HARGEISA (SomalilandPress)—President Ahmed Siilaanyo received an official invitation from the president of South Sudan Salva Kiir to attend the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of South Sudan on the 9th of July, 2011. South Sudan is set to become the 54th nation in the African continent after long fought civil against Northern Sudan’s rule that saw thousands of lives lost and millions displaced.
The invitation of Somaliland’s president Ahmed Siilanyo to South Sudan’s historic day has been welcomed with delight in Somaliland by both the government of Somaliland and its citizens. Somaliland believes it could use the south’s independence as a precedent as it seeks more support for its case for international recognition and become the 55th nation in the continent after South Sudan. Some foreign observers and politicians believe the Juba government will recognize Somaliland which will pave the way for other regional powers to follow.
Despite an agreement signed only days ago to bring peace to this part of central Sudan, it seems to be sliding inexorably toward war.
Young men here in the Nuba Mountains are being mobilized into militias, marching into the hills to train. All the cars in this area, including humanitarian vehicles, are smeared with thick mud to camouflage them from what residents describe as unrelenting bombings. And opposition forces vow to press their fight until they win some form of autonomy, undeterred by the government’s push to stamp them out.
“It’s going to be a long war,” said Ahmed Zakaria, a doctor from the Nuba Mountains who recently quit his job to become an opposition fighter. “We want a secular, democratic state where we can be free to rule ourselves. Like Kurdistan,” Dr. Zakaria said, smiling. “And we will fight for it.”
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At a small, mountainside hospital here in Lewere, an entire ward is filled with victims who said they were at a well, fetching water, when they were bombed. Most are children. Their whimpers filter through the mesh windows, along with the pungent smells of antiseptic solution and decaying flesh.
Inside, Winnasa Steven, a 16-year-old girl, writhed on a cot. From her hip, doctors cut out a three-inch chunk of ragged shrapnel, which her mother keeps, wrapped in white paper.
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Aid workers said hundreds of civilians had been killed in the bombings. The Sudanese Army is also blockading roads and bombing airstrips, essentially cutting off food supplies. “These people are going to starve,” one Western aid worker said.
Meanwhile, in the world of democracy promotion, the Malaysian National News Organization identifies NDI (The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) as “one of four branches of the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), a United States-based nongovernmental organization led by a Jew, Carl Gershman.” They say that it is not appropriate to have democracy assistance in Malaysia because “there is no restriction for the people and politicians”.
The situation in Sudan seems to continue to worsen. Aside from the tragic consequences in Sudan, another round of war there does not bode well for reform in Kenya and Uganda, especially in regard to the upcoming Kenyan election.
A former US envoy to Sudan has called for taking military action against the Khartoum government in order to prevent further escalation of violence in Abyei and South Kordofan regions.
The sense of relief that prevailed after the January referendum on South Sudan independence was conducted smoothly and in a largely peaceful environment has dissipated last month when north Sudan army seized control of the fertile, oil-producing region of Abyei, the ownership of which is also claimed by South Sudan whose vote for independence in the referendum will see it become the world’s newest nation on July 9.
Concurrently, violence erupted in the country’s north-south border state of South Kordofan after the northern army attempted to disarm local fighters aligned with South Sudan. Over 60,000 people have been displaced, according to UN figures, and hundreds have been killed, according to local NGOs as the northern army carried out aerial bombardment and heavy artillery in the area.
Roger Winter, the former U.S special envoy to Sudan, on Wednesday addressed a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, about the recent upsurge of violence in Abyei and South Kordofan.
Winter called for an immediate military action against Khartoum in order to strengthen South Sudan army and halt attacks on civilians.
“Take a military action against a Khartoum military target now,” Winter said, adding that the goal would be “to strengthen the SPLA in meaningful ways as a deterrent against Khartoum aggression, provocation and attacks against civilians”
Winter blamed the current situation on the approach adopted by the former US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, chiding his “seemingly intimate relationship” with the leadership of north Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
“Perhaps the eccentricities of General Gration’s approach to being Special Envoy for Sudan are related to the Administration’s commitment to ‘reach out’ to the Arab and Islamic world,” Winter said.
“His seemingly intimate relationship with the NCP leadership led to his many public references to that leadership as ‘my friends’,” he stressed.
Winter said that any commitments made by the Khartoum government are unreliable and that the government’s actions had led to the death of three million people. . . .
For the past quarter century — as head of a nongovernmental organization called the U.S. Committee for Refugees, as an official at the federal Agency for International Development and, most recently, as a special representative to the State Department for Sudan, a post created for him — Winter has fought in the back rooms of Washington and in the African bush to bring peace to Sudan. It’s not evenhandedness that makes him effective; it’s his total commitment to the people of south Sudan and a conviction, which has only grown with the years, that the government in Khartoum is, in essence, a brutal cabal. After two decades of fighting for their rights at negotiating tables, he has gained the southerners’ complete trust. “He’s simple and clear,” Edward Lino, the southern government’s chairman in Abyei, told me. “He doesn’t mince words. He’s a great man” who also “has great, great push.”
