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Sudan: African Union on the Spot
Jan 16, 2006 (060116)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The African Union should not reward the sponsors of crimes
against humanity," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. "How can the African Union be seen
as a credible mediator in Darfur if one of the warring parties
hosts its summit and becomes the head of the organisation as
With preliminary meetings beginning for next week's African Union
(AU) summit in Khartoum, it is still undecided whether the host
government will also chair the organization for the next year. Meanwhile,
the AU mission in Darfur is running out of funds and discussion of transferring
the mission to UN sponsorship is intensifying. But it is still doubtful that either
African countries or the "international community" are ready to
act decisively with a force that is large enough and has a
more comprehensive mandate to protect civilians.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a letter from African nongovernmental
organizations appealing to the African Union not to
select Sudan's leader as the organization's next chairman, two
recent updates from the UN's Integrated Regional Information
Networks, and links to other recent reports on Sudan, including
new documentation of genocide in Darfur from Physicians for Human
Rights and a report from the International Crisis Group warning
of escalation of violence in eastern Sudan.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts
from an essay by Gerald Caplan in Pambazuka News, on lessons to
be learned from Rwanda and Darfur.
For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins, background, and links on
Sudan, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/sudan.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
The Darfur Consortium
African and International Civil Society Action for Darfur
PO Box 7785, Kampala, Uganda
Phone (in New York): +12123772700, ext 416 (in Kampala)
Open Letter to Members of the African Union
To All Heads of State and Government
Members of the African Union (AU)
Banjul, November 25, 2005
We the representatives of more than 30 nongovernmental
organisations representing the Darfur Consortium and other civil
society groups from Africa participating at the 38th Ordinary
Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
held in Banjul, The Gambia, 21st November - 5th December 2005,
are honoured to present our compliments to your high Office.
We wish to express our deep concern with respect to the ongoing
plans to convene the January 2006 AU Assembly of Heads of State
and Government in Khartoum, Sudan, and the potential of Sudan
being elected to the AU Presidency for 2006-2007. We believe this
would seriously undermine the AU credibility and compromise the
authority of its institutions.
The human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan in general
and in the Darfur region in particular continues to be one of the
worst cases in the world. The Government of Sudan is responsible
for this catastrophic situation. More than two million
Africans--mainly women, children and other vulnerable groups--
have been ruthlessly and deliberately uprooted from their homes
in Darfur since February 2003. This is because of the
government's use of the state military machinery including
indiscriminate aerial bombardment by military aircrafts and
helicopter gunships against civilian populations in Darfur. The
situation has been aggravated by daily atrocities committed by
the Janjaweed paramilitary groups that are organised, armed and
directed by the government of Sudan to commit abhorrent war
crimes and crimes against humanity on racist grounds. As a direct
result of the Janjaweed atrocities the numbers of internally
displaced persons in Darfur continue to increase and the poor
conditions in refugee and IDP camps in which they currently live
The government of Sudan and its allied Janjaweed paramilitary
groups continue to hold civilian populations in IDP camps as
hostages to the war, block access routes to major parts of Darfur
and obstruct the work of humanitarian relief organizations. The
situation in Darfur continues to be alarming despite AU efforts
to end the crisis in the region and help its people to come out
of this destructive conflict. The situation was also complicated
by the lack of full cooperation with the AU from all parties to
the conflict in the region.
Incidents of noncooperation and difficulties faced by the African
Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) were eloquently articulated by H.E.
Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, when he publicly denounced the
Government of Sudan for noncooperation including disguising its
troops and military vehicles as well as those of its allied
Janjaweed militiamen as AMIS peacekeepers in Darfur. The AU has
also decried the Government of Sudan for refusing and delaying
entry into the country of the necessary equipments to protect AU
troops in Darfur. Of particular concern was the targeted killing
of 5 AMIS personnel including three Nigerian peacekeepers and two
civilian contractors. They were killed when armed militiamen
ambushed their vehicles on Friday, 7th October 2005 around
Nyala, South Darfur State, in an area controlled by the
Government of Sudan and its allied paramilitary groups.
Furthermore, the Government of Sudan has demonstrated complete
disregard to numerous measures undertaken by the AU Assembly of
Heads of State and Government and the Peace and Security Council
that demanded Sudan to put an immediate end to its military
activity in Darfur and dismantle the Janjaweed militia groups.
Among others, these measures include Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.68
(IV) adopted by the 4 th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of
Heads of State and Government (30th- 31st January 2005, Abuja,
Nigeria), Decision AU/Dec.54(III) adopted by the 3rd Ordinary
Session (6 th 8 th July 2004, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) as well as
Communiqu‚ PSC/AHG/Comm. (XXIII) adopted by the AU Peace and
Security Council (PSC), at its 23 rd meeting, at the level of
Heads of State and Government (10 January 2005, Libreville,
Gabon), Communiqu‚ PSC/PR/Comm.(XIII) and Communiqu‚
PSC/PR/Comm.(XVII) adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council
at their 13th and 17th Meetings.
