Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sudan Update: United Nations Spokeswoman Resigns; North-South Tensions Remain, etc.

U.N. spokeswoman in Sudan steps down

Published: Jan. 9, 2008 at 8:19 AM

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Sudan said she will step down from her position by the end of the week.

Spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said in a statement she "was privileged to be part of the UNMIS build-up" in announcing her decision amid the hand-over of peacekeeping duties in Darfur from African Union forces to a joint AU-U.N.-force, the Sudan Times said Wednesday.

The development comes as Sudan continues to impose restrictions on the operational capacity of the peacekeeping units, including a ban on night flights and a demand on advanced knowledge of peacekeeping operations.

The Sudanese army and other government agencies often launched hostile media campaigns against Achouri and the government frequently expressed outrage against her statements on the humanitarian issue in Darfur.

The Sudanese government expelled the U.N. Special Representative to Sudan Jan Pronk in October 2006 for highlighting operations by the Sudanese army in Darfur.

U.N. chief protests Sudan attacks on U.N.-AU peacekeepers

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned on Tuesday the attack against U.N.-AU peacekeepers in Darfur by elements of the Sudanese army.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Ban strongly condemned the attack, and called on the Sudanese Government to prevent any recurrence and fulfill its obligations concerning the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID.

"For the joint African Union United Nations peacekeeping operation to be able to perform its mandated functions, the Government of Sudan has to provide unequivocal guarantees that there will be no recurrence of such activities by its forces," he said.

"In this connection, the United Nations is lodging a protest with the Government of Sudan. This incident underscores the importance of the Government reaffirming its commitment to the deployment of UNAMID and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1769," Ban said.

Elements of the Sudanese army attacked a supply convoy of the new joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region Monday night, and a civilian Sudanese driver suffered seven gunshot wounds.

The convoy, carrying rations for UNAMID personnel in West Darfur, was attacked in an area that has seen violent clashes between the Government and rebels.

Sudan Plans to Sell Up to 100 Million Euros of Islamic Bonds

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sudan plans to sell as much as 100 million euros ($147 million) of Islamic bonds in the African nation's first sale of the debt, according to an e-mail from the Central Bank of Bahrain, where the securities will be placed.

The Sudanese government will sell between 75 million euros and 100 million euros of the so-called sukuk securities maturing in 2010, Bahrain's Manama-based central bank said in its monthly capital market review. Sudan has set-up the Sudan Salam Sukuk Co., a special purpose vehicle, in Bahrain to sell the bonds.

The funds raised will be used by Sudan to ``enhance oil production and meet oil-related operating costs,'' the review said. The debt will be ``backed by a commodity, in this case oil,'' said the central bank's director of capital markets supervision Ali Salman Thamer.

Bahrain's Liquidity Management Centre BSC and the Arabic Investment Co. will help sell the bonds, the review said. Sudan's central bank and the finance ministry will guarantee the securities.

Islamic bond sales jumped 70 percent last year to a record $30.8 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Borrowers in Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sold $17.9 billion of the securities in 2007, 75 percent more than the previous year.

Berber Cement Co., a Sudan-based maker of building materials, raised $130 million from seven-year Islamic bonds in November. Liquidity Management helped in the sale.

Fresh North-South Fighting Tampers Hopes for Building of Trust

The Nation (Nairobi)
9 January 2008
By Dean Diyan

Two months after the Cabinet boycott by the South, damage is continuing on the North-South Sudan border with no sign of a let-up.

As recent as last Friday, Southern Sudanese troops said militias supported by northern soldiers mounted an attack on them, threatening a fragile peace deal.

In November, President Omar el-Bashir called on Mujahideen fighters to train in their camps ready to defend their country.

At that time, President el-Bashir said that his party had signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with former Southern rebels not because of weakness, but from a point of strength after the mujahideen had won many battles in Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile State and in Tawrit - northern areas where the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has a large presence.

"The NCP is ready for war and we will not abandon any piece of Abyei for the SPLM, or retreat from 1905 borders," said President el-Bashir.

Two days later, a presidential adviser said President el-Bashir was not calling for war, but alerting people to always be prepared.

But, if President el-Bashir figured he was joking, the chickens have apparently come home to roost.

