African move on Bashir dismissed
The African Union's (AU) decision not to help arrest Sudan's president will not affect the International Criminal Court's work, its prosecutor says.
Luis Moreno Ocampo told the BBC Omar al-Bashir was still a wanted man and that it was up to each African state to decide whether to arrest him.
Mr Bashir was indicted over alleged atrocities in Darfur in March.
But on Friday an AU meeting in Libya agreed a resolution saying they would not co-operate in his arrest.
In a statement, the AU pointed out that its request to the UN Security Council to delay Mr Bashir's indictment had been ignored.
Mr Ocampo told the BBC that the AU decision was no victory for Sudan or Mr Bashir. "No-one is saying he's innocent," he said.
He said each of the 30 African states that signed up to the Rome treaty establishing the court would have to decide for themselves whether to arrest the Sudanese leader.
And he added that only the Security Council could suspend or lift the indictment against Mr Bashir, not the ICC.
The court has indicted the Sudanese president on two counts of war crimes - intentionally directing attacks on civilians and pillage - as well as five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture, all related to the conflict in the Darfur region.
He denies the allegations, saying the state has a responsibility to fight rebels.
Botswana has confirmed it will not abide by the AU's decision to ignore the arrest warrant.
Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani told the BBC the AU decision had been rushed through without a vote, and countries could not be expected to renege on treaties "because of a sulk"
Muslims Fight Darfur Hunger
By Ismail Kamal Kushkush, IOL Correspondent
EL-FASHIR — With projects to lure displaced Darfuris back home, Muslim and Arab aid groups are stepping in to break the cycle of hunger and poverty in Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur region.
"Muslim governments are increasing their support for relief groups that already exist in Darfur," Dr. Muhammad Hussein Dafallah of the Federal Humanitarian Aid Commission told IslamOnline.net on Friday, June 19.
"This includes groups like the Egyptian Doctors Union, Mercy Malaysia, Kisns Yokmu of Turkey, and the Saudi Red Crescent Society."
The Muslim aid increase came at an appeal by the Sudanese government to fill the gap caused by the expulsion of thirteen foreign aid groups from Darfur.
In March, Khartoum expelled the groups on charges of spying for the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Khartoum regime accusing it of discrimination.
The UN says over 300,000 have died as a result of conflict, disease and malnutrition and 2,5 million have been displaced.
The Sudanese government says that 10,000 have died.
No independent inquiry has been made to date.
In a major change, US special envoy to Sudan J. Scott Gration said Wednesday, June 17, that the US administration no longer sees the Darfur conflict as a genocide.
The endeavor aims to break the cycle of hunger and poverty in the violence-doomed region.
"[We] want to help end the cycle of hunger and poverty in Darfur," Dr. Muhammad Alswied, international affairs consultant at the Saudi Red Crescent Society (SRCS), said.
The SCRS, which has been working in Darfur since 1984, hopes that the Muslim effort would help ease the difficult life of the Darfuris.
"We are proposing a package for emergency relief and sustainable development that includes twenty-one health centers, twenty-one water projects, and twenty-one agriculture and strategic food supply projects," he said.
"Seven for each of Darfur’s three states to be located according to need as determined by local Darfurian officials, including villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps."
The Saudi relief group hopes that the proposed projects would help lure displaced Darfuris back home.
Alswied said the projects are part of a larger future scheme planned by the Sudanese government and the Arab League for setting up 500 new villages in Darfur.
The new villages and accompanied agriculture projects are hoped to encourage the voluntary repatriation of Internally-displaced people (IDPs), he said.
Dr. Habib Ahmad Mahjub of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society expects that the projects would encourage nearly half of the IDPs to return back home.
"We expect a large return to villages this year, about 50%, but not all at the same time," he told IOL.
"There are those who have interest in keeping the IDPs in the camps to keep the issue alive and continue to receive international support."
Darfuri officials are thankful for the help of the Muslim and Arab aid groups.
"There is a great need in West Darfur State for health and water services," says the Wali (governor) of West Darfur State, Abu Al-Qasim Imam Al-Haj.
