Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sudan News Bulletin: Chad Closes Border; N'Djamena Denies Involvement in Attacks on Khartoum; Accord Broken

Chad closes border with Sudan, freezes economic relations

2008-05-13 04:49:35 xinhuanet

N'DJAMENA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The Chadian authorities have moved to formally close the common border with Sudan and freeze all the existing economic relations between the two countries following heightened tensions, according to official sources.

The decision, which appears to be in response to Khartoum's move to sever diplomatic relations with Chad Sunday, was announced following an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Monday.

"The decision was taken to ensure the security of Chad and its citizens, to protect its economic and cultural interests" and also "to preempt any surprises," said a statement issued at the end of government meeting presided by President Idriss Deby Itno.

The government has decided to "seal the eastern border (with Sudan) to avoid infiltration," said the statement, adding that the "activities of the Agricultural Commercial Bank (a Chadian-based Sudanese bank) and financial transactions between Chad and Sudan had also been banned."

On Sunday, Sudan broke its diplomatic relations with Chad, accusing N'Djamena of supporting an attack that was conducted against Khartoum on Saturday by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the most militarily powerful of rebel groups based in the war-ravaged western Sudanese region of Darfur.

"We attribute the responsibility for the attack to Chad," Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir had said shortly after the attack, but Chadian authorities have denied "any involvement" in the attack.

The government, which has designated Libya to "represent its interests in Sudan," has also decided "to prohibit the export of live cattle and any national product through Sudan," said the statement.

"This measure will apply to all, including the herders who must now restrict their movements to the national territory without crossing the border into Sudan," according to the statement. Many Chadian farmers normally sell their cattle and products to their Sudanese counterparts.

"Finally, the government reserves itself the right to consider taking any other measures that could ensure security, independence and peace in Chad," said the statement.

On Sunday, the Chadian government had announced that it had learned "with great surprise" of the Sudanese decision to sever diplomatic relations and had taken "note of the hasty decision with regret."

Over the past five years, the two neighboring countries have maintained very tense and turbulent relations. The countries, which have been trading wild accusations, are at loggerheads over the presence of two simmering rebellions inside their respective territories.

Earlier this year, N'Djamena had accused Sudan of having "ordered" three Chadian rebel outfits to form an alliance ahead of a largely successful onslaught on N'Djamena that was designed to topple the regime of President Deby on Feb. 2 and 3.

Shortly afterwards, the leaders of the two countries, following much prodding from African leaders, met on the sidelines of an Islamic conference in Dakar and signed a peace agreement that was described as the "Final Solution" by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

The agreement, according to many regional analysts, has now befallen a fate keen to a series of other previously signed accords that were never implemented or honored mainly due to deeply-seated mistrust between the two countries.

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Saturday strongly condemned the attacks by a Sudanese rebel group on the country's capital Khartoum.

In a statement issued by his press office, Ban expressed "grave concern at the outbreak of fighting on the outskirts of Khartoum as a result of the reported attacks by Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces against the capital." Full story

YAOUNDE, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The Chadian government on Saturday denied allegations of involvement in the attack by Darfur rebels on the Sudanese capital Khartoum, according to reports reaching here.

The Chadian government "denies any involvement in this adventure, which it condemns unreservedly," government spokesman Mahamat Hissene said in a statement released in the Chadian capital N'Djamena. Full story

WASHINGTON, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The United States Saturday condemned the rebel attacks in Sudan and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

"The United States condemns the recent attack by Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces in the area of Omdurman, near Khartoum," the State Department said in a statement. Full story

KHARTOUM, May 10 (Xinhua) -- A cautious calm returned to the Sudanese capital at midnight following a fighting between the army troops and rebels coming from the restive western Sudanese region of Darfur, in which a number of the rebels were killed.

Soldiers and policemen on armed personnel carriers and military vehicles were patrolling the streets while more troops were stationed along the main roads and important traffic points to safeguard the city. Full story

KHARTOUM, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Khartoum announced on Saturday evening that the Sudanese army and police had crushed an infiltration attempt of rebels coming from the restive western Sudanese region of Darfur.