Northern tribesmen and south Sudan officials are trading accusations over the source of fighting during the Christmas holidays that left about 100 dead even, and reignited again on Friday.

Aid agencies and local chiefs say that Mujahideen are behind the attacks at the border areas and efforts to tamper the fighting from the north and south are, apparently, coming to naught.

North-south Fighting erupted again on January 4 between Arab militia and southern Sudan army, tampering hopes for a quick end to a conflict that has raged since the Christmas holiday.

The fighting first erupted on December 21, near the disputed Abyei oil areas, leaving up to 100 dead, when Khartoum-backed Baggara Arab militia attacked a southern army garrison, following the latter's refusal to allow the armed nomads into Southern Sudan.

Both sides accuse the other of starting the fight, with the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) which is in charge of the autonomous southern region, saying that the Arab nomads, aided by northern army elements, planned the attack in advance. The militia said the SPLA bombarded them first.

"They have attacked again," SPLA deputy Chief of Staff Major General Hoth Mai told this correspondent. "They attacked late in the night, and the fighting is still going on."

The current round of fighting in Bahr el Gazal State erupted as a combined north-south team of Sudanese ministers and security personnel went to the scene of fighting to investigate the cause.

The team from the northern government, including Defence Minister Abdul-Rahim Mohammed Hussein and Cabinet Affairs Minister Pagan Amum arrived in Aweil, the Northern Bahr el-Gazal capital, on Thursday. Major General Hoth said the current fighting is centered in Warguet, also in the same state.

The fighting erupted hours after the visiting security team left for Khartoum last Thursday evening, said Major General Hoth.

The team from the southern government, including Internal Affairs Minister and Ceasefire Political Committee co-chairman, Paul Mayom, with southern Defence Minister General Dominic Dim Deng, who was due in the area at the weekend didn't go for lack of transport.

General Dim said he was leaving for Aweil with the rest of the team. Area chiefs told reporters in Juba that the invaders came on horseback and the attack took place an estimated 30 kilometers into southern territory.

In a statement, Christian Solidarity International said the the group was the Mujahideen, the militia President el-Bashir asked to prepare to defend the country if attacked.

According to the chiefs, the northern army not only armed the militias, but gave them money to fight and annex parts of the border areas to the north. The north-south border is yet to be demarcated.

In an ominous sign, the residents and security officials say that some among the attackers are recognised faces among the northern troops in the area and the north-aligned forces.

One newspaper quoted a security source as saying that the attacks during the Christmas break in border places called Gerenty and Majok Nyinthiou had had been planned for a long time.

They said that the fighting was delayed due to the differences over why war should be waged without a clear reason. One newspaper named the training camp as Harzai and Sitab inside a forested border area.

At the camps, the Arab tribes are reportedly trained in how three people can use one horseback, while firing guns in the battle, and the fighting militia has been named Green Pillar Battalion.

Further complicating things is that in their statement, the chiefs gave actual names of officials in the northern army who reportedly were behind the training.

"There's no confirmation," Maj-Gen Hoth said when this correspondent asked him whether the Sudan Armed Forces directly led the attack.

1 comment:

Pan-African News Wire said...

JUBA, Sudan 8 January 2008 Sapa-AFP


North Sudanese troops have completed their withdrawal from oil rich areas of the south, a senior ex-rebel commander said on Tuesday, heading off the latest brewing north-south crisis.

"They have gone," Major General Mai Hoth, deputy chief of the
southern former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army told AFP. "The equipment and the headquarters will be handed over to us tomorrow."

He said only a handful of northern troops remained as they had not been able to find transport home.

A joint defence council had given the northern troops until
Wednesday to leave after they failed to meet a December 31 deadline that was part of a deal that saw southern ex-rebels return to government after resigning in October.

Their withdrawal from the unity cabinet was the worst crisis to hit the 2005 peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war. An estimated two million people were killed and another six million displaced in the two-decade-long conflict.

Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which created a southern autonomous government and two separate armies, northern troops should have withdrawn from the south by July 9 last year.

However, the north had moved only two-thirds of its forces by that date, according to the United Nations, setting off a protracted war of words that culminated in the south recalling its ministers from the unity government.

The south estimated that the north still had up to 18,000 troops in the oil areas.