Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sudan army claim ‘captures’ area in South Kordofan, new images show destruction in Blue Nile - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

December 1, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese army (SAF) has claimed it seized control of an area in South Kordofan State from the hands of the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

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FILE - SAF’s spokesman Al-Sawarmi

In a statement carried on Thursday by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA, the country’s media minister Kamal Ubayd announced that SAF regained control of an area he called Tarogi.

Ubayd, who was addressing the council of ministers in Khartoum, said that the “liberation” represents “an important victory”, congratulating SAF for the efforts it made to secure it.

Sudan’s army has been battling SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan State which since early June. The conflict later extended to include Blue Nile State where SAF on 3 November seized the SPLM-N’s stronghold of Al-Krumuk on the borders with Ethiopia. It later seized Daim Mansoru area south of Al-Kurmuk.

South Kordofan and Blue Nile lie on Sudan’s borders with South Sudan. The two states are home to communities that largely fought alongside southerners in the civil war that ended in 2005 with a peace deal that paved the way for the south’s independence in July this year.

Meanwhile, a new report by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) analyzing satellite imagescaptured between 11 and 27 November in Blue Nile has indicated that SAF had destroyed civilian structures in the ‘Amara village.

The report, Blue Nile Burning: Evidence of the Destruction of ’Amara Village, also identifies evidences of aerial bombardment and heavy armor movement in and around the village of ‘Amara.

According to SSP, the images indicate that SAF “intentionally razed” civilian structures in the village of Amara.

“The civilian structures in the village, known as tukuls, have apparently been intentionally razed,” the report said.

SSP further said that the images also show two recently built military encampments and tracking consistent with heavy armor movement around the village of ’Amara.

The report also said that the imagery shows caters on the ground some as wide as 13 feet and said this finding is consistent with aerial bombardment around the village of Amara.

“At least eight craters consistent with aerial bombardment are also visible,” it added.

John Bradshaw, the executive director of the Enough Project, an advocacy group, said that the imagery is “consistent with reports from on the ground that the SAF has intentionally destroyed civilian communities in clear violation of the laws of war.”

“The international community needs to take immediate action to protect at-risk civilians in Blue Nile state and elsewhere in Sudan including banning offensive flights over the areas of conflict.”

According to Charlie Clements, MD, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, these images and analysis “provide further evidence of the Government of Sudan’s disregard for the laws of war and human rights principles.”

“The civilian structures that appear to be intentionally destroyed are testimony to the Sudan Armed Forces’ continued use of disproportionate force.”


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sudanese - Ethiopian Committee for Development of Border Concludes Meetings in Bahardar


Bahardar - The Sudanese and Ethiopian sides at the Joint Committee for Development of the Joint Border have appreciated by the end of their meetings in Bahardar the distinguished level of the cooperation and understanding between them for solving the issues of mutual concern.
The joint communiqué issued by the two parties appreciated the progress achieved since the recent meeting of the joint committee in Sinja.
The committee has lauded the increasing cooperation between the two countries in combating of the smuggling of weapons, calling for more strengthening to the mechanism at the level of regions and localities and districts in this regard.

The joint communiqué stated that the two sides have agreed to give a special concern to arrest the smugglers gangs and networks and to increase the awareness about the danger of weapons on the general security.

In the trade field, the Sudanese and Ethiopian parties appreciated the cooperation between the two countries for implementing the agreements on the trade and the border trade between the two countries and affirmed their readiness to facilitate and to boost the inter-border trade between them.

The joint committee has praised the level of the cultural exchange between the administrative units in the two countries as well as the people's participation in the cultural programs.
The Sudanese and Ethiopian sides underscored the importance of enhancing the mechanisms of information exchange and appreciated the joint efforts for establishment of health quarantines for livestock as well as the cooperation between the two sides for combating animal diseases and agricultural pests.

Meanwhile, The Secretary General of the Decentralized Government Council and head of the Sudanese side in the meetings of the Joint Committee for the Development of the Sudanese - Ethiopian Border, Prof. Al-Amin Dafa'allah, currently convening in Bahr Dar, Ethiopia, has lauded the great progress that the committee has achieved in the political and security fields.
He said in a press statements on the sidelines of the meetings, which are due to be concluded Thursday evening, that most of the decisions and recommendations of the committee's previous meetings were implemented, He said that the most important thing is the existence of the follow up and implementation mechanism, at the level of the states, which holds regular meetings to solve the problems and to enhance the joint work.
He said that the recommendations were focused on benefiting from the regional and continental roads network linking the neighboring states in the two countries for boosting the relations between them.
He indicated that the two sides are keen to support the security and stability at the joint borders, pointing out that there are no bandits (shiffta), except in a small area.
He said that the two sides are effectively cooperating to prevent security violations.
Prof. Dafa'alla emphasized the strong political will of the two parties for boosting the relations between the two countries in order to achieve stability at the borders between them for the interest of the two peoples.
On the other hand, The Governor of the Ethiopian Amhara Region and chairman of the Ethiopian side in the 14th session of the joint committee for development of the joint Sudanese - Ethiopian border, currently in session in Bahardar, Ato Ayalew Gobeze, affirmed that the two sides had a very useful and candid talks that focused on consolidation of the bilateral relations, especially in the political, security, commercial aspects.
In a statement to SUNA on the sidelines of the meetings of the joint committee in Baherdar, Ethiopia, chairman of the Ethiopian side commended the bilateral cooperation in combating the peace-enemy elements at the joint borders, stressing the necessity of cementing the cooperation mechanisms in this connection.

