Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christians being forced out of Sudan : Voice of Russia

Christians being forced out of Sudan
Photo: EPA
PrintEmailAdd to blog
Interview with Petrus de Kock, Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs.
Dr. de Kock, could you try to explain to our listeners just what is the cause of the recent deterioration of security situation in the Southern Sudan?
Yes, as things develop over time there have been a few things that have been leading up to it. I think since the last year with the separation of the two countries, you know, there are some of the border regions that remain contested between the Northern and Southern Sudan. But I think in the case of this specific conflict that we have been seeing in this last month or two there are some areas on the border where you have a definite contestation for control over some oil fields. So, that is one issue.
And then kind of parallel to that is another phenomenon of certain groups that were allied to the SPLA\M from Southern Sudan before independence that now find themselves in the territory of Sudan. So, that is clear it has a lot of tension in the security issues where Khartoum feels that the Southerners are supporting people arming to fight against the Khartoum and vise versa. So, I think there would be some very isolated kind of pockets, you know, very problematical areas where some of these conflicts are actually taking place.
Dr. de Kock, according to reports coming from the Barnabas Fund some 500 000 to 700 000 people who are mainly Christians of southern origin are now being forced out of Sudan having been stripped of their citizenship the Fund reports. They have to decide until the 8th of April either to leave the northern country or to be treated as foreigners. And we need to remind our listeners that many of them fled north during the long civil war and have been staying in the northern part of the country for a number of years. So, how accurate is this report?
If that is the case I would be quite surprised because I do know the one issue that has been under negotiation – the southern people who are still living in Northern Sudan, I think one of the things they are negotiating about is at what point in this year will they have to either go back to Southern Sudan or to then apply for residence permits in Sudan. And that is one process I know of but whether this have actually been actions to expel Christians – I’m not so sure about that.
Many experts are saying that neighbouring countries also experience some deterioration in security situation as an outcome of the Arab Spring developments, namely the developments in Libya. Does Sudan experience anything like that?
I’ve seen some reports coming to the fore since last year when the big Arab Spring phenomenon started in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. And there were some movements in Khartoum and around Khartoum of people, especially among the students, there were some small student protests. And now, in this last week I’ve seen a report of some people in Khartoum who were arrested and it is actually people related to the very important family that has all kinds of political connections in the country. And there was quite a strong police crackdown on that.
So, there has been that movement in Sudan around Khartoum but I think more important than that, and something that is also linked to our previous discussion on the current conflict between some isolated areas between the Northern and the Southern Sudan, is the creation of what they call the Sudan Revolutionary Front. And that organization was created in the end of the last, the beginning of this year which is a new unified I would say armed movement that includes elements from Darfur, elements from the former SPLA\M that are in Sudan and from eastern Sudan.
So, what I think is – it is important to look at the terms of the political developments now in Sudan, that some of the developments are not actually the result of the tensions between North and South Sudan but it is also a result of internal and new kind of political and even military opposition taking shape against Khartoum. So, that is a whole new dynamic that is entering the conflict pattern now and it will take some time for us to see to what extent that will impact on the security situation in the Northern Sudan itself.
If there is an opposition against Khartoum being formed now, does that imply that the country is moving towards some kind of civil war?
Well, look – in a way Sudan is now in the unfortunate part of its history. You know, if you look at Darfur for example, let’s say in the last year or so there has been a bit of improvement in the situation, there has been some disagreement signs with some of the rebel movements. The relationship between the Khartoum and N'Djamena of Chad has improved dramatically which also helped to stabilize the territory but some of the bigger movements like the Justice and Equality Movement still refused to sign the peace treaty with Khartoum.
So, in a way even though Southern Sudan managed to get independence last year, Sudan is kind of on growing basis it has been caught in a civil war just in Darfur alone. And the emergence now of this Sudan Revolutionary Front is just a new symptom I would say of a much older political disease in Sudan concerning questions of marginalization of people not having access to political power or economic opportunity. So, this kind of dynamics is deeply embedded in Sudan’s history and it is basically taking a new from now as to the Southern Sudan independence last year.
Doesn’t it also resemble in a way the situations in other Arab Spring countries, even in such a seemingly peaceful country like Tunisia for instance when people were deprived of all access to ways of improving their life standards and we can see what is has brought? Is my impression correct?
I think yes, at some level we can make a comparison like that. I just think the conditions in Sudan, economically the country, you know, they have oil now they rely onto but in terms of the level of development in some of the peripheral regions – in Darfur, in the regions that are now along the border between Sudan and Southern Sudan, and even up in the eastern Sudan towards Port Sudan people have been complaining bitterly for decades about basic neglect at a political level, that they feel that their voices aren’t heard in the national Government and then the outcome of that is also economic marginalization.
So, I think those would be the two key kind of factors to study in Sudan that will also be appointed towards understanding the new conflict dynamics that is emerging. Of the two conflict patterns that I’m talking about there is the one that emerges now with the Sudan Revolutionary Front and they together with the tensions between the North and the South, there are contact points between those.
