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Archive for the ‘Land of the Twin Niles’ Category

Darfur rebel group confirms leader killed

Dec 26, 2011

Johannesburg – The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the main rebel group in Darfur, has confirmed that its leader was killed by the Sudanese military and vowed revenge, according to a statement carried by local media on Monday.

While the Sudanese army had said the rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim was killed in battle as he was trying to sneak into South Sudan last week, JEM countered that he was killed in an airstrike and charged that foreign powers were involved in the attack.

‘This indicates a collusion and conspiracy by some quarters in the regional and international milieu with the regime of genocide in Khartoum,’ JEM was quoted as saying by the Sudan Tribune daily.

‘By this plot, Khartoum opened the door for political murders,’ according to a spokesman for the group, which pulled out of a peace deal with the government last year.

Ibrahim reportedly returned from Libya this year, after the downfall of the Moamer Gaddafi’s regime, from whom JEM allegedly received support. Newly independent South Sudan is also accused by Khartoum of aiding the rebels.

According to reports and video footage circulating online, police in Khartoum dispersed supporters of JEM who tried to pay condolences at the house of Ibrahim’s family on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital.

It was unclear who would replace the rebel leader at the helm of the group, which he helped found in 2000.

In the conflict in Darfur, ongoing since 2003, some 300,000 people have died according to the UN, though Khartoum says the figure is lower.

Source: Monsters and Critics.

Women Aim to Protect Their Rights in a Young State

By Amanda Wilson

WASHINGTON, Dec 15, 2011 (IPS) – As South Sudan maps out its economic future at the South Sudan International Engagement Conference (IEC) this week in Washington, women from the new country called on donors to invest in projects that ensure women benefit equally from development plans.

Pointing out that women played a critical role in the referendum that made South Sudan an independent country in July – 52 percent of voters in that referendum were female – South Sudanese women pushed for measures that would help secure a strong female presence in sectors including government, agriculture and the economy.

The IEC, organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), brought together government leaders from South Sudan with a group of rich states, foreign aid groups and private investors to develop a South Sudan Development Plan, a blueprint for the young state’s social, economic and political policies.

Groups included the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, the Corporate Council on Africa and InterAction. Officials from the United Kingdom, Norway and Turkey were also present.

The conference, which concludes today, is taking place amid continuing violence in the still-contested border states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

North Sudan charges that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army is supplying rebels in the two states with weapons while international human rights groups claim that the North is indiscriminately bombing civilian populations in the two states and denying humanitarian relief agencies access to the region.

As the IEC continued in Washington, South Sudanese women delegates urged those present to acknowledge the role women play in peace building and their right to a seat at the table in planning the country’s future.

The women recommended ensuring that 25 percent of all investments in agriculture and commercial livestock go to women, thereby “increasing their food productivity, their entrepreneurship, and access to markets.” The large majority of farmers in South Sudan are small women farmers, and war has left South Sudan with a large number of female-headed households.

“We want aid to target women specifically,” said Sarah James, a women’s rights activist and chairperson for the South Sudan Women General Association. “We can’t assume that it will reach them.”

James, speaking to a large crowd of investors and foreign development aid donors gathered on the first day of the conference, urged them to consider women as equal partners in sustainable peace and development in the country.

The Institute for Inclusive Security, together with U.N. Women, hosted a gender symposium preceding the IEC where the women sketched out their recommendations. The symposium marked an effort to facilitate South Sudanese women’s access to decision-making about the future of the new country.

The effort is significant because according to the Institute, post conflict recovery and private sector development in other countries where wars have ended have “most often returned power and economic opportunities to male elites”.

The women’s recommendations include a plan to double women’s literacy from 12 percent to 25 percent as well as earmarks to ensure half of the oil revenues allocated to communities through community development funds go to women’s health, economic and physical security.

Also proposed was a plan for a women’s bank with start-up capital of 10 million dollars to provide women with accessible, low interest loans for their own business ventures.

“People are bringing home the experiences they got in other countries during their displacement,” said Mary Kojo, who herself was displaced for a time in Khartoum. She currently works with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and has worked to build women’s small-scale businesses.

Women are well-qualified to work in every sector of South Sudan’s development, she pointed out. “We have the capacity. It’s only that we are not being given the opportunity,” Kojo told IPS. “That’s why we are here – we want our voice wherever men have a voice.”

The list of South Sudanese women’s priorities includes basic services, better schools and better hospitals. With one out of seven pregnant women dying due to pregnancy-related causes in South Sudan, according to the U.N., the room for improvement is significant.

