to withdraw illegal troops from Abyei, and urge both sides to act expeditiously to carry out this agreement," the U.S. state department spokesperson said.

The African Union (AU) in a separate statement echoed the U.S. sentiments and said that the violence occurred as a result of failing to implement Kadugli accord stressing that any "unauthorized force" should be withdrawn.

A statement by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said that its chief Haile Menkerios got pledges from North and South to implement the agreements signed. He met with South Sudan president Salva Kiir in Juba today.

“The two parties have committed that the Kadugli and Abyei Agreements shall be carried out with the facilitation and participation of the UN. UNMIS will also support the containment and temporary security measures while a solution is being sought. We have agreed here to immediately move on it,” Menkerios said after the meeting.

Complicating the situation is the move by South Sudan government to assert that Abyei is part of the new state in its constitution. Last week, Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir said he would not recognize south Sudan as an independent state if it that occurred and said he is prepared to go to war on Abyei.

The U.S. at the time criticized Bashir’s remarks saying that they fuel tensions further.

In Sudan, 1,000 denounce killing of bin Laden
Tue May 3, 2011 6:03pm GMT
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Around 1,000 people on Tuesday gathered in the centre of the Sudanese capital Khartoum to praise the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, chanting "Death to America".

A radical Islamist party had called for a mass prayer to honour the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 plane attacks in the United States who was killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan.

Mostly men dressed in traditional white robes, some of them arriving in expensive cars, gathered on a square in the centre of Khartoum to attend the prayer and denounce the killing of bin Laden. Veiled women prayed separately in a corner of the square.

After the prayer, several radical Sunni Muslim clerics praised the al Qaeda leader in speeches and called on Arab leaders to fight the United States, widely seen in the region as a supporter of Israel and biased against Muslims.

"Islam is calling to fight America because it supports Israel and the Jews," Sheikh Abu Zaid Mohammed Hamza told the gathering also attended by junior members of the ruling northern National Congress Party (NCP).

"We hope that all Arab presidents will become like Osama bin Laden," he said, while some in the crowd chanted "jihad" (Holy War) and "Death to America".

"Osama bin Laden is our brother," said Sheikh Abdul Hai Youssuf, another hardline cleric.

Bin Laden lived in Sudan for five years, arriving in 1991 after falling out with Saudi Arabia's ruling family over the kingdom's participation in the U.S.-led campaign to end Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait.

At first, he found a haven under Sudan's Islamist government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. But he left in 1996 as U.S. and international pressure on Sudan mounted.

Many Sudanese have still positive memories of bin Laden because he invested in the African country and stood up against the United States which imposed sanctions on Sudan and bombed in 1998 the El Shifa medicine factory in Khartoum.

U.S. officials said it was producing chemical weapons ingredients and was partly owned by bin Laden. Sudan insisted it was only making pharmaceutical drugs.

The attack followed the bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Sudan's neighbour Kenya, which killed at least 226 people including 12 Americans. Those attacks were blamed on al Qaeda.

Bashir's Sudanese government stayed for the second day silent about bin Laden's killing because it faces a dilemma.

Welcoming his death might bring Khartoum closer to its goal of getting removed from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. But it might also anger Islamists and ordinary Sudanese.

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