Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan threatens to close border with South Sudan over support for rebels

Reuters

Sudan said on Sunday it would close its border with South Sudan within days if its neighbour did not expel militant groups, the government told state media.

Sudan regularly accuses its neighbour of backing insurgents in the Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions that run along its southern border.

South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war fuelled by ethnic divides and disputes over oil.

Sudan may close border if Juba does not expel rebels


South Sudan FVP Taban Deng Gai (L) meets President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir (R) at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, August 22, 2016. (Anadolu Agency/AFP- Photo)

September 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government Sunday it would close border with the South Sudan if the government of President Salva Kiir does not implement its pledge to expel Sudanese armed groups waging war in the two Areas and Darfur.

Last August Khartoum and Juba said that First Vice President Taban Deng Gai discussed during his meetings with the Sudanese officials the presence of rebel group in South Sudan and pledged to take tangible measures within three weeks.

Last week, South Sudanese Army Spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang, told Sudan Tribune that they will expels rebels fighting its northern neighbour once it receives directives from the high command.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kamal Ismail said South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai pledged during his recent visit to Khartoum to expel rebel movements from its territory within 21 days.

“Juba’s failure to commit itself to this agreement entails stopping the transit of humanitarian aid through Sudanese territory to the South Sudan,” he said in statements to the semi-official Sudanese Media Centre (SMC).

The minister further stressed that they are closely monitoring and watching Juba’s decision on this respect.

“South Sudanese political authorities have to take a clear decision providing to expel (rebel) movements” and “there is no excuse for those who have been warned.” he stressed.

Khartoum and Juba trade accusations of support to rebel groups since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.

The peace agreement on the resolution of the South Sudanese conflict signed in August 2015 provides that the transitional government in Juba would expel Sudanese armed movement.

However hopes for the implementation of the peace agreement fade and observers say Machar group is preparing for a new war against the government in Juba.

(ST)

Is there is new era emerging of relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM/JUBA) – Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the verge of bringing their relations to a new level following the current visit of First-Vice President Taban Deng Gai to Khartoum which Juba hopes would normalize ties between the two nations particularly as it faces mounting international pressures.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir look on during a photo opportunity at the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/James Akena)

On the one side, Gai and his senior economic and military delegation who arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday, have discussed outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border and oil issues.

However, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have sought to gain support of the Sudanese government in the face of the heavy international pressure that he encountered following the escape of his former First Vice-President Riek Machar which exacerbated the humanitarian and security situation in the newborn state.

Kiir had written a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir expressing full commitment to implement all cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2012 before asking Khartoum to deal the same way with his government.

He also underscored his personal commitment to work to achieve a homegrown solution to stopping the war that brought his country to the brink of economic collapse.

“Let me be clear my brother, Omer al-Bashir and members of your government that we are not opposed to the regional support. We need support of the region, particularly countries like Sudan but this support should be supplementary. It should be a supplementary to our own so it is not rejected by the people. The region also needs to know that imported solutions aren’t the answer. We have many examples where external intervention had been short lived in other countries. Only a domestic solution realised from understanding people’s needs and aspirations that can be permanent”, Kiir explained in the special letter addressed to al-Bashir, copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.

The South Sudanese government has declined to respond to a UN Security Council Resolution 2304 that authorized sending extra 4,000 troops to boost UN peacekeepers in country with a mandate to fight rival forces considering the move a violation to its sovereignty.

Washington is standing behind the resolution to send extra troops to South Sudan, saying it would participate to the protection of civilians in the country.

“It is absolutely indisputable that we need to push for the deployment of the regional force which has been approved by the UN Security Council” said US Secretary of State John Kerry during his meeting with five Foreign Ministers from the regional bloc IGAD on Monday in Nairobi.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

Earlier this month Sudan declined a proposal by some international partners to conduct a solo mediation between the warring parties in South Sudan and also refused to send troops within the regional force, saying it doesn’t want to create any sensitivities with the conflicting parties.

“Sudan is sticking to its role within the IGAD only,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters on August 2.