But does the Government of Northern Sudan do anything to address those explosive points in the situation?
Well, let’s look at Darfur. One thing that happened, and it is might be a small change in Darfur, is that in this I think past month President Bashir as well as the Chad President and of Alger were in Darfur to launch a new peace agreement. And part of that agreement gave Darfur’s political representatives I think five seats in the National Cabinet and that is one of the most important objectives of some of the groups in Darfur – to feel that their political voice would be heard in the national Government. So, at that level it is not major progress but at least some progress has been made in Darfur, but there is still a long way to go obviously.
The new challenge now will be for the Khartoum Government to prevent this slash points, conflicts on the north-south border to escalate further because the more that escalates, the more people who are resisting Khartoum would want to put political pressure on Khartoum to address the political grievances. So they would need a new kind of political intervention in Sudan to kind of try and lay the fears of marginalization of people. And that would have to be a huge national process I think of redesigning the political system.
Dr. de Kock, what is your forecast?
I think one interesting thing to highlight if we want to forecast. I think it was in January or February of this year, something very interesting happened when a group of quite senior Sudanese military officers sent a message to President Bashir and some of his security advisors that said that the Sudan armed forces are not prepared and at this point not willing for an all-out war with Southern Sudan. And they listed several reasons for that. One of them was poor equipment and another one is that they are deployed in Darfur, they are deployed in the certain areas on the border with the Southern Sudan and that operationally the armed forces are not ready for a major attack on Southern Sudan. And that had quite a shock impact on President Bashir because it is a sign of resistance from the military establishment to him.
To forecast now on the conditions in Sudan I think we will have to look very carefully at what are the signals of political instability in Sudan itself and to what extent will that impact on any decision to escalate the conflict with the Southern Sudan. The other issue that will impact on our forecast will be oil revenues because the oil exports have been stopped by Southern Sudan. So, both countries can either become reckless like they feel – look, we’ve got nothing to lose and let’s go to war, but I think this is a thing that will impact on its basic finances and the survival of the Government.
So, I think at this point in time in the medium term there is still a window opened for negotiation, to say – look, we don’t want to go back to war. You know, I think this is the most likely thing that is going to happen. There are going to be slash points of conflicts but at the same time there will be attempts I think at least to try and manage the process.
In this situation, what could the external powers do?
I think there is a big question at this point in time about the African Union High Level Implementation Panel that has been mediating in the negotiations between Juba and Khartoum, especially on the oil and those kinds of issues. So, I think there has been a bit of skeptical noises coming from Southern Sudan about the African Union and its ability, we see that southern interests are basically taken care of in the negotiation framework.
So, I think the African Union would have to revise its strategy maybe in consultation with the United Nations and regional organizations like IGOD – the Intergovernmental Organization on Development. And I think between those two regional organizations and the UN as an international organization, I think they would have just kind of in a way quite gently force the parties into negotiation and they also maybe for the deployment if necessary of other UN peacekeeping units to demilitarize that border regions.
I have also talked to several experts who were complaining about arms trade in that region. They were saying that arms trade has been on the rise. Would you agree with this assessment?
Well, I don’t have any specific statistics on it but I wouldn’t be surprised given the conditions of uncertainty, especially in places like Southern Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains where you have old elements of this SPLA\M basically located now on the Sudanese territory. I think in those areas we can probably see quite an increase in arms trafficking, basically people are arming themselves to protect or somehow try to challenge the authority of the Sudanese Government.
The Islamist factor, is it still there?
It is there, if you look at people like Hassan al-Turabi, he was a very close ally of the President Bashir until about 1999 when he fell out of favour with the Islamic movement. So, they are definitely there. And what is also interesting – earlier, I think it was last year at some point, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for example proposed to mediate between Hassan al-Turabi and President Bashir to find a kind of a political solution in this split between them. I would say Hassan al-Turabi is slightly more radical Islamist thinker and Bashir has proven himself to be an Islamist guy but he is not as outgo to put it that way as someone like al-Turabi. So, that factor is there and it does play a role in shaping dynamics in Sudan.
Did they mediate?
I don’t know what the outcome of that was. It is basically the last I saw about that story. I think that Turabi was in Cairo and then a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood traveled to Khartoum and while they were there they made this offer to mediate between the two but since then the story has just come dead. I haven’t seen or heard anything about it after that.
Does it indicate a growing support to Sudan from Egypt, from the new authorities there?   
Well, I think it is very important for Egypt to maintain its very good historical relationship at many levels – cultural, political, social, even economic in certain respect relationship with Khartoum. And one of the strategic reasons for that would be about the use of the water of the River Nile because Egypt gets about 85% of all its water from the Nile River. So, it is very important for it to maintain a good relationship with Khartoum and in that way also to present a unified position on any agreements on the use of the water of the Nile. So, I think even the Muslim Brotherhood would be aware of that and that is probably why, as they are ascending the power ladder in Egypt, they would want to solidify their relationships with Khartoum for that reason among others.