Women delegates also said small loans for South Sudanese women could help increase female farmers’ participation at food and vegetable markets, a sector where women from the neighboring countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda currently dominate because of their access to start-up capital, the women told IPS.

The women also urged the government to continue to implement the 25 percent quota currently in place for women at all levels of government.

This conference is the first of its kind, known in the aid world as a “donor conference”, to include women from civil society in all sessions, including planning sessions for the management of oil revenues, social service delivery, governance and environment.

Anne Marie Goetz, chief of the peace and security program at U.N. Women, said including women in development planning makes sense, not only from a rights standpoint, but also economically. The agricultural sector is just one example.

“Investing in women’s agricultural production is a way of ensuring rural market development and community stability because women invest in their communities,” Goetz said. She said statistics show that women invest 90 percent of their income on family well-being compared to the 40 percent that men invest.

“If women aren’t at conferences, then there’s no pressure for quotas, there is no pressure for women’s land rights… there is no pressure for justice for war crimes,” Goetz said.

But why did it take so long to include women? Goetz said it is because the international community has itself been slow to acknowledge that women have specific priorities and perspectives that are inadequately reflected by governments.

Goetz told IPS, “There is now a growing recognition that you cannot build good governance and sound economic foundations without involving half the population.”

Source: Inter-Press Service.

Conflict strains aid for South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Refugees are streaming across the border into South Sudan to escape violence in Sudan’s state of Blue Nile, aid agencies say.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir is in the United States for an investment conference, his first U.S. visit since his country gained independence in July.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said during the conference that while gaining independence was a sign of Kiir’s commitment to peace, the region has known war and suffering for far too long.

“Although they are now two independent countries, Sudan and South Sudan remain interdependent,” he said. “They need to find a path of peace and security, growth and opportunity, together and connected.”

South Sudan’s independence was secured through a process outlined in a peace deal reached with Washington’s help in 2005. Disputes over oil and border conflicts, however, threaten to unravel the peace agreement.

The U.N. refugee agency warned that at least 1,000 people were fleeing violence in Sudan to South Sudan’s Blue Nile state.

Sudanese refugees told aid officials it took a month to walk to safety.

Michelle Iseminger, deputy director for the World Food Program’s operations in South Sudan, told the United Nations’ humanitarian news agency IRIN that supplies were running out.

“We’re moving food in as fast as possible,” said Iseminger. “It’s very difficult because the local places where we get food have been muddy and blocked (and air freight is limited due to several emergencies in South Sudan).”

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Sudan: Kuwaiti Firm Eyes Sudan Oil Exploration

1 August 2011

Khartoum — A company based in the Arab Gulf state of Kuwait has expressed interest in conducting oil-wells drilling and exploration activities in Sudan, state media reported on Tuesday.

Sudan’s daily oil output currently stands at 110,000 barrels, according to official figures, after the country lost nearly 75 percent of the previous 500,000 barrels per day figure it was splitting evenly since 2005 with South Sudan which seceded on 9 July.

Officials say they expect the current oil figure to rise to 170,000 barrel per day by 2012.

Exploration and production scene of Sudan’s oil sector is dominated by Asian and Arab companies, with Chinese-led companies as the main operators.

Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that a delegation of Gulf Petroleum Investment Company (GPI), a Kuwaiti shareholding company, arrived in the country and held a meeting on Tuesday with the country’s acting minister of oil Ali Ahmad Osman at his office in Khartoum.

The minister instructed the competent departments at his ministry to provide GPI with necessary support and facilitate its venture to join Sudan’s market of oil wells drilling and exploration.

Meanwhile, the company’s delegation apprised the minister of its activities in oil-exploration fields, including its operations in Egypt, UAE and Syria.

It is not clear where will the Kuwaiti company’s exploration activities take place but new explorations are underway in a number of areas.

In October last year, Sudan announced that oil exploration activities would be initiated in three areas in South Darfur State, one of the three states that make up the country’s war-battered western region.

In 2006, Sudan awarded a license to a consortium of Arab and Sudanese companies for block 12A which covers part of North Darfur and stretches up to the border with Libya.

Analysts opine that oil exploration activities in Sudan are subject to a number of uncertainties, including political instability and armed conflicts.

Source: allAfrica.

Sudan: Nation Announces ‘Substantial’ Aid Package to Somalia

1 August 2011

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir told his Somali counterpart Sharif Sheikh Ahmed that his government will provide substantial aid to the drought-stricken country where many parts have been declared as famine areas by the United Nations.

Ahmed, who arrived in Khartoum on Monday, told Sudan news agency (SUNA) that his talks with Bashir on the situation in Somalia focused on the drought and the kind of support Khartoum can provide.

He said that Bashir expressed readiness to aid Somalia and told him that one is currently in the works.

The Somali president told SUNA that while Arab and African support is “good” it is yet to be coordinated adding that this an item he discussed with Bashir.

The United Nations declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia – where 3.7 million people are going hungry – on July 20. There is always a steady trickle of Somalis coming into northern Kenya, mostly fleeing violence, but in recent months they have also been looking for food.

Sudan ranked 21 on the list released by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the top 30 nations giving money for victims of the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.

With $1,788,000 in donations, Sudan was ahead of more richer countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Luxembourg.

The African Union (AU) is scheduled to hold a funding conference with the assistance of the United Nations soon later this month to help raise money.

Source: allAfrica.

Sudan: Egypt builds new Khartoum Airport

– Mokhtar Thabet
Sunday, 24 July 2011

Global Arab Network – Al-Nassr Construction and Contracting Company, one of the Egyptian public business sector companies will to carry out the project of building the new Khartoum Airport.

Head of the company Ahmed Fouad Abdul Aziz said that a meeting was held in Khartoum last week between the company’s board members and representatives of the Sudanese government to consider all issues related to the building of the airport and other projects Sudan is to carry out this year.

This comes within the government’s efforts to further economic cooperation with Sudan.

Unifying stances over Nile water file

Members of the Egyptian-Sudanese joint technical authority, currently in session in Khartoum, stressed that development projects on the Nile river course, including dams, should be established on the basis of what has been agreed upon by all Nile Basin countries.

They added that such projects must be useful to all countries, while avoid damaging the interests of any Nile Basin country.

The authority said that in case of a negative impact on Egypt and Sudan due to any of these projects, the two states have the right to take a stance to amend this project, supported by the technical and legal bases approved by international law.

Dr. Hesham Qandil, head of the Nile water sector and Egyptian chief delegate to the meeting, said that members of the authority stressed the importance of coordination between the two sides on the Nile file in order to unify the visions and agree on a strategy in the next phase.

Source: Global Arab Network.

South Sudan to introduce ‘pound’ as currency

11 Jul 2011

Fledgling nation forms cabinet and details plan for release of new money, two days after independence from North Sudan.

South Sudan formed a caretaker government and announced on Monday it will use a new currency that features the image of the deceased founder of the nation’s liberation struggle.

The new African nation became an independent on Saturday, breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war.

David Deng Athorbie, the new finance minister, said the new currency would be called the South Sudan pound and will replace the Sudan pound currently in use.

It is scheduled to arrive by cargo plane beginning on Wednesday and will go into circulation next Monday.

It will have a one-to-one value with the Sudan pound and the image of John Garang, the deceased rebel leader, will adorn one side of the bills.

The other sides would show images of the fledgling country’s culture and wealth, Athorbie said, and the bills will have watermarks and other security measures.

“I must warn those people who usually print fake currency, if they attempt it they will almost certainly be caught”, Athorbie said.

Birth of a nation

Impromptu street parties broke out early on Saturday when the oil-rich country became independent.

World leaders flocked to Juba to join tens of thousands of southerners at a 10-hour ceremony held in blistering heat.

On Sunday, churches were packed as southerners listened to sermons about promoting peace and unity among the country’s diverse tribes.

And on Monday, although a national holiday had been declared, the government got to work.

With hands on bibles – both Arabic and English – the ministers of the semi-autonomous Southern Sudanese government were transformed into the caretaker cabinet for the new republic of South Sudan at an informal and jovial ceremony.

Cabinet composition

In between jokes made by the typically quiet and solemn President Salva Kiir, the chief justice of the Supreme Court read the fourth and fifth decrees of the new government, which dissolved the former cabinet and appointed the same 32 ministers to serve as caretaker ministers.

Several ministerial titles changed to reflect South Sudan’s status as a country.

The former minister of regional cooperation is now the foreign affairs minister, while the southern army and veterans’ affairs minister became the defense minister.

The decree said the ministers “shall not undertake any major policy decisions” or enter into any “major contractual obligations” during the caretaker period, whose duration has not yet been specified.

After the Cabinet was sworn in, the finance minister told a news conference that there would be difficulties in paying government salaries on time because Sudan’s government had not sent an adequate supply of the northern Sudanese currency.