In his special letter, Kiir further projected the future of South Sudan to be brighter, saying the country was now moving forward after the appointment of Gai as his new first deputy in unity government in place of armed opposition leader, his main political rival for top office in the country, Riek Machar.

“We are moving towards a brighter future and the international community should support and not weaken us, the letter adds in part. It further added that South Sudan doesn’t need lessons on human rights from the international community. “Respecting human rights is enshrined in our culture, heritage and it is part of our values system. We are more respectful of human rights in terms of commitment and action,” it added.

It was apparent from Kiir’s letter that Juba seeks to win the trust of Khartoum by sending clear signals to assure the latter that it intends to open a new chapter in relations.

Also, these signals were sent by Gai when he directly addressed Khartoum’s major concern about the security file between the two countries and particularly with regard to Juba’s support for the Sudanese rebels saying his country is keen to resolve the outstanding security issues within three weeks.

On Monday, Gai also sent amessage from Khartoum to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) demanding the rebel group to resort to the peaceful settlement with the Sudanese government.

He stressed that his country wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for any Sudanese who wants to continue the war against Khartoum, adding “we hope that Sudan wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for Machar”.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Gai also on Tuesday denied that Darfur movements and SPLM-N are currently present in South Sudan’s territory, saying mutual accusations between the two countries “would continue until we agree on a verification mechanism”.

“We would go to Addis Ababa and all places where these [rebel] movements have presence and tell them that appropriate time has come to achieve peace and we would render the necessary support and advise them in a kind manner” he said.

“We advise them [SPLM-N] that wartime is over, and we say to them that your brothers in South Sudan shouldn’t suffer because of you, for even if the South didn’t support you Sudan is making use of that [pretext]” he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern Sudanese voters chose independence.

Relations between the two nations soured after South Sudan’s independence following a series of disputes over a number of issues.

(ST)

Mauritania – jailed anti-slavery activists might serve 15 years

Reuters

A tribunal in Mauritania has sentenced 13 anti-slavery activists to up to 15 years in prison for their role in a riot in June in a decision condemned on Friday by international campaigners as a “devastating blow”.

The West African nation is a focus of activism by the modern anti-slavery movement over a practice believed to affect between four and 20 percent of the population.

Authorities arrested the 13 members of the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) in late June and early July after a protest against eviction by residents of a slum in the capital Nouakchott, many of whom are themselves former slaves.

Several police officers were injured in the demonstration.

“The sentences are a devastating blow to the Mauritanian anti-slavery movement,” said Sarah Mathewson, Africa Programme Manager at Anti-Slavery International. “The activists are clearly being targeted by the government for their work to expose and denounce slavery, still commonplace in the country.”

A tribunal found the defendants guilty on Thursday of counts including attacks against the government, armed assembly and membership of an unrecognized organization.

The defendants said they were not present at the June protests and that the trial was a politically-motivated attempt by the government to discredit their organization.

IRA vice president Brahim Ramdane called the verdicts a “parody of justice” and said the group’s lawyers were deciding how to respond.

Mauritania has attempted to crack down on slavery and last year passed a law making it a crime against humanity and doubling prison terms for offenders. Campaigners say it will not be enough to stamp out the practice.

Other anti-slavery campaigners, including those in the IRA, have also faced stiff sentences. IRA head Birame Ould Abeid has been jailed several times. He also came a distant second in a 2014 presidential election.

(Reporting By Kissima Diagana; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Sudanese opposition sign peace roadmap, say ready to engage in peace talks

Sudan Tribune


Sudan Call leader sign the Roadmap Agreement paving the way for talks with the government on cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access on 8 August 2016 (ST Photo)
(ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) – Four groups of the opposition umbrella Sudan Call on Monday in Addis Ababa have signed the Roadmap Agreement for peace and dialogue brokered by the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

Last March, four Sudan Call groups including the National Umma Party (NUP), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /North (SPLM-N), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi rejected the peace plan, saying it excludes other opposition groups, and omits important confidence building measures such as political freedoms and release of political detainees and prisoners.

