Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sudan News Bulletin: Nafie Visits Japan; Beijing Ready to Work With West on Darfur; French Soldier Found Dead; Clashes in the South

Japan says Sudan not right for investment

TOKYO, March 5, 2008 (AFP) - Japan said Wednesday that Sudan was too dangerous for investment by Asia's largest economy after a Khartoum official sought investment and played down the bloodshed in Darfur.

Nafie Ali Nafie, a top aide to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, is visiting Tokyo as part of preparations for a conference on African development Japan plans to host in May.

He met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and expressed "hope for investment from Japan to Sudan, which has abundant resources such as oil, minerals and farm products," the Japanese foreign ministry said.

Nafie told Machimura that Sudan "would like to see the Japanese government take the initiative to lead investment by Japan's private sector," the ministry said in a statement.

But Machimura, Japan's chief government spokesman and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's top aide, replied: "Japan's private corporations still have anxieties over Sudan's security conditions," the statement said.

On Darfur, Nafie argued that the security and human rights situation was getting better "unlike reports made by Western media," the statement said.

International organisations estimate that 200,000 people have died in Darfur and more than a third of the six-million population displaced since 2003 as state-backed Arab militias battle ethnic minorities for scarce resources.

The Khartoum government says the death toll has been greatly exaggerated in the conflict, which the United States has denounced as genocide.

Sudan's main overseas supporter and arms supplier is China, which has come under growing pressure to use its clout to end the bloodshed.

Japan has often uneasy relations with China and has increasingly tussled with Beijing for influence overseas.

Beijing ready to work with West on Darfur: envoy

PARIS, March 5, 2008 (AFP) - China's special envoy to Darfur said Wednesday Beijing was ready to work with Western powers for a peaceful end to the bloodshed, but remains opposed to sanctions against the regime in Khartoum.

"There is no fundamental difference between China and Western countries. China is ready to cooperate sincerely, and is not looking for confrontation with the West" on Darfur, Liu Giujin told reporters in Paris.

Sudan's main overseas supporter and a key arms supplier, China has come under growing pressure to use its influence on the east African regime to end the bloodshed in Darfur, an area more than twice the size of Britain.

Liu, who was in Paris after travelling to Darfur and neighbouring Chad late last month, said China shared "the same objective" as Western nations, but that their approach was "not the same."

"China is opposed to the arbitrary use of sanctions and an embargo that only worsens the situation."

Western powers including Britain, France and the United States have called for tougher sanctions against Khartoum for resisting the full deployment of a joint AU-UN mission to keep the fragile peace in Darfur.

"China wants to exert a positive influence over (the Sudanese government). What we want is for the crisis to be solved as quickly as possible through dialogue and negotiation, not by force," Liu said.

He urged Western powers to speak "as an equal" to the "legitimate" government in Khartoum, and to use their "important influence over rebel groups" in Darfur to bring them back to the negotiating table.

The Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people and displaced 2.2 million, has raged since 2003 when rebel groups demanded a greater share of the country's resources.

Nobel Prize winners and Olympic athletes have written to Chinese President Hu Jintao, asking him to push Sudan to end atrocities in Darfur, which the United States describes as the first genocide of the 21st century.

Liu argued that it was "unfair" to insist on China's responsibility as arms supplier to Khartoum, saying it was one of seven weapons suppliers to the country, and accounted for eight percent of its imports.

"The country always has a way to obtain arms. It is unfair to accuse China," he said.

Sudanese military confirm discovering body of slain French peacekeeper

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- The Sudanese military confirmed Wednesday it had found the body of a French soldier killed on the border of Sudan and Chad and were flying it to the capital Khartoum to turn it over to French authorities.

"After the apology and upon request of the French government,
our forces engaged in a search and found the body of the soldier
some four kilometers from the area of Abu Jaradil inside Sudanese
national territory," army spokesman Brig. Gen Osman Mohamed
al-Aghbash said in a written statement carried by the official news

The statement added that four civilians trying to carry the body
were also killed when one of his grenades detonated. The body will
be flown from West Darfur to Khartoum where it will be given back
to the French.

SUDAN: War of words after scores killed in Abyei

NAIROBI, 3 March 2008 (IRIN) - Fresh clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement units and fighters from the Misseriya community in the oil-rich Abyei region have left scores dead and the two sides trading blame over who was responsible for the latest skirmishes.

At least 70 people were killed in the violence which occurred on 1 March in south Al-Mayram, aid workers in the Southern capital of Juba said.

The UN's Radio Miraya quoted the head of the Abyei Liberation Front, Mohammed Omer Al-Ansari, as saying the clashes were in retaliation for recent SPLM attacks. But the SPLM Secretary in Abyei, Chol Chan, instead accused the Sudanese government in Khartoum of arming the Misseriya.

A senior SPLM leader and minister for presidential affairs in the government of Southern Sudan, Luka Biong, said the attacks were carried out by a group he named as the Popular Defense Forces, supported by the Sudan Armed Forces. He called for investigations into the clashes.

The weekend battles were only the latest in a series of incidents that have raised tensions in Abyei. In December 2007 and January 2008, violent clashes between the SPLA and the Misseriya resulted in the deaths of at least 75 people.

In a report to the UN Security Council on 19 February, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, warned that Abyei, which lies between North and South Sudan, was a possible troublespot from which conflict could resume.

Abyei has experienced an administrative and political vacuum after disagreements over its status since a comprehensive agreement was signed to end the civil war three years ago.

The people of Abyei, Qazi said, had been denied the dividends of peace since the signing of the agreement and had been deprived of an administrative structure and basic services related to the provision of security, education, health and employment.

Analysts have warned that no area in Sudan is perhaps more volatile and carries more implications for the country's future than Abyei. According to the International Crisis Group, the risk of a return to war is rising because of the Abyei stalemate.

SPLM leaders say the North has ignored its proposals over Abyei because of oil revenues from the region - estimated at US$529 million in 2007. The government in Khartoum denies the claims.

Report can be found online at:

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