|Africa News Digest
Bush Increases Sanctions Against Sudan
May 29 (EIRNS)President George Bush's bolt-out-of-the-blue announcement of unilateral U.S. economic sanctions against Sudan this morning, on charges of "complicity" in atrocities in Darfur, erupted despite the success of continuing joint efforts at humanitarian relief and peacekeeping by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and members of the United Nations, working with Khartoum over recent months. Sudan had accepted the Phase II UN hybrid deployment of 3,000 troops. A Security Council delegation was planned to go to Sudan in mid-June to review the situation.
South Africa's Ambassador to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, told press in New York, "Right now, the surprising thing was that we were thinking the government of Sudan was now beginning to take the right actions and agree to what we were going to do."
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said of Bush's unilateral moves, after a closed-door Security Council meeting at the UN, "To my mind it's a departure from the current common strategy of the Secretary General and the Security Council. If the overall strategy is changed, what is the role of the Security Council?"
In Beijing today, Liu Guijin, China's acting envoy on Darfur, said that, "Expanding sanctions can only make the problem more difficult to resolve."
Bush's new sanctions are focussed on 30 companies, doing business in, or with, Sudan; five of them are major oil operations. What this means, in effect, is that the new anti-Sudan sanctions package targets directly the peacekeeping measures already achieved. Since sharing national oil revenues half-and-half, between Khartoum and the South, is a contingency of the historic peace agreement signed recently between these two groupings, now the South will be deprived of its income.
Bush gave notice today that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rise is to prepare a UN Security Council resolution to impose additional punitive measures on Sudan. France has given support. The U.S. and Britain are considering a no-fly zone, an arms embargo over the whole country, and other military action.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesmen have denounced the sanctions. Interviewed on CNN today, Sudan's Amabssador to the United States John Ukec Lueth Ukec said that the international community should be pressuring rebel groups that have not signed the November peace accord, not attacking Sudan.
Sarkozy Itching To Help Dismantle Sudan Government
June 1 (EIRNS)French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said the Darfur crisiswhich he is blaming on the Sudan governmentwill be a top priority of his time in office, according to a May 31 Sudan Media Center report which cited AFP. On May 29, the same day that George W. Bush added 30 companies to a U.S. sanctions list, a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Kouchner wants to militarily establish a corridor from Chad, a former French colony, into Sudan to aid civilians, a May 29 Reuters wire reported. Such corridors could be used to supply anti-government rebels in Sudan as well. Kouchner is attempting to get the G-8 group of industrial nations to support this outlook. Germany will host the 33rd G-8 summit in Heiligendamm June 6-8.
On May 9, the U.S. State Department announced it wants French President Nicolas Sarkozy to play an important role in Darfur, particularly in a no-fly zone, according to the Yemen Observer on May 29. The Observer reports that, "Sarkozy is expected to be more aggressive as he is also gearing towards more coordination with Washington" in Darfur, where he has called for "urgent" action.
The New York Times May 31 said that Sarkozy is willing to participate in applying escalating pressure on Sudan "that would eventually involve the threat of force by a coalution of the willingno invasion and occupation, but a no-fly zone and perhaps a blockade." The Times notes that the U.S. military is reluctant to even plan for such contingencies, but ominously adds: "The French may now be more willing to act ... in Darfur than is the Pentagon."
African Union Rejects UN-Led Military Force in Sudan
June 3 (EIRNS)The African Union has objected to a UN proposal issued May 24, for the creation of a joint AU-UN peacekeeping force in the Darfur region of Sudan, because the UN would be in charge of the operation, according to an AP release yesterday, based on UN diplomatic sources. The AU is insisting on joint control of the peacekeeping force with the UN, because it does not want to establish a precedent for non-African nations to intervene in African conflicts via the UN, since anti-government groups in African conflicts are often backed by interests from outside the African continent.
The AU wants material assistance from the UN for its 7,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, but wants to have an equal part, with the UN, in controlling the joint force, so as prevent outside powers, operating through the UN, from creating Iraq-style interventions in Africa. Last November, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir agreed to a joint, or hybrid AU-UN force to strengthen the AU's peacekeeping force, as long as it was jointly controlled.
Since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France, the AU's concern has increased. Libération newspaper reported May 31 that Paris had approached European Union partners about planning and taking part in an EU-led force of between 3,000 and 12,000 troops into Sudan's neighbor Chad. French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Denis Simonneau said any force in eastern Chad could include French troops with the support of other EU nations and the United Nations. He added that initial discussions had already been held in Brussels, headquarters of the EU. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has also sounded out G-8 colleagues about creating aid corridors into Darfur. Simmoneau confirmed France was planning to host a meeting of foreign ministers from the G-8 countries plus China at the end of June to discuss the Darfur crisis further. G-8 leaders are also expected to discuss Darfur when they meet in Germany June 6-8.
Sudan Vice President: 'Sanctions Will Not Solve Darfur Problems'
June 3 (EIRNS)Sudanese Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit said May 31 in Oslo, that U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan will do nothing to help bring peace to the Darfur region, and will only hurt people in other parts of the country, according to a Sudan Tribune release today. Kiir, who is also president of the southern Sudan region, said his Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Sudan government are working on a solution, and that sanctions "will not solve the problems in Darfur." He pointed out that "southern Sudan will be hit first because its only income comes from oil."
After years of fighting the Muslim-dominated government of northern Sudan, the people of southern Sudan formed an autonomous region as part of a 2004 peace agreement. Even though Darfur is far from southern Sudan, southerners carry sway there because they also oppose the Khartoum government.
Kiir met Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere and Aid Minister Erik Solheim in Oslo. Norway helped mediate the 2004 peace accord between the North and South. Solheim was in Sudan last week to discuss southern Sudan and Darfur with Sudanese leaders.
Kiir said leaders of Darfur anti-government groups are supposed to come to southern Sudan in mid-June to discuss peace efforts, and that talks should last about a week.
Conference To Survey Security Threats in Africa
June 3 (EIRNS)The fourth conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), which began yesterday in Khartoum, according to a release from the Sudan Tribune, will include a comprehensive survey of security threats in Africa. The CISSA is affiliated with the African Union's Peace and Security Council, which has played a major role in recent years in addressing the current problems in Darfur, Somalia, and the Ivory Coast.
The CISSA was established in August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria, to fill a void in the continental security architecture on intelligence matters. It was born out of the compelling need to assist the African Union (AU) to deal effectively with multifaceted intelligence and security challenges confronting the continent.
The theme for the Khartoum meeting is "Towards enhanced stability, peace and security in Africa." The 54 African security and intelligence delegations attending the conference will visit Juba, in southern Sudan, and Darfur, in order to inspect the implementation of peace in these regions and visit the African peacekeeping forces in Darfur, according to the Tribune.