"We appreciate this support and hope it continues."
Sudan forces still attacking Darfur civilians -UN
GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights investigator for Sudan said on Tuesday that Khartoum's forces continue to carry out land and air attacks on civilians in Darfur, and arrest and torture activists and aid workers there.
Sima Samar, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan, also voiced concern at "large scale killings" in the south, where several hundred civilians died in inter-tribal clashes in March and April amid growing violence in the region.
But diplomats said Sudan was trying at the United Nations Human Rights Council this week to win backing from African and Islamic states to block Western attempts to extend her mandate to report on violations in Sudan for a further year.
"I continue to receive reports of arbitrary arrests, detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by security forces," the former Afghan deputy prime minister told the 47-member forum.
Her latest report, covering from last August to her visit to Sudan earlier this month, was also issued on Tuesday. "Land and air attacks by government forces on civilians in Darfur took place during the reporting period," it said.
Air attacks in Darfur are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions and failed ceasefires, but Khartoum has in the past reserved the right to attack the Justice and Equality Movement and other rebels who did not sign a 2006 Darfur peace deal.
The United Nations says six years of conflict have killed up to 300,000 people and uprooted more than 2.7 million in Darfur. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Darfur war crimes charges.
All sides in Darfur have committed alleged killings, torture, and sexual violence against women and children, Samar said. Three peacekeepers have been killed during the period.
Fighting in South Darfur in January between the army and rebel forces was marked by "ground offensives and indiscriminate aerial bombardments by government forces in some instances, which failed to distinguish civilian communities, properties and objects from military targets", according to her report.
But Abdel Daiem Zumrawi, under-secretary at Sudan's justice ministry, dismissed her speech and 22-page report, charging that they "failed to give a true picture of human rights in Sudan".
Her mandate, established in 1993, was based on "legacy", and magnified weaknesses rather than progress, he told the council.
Samar's mandate is set to expire when the council's three-week session ends on Thursday.
The European Union is trying to salvage the mandate, one of eight remaining U.N. rights investigators assigned a specific country. In recent years the council has dropped its investigators on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Belarus and Liberia.
"They have to acknowledge their problems. The denials of the problem is not going to help," Samar said of Sudan's government.
Asked why her mandate should be retained, she said, "It's a bridge between the international community and that country, first of all. Secondly, I think it is a voice for the voiceless people who are living under difficult circumstances." (Editing by Louise Ireland)
Darfur rebels say Khartoum 'not serious' about peace
Jun 20, 2009
DOHA (AFP) — The most active rebel group in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region said after new talks with Qatari mediators on Saturday that Khartoum was not serious in its pursuit of peace efforts.
"The movement feels that the government is not serious in the issue of peace as a whole and it has not taken a strategic decision to push ahead towards peace," Justice and Equality Movement representative Abubakr al-Kadi told AFP.
"It wants one thing out of the Doha negotiations, which is obtaining a ceasefire so it can carry out its other objectives in Sudan and Darfur, especially with regard to the elections, because during the elections the people will vote for JEM and not the government.
"We are now waiting for the government to fulfil its promises in carrying out what was agreed upon, especially with regard to prisoner exchange and not interfering with aid groups," Kadi added.
Qatari-brokered talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels have been postponed for two months, mainly because of disagreements over an exchange of prisoners, a senior rebel leader said on Friday.
JEM signed a confidence-building deal with the government in February intended to pave the way for a conference engaging all rebel groups and pro-government militias in the search for peace after six years of war.
But the talks broke down after an international warrant was issued in March for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on war crimes charges.
They resumed in May in the Qatari capital with British, Chinese, French, Russian and US envoys attending.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in February 2003.
Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.
Sudan ridicules Chad’s denial of harboring Darfur rebels
June 30, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan has described statements by Chadian foreign minister about the absence of Darfur rebel in Chad as false and belied by the facts.
The Chadian foreign minister Moussa Faki Mohamed had stated that Justice and Equality Movement rebels do not have any presence in Chad, adding they only come to the capital to meet international officials who request to allow their presence there.
Ali Sadiq the spokesperson of the Sudanese foreign ministry told reporters that Chad knew exactly JEM rebels have a heavy presence in several regions outside of N’Djamena, and in particular in the border areas, saying that "the denial of this fact does not mean it does not exist"
"We hope that Chad is working to get rid of the opposition to create a propitious atmosphere for dialogue with the Sudan and the settlement of outstanding differences and tensions," he said.
The issue of the support by the two neighboring states to the rebel groups is seen by the international community as one of the factors that complicating efforts to reach a settlement of the six-year conflict in Darfur.
Yesterday the U.S. envoy to Sudan Scott Gration met with the Chadian President Idriss Deby to tackle ways to end Darfur issue and to ease the tension between the two countries.
During the meeting the President Deby told Gration that his country is the first to be affected by the conflict in the western Sudanese province.
He also pledged to provide any assistance to reach a quick resolution of the conflict, but he dismissed any influence on Darfur rebels.
Sudan and Chad signed several reconciliation and normalization pacts, the latest was signed on May 3, in the Qatari capital Doha. However the two countries failed to implement it and continue to accuse each other.
'Scores killed' in Darfur battle
Monday, May 25, 2009
Scores of rebel fighters have been killed as the Sudanese army fought off an attack on a military base in the North Darfur region, the country's army has said.
Twenty Sudanese soldiers and 43 Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) were killed in the clashes at an army base in the settlement of Umm Baru on Sunday, Brigadier Uthman al-Agbash, a military spokesman, said on Monday.
The announcement ran contrary to reports by UN peacekeepers a day earlier that the town had fallen under the control of Jem after heavy fighting. Sudanese authorities also dismissed the reports.
"Jem troops, along with 40 artillery tanks from the Chadian forces, and about 80 Jem vehicles, attacked this position," al-Agbash said.
"Our forces fought fiercely and repelled three violent attacks.
"Initial reports confirm that 43 enemy soldiers from JEM were killed, and 54 wounded. Our troops reported 20 martyrs and 31 soldiers wounded."
"I would like at the outset to confirm that any reports about the so-called Justice and Equality Movement controlling the Umm Baru village are totally baseless."
'Fog of war'
The region's joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force (Unamid) had reported on Sunday that the rebels had overrun the army base.
But Kemal Saiki, the Unamid information director, said peacekeepers' reports had been confused.
"They did make a push for it, but they did not overrun the post. Put it down to the fog of war," he said.
Suleiman Sandal, JEM's head of strategic operations, told the AFP news agency that the garrison had been defeated, but his fighters had pulled out after government aircraft bombed the area.
"We destroyed completely the garrison of the Sudanese army in Umm Baru [then] the airplanes of the Sudanese army shot randomly," he said.
"We have some people who died, I cannot say the opposite."
Air attacks in Darfur are banned under UN security council resolutions and a series of failed ceasefires, but Khartoum has in the past reserved the right to attack Jem and other rebel groups that did not sign a peace deal in 2006.
Sandal said that his group was braced for more fighting after hearing that Sudanese army units had left el-Fasher, the capital of Darfur, and were headed to the area.
"Now we are preparing to face these mobile forces," he said.
Umm Baru, which is just 100km from the border with Chad, has seen a number of clashes between pro-government forces and Jem fighters over the past two weeks.
The latest round of peace talks between the Khartoum government and Jem leaders are due to begin in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar, on Wednesday.
Ahmed Ben Abdallah Al Mohmoud, Qatar's foreign minister, was also planning to visit Chad in a bid "to solve the problems between the two countries", Sudanese state media said.
Tensions along the border between Chad and Sudan have been mounting for several weeks as each accuses the other of supporting rebel groups seeking to topple their respective governments.
Ndjamena has accused Khartoum of backing a recent offensive by Chadian rebels, while Sudan has said that Chad backs the Jem rebels.
Darfuri rebel groups took up arms against government soldiers and allied militias six years ago and up to 300,000 people are thought to have died in the ensuing violence, according to the UN.