Gier Chuang Aluong, minster of the interior, said the government was in the process of preparing the country’s passports and urged patience.

Source: al-Jazeera.

Nations welcome world’s newest state South Sudan


UN chief says new chapter has been opened when people of South Sudan claim their freedom, dignity that is their birthright.

PARIS – World leaders hailed the birth on Saturday of the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, as a historic event bringing to a close 50 years of conflict in northeastern Africa.

Amid tears of joy in Juba, South Sudan’s parliament speaker on Saturday proclaimed his state’s independence, splitting in two what had been Africa’s largest nation.

US President Barack Obama led official recognition of the country, calling it “another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy and justice.”

“I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011,” Obama said in a statement.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the official ceremony in Juba, said a new chapter had been opened “when the people of South Sudan claim their freedom and dignity that is their birthright.”

Messages of congratulation flooded in from nations around the world including Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Switzerland and Turkey.

“Today a new country is rising in Africa. I congratulate South Sudan on its independence and wish its people a prosperous and peaceful future,” said EU president Herman Van Rompuy in a Twitter message.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said Africans from the Cape to Cairo were proud of South Sudan’s independence, after decades of conflict between the southern rebels and successive Khartoum governments that left the region in ruins and claimed millions of lives.

“We have always aspired to witness the dawn of peace, security and stability prevailing in the whole of the Sudan. That dream is coming to fruition,” said Zuma, adding however that “change always brings uncertainty and discomfort.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, in Juba said the day marked the beginning of “a new dawn” for the people of the new country, a statement from his office said.

Nigeria would support and assist the new country in every possible way as they began the task of building a new nation, he added.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh passed on his country’s best wishes in a letter to the new country’s President Salva Kiir.

“We applaud your commitment to addressing all outstanding issues with North Sudan in an amicable and peaceful manner,” he said.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the move as “a day of joy and great hope for the people”.

Offering help to the new nation, she said it was now important “to back South Sudan on the road to stability that will bring people peace, security and economic development.”

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said the independence declaration was the fulfillment of an exceptional process, initiated by a peace accord in 2005, that all the international community supported and that “the North and South (of Sudan) brought courageously to completion.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said an ambassador to Juba had already arrived to take up his post.

“This is an historic day, for South Sudan and the whole of Africa,” he said, adding that Britain was proud to be “among the first to recognize South Sudanese independence”.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a telegram of congratulation to his South Sudanese counterpart and also expressed interest in the vast oil reserves in South Sudan.

“The Russian business world has expressed a strong interest in working with their South Sudanese partners, notably in developing and extracting its natural resources,” he said.

China’s special envoy extended President Hu Jintao’s “warmest congratulations” to the “young Republic” of South Sudan, while noting the ongoing negotiations between north and south.

He said Beijing, Sudan’s main trading partner and the largest investor in its key oil industry, hoped the two sides could be “good neighbors, partners and brothers forever.”

Source: Middle East Online.

South Sudan celebrates birth with raising of flag

July 09, 2011 — JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan celebrated its first day as an independent nation Saturday, raising its flag before tens of thousands of cheering citizens elated to reach the end of a 50-year struggle.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the day a new dawn after the darkness of war, while visiting dignitaries offered both congratulations and prodding for South Sudan and its former ruler, Sudan, to avoid a return to conflict over serious and unresolved disagreements.

“The eyes of the world are now on us,” said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here.

Saturday meant that South Sudan and its black tribesmen would for the first time be linked politically with sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and Uganda are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbor, an oil-rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum.

“From today our identity is southern and African, not Arabic and Muslim,” read a hand-painted sign that one man carried as he walked through the crowds. South Sudan first celebrated its new status with a a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong.

“Hallelujah!” one resident yelled, as other onlookers wiped away tears. The U.S. and Britain, among others, announced their recognition of South Sudan as a sovereign nation. “A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn,” Obama said in a statement. “These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, a deeply unpopular man in Juba, arrived to a mixture of boos and murmurs. He stood beside Kiir and smiled during the ceremony, and said in a speech that he respected the south’s choice to secede, even as he prodded Obama “to meet his promsie and lift the sanctions imposed on Sudan.”

The U.S. has promised economic and political rewards to Khartoum if it allows the south to secede peacefully, but military standoffs in the contested border region of Abyei and new fighting in South Kordofan — a state in Sudan with many south-supporting residents — risk new north-south conflict. The U.S. has indicated that those issues need to be resolved before normalization of relations occur.