It is in this regard that we reiterate our concern that convening
the January 2006 AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in
Khartoum not only undermines the credibility and authority of the
AU, but also confers prestige and honour upon the Government of
Sudan that continues to commit crimes against humanity and war
crimes against the African people of Darfur with impunity. Sudan
should not be rewarded for the commission of these crimes on its
territory. Such a move would defeat the core principles and
objectives of the AU Constitutive Act to promote peace and
stability on the continent and uphold and protect human and
Most importantly, the entire process of the InterSudanese Peace
Talks on Darfur lies in jeopardy should the AU Presidency go to
Marshal Omar ElBashir. In light of the leading role played by the
AU Presidency in the InterSudanese Peace Talks on Darfur, Sudan
cannot, therefore, be entrusted with this responsibility, as it
is one of the parties to the conflict.
We hereby respectfully request your government to reconsider its
position vis a vis the ongoing AU plans to convene its
forthcoming Summit in Khartoum. We strongly believe that the
venue of such a prestigious gathering of African leaders should
be shifted to another African capital.
For Darfur Consortium
UN envoy calls for stronger action on Darfur
January 16, 2006
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the
United Nations ]
NAIROBI, 16 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - A much bigger peacekeeping force
and targeted sanctions are needed to end the ongoing violence in
the western Sudanese region of Darfur, Jan Pronk, special
representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Sudan,
told the Security Council.
At least once a month, groups of 500 to 1,000 militia attacked
villages, killing dozens of people and terrorising others, he
said. Only international security guarantees such as those
provided by the African Union could help.
"The force necessary to provide such guarantees should be much
bigger than the present one," he said on Friday. "It should not
be on call, but in place, present wherever people may be
"It should be strong, able to defend itself, able to deter
attacks on civilians and able to disarm militias and the
Janjawid, who should have been disarmed by the [Sudanese]
government in the first place," he added.
The perpetrators of the wide-scale attacks in 2003 and 2004 had
achieved their goal. Many areas of Darfur had been "cleansed",
and millions of villagers sitting in camps were too afraid to
return home, as the terror continued, he noted.
Pronk urged that a stronger peacekeeping force be supplemented by
sanctions on troop movements not in accordance with any peace
agreement; arms deliveries; and those who had caused atrocities.
Sanctions should target "the commanders and political leaders
responsible for the carnage of 2003 and 2004, and those who have
refused to stop the atrocities of 2005", he said.
Salim Ahmed Salim, special envoy of the African Union for the
Darfur peace talks, expressed his regret over the lack of
progress at the negotiations in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
"The negotiations so far have been characterised by an
unacceptable level of inflexibility in the positions of the
parties, suspicion, absence of even the minimum level of
confidence and deep distrust," he noted.
Pronk said that one could not ignore the impression that the
parties had lost all sense of urgency and did not really care
The continuation of violence, killings, rapes and human rights
violations was not only a tragedy for the people of Darfur, it
also constituted a violation of the requirements set out in
previous Council resolutions, he noted.
The UN envoy stressed that a sustained and lasting ceasefire in
the region was of the utmost importance.
Only when the fighting had stopped could the parties, together
with others who had not taken up arms - tribal leaders, civil
society, representatives of displaced people, intellectuals and
others - reach a fair, inclusive and sustainable agreement on
governance, power, wealth, land, water and economic development,
Sudan: African Union Extends Peacekeeping Mandate
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
Addis Ababa, January 13, 2006
The African Union has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping
force in Sudan's troubled Darfur region for two months, but will
evaluate the option of handing the operation over to the United
The 6,964-strong AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) cannot be sustained
beyond March without more financial support, AU Commission
chairman Alpha Omar Konare said in a report presented at a
meeting of the pan-African Peace and Security Council on
"The time has come to make a pronouncement on the future of the
AU mission in Darfur and means to adapt it to the present
challenges, including the hand-over to the United Nations at the
appropriate time," Konare said.
The AU's main financial and logistical partners, he added, wanted
to see a handover as early as February.
Konare noted the serious financial burden of supporting a mission
with operating costs of US $17 million a month: "The funds
received so far under the enhanced AMIS are almost exhausted. At
present, no commitment has been made by partners for the funding
of the mission beyond March 2006."
In a related development, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called
for the international community to continue to finance the
current AU mission.
He told reporters in New York on Thursday that any force trying
to maintain peace in the region would need to be highly mobile.
"It is a large territory, and I think whichever force is there
with this kind of mandate has to be mobile, has to have tactical
air support, must have helicopters and ability to respond very
quickly," Annan said.
The UN would also look at putting more troops on the ground, he
"We need to get the government to work with us in bringing in an
expanded force with troops from outside Africa, because until
recently it has maintained that it will only accept African
troops, but I think we have gone beyond that now," Annan noted.
