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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Twin Niles’

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.

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