However after five months, they agreed to ink it after receiving reassurance from the head of the AUHIP Thabo Mbeki.

Hours ahead of signing the roadmap agreement, the Sudan call group held a separate meeting at a different venue where the opposition factions organized issues of concern they wanted to raise to Mbeki.

The Sudan call meeting was then followed by a meeting with AUHIP and Mbeki where the groups reach agreement on how the Sudan call is going to sign the roadmap agreement and on how their concern should be addressed.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Yasir Arman, SPLM-N secretary general said he is optimistic that the parties will step towards achieving an inclusive process that will bring an end to the war.

“We are ready to sign the peace deal that addresses the humanitarian situation, which brings democracy and transformation, equal citizenship and that one that moves Sudan from dictatorship to democracy” Arman said.

WHAT LIES NEXT

Now that the Roadmap Agreement is signed, Negotiations are expected to resume tomorrow in two tracks: SPLM-N with the government and other track for Darfur.

Head of the NUP, al-Sadig al-Mahdi, told Sudan Tribune that following the signing of the roadmap, AUHIP will convene a meeting which he said the Sudan call group expects to discuss confidence building measures.

He said it will also lead to setting agendas for future discussions on democratization.
“We believe that after the signature we will arrange this meeting and this meeting will lead to further discussions between the two sides to come to terms about how to continue this Sudanese process inside Sudan after the confidence building process is fulfilled” al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, also the Former Sudanese Prime Minister told Sudan Tribune.

He said the national initiative inside has come to an end and it has its own recommendations.

“What we are talking about is an independent process of course we will discuss what was achieved”.

RESERVATIONS

After signing the agreement, SPLM-N leader, Malik Agar, told reporters that his group was signing the agreement while still having reservations.

Although Malik didn’t detail the reservations he however hinted it is related to the humanitarian situation and on issues to do with political detainees.

He said his movement is committed to peace and the decision to sign the agreement was to give peace a chance further calling on the government side to demonstrate commitment.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) Minni Arko Minnawi has however expressed reservations further questioning the neutrality of Mbeki, but declined to give further details.

SUDAN CALL STATEMENT

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune ahead of the signing of Roadmap, Sudan Call said it told Mbeki that it was ready to sign the peace document on the basis of the understandings it brought to him in its letter on 22 July 2016.

It reiterated its call for holding a preparatory meeting to achieve a credible and inclusive national constitutional dialogue process, saying the meeting must “guarantee the Sudan Call the right to agree to its own delegation”.

The statement added that the agenda for the preparatory meeting “must determine the agenda, rules, procedures, regulations, mechanisms and guarantees that will shape an inclusive and credible national constitutional dialogue process”.

It added that the meeting must reach an agreement on the decisions and actions for a conducive environment needed for a credible dialogue including fundamental freedoms and release of political prisoners and detainees “as well as a matrix for their implementation”.

ARRIVAL OF GOVERNMENT DELEGATION

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government delegation for the peace talks on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile has arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday.

Presidential aide and head of the delegation Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that they are ready to engage in talks with the armed groups on the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian access according to the Roadmap.

He expressed hope that the armed groups exhibit a strong political will to achieve an agreement ending the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas.

For his part, member of the government delegation Bishara Guma’a Aror said the peace talks would start on Tuesday by discussing the preliminary arrangements stipulated on item (2-1) of the Roadmap pertaining to cessation of hostilities and permanent ceasefire besides the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

He pointed that the parties to the talks would then engage on discussions on the political and security arrangement.

(ST)

Morocco applies to join African Union

BBC

image

Morocco has sent a special envoy to lobby African leaders to rejoin the African Union 32 years after it left in a row over Western Sahara.(KS – not correctbhere – it it left the Organization of African Unity, not the AU).
Taib Fassi Fihri met Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi and said Morocco wants to re-join the AU without any preconditions.
Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of its territory, much of which it has occupied since 1975.
But the AU recognises Western Sahara as an independent state.