Obama said that South Sudan and Sudan must recognize that they will be more secure and prosperous if they move beyond past differences peacefully. He said the 2005 peace deal must be full implemented and the status of Abyei resolved.

In Khartoum, the former capital of the south, newspaper headlines bid goodbye, with one saying: “Time to Let Go.” “Today we have decided it is time to move forward toward the future,” wrote Adil Al-Baz, the editor of Al-Ahdath independent daily. “Great people make use of big events to create new opportunities.”

The black African tribes of South Sudan and the mainly Arab north battled two civil wars over more than five decades, and some 2 million died in the latest war, from 1983-2005. It culminated in a 2005 peace deal that led to Saturday’s independence declaration.

Thousands of South Sudanese poured into the ceremonial arena when gates opened. Traditional dancers drummed in the streets as residents waved tiny flags. Activists from the western Sudan region of Darfur, which has suffered heavy violence the past decades, held up a sign that said “Bashir is wanted dead or alive.” Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.

“Wow, this is a great day for me because it’s a day that reflects the suffering that all southerners have had for almost 50 years,” said David Aleu, a 24-year-old medical student. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and the American envoy at Saturday’s celebration, urged South Sudan residents and leaders to build a country worthy of the sacrifice of all the lives lost during the five decades of conflict.

“Independence was not a gift you were given. Independence is a prize you have won,” she said. “Yet even on this day of jubilee we remain mindful of the challenges that await us. No true friend would offer false comfort. The path ahead will be steep … but the Republic of South Sudan is being born amid great hopes.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointedly noted that Sudan and South Sudan have not yet resolved the status of Abyei, where northern and southern troops are standing off. He called for consultations in South Kordofan, where northern troops are attacking southern supporters.

“Let their differences be resolved around the negotiating table,” Ban said. South Sudan is expected to become the 193rd country recognized by the United Nations next week and the 54th U.N. member state in Africa.

It follows on the heels of East Timor in 2002 and Montenegro in 2006 which quickly became full-fledged members of the United Nations after being recognized by the vast majority of the international community within a few weeks or months of independence. Kosovo, however, declared its independence in 2008 and is recognized by 76 nations, but is still waiting to be recognized by the U.N.

Though Saturday was a day of celebration, residents of South Sudan must soon face many challenges. Their country is oil-rich but is one of the poorest and least-developed on Earth. The 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) north-south border is disputed in five areas, several of which are being illegally occupied by either northern or southern troops.

The young government must also begin delivering basic needs such as education, health services, water and electricity to its more than 8 million citizens. While South Sudan is now expected to control of more than 75 percent of what was Sudan’s daily oil production, it has no refineries and southern oil must flow through the north’s pipelines to reach market.

But for Saturday, at least, those problems lay on the back burner. Smiles, singing and dancing instead took precedence. “I’m very grateful to see many people from other countries,” said 22-year-old Adut Monica Joseph. “I’m appreciating that they have come to celebrate with us. I hope when we have independence we shall have freedom and education for women.”

Associated Press writer Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya and Mohamed Osman in Khartoum, Sudan contributed to this report.

Sudan’s president congratulates independent South

Jul 9, 2011

JUBA: Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir congratulated South Sudan on its independence on Saturday and called for good neighborly relations at a ceremony to mark the south’s split from Sudan in the north.

Sudan became the first nation to recognize the south on Friday, hours before the birth of the new state, a gesture of goodwill from the north which fought against secessionist forces for decades.

“We congratulate our brothers in the south for the establishment of their new state,” said Bashir, addressing thousands of southerners who cheered after he spoke.

“We share their joy and celebration,” he said. “The will of the people of the south has to be respected.”

“Despite our belief that Sudan’s unity would have been better … the gains achieved over the last years from the shared conviction of the feasibility of peace … must be protected,” Bashir said.

The president of Sudan, who lost almost a third of his country’s territory and about three quarters of its oil reserves with the split, said gains could be secured with “positive” ties and by maintaining joint economic and trade interests.

He called for support from the international community. “We call on US President Barack Obama to deliver on his commitment he announced to lift the unilateral sanctions on Sudan to open to way to normalize his country’s relations with Sudan.”

Obama recognized the south in a statement earlier on Saturday but stopped short of announcing any immediate changes in longstanding US sanctions on Sudan itself that Khartoum has been hoping will be lifted.

Addressing the crowd, Bashir said: “We have a joint and continuing responsibility to build and strengthen confidence to complete the agreement on outstanding issues.”

Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of issues, most importantly the line of the border, the ownership of the disputed Abyei region and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.

Source: Arab News.

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