Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sudan “kills three” in alleged Blue Nile air attacks - Sudan Tribune

July 30, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Three civilians have been killed and dozens injured in a series of airstrikes conducted by the Sudanese army in the border regions of Blue Nile, the region’s rebels said on Monday.
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According to Arnu Loddi, the spokesman of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which has been fighting the government in the region since last year, the attacks launched on Friday, 27 July, and Saturday, 28 July, had targeted Ora-Balila, Magaf and Wadaka Nellei villages in the states, killing three civilians and injuring about 20 in total.
Attempts by Sudan Tribune to reach the spokesperson of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) for comments were not successful.
The report comes as the government and the SPLM-N started, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week, first indirect negotiations under African Union (AU) mediation to discuss ways of allowing humanitarian assistance to the conflict-affected population in Blue Nile and South Kordofan after both sides agreed to a United Nations (UN), AU and an Arab League’s initiative in this regard.
These are the first talks between the two parties since the government disavowed a deal it signed with the SPLM-N in June last year following the eruption of the armed conflict between the two sides in South Kordofan before it spread to Blue Nile two months later.
Since then, Khartoum has been blocking humanitarian assistance from reaching SPLM-N controlled areas, citing concerns that any aid might be used by the rebels.
But the UN Security Council (UNSC) ordered Sudan in May as part of a resolution concerning its conflict with South Sudan to “cooperate” with the SPLM-N in order to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the two regions.
The UNSC warned to impose non-military sanctions if provisions of its resolution are not met before 2 August but sources close to the talks say this is unlikely in light of the hitherto irreconcilable positions of the two sides especially on political and security issues.
The UN says about 200,000 refugees have fled the dire humanitarian situation in the two states into neighboring Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sudan says S. Sudan treating wounded Darfur rebels-AFP

Sudan says S. Sudan treating wounded Darfur rebels
KHARTOUM — Darfur rebels wounded in the latest fighting with Sudanese troops have gone to South Sudan for treatment, the army said on Tuesday, as Khartoum pushes Juba to end alleged backing for rebels.
The army and insurgents gave conflicting accounts of Monday's fighting, which came while Sudanese negotiators at fragile peace talks in Addis Ababa turned down South Sudan's proposal for settling oil fees and other critical issues by a United Nations-imposed deadline of August 2.
Khartoum said security is a key priority and issues such as South Sudan's "support" for rebels need to be settled.
In a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency, Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said the government killed more than 50 fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and wounded a large number of others.
The fighting erupted just inside South Kordofan state near southeastern Darfur.
Saad said a "big number of vehicles were seen carrying the injured elements of the rebels for treatment in South Sudan."
Casualty claims are difficult to verify in the region, where access is restricted.
JEM on Tuesday denied that any of its fighters had been killed in the battles or that wounded had been moved across the undemarcated border.
Rebel spokesman Gibril Adam Bilal said his forces had control of the Tabaldi oil field as well as the Karkade and Tabun areas since Monday evening.
Sudan accuses South Sudan of working with the JEM and of backing insurgencies in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The South denies supporting the rebels but suspected JEM fighters were seen alongside its troops during border fighting between Sudan and South Sudan in April.
The JEM denies any presence in South Sudan, which accuses the north of backing insurgents in the South as well.
The UN has called on both sides to halt any such support, under a May 2 Security Council resolution which ordered a ceasefire along the border.
The resolution gave the two sides until Thursday of next week to settle critical issues, including a dispute over oil, unresolved after the South's separation in July last year.
At African Union-led talks in the Ethiopian capital, Sudan on Monday rejected South Sudan's proposal of a higher oil transit fee and an $8.2 billion financial deal.
"We think security is a prerequisite," Mutrif Siddiq, a member of Khartoum's delegation, told reporters.
South Sudan separated with about 75 percent of Sudanese oil production.
But the export infrastructure remained in the north and the two sides' failure to agree over how much the South should pay to send its crude through northern pipelines has been at the heart of tensions between the two countries.
In January, Juba cut off all oil production.
Pagan Amum, South Sudan's chief negotiator, said on Monday that his government was ready to resume oil exports if "reasonable" transport fees are agreed.
He outlined a proposal whereby Juba would pay up to $9.10 a barrel to move its oil through Sudan.
Khartoum earlier demanded as much as $36 per barrel, which includes tariffs and transit, processing and port fees.
South Sudan said that "in the interest of peace" it was offering Sudan a multi-billion-dollar financial package over three years, including a cash payment and debt forgiveness to help fill the massive fiscal gap Sudan reported after it lost its main source of hard currency when the South separated.
Dismissing the offer, Siddiq ruled out any comprehensive deal by the August 2 deadline but said he remained hopeful in the longer term.
In Monday's fighting, army spokesman Saad said government troops repulsed the JEM at Karkade and another area, Um-Shuwaika, destroying 25 of its vehicles.
He made no mention of fighting around an oil field but said the army lost "a number of martyrs" in the action with rebels whose goals were dictated "by foreign circles."
JEM claimed it killed "tens" of government troops.
On Saturday, South Sudan accused Khartoum of a new cross-border air raid and said in response it would negotiate only through AU mediators, not face-to-face.
Sudan said it retaliated inside its own territory to an attempted JEM attack which Siddiq called a "stab in the back" by Juba.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sudan, South Sudan leaders meet over disputes | World News | Bradenton Herald

 — Aid agencies should have access to help internally displaced people fleeing from violence in Sudan and South Sudan, a top U.N. official said Sunday, one day after the leaders of the two nations met in a closed-door session.
The African Union summit called on the neighboring countries to resolve disputes over border and security issues by the Aug. 2 deadline set by the United Nations Security Council.
"The council calls on the two countries to speedily conclude agreements that would allow for the reopening of the border, facilitate the resumption of trade and support the livelihoods of border communities," said the AU's Peace and Security Council.
Leaders of both Sudan and South Sudan have addressed the meeting.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir met late Saturday in a closed door meeting which lasted an hour, according to a senior official in the South Sudanese mission who declined to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.
The official did not disclose details of the talks, which were the first meeting of the two presidents since a border dispute brought their nations close to war in April.
The African Union panel has been facilitating talks between the two sides since May 2010.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan last year after a peaceful vote, but violence has flared along the border. In addition, South Sudan shut down its oil industry after accusing Sudan of stealing some of the oil that it must ship through Sudan's pipelines. That decision has crippled both countries' economies.
The U.N. official, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliason, said in a speech to the African Union on Sunday that hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan are "in grave need of assistance."
"Aid agencies should have the funds and access they need to assist internally displaced persons and refugees," he said.
Aid groups have decried the decision by Sudan to block access to its southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where thousands of refugees are fleeing war between Sudan's army and rebels fighting the government.
Ethiopia African Union Summit
In this image made from video, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, left, greets South Sudan's President Salva Kiir at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, July 15, 2012. Delegates at the African Union summit are likely to focus attention on continuing hostilities between Sudan and the year-old state of South Sudan.
AP Photo

The AU-led talks so far unsuccessfully tried to ease fragile security issues between the two states, and resolve the status of the contested oil-rich region Abyei.
The talks were squashed in April when the two sides came close to a war after deadly border conflicts near the Heglig region.
Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the two countries' negotiating teams resumed talks on Thursday in Ethiopia's regional city Bahir Dar.