He explained that the Amhara Region have good commercial relations with the neighboring Sudanese states the in fields of animal resources and agricultural production, affirming endeavours to assess the inter-border trade in the coming period.

He highlighted on the Sudanese Investment in the Amhara region, which include Ashraf Meat Processing Company, enumerating the privileges accorded to the Sudanese investors, including tax exemption and incentives.

On tourism in Amhara region, he revealed that the region is the destination of very many Sudanese tourists at the week ends to enjoy the moderate climate and beautiful scenes as well as visiting the sources of the Blue Nile in Lake Tana and the historic sites in the region.
Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Receives Russian Ambassador


Khartoum - The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rahmatallah Mohamed Osman last Thursday reviewed with the Russian Ambassador to Sudan, Envarbik M. Fazeliyanov, progress of the firm Sudanese - Russian relations and means of consolidating them further in all domains.

The meeting also exchanged views on the latest developments and the situation in the region.

Meanwhile, the meeting affirmed the importance of coordinating the stances of Sudan and Russia at the international forums, particularly between the Sudanese and Russian missions to the United Nations in New York.

By SUNA, 14 hours 12 minutes ago

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sudan says to take quarter of south's oil, as talks fail AFP

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan will take 23 percent of the south's vital oil exports as payment in kind, after talks in Addis Ababa failed, but will not block Juba's exports, Sudanese officials said on Wednesday.

"In the interim period, we are not going to charge the full fee. We will deduct about 23 percent as payment in kind," a senior oil ministry official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Khartoum and Juba are locked in a bitter row over how much the landlocked south, which won independence in July and produces some 75 percent of the country's 450,000 barrels per day of oil, owes to use the north's infrastructure.

The Sudanese government pledged in a statement earlier not to block southern exports.

"The Government of Sudan has not, and will not, stop or impede the flow and export of the Republic of South Sudan," it said, after five days of negotiations in the Ethiopian capital ended in deadlock.

But Sudan's unilateral decision to syphon off southern crude is likely to heighten tensions, with the south's chief negotiator, Pagan Amum, threatening to take legal action if the north "steals" its oil.

"If the GOS (government of Sudan) does steal South Sudan oil, or if others try to purchase the south?s stolen oil from the GOS, the Republic of South Sudan will take all legal measures necessary," he said in a statement.

He accused Khartoum of taking the south's oil revenues for May, June, and July.

Sudan's oil ministry said on Monday that it had blocked southern exports, claiming then that the Juba government had failed to pay transit fees of $727 million covering the period from July until the end of October.

The announcement provoked a hostile response from Juba, and the escalating dispute prompted China, the largest foreign investor and main buyer of Sudanese oil, to urge both sides to "exercise restraint" in their negotiations.

Khartoum's chief negotiator on economic issues, Sabir Mohamed Hassan, after returning from the African Union-brokered talks in Ethiopia, emphasised that southern exports would be allowed to continue.

But he said the failure of the south to pay its fees was aggravating the economic difficulties facing the north.

"We have told them that we have a responsibility to take our dues in kind, and that is exactly what has happened in the past few days," he told reporters.

The Khartoum delegation said Juba blocked an AU proposal to charge the south $300 million over the next two months for continuing to export its crude.

Further underlining the lack of progress on this increasingly rancorous issue, Hassan said Sudan was looking to charge the south $36 per barrel for the use of its oil infrastructure, in contrast to a southern offer of 70 cents.

Southern oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau rejected the north's fee as "extortionate."

"This is extortionate to us. It's discriminatory and it's not based on a cost principle," he said on his return from the negotiations.

The south says it will have to shut in its oil production next week if Khartoum prevents southern oil cargoes from lifting, due to a lack of storage facilities at the Port Sudan export terminal.

"If by December 6 there is no lifting, then we will have to shut down production," oil ministry undersecretary Machar Aciek said.

Both countries depend heavily on their oil revenues, which make up some 98 percent of the Juba government's income, and provided 90 percent of Sudan's hard currency earnings before partition, causing its currency to devaluate sharply since July.

Southern officials have repeatedly discussed building an alternative export pipeline, probably through Kenya, but experts say this is not commercially feasible unless big new discoveries are made.

Oil is one of a number of sensitive issues, including border demarcation, debt and the future status of the contested Abyei region, that the two sides failed to resolve ahead of the south's secession.

Analysts warn that the longer they fail to strike an agreement, the more difficult the negotiations are likely to become.

The next round of oil talks is due to take place in Juba on December 20.