Officials said Sudan was opposed to the idea of the UN taking
"Sudan strongly rejects any attempt to cast any shadow of doubt
on the role and ability of the African Union to solve the problem
of Darfur," Lam Akol Ajawin, Sudanese foreign minister, told
reporters at the AU meeting.
Konare insisted in his report that Khartoum take greater steps to
protect the rights of civilians in the region. He highlighted an
increase in ceasefire violations, with attacks being launched by
rebel groups, government soldiers, and militia backed by
"Arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful killings, beating,
abductions and gender-based violence still continue across
Darfur," he said. "Civilians are still being attacked in their
communities and forcibly displaced from their homes."
Since May 2005, he added, there had been some 139 violations by
the parties to the conflict and other armed militias.
Five African peacekeepers and two civilian staff were killed by
unknown gunmen in the last four months. Banditry and attacks
against aid workers had also increased.
Recent Sudan Reports
(1) Physicians for Human Rights
Assault on Survival: A Call for Security, Justice and Restitution
Physicians for Human Rights documents the obliteration of the
means of survival and the way of life in three villages in
Darfur, Sudan, by the Government of Sudan and its proxy militia,
the Janjaweed.During three trips to the region between May 2004
and July 2005, investigators interviewed dozens of survivors from
three villages and compiled compelling evidence--including
hundreds of photographs and hand-drawn maps--of the systematic
nature of the attacks on lives and livelihoods in Darfur.
"Killings, rape, torture and other heinous crimes against
non-Arabs in Darfur are well-documented", said PHR investigator
and report author John Heffernan. "But PHR's in-depth
investigation shows that the GOS and the Janjaweed, have in a
systematic way attacked the very survival of a people by
destroying property, livestock, communities and families ,
driving victims into a terrain unable to sustain life, and then
repeatedly obstructing humanitarian assistance, their only
The report also illuminates and analyzes an overlooked clause in
the Genocide Convention which defines the crime as including
deliberate infliction on a group "conditions of life calculated
to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part." The
PHR investigators documented the precariousness of life in the
vast no-man's land beyond the network of villages and transport.
One refugee told PHR investigators that she overheard her
attacker say, "Don't bother, don't waste the bullet, they've got
nothing to eat and they will die from hunger."
To begin to address these particular crimes, PHR has called on
the UN Security Council to establish and implement an effective
Compensation Commission as recommended by its own Commission of
Inquiry report released in January 2005. This would be in
addition to the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC)
(2) International Crisis Group
Sudan: Saving Peace in the East
5 January 2006
The low-intensity conflict between the government and the Eastern
Front risks becoming a major new war with disastrous humanitarian
consequences if the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
proceeds with its scheduled withdrawal from eastern Sudan this
month. Competition to fill the security vacuum could spark urban
unrest, reprisals and worse. Yet, there is also a peace
opportunity. As a partner in the new Government of National Unity
and with troops in the East, the SPLM is in a position to broker
a deal. Like Darfur and the South, the East suffers from
marginalisation and underdevelopment: legitimate claims for more
power and wealth sharing in a federal arrangement should be
addressed within the framework of the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) the government and SPLM signed in 2005. But the
SPLM needs to push for a provisional ceasefire and use its
influence in Khartoum to get serious negotiations. International
partners, under UN leadership, should facilitate the process.
The CPA has brought no peace dividend to either eastern Sudan or
the Darfur region of western Sudan. It dealt with the political
and economic marginalisation of the South but ignored the similar
structural imbalance in the rest of the country. The ruling
National Congress Party (NCP) and the international community are
now bearing the consequences of excluding other participants from
the long negotiations that were conducted at Naivasha in Kenya.
After hundreds of thousands of deaths and the displacement of
millions in Darfur, the international community is trying to
salvage a peace in negotiations conducted under African Union
sponsorship at Abuja. At the same time, however, it may be in the
process of repeating its mistake by largely ignoring another
(3) An eyewitness account of the massacre of Sudanese refugees in
Pambazuka News, January 5, 2006
An eyewitness account of the massacre of Sudanese refugees in
"Screams never stopped; the most acute were children's. My eyes
couldn't follow where or where to look. It was cold. It was dark.
Soldiers were brutal. They were just beating anyone anywhere,
stepping over anyone and anything." This quote is from an
anonymous eyewitness account) of events that took place last
Friday in Cairo, when Egyptian security police brutally broke up
a three-month sit-in protest being held by Sudanese refugees in
Cairo. News reports indicate that the number of people killed is
approaching 30. As detailed in an October 2005 Pambazuka News
article (http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=29957) the
refugees were protesting against their appalling conditions and
the constant abuse of their rights and had camped out near the
Cairo office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
demanding protection from forced repatriation and protection of
vulnerable groups. At that stage one of the protestors vowed: "We
will wait here, we will die here. We have no other place to go."
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