Sudan: Counting On Trouble


April 14, 2009: The government now claims that the official census conducted in April 2008 is "impartial" and meets international standards regarding scientific validity and transparency (ie, lack of corruption). If this is true, it is a very big deal. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the North-South civil war required a thorough and honest census in order to implement the elections and plebiscite that are part of the agreement. The census was the first one, since 1956, that included southern Sudan. The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) is suspicious of the national government -- with good reason. The GOSS believes the national government intends to under-report the south's population, since the census affects power-sharing in Sudan. It will also affect how oil revenues are divided between north and south. The census figures are to be released in two weeks. Leaked figures indicate the census shows GOSS controlling 20 percent of the national population. GOSS has long claimed that they control a third of the Sudanese people.

April 13, 2009: It appears another pro-Sudan government group may be behind the kidnapping of two French foreign aid workers. The group is using the name "Freedom Eagles of Africa." The group is threatening French targets in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad as well as Sudan. Bullying aid workers has become more public, frequent, and deliberate since the ICC issued its war crimes indictment of Sudan president Bashir.

April 10, 2009: Darfur rebel groups continue to fight with one another and jockey for political leverage. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) claimed that the Sudan Liberation Army-Unity (SLA-Unity faction) has recently suffered large scale defections. One JEM statement said that "90 percent" of the SLA-Unity had defected to the JEM. The SLA-Unity denied the report and said only 19 rebel fighters defected. The JEM, however, contended that major defections had occurred and that 17 SLA-Unity "commanders" were among the fighters defecting. JEM is putting increased political effort into forging a "more unified" Darfur rebel political organization.

April 4, 2009: The US said that the situation in Darfur has gotten much worse since the government expelled 13 foreign aid groups and relief agencies in March. The aid groups were kicked out as a "diplomatic gesture" by the government. The government objected to the ICC's indictment of President Bashir.

April 3, 2009: You have to wonder if he will ever be nabbed. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, is currently under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. However, he continues to make international trips, albeit to very specific destinations. In the last month, since his indictment became official, Bashir has visited Egypt, Libya, Eritrea, and Saudi Arabia. He also went to Qatar for an Arab League meeting. Call it Bashir's "thumbing his nose" tour.

March 31, 2009: The advance party of 100 troops serving with the second Egyptian infantry battalion, for UNAMID, arrived in Nyala, South Darfur State. Another contingent is expected to arrive within the next two weeks

March 26, 2009: The US recently named a new "special envoy" to Sudan. USAF Major-General (retired) Scott Gration speaks Swahili and grew up in Africa. His parents were missionaries.




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