Northern Sudan will be a different country in geographic, ethnic, religious, political, cultural, and economic terms once the south separates. And the viability of the new northern nation is also in question, as is the survival of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party.
“The NCP are being weakened day by day. They know they don’t have acceptance in the north,” says International Crisis Group analyst Fouad Hikmat.
Northern opposition parties blame NCP policies for the loss of the south, which is where most of Sudan’s oil lies. Moreover, well-connected Sudanese say there is dissatisfaction within the army, in addition to the armed insurgencies and political discontent in peripheral areas across northern Sudan.
Much of the current fighting may be strategic posturing as final deals are being hashed out over the division of wealth and territory between north and south in advance of July 9. But the ominous developments over the past three weeks are perhaps best understood as being driven by the NCP playing to its fiercely nationalistic domestic audience inside northern Sudan. . . .
With the official results coming back on the Southern Sudan referendum reflecting near unanimity in the wish to succeed, at the same time that peaceful student protests have sprung up in Khartoum, inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, the U.S. will face some soul searching. It is reported that we have been preparing to move to “normalization” with Khartoum as the “carrot” for the referendum and a peaceful secession. At the same time, al-Bashir remains under ICC indictment, repression in the North continues, violence in Darfur seems to have risen–and now, we see indigenous peaceful protest against repression in Khartoum at a time of sweeping change in the region.
Obviously it will be difficult to try to uphold all of our principles while faced with this many “moving pieces”. Whatever we do will be inevitably imperfect and subject to criticism in our domestic adversarial political system. Nonetheless, this is important and I hope that we don’t forget the aspirations of the people of the North as well as the South.
A late AFP report in the Sunday Nation on-line gives some indication of the magnitude of secession sentiment at the polls, and turnout has by all accounts been high:
Voters in Southern Sudan opted, overwhelmingly, to create the world’s newest state, partial results posted outside polling stations in Juba showed on Sunday.
There was no way of knowing how representative the results from the city’s larger polling stations were of the vote around Juba, let alone of Southern Sudan as a whole, in the landmark week-long referendum, which ended on Saturday.
The final result, which will determine whether the south breaks away to become the world’s 193rd UN member state in July is not expected before next month.
But loudspeaker trucks criss-crossed Juba urging south Sudanese to turn out en masse for a huge party to celebrate the expected secession.
Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir yesterday joined worshippers at Juba’s Roman Catholic cathedral Mass in praying for the nation-in-waiting.
“We offer a prayer of gratitude for the peaceful voting in the referendum,” the priest told the congregation.
“We present these votes to God who will bring change through His people.”
Outside a polling station set up in memory of veteran rebel leader John Garang, policeman John Gadet read the partial results and proclaimed: “We have done it, we have won, we are free!”
The results posted for the station’s D section recorded 3,066 votes for secession to just 25 for continued union with the north.
Juba University polling station recorded 2,663 votes for independence to 69 for unity. A station set up in a school in the city’s Hay Malakal neighbourhood reported 1,809 votes for secession to just 75 for unity.
The school is almost alone in Juba in still teaching in Arabic, the language of the Khartoum government, as the region has gradually switched to English as its language of instruction.
“Secession. Secession. Secession,” the polling station’s returning officer had repeatedly intoned into the night as he carefully unfolded each ballot paper cast.
The count was conducted by torchlight, creating an almost religious atmosphere in the small classroom.
Each vote was passed for checking to two other polling station staff and shown to domestic and international observers. There were a dozen at Hay Malakal.
The referendum commission’s chairman, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil, hailed the “most peaceful” election he had ever seen in Sudan. . . . .
Certainly another hopeful step forward toward fulfilling the 2005 CPA and a milestone for the concept of diplomacy and negotiation to settle conflict. The Protocol of Machakos of July 2002 recognized the ultimate right of Southern Sudanese self-determination and now the ballots have been cast.
Sudan VoteMonitor is a project led by the Sudan Institute for Research and Policy (SIRP) http://www.sudaninstitute.org and Asmaa Society for Development http://asmaasociety.org, in collaboration with other Sudanese civil society organizations, and supported by eMoksha.org, Ushahidi.com and the Standby Taskforce.
The purpose of this initiative is to utilize information and communication technology (ICT) to support the independent monitoring and reporting of the referendum by Civil Society Organizations, the media and the general public. Sudan Vote Monitor will receive reports via text message, email and through its website. All reports will be mapped by our volunteers and posted to our website in real time. We will also produce a daily summary blog post of the reports we have received.
One report for Tuesday voting says the Nairobi Railway Station polling centre is overwhelmed.
The Khartoum government has yet to make good on an agreement on sharing oil wealth with southern Sudan, potentially jeopardising the fragile peace as the south’s population votes on whether to split the country in two, according to a report by Global Witness, the UK-based resource lobbyists.
The sharing of oil income, which accounts for half of state revenues in the north of Sudan and 98 per cent in the south, is among the thorniest issues as predominately Christian southerners prepare to vote on independence on Sunday. The south is widely expected to secede and emerge as Africa’s newest country.
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“Far less data is being published by the Sudanese government now than it was in 2008 and the first half of 2009, which even then was insufficient to be able to verify the oil revenue sharing,” said the report.
The United States has led pressure on the Khartoum government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir not to impede the secession vote. Carson said Washington was “extraordinarily pleased” by Bashir’s statements on a trip to the south Sudan capital of Juba on Tuesday that Khartoum was ready to let the south go.
“We hope that the north … will live up to those very promising statements,” Carson said.
Bashir’s visit is the latest sign that the referendum, which many analysts earlier said threatened to spark a return to war between the north and the south, may unfold peacefully.
Key issues including borders, citizenship and the fate of the oil-rich region of Abyei remain to be decided, making the six-month transition period following the secession vote a potentially dangerous period.
U.S. officials are already working on a development plan for an independent south Sudan, which accounts for 70 percent of Sudan’s overall oil production.
The United States is ready to recognize the new government quickly and appoint an ambassador to help lead efforts to improve basic infrastructure, healthcare, and education as well as trade and investment, officials said.
“We anticipate ramping this up very quickly after the referendum,” said Larry Garber, the deputy administrator for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
A senior U.S. official, speaking on background, denied suggestions the United States was motivated primarily by a interest in south Sudan’s oil, which remains a key sticking point in dealings between Khartoum and Juba and which has been largely off limits to western oil companies thanks to U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan in 1997.
US officials also expressed confidence that political agreement would be reached on oil revenue and other economic issues and that the status of Abeyei is “longer a potential flashpoint for war,” such that they do not expect further “major violence”.
Here is this week’s roundup “As vote nears, Sudan’s south anticipates independence and problems” from Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times. And here is Rebecca Hamilton’s “Sudan Dispatch” in The New Republic.
The head of Sudan’s voter registation effort blasted the Western donors for funding third parties to work in support of the registation effort for the referendum rather than fund the official agency receiving funds from the Northern/National and Southern governments, reports Reuters.
Major State Department briefing today with Special Envoy Gration, Assistant Secretary Carson and Samantha Power from NSC on Sudan diplomacy.
Interesting reference to Kenya leadership: “Regional leaders have a central role in the implementation of the CPA. The U.S. has been in close contact with Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi, Kenya’s Odinga, and chair of the Pan-African Union Jean Ping.”
Maggie Fick writes at Foreign Policy about the risk of internal fighting within the South even if the referendum succeeds and things are stable between North and South. This is well beyond any claimed expertise on my part, but I have a hard time imagining that she isn’t completely right–and I would certainly hope that serious consideration and planning has been going on within the U.S. foreign policy and security establishment on this for quite some time. The “gold rush” mentality coming from foreign investors and even NGOs–will certainly be a factor. Remember that Rolling Stone article about the Americans and warlords and mass tracts of farmland just south of the North/South border?
JUBA, Sudan, April 9 (Reuters) by Ed Cropley – The only thing that’s cheap in southern Sudan is life.
One of the world’s poorest regions, where four out of five people are illiterate and one in five children fails to make it to their fifth birthday, the south’s economy has been turned on its head since the end of a 22-year civil war in 2005.
A flood of foreign aid workers and more than $2 billion a year in oil revenues under a peace deal with the central government in Khartoum has transformed the south into one of the most expensive corners of Africa.
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Nobody knows how many people live in the city, although some say its population has trebled in the last five years under the weight of tens of thousands Kenyans and Ugandans out to make a quick buck.
“Earning $100 is difficult in Kenya. Here it’s easy,” said Amos Njay, a Nairobi taxi driver hoping a year in Juba will set him up in a trucking business.
Africans are not the only ones with an eye on the cash.
Foreign aid workers, holed up behind barbed-wire fences and armed guards in semi-permanent tented camps on the banks of the Nile, boast of earning $10,000 a month tax-free and with all their living expenses taken care of.
“You know what they say: in places like this you only get missionaries, mercenaries and misfits. Me? Sure, I’m just here for the money,” said one U.S. aid contractor knocking back a cold beer in a bar on the banks of the Nile.
Other drinkers ranged from dapper pro-democracy activists from the U.S. International Republican Institute to former soldiers whose lives are spent treading in the heels of conflict across the globe, cleaning up mines and unexploded bombs.
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