Sudan violence sparks war fears |

International alarm: Sudanese troops stand on top of a burnt out tank in Sudan's southern oil centre of Heglig, after they clashed with Southern Sudanese forces along the border. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
SUDAN and South Sudan have vowed to step back from the brink of all out war after three days of border violence.
Airstrikes and tank battles along the border had prompted international concern of a wider conflict.
Fighting on the ground had reportedly ceased on both sides of the undemarcated border but dead bodies and destroyed tanks lay strewn in Sudan's contested oil centre of Heglig, the site of bloody battles that began Monday.
Both Juba and Khartoum said senior envoys would meet in the Ethiopian capital today in a bid to stave off further violence.
"What we expect to achieve is the cessation of hostilities," said South Sudan's top negotiator Pagan Amum.
"We will stop the fighting that is there, and ensure that this does not erupt into war between the two countries."
Sudanese foreign affairs official Rahamatalla Mohamed Osman, who had arrived in Addis Ababa ahead of the talks, said Khartoum did not want a war with the South, but warned "if they want to accelerate, we will defend ourselves."
Sudanese warplanes on Monday launched air raids on newly independent South Sudan, while the rival armies clashed in heavy battles.
Both sides claim the other started the fighting, the worst since South Sudan declared independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.
The African Union, UN Security Council and European Union have called for an end to the violence, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Khartoum bore the responsibility for the renewed hostilities.
The AU said yesterday it was deeply concerned at an "escalating security situation" on the border between the former civil war foes, and called for troops to pull back 10 kilometres either side of the border.
The unrest jeopardises AU-led efforts to resolve contentious border and oil disputes that have ratcheted up tensions between Juba and Khartoum.
The last round of AU-mediated talks in Addis Ababa closed this month with an agreement on nationality and border issues, which was hailed as a major breakthrough in dragging negotiations, but the mood has soured since.
Juba said northern bombers and troops had struck first on Monday, moving into Unity State before Southern troops fought back and took the Heglig oil field, parts of which are claimed by both countries.
Sudan later retook the field.
"Heglig and all around it is completely secure," said Sudanese local army commander Bashir Meki.
A large contingent of Misseriya nomads from the paramilitary Popular Defence Force (PDF), a key battle force for the Sudanese military, patrolled the Heglig area with rifles and motorcycles, but without uniforms.
"We will fight for this border even without the government's permission, to protect our land," said Ismail Hamdien, a Misseriya leader who travelled to the battle scene to assess the situation.
Rebel forces that both Juba and Khartoum accuse are backed by the other were also reported to have joined in the fighting, and AU Commission chief Jean Ping called for a "halting of any support to rebel forces."
Oil operations in Heglig are run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium led by China's state oil giant CNPC.
"There is serious concern among us," one Chinese oil worker said. "How can we work in this situation? We want the government to protect us because we are working for the people of Sudan."
Southern soldiers were on high alert along the border fearing fresh attacks after pulling out of Heglig, said Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer.
"It is not our policy to attack and occupy, but only to defend ourselves against unwarranted aggression," said Mr Aguer, adding there had been no ground fighting yesterday.
"We are monitoring the movement of large SAF (Sudan's army) convoys near the border ... our forces are ready to respond," he added.
More than two million people died in Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war between Khartoum and southern rebels before a peace agreement which led to South Sudan's independence.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sudanese business group taking part in Ethiopian business exhibition - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
March 27, 2012 (HUMERA) – A Sudanese business group is taking part in a businees exhibition and bazaar which began on Sunday in Ethiopia’s Humera town in the Tigray region which borders Sudan.
Over 100 firms and businessmen are participating in the bazaar which is part of the wider platform of forging multilateral ties between the two east African neighbours.
Among the participants 40 are Sudanese businessmen from the adjacent states of Kassala andGedaref.
Delivering a speech at the opening ceremony, mayor of Humera, Alemu Ayanew, said such occasions open doors to enhance friendship and cooperation based on mutual interest of the two people of the two countries.
The Sudanese businessmen brought products including onions, ceramics, plastic furniture, electronic and building materials.
Residents of Humera said they are enjoying the fair and affordable Sudanese products.
Ali Farah Ali Ahmed, chairperson of the general union of Sudanese businessmen in Kassala, who led the Sudanese business delegation, said his group’s main objective in this bazzar is not to profit but to further strengthen the political, social and economic ties between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Humera’s chamber of commerce president, Birhane Hagos, said such exhibitions taking place between adjacent states of Sudan and Ethiopia allows both sides to transfer technology and share and exchange their experiences.
Organisers said Turkish businessmen will attend the event.
In 2011 a number of Sudanese firms and businessmen from Kassala and Gedarif took part in amobile exhibition and bazaar in the Tigray region capital, Mekelle.
During the past few years such exhibition and bazaars have played a crucial role in boosting trade ties between Ethiopian and Sudanese business communities.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

South Sudan will open embassy in Jerusalem - Bikya Masr

 | 25 March 2012 | 1 Comment

South Sudan President Salva Kiir with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
CAIRO: South Sudan and Israel discussed bilateral cooperation and diplomatic relations.
South Sudan said it will establish an embassy in Jerusalem, the Holy city, rather than the political capital, Tel Aviv, following the recent visit of the South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir.
On Friday the visiting Israeli ambassador, Dan Shaham, met with the vice president of South Sudan, Riek Machar, and discussed issues pertaining to the bilateral cooperation between the two states.
The issues included the support the Israeli government will provide to the new state as well as the status of some 1,500 South Sudanese currently residing in Israel.
Shaham gave assurances that South Sudanese refugees in Israel will be trained in various skills so they can contribute to the young nation upon repatriation.
Machar stressed the importance of establishing a Hebrew language school in the South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
They also discussed the plans for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land by South Sudanese Christian leaders.
The Vice President and the Israeli diplomat also discussed the ongoing disarmament of civil populations in Jonglei state. They also touched on the situation in the Middle East, particularly with the current violent events in Syria.
With the independence of the South Sudan in July 2011, Israel announced on 31 January that South Sudanese are no longer considered refugees and have to leave the Jewish state before the first of April of face forced deportation.
The UN refugee agency, HCR, said only some 60 South Sudanese agreed to return voluntarily to their new nation before April 1. The Israeli Interior ministry recently said no South Sudanese have appealed the decision to deport them or applied for refugee status since January.
Following its decision to repatriate South Sudanese, the Israeli authorities agreed, upon the request of the HCR, to give them the possibility to petition to stay in Israel. The official statics estimate that there are some 3000 South Sudanese in Israel.
South Sudan’s relations with Israel are frequently viewed with intense suspicion in the Egyptian press, caf├ęs and bars.
And this is because Egyptians view the Nile’s water sources, one of which flows through South Sudan, called the White Nile, as a matter of national security.
Egyptians fear that a “Zionist plot” is behind South Sudan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, and that there is a plan to shut off the water flow to Egypt.
To what end this fanciful consipracy theory would possibly benefit anyone involved, has never been elaborated.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Karti raps critics of nationality deal with South Sudan - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

March 15, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of foreign affairs, Ali Karti, has defended the framework agreement initialed by his country and neighboring South Sudan on nationality, saying those who rushed to criticize it had failed to understand its wisdom and political implications.
JPEG - 27.3 kb
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti speaks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum January 18, 2012 (REUTERS PICTURES)
Under the deal, which was announced on Tuesday following a round of talks held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa under the mediation of the African Union High Level Panel (AUHIP), nationals of Sudan and South Sudan will enjoy in the other State “freedom of residence; freedom of movement; freedom to undertake economic activity; and, the freedom to acquire and dispose of property.”
The two countries also initialed an agreement on demarcating their poorly defined borders.
The deals marked a rare sign of progress in protracted talks between Khartoum and Juba to tackle issues arising from the secession on 9 July 2010 of South Sudan from Sudan under a 2005 peace deal that ended nearly half a century of north-south civil wars.
The two agreements are due to be signed in a planned summit between Sudan’s President, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, and his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir Mayardit, in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
But the deal on nationality has come under fire before it is signed.
Sudan’s far-right political group, the Just Peace Forum (JPF), and its controversial leader, Al-Tayyib Mustafa, quickly lambasted the agreement as a threat to Sudan’s national security, vowing to mobilize the public against it.
Mustafa, who happens to be a close relative of Al-Bashir, further warned in a press conference held Wednesday that the government must either scrap the deal or exit power to allow the people to elect those who can defend their “scared principles.”
Speaking to reporters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday, Ali Karti, launched a counter-attack on the critics of the deal, saying they lack understanding of its contents.
“Those who rejected the agreement had failed to understand it” he said.
Karti explained that the deal is a mutually beneficial arrangement. He said whereas it gives southerners the right to enter Sudan and acquire properties, it also gives northern Sudanese equal rights in the South.
Sudan has stripped its former southern citizens of their nationality after the voted for the independence of their region. Khartoum also said that southerners staying in Khartoum after 9 July this year would have to regularize their stay as foreigners or go home.
Karti went on to voice his support for the deal, saying it is a good seed for maintaining social and economic connections between the people of Sudan and South Sudan.
Furthermore, Sudan’s top diplomat sees a strategic objective: the deal prepares the ground for upcoming round of negotiations between the two countries.
Karti said that reaching agreements on the issues of borders and status of nationals would be the beginning of reaching solutions to the disputes over oil and financial issues.
Negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan on a fair charge to transport southern oil via Sudan have so far failed to reach an agreement. South Sudan shut down oil production in January this year after Khartoum moved to confiscate its oil in lieu of what Sudan claims are unpaid transit fees.
Karti said that “this new spirit” would help open a new track of negotiations on security affairs.” He further revealed that the joint security committee between Sudan and South Sudan would hold a meeting in the near future.
The Sudanese minister further said that negotiating security affairs would eliminate doubts that the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) is harboring and supporting rebels from Sudan’s western region of Darfur and border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Equally, he said, the security committee must listen to the security concerns of South Sudan and take them under consideration.
Karti added that the upcoming dialogue would be serious and transparent.
Meanwhile in Juba, South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum echoed similar optimism. He told reporters following his return from Addis Ababa on Wednesday that relations with Khartoum have become “positive”
"When we were one country, we spent all the time together fighting each other and killing each other, and there has been a lot of that... but that is over now", he said as reported by AFP.
Amum said that Sudan and South Sudan’s old approach to negotiations has “led us literally nowhere.”
“Now we are going to try this approach, which is basically positive thinking, applied to problem solving," he added.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese council of ministers held its regular meeting on Thursday and approved the four freedoms agreement with South Sudan.
The council’s meeting, which was chaired by President Al-Bashir, received a briefing from the head of Sudan’s negotiating team Idris Abdul Gadir.
In a related development, the Sudanese opposition National Umma Party (NUP) issued a statement on Thursday welcoming the deal on four freedoms.
The NUP led by former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi urged the government to commit to the understandings signed with South Sudan and implement them with a strong political will.
The NUP also urged the government to show no leniency in responding to the “mongers of war” who seek to poison the relations between the two countries by whipping up racial sentiments.
The NUP said that the agreement must be complemented by giving the right of dual citizenship to southerners in Sudan and northerners in South Sudan.

Monday, March 12, 2012

South Sudan's FM visits France, pledges to intensify relations with Europe - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

March 11, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan said on Sunday that bilateral relations with European countries, particularly France, were “growing well” and that its economic ties were making "positive" ground.
JPEG - 35.4 kb
French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe (L) poses prior to talks with hisSouth Sudanese counterpart Nhial Deng Nhial on March 8, 2012 at the Ministry in Paris. (Getty)
South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nhial Deng Nhial, has returned from a bilateral trip to France. on 8 and 9 March Where he met French officials and business leaders.
"Our relations with European countries to which France belongs are starting and growing well," Nhial toldSudan Tribune on Sunday.
It was Deng’s first visit to France since South Sudan’s independence in July last year, which was attended by the French foreign minister, Alain Juppe.
Deng said his mission was "successful", adding that the state reception he received was "a valuable sign of the quality of the existing bilateral relations between the two countries."
The senior member of the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said that as well as discussing bilateral relations they also discussed the role France could play in resolving the oil crisis between South Sudan and Sudan.
Since South Sudan’s independence Sudan has begun confiscating southern oil crude passing through its pipelines, saying it was payment in kind for unpaid fees.
South Sudan responded by instructing the oil companies working at its oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states to halt production. Due to sanctions on the Khartoum government the oil companies with the biggest presence in Sudan and South Sudan are Chinese and Malaysian.
However, with South Sudan’s independence this could change with Juba indicating that it willreview all contracts signed, while South Sudan still remain part of Sudan.
In February South Sudan expelled the Chinese head of Petrodar, a consortium of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Malaysia’s Petronas, on the grounds of “non-cooperation”.
Juba has warned Chinese companies operating in South Sudan that they face expulsion if they are proven to be complicit with Khartoum in confiscating South Sudan’s oil.
During his trip to Paris last week, Deng met with business leaders, who he said expressed desire and readiness to explore investment opportunities in South Sudan, including French oil giant Total.
In his meeting with Total officials, he urged the oil firm to resume its activities in Jonglei State where it holds a 110,000 square kilometers block with Texas-based Marathon Inc. and the Kuwait Petroleum Co. since 1981.
The French operator, which is enthusiastic after the return of the American Marathon to the tripartite consortium, expressed fears that the security situation in the South Sudan’s largest state might not allow the swift return of its teams to the region.
Marathon, due to the US economic sanctions on Sudan had to abandon its shares in the consortium, but since last year Washington lifted the sanctions on the newly independent South Sudan and encouraged business community to invest there.
Jonglei has witnessed large scale displacement caused by raids and counter raids between rivals groups killing over 1,000 in the last year. There are also rebel groups operating in state. South Sudan rebels have vowed to stop the building of new pipelines to circumnavigate Sudan and pipe oil to the Kenyan coast.
Deng said that he met a number of business groups and companies, whom he said expressed desire and readiness to come and explore existing investment opportunities in South Sudan.
“Besides bilateral relation discussions with the minister of foreign and European Affairs, I was able to meet with senior members of France parliament including business groups and heads of some companies”, he said.
"Most of them expressed desire and readiness to come. They just need our approval."
Deng said that France was keen to assist the young nation reach a peaceful settlement with Sudan over the contested issues within the framework of mutual interests and bilateral cooperation of the negotiations currently under way in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As well as oil, the two nations are discussing borders, citizenship, trade, debt and the status of the disputed Abyei region.
A senior diplomat at the ministry of foreign affairs, who did not want to be named, told Sudan Tribune the minister’s visit as “very important” because the country was in “real” need of foreign support to overcome the challenges facing the new nation.
The stoppage of oil production has deprived the government of 98% of its income and plans for a new pipeline, which analysts say could take far longer than the government’s estimate that it will be completed within the year.
Later this month Juba is hosting an event in order to try and encourage foreign investment.
The official said that France was one of the first western countries to establish and maintain a presence in Juba well before South Sudan officially became an independent state and opened an embassy on the same day that South Sudan seceded.
He said that France provides an more than 110 million Euros a year to support peacekeeping operations and development in the South Sudan. France is also involved in the water sector and the civil aviation sector.
"France provided 6 million euro to support water project in Yei. They are also providing humanitarian assistance to the populations affected by the crises in the country. One of such tangible humanitarian assistance I can talk of is the assistance to Jonglei crisis. They provided 200,000 Euro to help the victims of the most recent inter-tribal clashes in January," he explained.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sudan's hidden conflict: Rebels, raids and refugees-BBC News -

Sudan's hidden conflict: Rebels, raids and refugees

Women carry water bottles across their shoulders at a refugee camp in South Sudan
Largely hidden from the world's media, a conflict is raging in the border area between Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan. The BBC's Martin Plaut reports from the border on the plight of the thousands who have fled their homes and the rebels' motives.
"I clutched my children to my bosom, when the Antonov bombers came," says one grandmother, who crossed into South South with her 29 children and grandchildren.
We cannot name her, since she hopes one day to go home.
A scattering of refugee camps along the borders have been erected by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to serve their needs.
Just one - Jammam refugee camp, in Maban county of Upper Nile state - is home to some 34,000 people.
Col Abdildem Dafalla Col Abdildem Dafalla said he had between 8,000 and 9,000 men fighting across the border in Blue Nile
It is estimated that around 100,000 people have fled their homes since the second half of 2011, when the Sudanese government launched an offensive against rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, in the south of Sudan.
Most set off with nothing but the clothes they wore.
Families we spoke to say many of their children and elderly were too weak to make the journey, and died along the way.
First estimates of the scale of the crisis by aid agencies proved inadequate, and the United Nations had to rapidly increase the scale of its operations.
Now a route has been opened through the port of Djibouti and on through Ethiopia and into South Sudan.
It is a journey of six to seven days, but the trucks towing trailers of basic supplies are now arriving to feed these huge camps.
Rebel alliance
The rebels who are taking on the government in Khartoum are the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North).
They see themselves as continuing in the footsteps of the movement from which they sprang, the SPLM of the late John Garang, which now runs the newly independent state of South Sudan.
When independence came in July last year, many SPLM forces in Blue Nile and South Kordofan were left stranded in Sudan.

Start Quote

We have not even requested support or ammunition from any other country because we know we can win this fight”
Abdildem DafallaSPLM-North colonel
These areas were supposed to have been allowed a vote to choose autonomy, but this was blocked by Khartoum.
Neroun Philip Aju, the SPLM-North's humanitarian co-ordinator in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, says the aim is to change the government in Khartoum - not to form another new state.
Fighting is vicious, with refugee after refugee explaining how they have been bombed from the air, with markets being a particular target.
This is likely to intensify as the SPLM-North has concluded an agreement to link up with three rebel movements fighting in Darfur.
A conflict that brings together South Sudan and the west of Sudan could prove a real headache for the authorities in Khartoum.
Until now the SPLM-North has been a somewhat unknown quantity. There are few hard facts about its operations in Blue Nile state and no independent sources of information.
Boxes of ammunitionRebel ammunition in border area waiting to be walked up to front line positions
But visiting the border area in Maban County, South Sudan, we pieced together a picture of the movement.
We saw no training bases or rebel camps.
This is a military zone and there were plenty of men in uniform from the South Sudan government forces - the rebels we did meet were in civilian clothes.

Start Quote

Neroun Philip Aju
If nothing is done we will have a humanitarian disaster”
Neroun Philip AjuSPLM-North
In a border village, we ran into Col Abdildem Dafalla of the SPLM-North, who told us he has between 8,000 and 9,000 men fighting in Blue Nile.
"We are moving around. If a specific place is attacked, we move away and then return to it when the Sudan government forces have left."
Asked whether his forces could win, he was confident: "100%, we'll win."
"We have not even requested support or ammunition from any other country because we know we can win this fight," he said.
The SPLM-North routinely denies receiving support from South Sudan, and the government denies any connection with the rebels.
Juba signed an agreement with Khartoum not to support rebellions in each other's states, but there are strong suggestions that both sides flout this pact.
Help from outside
Daily life for people in the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan is reported to be dire, with hundreds of thousands of displaced - many living in caves in the hills to avoid aerial bombing which happens day and night.
Aid arriving at a refugee camp on the border in South SudanSupplies are now arriving in South Sudan's refugee camps, but not in conflict zones across the border
Former UN official, Mukesh Kapila, who has just visited the area, told the BBC it reminded him of the "terror tactics" he had seen in Darfur.
"We saw whole tracts of deserted countryside and smoke rising from fires where fields of seeds that had been planted had been burnt off, " he said.
"We saw churches destroyed where people had run to take shelter. And we saw fear, hurt and anger in the eyes of the people we met."
Mr Aju showed the BBC a document signed by the UN, the African Union and Arab League calling for international aid to be allowed to flow directly into these areas of conflict.
"We have accepted that proposal for the delivery of aid to the affected population and we are waiting for the Sudan government to do the same," he says.
"March is a deadline. If nothing is done we will have a humanitarian disaster in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
"If the Sudan government does not accept the proposal, we would ask the international community to put the food in anyway."
This might mean sending aid in without government approval - something the UN appears to be considering.
This could put the aid agencies in an extremely awkward position, caught between serving the needs of the people and the demands of the states in which they are operating.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites