Posts Tagged ‘Bashir’

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Shortly after midnight on Thursday a column of tanks drove slowly down one of the main boulevards of Khartoum. Although residents of Sudan‘s capital of Khartoum awoke hours later to what seemed like another normal day, something significant had taken place during the wee hours. Amid a flurry of conflicting reports and wild rumors, information minister Ahmed Belal Osman announced Thursday that 13 suspects — among them senior officials — had been arrested for plotting against the state. “The government has decided to abort this plot just before the zero hour as a preventive measure to avoid entering the country into chaos,” Osman said.

The news of a coup attempt would have come as little surprise to countless Sudan watchers, who for months have watched storm clouds gather around the regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Facing armed resistance from restive ethnic groups in all corners of the country, as…

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By Refugees International
The referendum on southern Sudan’s secession from the north took place as scheduled in January of this year, with over 98% of southerners voting for an independent south Sudan. This is seen as a promise of change in the lives of southerners, who suffered through decades of war and the displacement that went with it for millions of them.

The transition to independence in July may not be entirely peaceful, however, as violent clashes continue not only in the transitional area of Abyei territory, coveted by both North and South, but also in several southern states.

Some of the clashes are indigenous disputes over land and cattle between neighboring ethnic groups, sub-groups and clans. In recent years the toll in terms of casualties and displaced is higher due to the exponential growth in the availability of automatic firearms.

Other violence appears at first glance to have nothing to do with Sudan: southern Sudanese in Western and Central Equatoria states suffer from destructive raids by the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed opposition group from northern Uganda. The LRA now operates in a vast area straddling the borders between Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Its attacks often involve kidnapping of children to be turned into soldiers and provoke displacement in all three countries. Seemingly an outside actor, the LRA in fact received support during the war from Khartoum, which is strongly suspected of continuing that covert support even today.

In contrast, the Khartoum government is very clear in its intentions concerning Abyei: to maintain control of this oil-rich territory by assisting the cattle-herding Misseriya tribe in their fight to keep Abyei part of Southern Kordofan. Northerners argue that the territory was never part of the south – in the administrative map upon Sudan’s independence in 1956, Abyei fell within the boundaries of Kordofan. Southerners insist that it should nonetheless be consider part of the south because the Ngok Dinka majority of the settled population of Abyei is southern, indeed part of the south’s largest ethnic group.

And then there is the series of rebellions in several southern states. Seemingly based on local grievances against the semi-autonomous government of southern Sudan, the rebellions are strongly suspected of receiving support from elements of the government in Khartoum who – according to the current speculation – want at the very least to ensure that the future Republic of South Sudan is weak and divided and thereby more easily manipulated by Khartoum.

One of the latest of rebellions to spark has been in oil-rich Unity State, the scene of massive displacement and human rights violations during the war. The leader of the supposedly local uprising is none other than Peter Gadet, notorious during the war years for his leadership of a Khartoum-backed militia group that cleared thousands of people out of vast swaths of land to make way for oil installations and the pipeline. Some of the rebel leaders in other states have similarly sordid histories. Hence the impression that despite the six-year-old Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the war is making a comeback in the lives of southern Sudanese.

The U.S. government needs to up the pressure on Khartoum and Juba to complete the CPA process and, more specifically, to make the political compromises necessary to stop the violence.

By Peter Orr, Senior advocate at Refugees International

Sudan’s disputed border town of Abyei is ablaze, with gunmen looting properties days after troops from the government in Khartoum entered the area, UN peacekeepers say.

The peacekeepers belonging to UNMIS, the UN mission in Sudan, said on Monday that the burning and looting was perpetrated “by armed elements” but it was not clear whether they were from the north or the south.

Omar-al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, said a “peaceful resolution” for Abyei would be found.

“We are efforting to solve the remaining issues and remove tensions in Abyei,” he said in a speech.

The developments in Abyei drew strong reaction from the US, with its special envoy to the country saying Washington would rule out dropping Sudan from a terrorism list if it continued occupying the oil-rich district.

Princeton Lyman said the “occupation” of Abyei by northern troops is “an extremely disproportionate response by the government of Sudan” to an attack on a UN convoy escorting the troops last week.

Envoy ‘optimistic’

But Lyman added that there was still hope of the two sides resolving the crisis.

“I am optimistic in this sense: These two entities – Sudan and soon-to-be independent South Sudan – need each other,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They have to collaborate for their own good, and while we’re now facing a major crisis in Abyei, we’re hopeful that the leadership, particularly president al-Bashir [in the north] and vice-president Kiir [in the south] will re-establish the spirit that they talked about … ”

Sudanese government officials in the north say their troops moved into Abyei – inhabited by two tribes backed by the south and north respectively – to drive the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) out, who they said had been occupying Abyei since last December.

The SPLA is the armed force of South Sudan, which held a referendum for independence in January and is due to become an independent state in July.

UNMIS strongly condemned the burning and looting in Abyei and called upon the government of Sudan to “urgently ensure that the Sudan Armed Forces fulfil their responsibility and intervene to stop these criminal acts”.

Hua Jiang, the chief public information officer for UNMIS, said the burning of property and looting was continuing on Monday.

She said the Sudanese troops from the north had prevented peacekeepers from “conducting our daily, routine patrol”.

“So we’re not able to get out of the compound right now to carry out our duty,” she told Al Jazeera from Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

‘Humanitarian disaster’

Thousands of civilians are reported to have fled southwards after northern SAF troops and tanks took control of the town on Saturday.

South Sudan also claims Abyei district, which has special status under a 2005 peace deal that ended 22 years of south-north civil war, and has called the occupation “illegal”.

Barnaba Benjamin, the minister of information in South Sudan, told Al Jazeera that north Sudanese troops had “illegally and unconstitutionally invaded Abyei”.

“What the Sudanese forces are doing now [is] they are looting the place; they are burning the place,” he said.

“They have made thousands of people – children, women and the elderly – a humanitarian disaster. This is what they have been doing. They didn’t find any SPLA troops in Abyei.

“Their claim that there are SPLA troops in Abyei is not true … They entered the town without any confrontation … So why are they there?

“Why are they bombing the civilian targets; the villages around? They are airlifting Misseriya Arab tribes into the territory to occupy the areas of Dinka Ng’ok.”

The nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe, which is backed by the north, grazes its cattle in Abyei. The Dinka Ng’ok tribe, backed by the south, lives in Abyei year round.

A senior official from the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, the capital of the north, denied the reports of looting but called Abyei “a war zone”.

“They [troops] are not looting the place,” Didiry Mohammad Ahmed told Al Jazeera.

“We know that this place, right now, is a war zone. The army is struggling very hard to see to it that no looting happens, but nonetheless some isolated incidents had happened.

“We are doing our very best right now – working in tandem with the UN mission in the region – to ensure no looting takes place. Nothing can be traced back to our forces.”

Read the full report HERE  at – Al Jazeera English.