South Sudan – Sudanese troops pull out of demilitarised zone

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on Sunday said it has completed the re-deployment of its troops along the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) with South Sudan.

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SAF spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami (Photo Defence Ministry website)

In September 2012, the two Sudan’s signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking and border trade, among others.

On 14 October 2015, South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk and his Sudanese counterpart Awad Ibn Ouf signed an agreement to operationalize the buffer zone between the two countries.

But the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) meetings to decide the effective activation were adjourned several times due to the security situation in South Sudan.

Following the JSPC meetings in Khartoum on June 5th, the two countries signed a series of security agreements, including immediate re-deployment of joint military forces along the SDBZ, and approved a plan to stop supporting and harbouring rebels as well as open the crossings points.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, SAF spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami said the redeployment of the troops came in implementation of the JSPC’s decisions.

“Accordingly, Sudan declares the completion of the re-deployment of its troops outside the SDBZ and a report in this regard has been submitted to the African Union High Implementation Panel on 25 June 2016” read the statement.

The two sides agreed during the JSPC meeting to immediately start enforcing the agreed decision on the buffer zone and submit a report to the AUHIP within 21 days.

The SDBZ would be established along 2,100 km on the 1956 border line and at a distance of 10 kilometers on each side of the borders.

Al-Shami pointed that the completion of the re-deployment of the Sudanese troops underlines Khartoum’s keenness to promote relations with Juba and to move it to a new phase that would witness further military and security cooperation between the two nations.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern voters chose independence.

Observers say that strained relations between the two countries and the internal crises they are currently facing are direct consequence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which failed to adequately address several post-cessation issues.

(ST)

Sudan sticks to demand for end to UNAMID mission

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government Thursday said it sticks to end the hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur region (UNAMID) and to speed up the tripartite discussions on its withdrawal.

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A UNAMID peacekeeper from from Burkina Fasso and based in Forobaranga, West Darfur, checks a map during a patrol to Tamar village. (Photo UNAMID/Albert González Farran)

Sudan, African Union and the United Nations since two years hold discussions on the UNAMID’s exit from western Sudan. Khartoum says the security situation is stable and its efforts to curb the tribal violence have been successful.

But the UN proposed a limited and gradual withdrawal from some sectors saying the full exit should intervene after the signing of peace agreement with all the rebel groups and to ensure the protection of displaced civilians.

A joint AU and UN team is currently inspecting the security situation in different areas in the region including the areas the army recently recaptured from the rebels in Jebel Marra and IDPs camps in North Darfur. The assessment report of the mission should serve to redefine the positions of the two sides during the upcoming meetings.

Sudanese foreign ministry Thursday said it would renew its demand to not extend the mandate of the UNAMID for another year during the upcoming discussion on the situation in Darfur next June at the UN Security Council.

“The position of the Sudanese government is very clear. Time has come for the UNAMID to leave Darfur,” said State Minister at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Kamal Ismail in a press conference held in Khartoum.

Ismail further said a number of countries funding the hybrid mission have officially expressed their concern over its indefinite continuation.

However, the minister said that the UN Security Council probably would extends Darfur mission for another year.

“Everything is possible and if the committee reached a specific agreement, a time frame will be developed for the exit strategy,” he said.

The state minister underscored that the ongoing discussions between the government, African Union and United Nations would take a time.

He added that the three parties are negotiating a gradual and smooth exit taking into account the logistical aspects of the operation. He said the tripartite mechanism will hand over its conclusions to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to include it to his trimesterial report.

Last week, , Chief of General Staff of Burkina Faso army, General Pingrenoma Zagre, disclosed that he asked the President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré to withdraw their 850 soldiers participating in Darfur peacekeeping mission.

Zagre pointed to the growing security threats posed by Jihadist groups in the Sahel and Western Africa region.

Since an attack on a hotel in the capital Ouagadougou last January, Burkina Faso is targeted by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb group. The West African country is closely monitoring its porous borders with Nigeria where Boko Haram militants are active.

(ST)