In a statement, Police Spokesman Mohamed Abdel-Mageed al-Tayeb declared that remnants of the forces of rebel Khalil Ibrahim that attempted to infiltrate to the capital were "repulsed".

KHARTOUM, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The Sudanese government confirmed fighting taking place on Saturday between army troops and rebels coming from the restive western Sudanese region of Darfur in the capital Khartoum.

In a statement, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) said that the army troops "confront infiltrators of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in northern Omdurman area."Full story

KHARTOUM, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The Sudanese government announced on Saturday a curfew in Khartoum only minutes after explosions and gun shots were heard in Omdurman area in northwestern Khartoum.

The Sudanese Ministry of Interior Affairs said in a statement that the curfew was imposed in Khartoum from 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT)

KHARTOUM, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Sudanese army announced on Friday that it had received information of an imminent plot by a Darfur rebel group to attack the capital Khartoum and other major cities in the African country.

The army said in a statement that it has received information on "preparations made by rebel Khalil Ibrahim to conduct sabotage attempt and a publicity stunt through infiltrating the capital and other towns."

Sudan, Chad quit accord

Just two months after their latest attempt at a peace accord, Sudan and neighbouring Chad have once again broken off relations after an attack by Darfur rebels close to the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

Sudan's President Omar el-Beshir, often accused by Chad's head of state Idriss Deby Itno of trying to overthrow him, took action to sever diplomatic ties, accusing Chad of backing a Darfur rebel assault on Khartoum.

His government said it had repulsed the assault by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), allegedly backed by Chad, which saw the insurgents reach Khartoum's outskirts with the declared intent of toppling the regime.

"We are forced to sever diplomatic relations with this regime" in Chad, President Omar al-Beshir said on television. "We place the entire responsibility for this attack on Chad."

"The JEM was in eastern Chad only recently," an expert on the local military situation told AFP. "Elements of it left the area of Abeche (the main town of eastern Chad) a week ago.

"It's not impossible that they went to support JEM forces already in Sudan."

The episode mirrored a failed offensive against the Chad capital Ndjamena on 2 and 3 February by Chad rebels, operating out of rear bases in neighbouring Darfur in western Sudan, which almost toppled Deby who survived with French military assistance.

The rebels allegedly backed by Khartoum advanced as far as the gates of the presidential palace in Ndjamena before being repulsed.

At that time Chad's hard-pressed army called in Sudanese rebels with JEM forces to the rescue, said the foreign observer.

"Maybe Chad is now returning the favour by lending them a hand against Beshir," he suggested.

Chad, which broke off relations with Sudan for four months in 2006 after an earlier rebel raid on its capital, strongly condemned the support which most observers believed Khartoum had given to armed Chad rebels in the February attack.

Acting under international pressure, the two countries on 13 March in Dakar signed a peace accord described as "definitive" after previous similar accords signed in Tripoli, Riyadh and Cannes, France, had failed.

But following a session last month of a Chad-Sudan contact group in Libreville, capital of the west African state of Gabon, an African diplomat said: "Their hand was forced at Dakar, but nothing has changed. And nothing will change as long as these two presidents are in power."

The contact group, linking foreign ministers of various African mediating states, was set to meet again in Libya in the next few days.

Sudan and Chad have long accused each other of backing rebels seeking to topple their respective regimes.

The roots of the two countries' conflict are to be found in the five-year-old civil war in Darfur.

Chad was quickly accused of supporting the Darfur rebels, in particular the JEM, led by the Zaghawas, President Deby's ethnic group and part of his close circle.

A Western diplomat in the region told AFP recently the Sudanese government would be glad to see Deby's overthrow. "With an ally in power in Ndjamena, Sudan could deprive the Darfur rebels of their rear bases," he pointed out.

But at the moment African diplomats are hoping to restore calm between the two neighbours by means of an observation force to secure the border between Chad and Sudan.

This force was agreed as far back as a peace accord signed in Tripoli in February 2006, but its concrete makeup has never been defined.

Grim outlook for Sudan, Chad peace accord over Khartoum raid

2008-05-12 10:50:42 Xinhua English

BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Just two months after the signing of a peace accord, Sudan and Chad have once again broken off relations after Darfur rebels attacked the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

Sudan holds Chad responsible for the raid and has arrested the Islamist opposition leader. In the meantime Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim has vowed more attacks on Khartoum until the government falls.

With tensions between Sudan and Chad escalating, pulling the rebels back into the political process to solve the Darfur issue is a more urgent task than ever, analysts say.

Nevertheless, the crisis between Sudan and Chad is a difficult problem that cannot be solved in a short period.


On Saturday, a group of militants of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) infiltrated the Omdurman Area in northwestern Khartoum and clashed with Sudanese Armed Forces and police.

The Sudanese government said the army and the police had crushed the rebels' attempt to penetrate the capital, killing and capturing a number of the attackers.

This was the first time that rebels in Darfur have entered Khartoum to launch attacks since the bloody conflict erupted in the western Sudanese region neighboring Chad in February 2003.

The Sudanese government has repeatedly accused N'Djamena of supporting and providing assistance to the rebel movements in Darfur, but the Chadian government has denied the accusation.


After the rebel raids, Sudan accused Chad of backing the rebels and has cut diplomatic relations but Chad has denied involvement.

"Sudan holds Chad responsible for what had happened and reserves the right to respond," Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir said in an address to the Sudanese nation after announcing the decision to sever diplomatic ties with Chad.

But the Chadian government denied the accusation that N'Djamenaw as involved in Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels' attack on Khartoum.

"Chad has nothing to do with this adventure," Chadian Information Minister Muhammad Hissein said.

On the other side, Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim said Monday he would launch more attacks on Sudan's capital Khartoum until the government fell.

"This is just the start of a process and the end is the termination of this regime," said Ibrahim, whose JEM attacked Khartoum at the weekend. "Don't expect just one more attack."

Sudan Monday arrested Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and pressed its pursuit of Darfur rebels who threatened again to attack the capital as sporadic gunfire rang out across Khartoum.


On April 9, 2004, Chad brokered a ceasefire between the Sudanese government and two Darfur rebel groups.

On April 11, 2005, Chad suspended mediation, accusing Sudan of supporting Chadian rebels.

On Feb 8, 2006, Chad and Sudan agreed to put an end to their dispute at a meeting in Libya.

On April 13, 2006, Chad government forces fought off attack by rebels on the capital N'Djamena. Several hundred people were killed. Deby broke diplomatic relations with Sudan the next day.

On Aug 8, 2006, Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir agreed to restore ties.

On Feb 22, 2007, at a conference in Libya, leaders of Sudan and Chad pledge to redouble efforts to end border violence.

On May 3, 2007, Sudan and Chad signed a Saudi-brokered reconciliation deal in Riyadh.

On March 13, 2008, Deby and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Beshir signed a peace agreement in Dakar -- the sixth such accord between the countries in five years.

On March 22, 2008, Chad and Sudan accused each other of breaking the new peace pact.

On May 10, 2008, Sudan accused the Chadian army of attacking a border area inside Sudan to support an infiltration and sabotage attempt by Darfur rebels in Khartoum and other major cities. This is denied by N'Djamena.

On May 11, 2008, Sudan severed diplomatic relations with Chad.


Although having thus far vehemently criticized the Sudanese government over what has happened in Darfur, the international society, which includes the United Nations, United States, France and Britain, denounced Saturday's attack by JEM rebels on Khartoum.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Saturday strongly condemned the attacks, expressing "grave concern at the outbreak of fighting on the outskirts of Khartoum as a result of the reported attacks by Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces against the capital."

"He condemns strongly the use of armed force and military means by JEM for the achievement of political ends, and calls for an immediate cessation of fighting and a renewed commitment to a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues," said a statement issued by his press office.

The UN chief also expressed his "anxiety at the effect they (the attacks) would have on the overall situation in Sudan, as well as on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Darfur Agreement, and at the possible effect on civilian lives and property of any escalation of such attack," it added.

France also condemned the attack and called for faster deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Sudan's huge western region, the foreign ministry said Sunday.

"France calls for an acceleration in the deployment of UNAMID, a resumption of political dialogue and the application of accords contributing to the easing of tensions in the region."

No comments: