This twenty-third installment of Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest focuses on events of the past two weeks, including violence and insecurity in North Darfur and the continuing deterioration in humanitarian conditions. It is divided into four sections:
Section 1: Throughout Darfur and indeed much of Sudan, various humanitarian indicators continue a relentless deterioration. Additionally, the most recent report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) presents a truly terrifying portrait of malnutrition throughout Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where most of the region is indicated as suffering from Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that are above the emergency humanitarian threshold; large excerpts from the report and commentary may be found here. Huge swathes of eastern Sudan, Blue Nile, and other areas also have GAM rates above the emergency threshold.
Section II: The level of violence continues to be very high, especially in North Darfur/eastern Jebel Marra region. Khartoum’s flight ban on UNAMID aircraft in North Darfur (see below) is an indication of how tight a lid the regime wishes to keep on all reports of violence. This is further evidence of a continuing “change in demography,” articulated early on (August 2004) as a goal by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia.
Section III: International failure to come to terms with the real nature of the Khartoum regime continues to be on painful display. The U.S. and Europe have never seemed more powerless in bringing about the changes necessary if Sudan is to escape the 26 years of brutal tyranny by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party, and its endless wars on its own people.
Sudan itself continues to give all the evidence one would expect of an imploding economy: high inflation, a further decline in the value of the Sudanese Pound, an almost total lack of foreign exchange currency, a decline in remittances from abroad, and water shortages that are a function of the regime’s refusal to invest in a national infrastructure for key resources and commodities. The agricultural sector also continues in steep decline, even as external debt continues to rise: it now stands at over $47 billion.
Section IV: Politically, the confusion and indecisiveness of the African Union—the Peace and Security Council in particular—have never been more conspicuous. It has no success to point to, despite many years of engagement on Darfur. The AU PSC is ridiculed in two Sudan Vision editorials in a fashion as revealing of the regime as it is of the AUPSC (Sudan Vision is the regime’s primary propaganda vehicle for reaching English-speaking audiences; the editorials appear below in Appendix 3).
[Because the News Digest now appears on a biweekly basis, dispatches will often be reduced further in editing—many appearing with only the title, the URL (always embedded in the title), and perhaps a key sentence—and commentary will typically be briefer, although not on the present occasion.]
[For previous Radio Dabanga Digests, see:
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 13 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ia
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 14 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1II
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 15 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ji
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 16 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1JU
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 17 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Kp
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 18 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1L7
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 19 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Lm
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 20 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1LM
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 21 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Mv
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 22 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1MX
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 23 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Nr –and below
Per usual, Sudan Tribune has again been the source of several key reports on Darfur and the growing political crisis.
[All emphases in all quoted material (in bold) have been added; all editorial comments are in italics, in blue, with my initials following; a useful and quite recent administrative map of Darfur appears here.
 Humanitarian issues: child malnutrition, lack of vaccination; increasing morbidity during rainy season
• “Three million children in Sudan suffer from malnutrition”: UN | August 16, 2015 | Khartoum
One million children in Sudan under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition. Some 550,000 among them are severely malnourished and at risk of dying. Another two million are stunted owing to chronic malnutrition. Of Sudan’s 184 localities, 53 have severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rates that are classified as “very critical” (above three percent), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reports in its latest weekly bulletin.
Malnourished child in Darfur
The highest SAM rates measured are above 20 percent, and are found in three localities in South Darfur and Red Sea states. Most of the children with SAM are found in North Darfur, El Gezira, South Darfur, Khartoum and El Gedaref. These five states carry 51 percent of the national SAM burden.
• WHO: 16 million Sudanese children need measles vaccination | August 21, 2015 | Khartoum
A raging measles outbreak endangering the lives of children in Sudan threatens to get out of control, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country. Dr Naeema Hassan El Gaseer of the WHO was quoted in several media on Thursday as saying that the outbreak is unprecedented in the country. The number of measles cases has reached 3,000, most of them being children under five years of age. She said the outbreak seemed to have worsened at the end of July and warned that at least 16 million children in Sudan are in need of vaccination to head off the spreading disease.
Measles victim; many unvaccinated children will die; Khartoum prevents vaccination campaigns in a number of regions in Sudan.
• Disease spreads in South Darfur camps | August 25, 2015 | Nyala
The deteriorating health situation in Otash camp in South Darfur has prompted the displaced Darfuris living there to renew their appeal to the authorities and relief organisations to treat them against diseases.
Many children are suffering from diseases and malnutrition in El Salam camp. A resident of the camp near Nyala revealed to Radio Dabanga that measles has spread among the displaced population. “Dozens of people suffer from the disease inside the camp, where the health unit does not provide treatment for them.” He pointed to the spread of mosquitoes, because of the overflowing of the ponds, which may have led to the spread of disease.
• Health situation in North Darfur’s Zamzam camp deteriorating | August 24, 2015 | Zamzam Camp, North Darfur
The displaced living in Zamzam camp near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, complain about the rapid deterioration of the health conditions in the camp after five organisations stopped their interventions last June. An activist at the camp told Radio Dabanga that the five NGOs were working in the field of water, health, education, and non-food items. “They stopped their work in June because of a lack of funds.” He said that since they left, the health situation has deteriorated quickly. “We are suffering from an explosive spread of mosquitoes and sand flies causing malaria and kala-azar (visceral leishmaniosis, also known as black fever and dumdum fever). The rainwater pools are not being drained and the latrines cannot be cleaned owing to a shortage of water. “Moreover, kala-azar patients now have to go to El Fasher for treatment, as we cannot keep the medication at the camp because of a lack of refrigerators.”
Flooding Kalma Camp, the largest in Darfur (population in excess of 160,000)
• Three Darfur children die after drinking from pond | August 26, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
Three young herders died in East Jebel Marra on Monday, after drinking water from a rain pool. A relative of one of the victims informed Radio Dabanga that Aisha Suleiman Yahya (14), Abakar Ishag (12) and Ismail Adam Musa (10), as well as 20 of their goats died after drinking from a pond near Tamra village, seven kilometres east of Fanga. “The children and their livestock died immediately after drinking from the water,” he said, highlighting the intensive aerial bombardments between February and June “that left many remnants of bombs in the area.” He added that “many children in East Jebel Marra suffer from “swellings in their throats and heads. Recently four of them had to be taken to El Fasher for treatment.”
[The secondary consequences of aerial bombing attacks on civilians include not only unexploded ordnance (UXO), which has claimed a tremendous number of lives and wounded many more, but the poisoning of water source and contamination of fertile ground—ER]
• Medics strike in North Darfur and El Gezira | August 26, 2015 | El Fasher / Wad Madani
The doctors of the Teaching Hospital of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, as well as the Wad Madani Hospital in the capital of central Sudan’s El Gezira state, embarked on a strike on Monday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga from El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, a doctor said that they temporarily stopped their work after a member of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police slapped a female colleague when she refused to give a priority treatment to his wife. “The authorities should immediately put an end to such violations,” he said.
The medics of Wad Madani Hospital embarked on a general strike on Monday in protest against the non-payment of their allowances for two months.
• Darfur farmers predict poor harvest because of late rains | August 19, 2015 | Darfur
The late start of rainfall this year in most of the five Darfur states has raised concerns about the proceeds [from] the current agricultural season. The late and below-average rainfall in parts of Sudan’s western region may lead to a very meagre harvest, according to agricultural experts in Darfur. “They said that the situation requires from the government to take the necessary precautions and arrange for strategic stocks to cope with the expected failure of the agricultural season,” a farmer reported from Asalaya in East Darfur.
• Central Darfur farmers “pray for rain” | August 20, 2015 | Central Darfur (formerly West Darfur)
Farmers in Central Darfur conducted traditional “rain prayers” this week, to prevent the failure of the coming harvest, owing to the late and irregular start of the rainy season. “There is a big chance that the current agricultural season will significantly fall short to expectations,” a farmer told Radio Dabanga from Bindisi. “The authorities need to develop an urgent plan to confront the worst,” he said. “The situation is particularly acute in Bindisi, Mukjar, Garsila, and Um Dukhun localities, as well as the area of Foro Baranga in West Darfur.”
• Another 150 homes destroyed by rain in South Darfur’s Kalma camp | August 19, 2015 | Kalma Camp
Downpours destroyed more than 150 homes in Kalma camp for the displaced in Nyala locality, South Darfur, on Monday night. El Salam School B and the Teachers’ Union school were severely damaged, he said. Eisa explained that the entire camp, hosting more than 160,000 displaced, is flooded. “It has become extremely difficult to move around. Therefore reports by affected people are still coming in.”
Wreckage in an IDP camp following recent rains
• No morgue at Nyala Teaching Hospital, South Darfur | August 24, 2015 | Nyala
The Nyala Teaching Hospital that regularly receives unidentified victims of violent crimes, does not have any facility for corpses to be kept cool. An employee of the South Darfur Ministry of Health told journalists in the state capital Nyala that the hospital lacks a mortuary according to medical specifications. He said that a foreign organisation constructed a morgue, but was expelled before it could provide the required equipment. “Now we have a mortuary without refrigerators.
• Aid needed for South Darfur camp schools | August 30, 2015 | South Darfur
After an assessment of nine schools at the camps for the displaced in South Darfur’s Nyala and Bielel localities, the state Ministry of Education and UNICEF concluded that 506 classrooms need rehabilitation. [This represents only the schools to which UNICEF had access—almost certainly far less than half the school settings in South Darfur—ER]
The schools are also short of teacher kits, student kits, and textbooks, according to the assessment conducted between June and the first week of August 2015.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported in its bulletin this week that there 87 schools and 873 classrooms in the nine camps, which provide education to 97,163 children. This means an average class size of 93 students per classroom, which is more than double the minimum standard of 40 students per classroom set by the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies. As this number varies from camp to camp, many classrooms accommodate far more than the average and most are forced to operate in two shifts to meet all of the students’ needs. Of the 1,069 teachers working at the schools, 467 are volunteers.
There are a total of 564 latrines available at the schools of which 430 are permanent structures and 134 temporary. OCHA reported. According to Sphere Minimum Standards, however, the 87 schools require a total of 1,700 latrines.
[Education of children has suffered terribly during the eleven years of violence in Darfur; and even when there are schools to attend—not the case for most in camp settings—there is terrible overcrowding, and intolerable shortcomings, even in latrines. Note that the study represents only 87 schools for all of South Darfur, with half of Darfur’s population (more than 6 million before the beginning of genocidal conflict in 2003—ER]
 Continuing violence in Darfur generates only contempt in Khartoum
• 12-year-old raped in [formerly West] Darfur | August 24, 2015 | Zalingei, formerly West Darfur
A displaced 12-year-old girl was raped by two militiamen in Zalingei locality, Central Darfur, on Saturday afternoon. The coordinator of the Central Darfur camps told Radio Dabanga that two militiamen wearing military uniforms ambushed the girl as she collected straw in Azum Valley, one kilometre from the Hassahissa camp for the displaced where she lives. “They seized her at gunpoint, pressed her throat to stop her from screaming, and raped her alternately from about 2 pm until 4 pm,” he said.
• Gunmen rape four girls in North Darfur | August 29, 2015 |Saraf Umra / Tabit
Four girls were raped in Saraf Umra locality and East Jebel Marra in North Darfur state on Thursday and Friday. One of the victims might succumb to her wounds. Unknown armed men raped a 10-year-old girl near Wadi Singo in south Saraf Umra on Thursday. The victim was not found until Friday afternoon, and she is in a coma in Saraf Umra hospital. The coordinator of camp Dankoj told Radio Dabanga that the girl was raped when she went out to the farm to help her mother on Thursday and militiamen attacked her on the road. They left her bleeding and lying in the grass, which made it difficult for a group of rescuers to find her the next day.
In East Jebel Marra, three girls from Dawa village were raped by a group of gunmen on Thursday. A woman who is related to one of the victims reported to Radio Dabanga that the three were attacked on their way from Tabit to Dawa, 8km west of Tabit. The seven militiamen that attacked them were riding on camels. The men threatened the girls with weapons and left them in poor condition after raping them.
Girls such as these have become a favorite target of sexual assault by Khartoum’s Arab militia forces, and for the regular army as well (the mass rapes at Tabit last fall were committed by Sudan Armed Forces soldiers—at the command of their local garrison commander.
• Three women, two minors victims of series of rape in North Darfur | August 18, 2015 | Tabit, North Darfur
Several sexual assaults occurred in the vicinity of Tabit in Tawila locality, North Darfur, over the past three days, in which five women became the victims. There were two minors among them. The first incident occurred at the farms near Khor Mali on Sunday. A woman farmer reported that four militiamen, “guarding new settlers in the area,” raped three women who were tilling the farms. “They then stole two of their donkeys.”
The farmer reported another incident involving a 14-year-old girl, who was raped at Bir Bougie, 15km south of Tabit, on Monday at midday. “Two militiamen assaulted her and brutally raped her near the pump. They left her bleeding.”
On Tuesday morning, a 9-year-old was raped near Masalit village, some 12km west of Tabit. The perpetrators were allegedly shepherds [Arab herders]. The men then kidnapped four girls from Rahad Miri, a pond east of Masalit, and stole 20 sheep and four donkeys at about 10 in the morning.
It is for me impossible to imagine the ethnic hatred and rage that lead to the rape of a 9-year-old girl; these are the fires Khartoum has stoked for decades.
• Pregnant woman gang-raped in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra | August 30, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
In East Jebel Marra on Saturday, three militiamen raped a woman who is five months pregnant. The men, riding on camels and wearing scarves covering their faces, ambushed the woman (27) as she tended her farm in the area of Ashara Valley, west of Khazan Tunjur.
“The Janjaweeed seized her at gunpoint, and raped her alternately. After she was found, we brought her home, as there is no health care available in the area. We fear that she may lose her baby,” a relative of the victim told Radio Dabanga this (Sunday) morning. She added that the victim has not uttered a word since the incident.
• North Darfur militiamen: “Pay blood money or village will be torched” | August 16, 2015 | Kabkabiya
A group of militiamen have threatened to torch Gorgo village, near Kabkabiya in North Darfur, if its residents do not pay compensation for the death of one of them. A listener told Radio Dabanga that the militiamen demand SDG180,000 as “blood money” for the slain colleague in Gorgo, located some 18 kilometres west of Kabkabiya. The man was killed last week during an armed robbery. “They raided the house of merchant Shogar Hassan El Nur with the purpose of robbing him. When they fired around them to scare the people, one of them was hit,” she explained. “He died of his wounds on the way to the hospital.” She said the members of the Kabkabiya native administration intervened, and agreed to pay the “blood money.”
• New settlers arrive in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra, rape women | August 23, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of new settlers arrived in North Darfur’s Tawila locality, locally considered as part of East Jebel Marra. On both days, four women were raped in another wave of abuses against Darfuri farmers in the area. Speaking to Radio Dabanga a formerly displaced farmer who returned with her family to cultivate their lands in East Jebel Marra, reported that “hundreds of people riding in 25 vehicles and on camels arrived from the south on Thursday and Friday, and started occupying our lands and threatening the farmers.
“Many displaced who returned from the Shangil Tobaya and Tawila camps to work on their farms during the current rainy season, have left again.” She said that “a group of those militiamen” gang raped three women at their farms east of Debba Neira village on Thursday. “The second rape happened on Friday, when four militia members alternately raped a woman on her farm north of Dawaa village, southeast of Tabit. They also stole four of her goats.” On 19 June, Radio Dabanga reported that thousands of settlers have taken plots in abandoned areas in East Jebel Marra. The newcomers were identified by local pastoralists as members of Arab militias and migrants from Chad, Mali and Niger. Several eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that they spotted paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) roaming around to protect the new inhabitants.
• New Rapid Support Forces batch to be sent to Darfur | August 23, 2015 | Khartoum
The security apparatus in Khartoum celebrated the graduation of a new batch of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) last Wednesday. The RSF are commanded by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which celebrated the graduation of the paramilitaries in Khartoum on Wednesday. Maj. Gen. Ali El Nasih El Gala, NISS director of operations director, said in his speech that the current batch consists of 1,217 troops who have been trained for eight months on all combating operations. According to NISS director-general Lt. Col. Mohamed Atta El Moula, they were trained to “crush the rebellion in Darfur and South Kordofan.”
More Rapid Response Forces are on their way to Darfur; they will continue and expand the genocidal assault on the African populations of Darfur.
• Livestock released on South Darfur farms | August 27, 2015 | Nyala Locality
Armed herders drove their livestock onto farms belonging to displaced residents of El Salam camp near Nyala, capital of South Darfur on Monday and Tuesday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Sheikh Mahjoub Adam Tabaldiya reported that the herders told the farmers in the area of Tabaldiyat village that they will beat them if they drive the animals from their farms. “The herdsmen threatened that they will treat them as cattle thieves if they take any action to remove the livestock,” the camp sheikh explained.
• [Formerly West] Darfur displaced reject model villages | August 27, 2015 | Ronga Tas, formerly West Darfur
The more than 30,000 residents of Ronga Tas camp for the displaced in Central Darfur’s Azum locality reject the moving of schools and health centres from the camp to model villages constructed by the Darfur Regional Authority DRA. On Wednesday the coordinator of the Central Darfur camps told Radio Dabanga that the state government closed two basic schools, a secondary school and a health centre in the camp on Tuesday. “This is the first step towards the dismantling of the Ronga Tas camp which is part of the DRA plans to force all displaced in Darfur to move to model villages it constructed with the financial support of Qatar,” he said. He explained that the displaced prefer to remain in the relative safety of the camps until a just and comprehensive peace is reached. “They are afraid to return to their villages in the current insecure situation, and are more than willing to return after the militiamen have been disarmed and the new settlers expelled. “Unfortunately the government and the DRA are moving towards the dismantling of the camps by preventing aid organisations access to the camps, in order to force the displaced to leave.”
[This is and has long been the ambition of the Khartoum regime: to empty the camps, to compel “returns,” and thereby obviate the “need” for international humanitarian assistance—ER]
• North Darfur bans UNAMID’s flights over the state without permission | Sudan Tribune: August 23, 2015 | Khartoum
Senior Sudanese officials said the government of North Darfur state has imposed an air ban on planes belonging to the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and suspended all its flights to the state’s capital, El-Fasher. UNAMID will now require permission to fly its planes. In the past it only needed to notify the state government before flying. On Friday, the state’s governor Abel-Wahid Youssef cancelled a meeting with a visiting delegation from the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) saying they failed to meet the specified date and time of the meeting.
At the time, sources told Sudan Tribune that some members of the AUPSC team held UNAMID responsible for lack of coordination, which led to the delay of the delegation.
Government officials told Sudan Tribune under the cover of anonymity that the government of North Darfur took the decision to ban UNAMID’s planes after being convinced that the mission deliberately hampered the meeting of the AUPSC team with the governor.
[This is yet another egregious violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which Khartoum committed to in February 2008. The SOFA permits unrestricted movement by UNAMID, something that has never been remotely the case—ER]
• Armed robberies, raid in Central and South Darfur | August 24, 2015| Bindisi / Nyala
Bindisi locality in Central Darfur witnessed a series of armed robberies on Monday last week. A group of militiamen raided a market and a number of people near Nyala, South Darfur, on the same day.
• Military Intelligence detains two displaced in West Darfur | August 23, 2015 | Sirba
Military Intelligence (MI) officers detained two residents of the Armankul camp for the displaced in West Darfur’s El Geneina locality last week. “On Tuesday, a group of MI agents entered Armankul camp and searched a number of homes,” the coordinator of the camp reported to Radio Dabanga. “They accused Adam Osman Burma (40) and Maryam Adam Hassan (45) of cooperating with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and took them with them to the MI base not far from Armankul. The camp coordinator stressed that the two displaced “have nothing to do with JEM, nor with any other political organisation.”
• Three passengers killed on South Darfur road | August 21, 2015 | Gireida, South Darfur
• Robbers shoot dead two men in North Darfur | August 18, 2015 | El Taweisha
• Militiamen fire at wedding guests in Zalingei, [Formerly West] Darfur | August 16, 2015 | Zalingei
A school student (13) died of bullet wounds and another was injured in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, on Friday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a listener reported that on Friday evening members of a government-backed militia opened fire at a wedding party in Imtidad El Sawra North district in Zalingei. “Matar Mohamed Osman and Marji Abdallah Abakar were hit,” he said. “Osman was killed instantly, and Abakar was transferred to El Geneina Hospital in West Darfur, as the medics at Zalingei Hospital are still on strike.” He said that the attack occurred “within 24 hours of the killing of another school student in Zalingei.
• Striking North Darfur doctors demand safety | August 28, 2015 | El Fasher
The strike of doctors in El Fasher’s Teaching Hospital entered its fourth day on Thursday, because of the unpunished assault on a doctor on duty by a member of a paramilitary force. The doctors will only respond to emergency cases. Their demands, the doctor said, include the arrest of the Central Reserve Police member who beat a female doctor when she refused to give his wife a priority treatment. He has to be brought to justice, the committee stated.
• Darfur displaced call for US Envoy to visit camps | August 26, 2015 | Darfur
The Darfur displaced welcome the visit of Donald Booth, US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, but stressed the importance that he visit the camps. Yesterday, the US envoy arrived at Khartoum for talks with Sudanese officials on bilateral relations. The Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association also called on the US envoy to pay a visit to the camps in Darfur, and “directly listen to their complaints.” The Association’s spokesman, Hussein Abu Sharati, told Radio Dabanga that they have prepared “a package of urgent demands” concerning humanitarian aid and health and education services. “But most of all we need a secure situation, stability, and a lasting peace.” Saleh Eisa, the secretary general of Kalma camp in South Darfur, one of the largest camps for the displaced in the region, urged Booth to “exert pressure on the Sudanese government in support of the efforts to achieve peace in a way that enables the displaced and refugees to safely return to their villages.”
According to the coordinator of the Sirba camps in West Darfur, the US envoy should “hear first-hand about the situation instead of relying on reports provided by the government.” He told Radio Dabanga that the displaced desperately await the end of the war, and demand the disarmament of the Janjaweed militias and the expulsion of the strangers who occupied villages abandoned by the displaced. “We need the US envoy to pressure the government and the rebel movements to extend the two-month ceasefire, offered by President Al Bashir last week, to 12 months, during which they should enter a genuine dialogue that will lead to a comprehensive peace that ends the suffering of the displaced in Sudan.”
The third Obama administration Special Envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth
[There is absolutely no evidence that the U.S. intends to increase pressure on Khartoum to halt its genocidal counter-insurgency campaigns in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile. Indeed, the Obama administration refuses to make of Khartoum’s continuing humanitarian blockade in South Kordofan and Blue Nile a serious issues, despite the hundreds of thousands of lives at risk—ER]
Leaders at the eastern Chad refugee camps also welcomed the visit of the US envoy to Sudan. One of them reported to Radio Dabanga that the Darfuri refugees are living in “extremely poor humanitarian circumstances” owing to the reduction of food rations.
• Sudan appoints new special prosecutor for Darfur crimes | Sudan Tribune |August 23, 2015 | Khartoum
The Sudanese government has appointed a new special prosecutor for Darfur crimes to succeed Yasir Ahmed Mohamed who was redeployed elsewhere. The new prosecutor al-Fatih Issa Taifoor assumed his post officially in the state of North Darfur where he arrived on Saturday…
Taifoor said he will seek to achieve this goal relentlessly so that Darfur would enjoy security and social peace. Khartoum created this position in 2003 to prove to the international community its seriousness in trying the perpetrators of crimes allegedly committed in the course of the Sudanese government’s war against armed rebels in western Sudan.
However, the previous three prosecutors who occupied the position failed to bring charges against any individual despite credible reports of atrocities committed during the zenith of the conflict in 2003 and 2004.
[Four special prosecutors for crimes in Darfur—and not one charge brought or conviction obtained: there could hardly be a better illustration of how absurd this legal pretense really is—ER]
• UN human rights commissioner urges end of “endemic impunity” in Darfur | August 21, 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland
Serious human rights violations and abuses that occurred in Darfur in 2014, including killings and sexual violence, have largely gone uninvestigated and unpunished, according to a new report by the UN Human Rights Office. The report, based on information provided by the African Union-UN hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), details cases of human rights violations and reveals widespread impunity. Of the 411 cases documented by UNAMID [a painfully small percentage of those that have occurred—ER] of alleged violations and abuses of the right to physical integrity, very few were investigated or resulted in arrests. Of these, 127 involved the use of sexual violence. These 411 cases are illustrative of a much broader pattern of violence, the report “Impunity and Accountability in Darfur for 2014” states.
“The report paints a very grim picture of the systemic failure, or outright refusal, by the authorities to take human rights violations seriously. Most victims have not received justice or any remedies for the wrongs that they suffered,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad El Hussein said.
[Welcome as this statement is, it tells us nothing new, nothing that has not been reported by Radio Dabanga for years. And there is absolutely no evidence that a new report will change diplomatic, political, or military behavior in the slightest. This is little more than moral posturing—ER]
“The casual manner in which inquiries by UN human rights staff have been dismissed by local police is deeply disturbing and indicates the extent to which state officials feel they are above the law. The authorities must bring an end to the endemic impunity in Darfur.” The report details incidents where Sudanese police and security forces were allegedly involved in physical attacks against civilians, including shooting and killing, as well as abductions, robberies and extortion. Such cases are under reported owing to fears of reprisals and a general lack of trust in the authorities.
[This is not news; it has been authoritatively reported—in much greater detail—by Radio Dabanga for years. To suggest otherwise, however indirectly, is disingenuous—ER]
[See recent report on political repression by Human Rights Watch, below as Appendix 1—ER]
 Political repression continues to increase as the economy deteriorates; the two are inextricably linked.
An increase in food and fuel shortages, rampant inflation far above the official level, and increasing unemployment should be seen against the backdrop of al-Bashir’s promise: “Next year will be one for Lasting Peace (Sudan News Agency [SUNA]). In the minds of those who make the key decisions in Khartoum these days—all from the military or security services—this “lasting peace” can only be achieved through military victory on all three rebel fronts, with horrific costs to the civilian populations of these regions.
• USD price expected to rise beyond 10 Sudanese pounds | August 18, 2015 | Khartoum
The exchange rate of the Sudanese pound against the US dollar unprecedentedly plummeted to trading at SDG9.85 on Monday, compared to 9.5 pounds on 10 August. Traders in Sudan’s black markets, suffering from a shortage of foreign currency, predicted that the price of the dollar will rise beyond SDG10. A black market trader speaking to Sudan Tribune noted that large quantities of US dollars are traded at a slightly higher rate of 9.90 pounds. The official exchange rate is one dollar against 6.1 Sudanese pounds and it rarely fluctuates. Supply and demand remain the key factor in determining the exchange rate for traders at the black markets. Hard currency is scarce and expectations are that the highly-demanded US dollar might rise beyond 10 Sudanese pounds.
• Sudanese Pound drops further against US Dollar | August 24, 2015 | Khartoum
The black market rate for the Sudanese Pound showed a sharp drop against the US Dollar on Sunday. After months at a stable rate of SDG9.50, the Dollar now amounts to SDG10.05, a dealer told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum. “The rate is even higher for transactions of more than $1,000,” he said. The slide is remarkable as the Sudanese government announced in July that it had received a billion US Dollars from Saudi Arabia in deposits at the Sudanese Central Bank. The inflation rate decreased significantly that month to 14.10 percent, while it has averaged at 31.16 percent during the past years.
[This is an important statistical averaging, and suggests that in promulgating an inflation rate of “14.1 percent,” the Central Bureau of Statistics is “cherry picking” that prices it wishes to include in the overall inflation rate. Certainly that rate does not include inflation in food and fuel prices. True annual inflation almost certainly exceeds 50 percent—ER]
The announced cash injection should have reduced the price of the Dollar against the Sudanese Pound. However, the growing demand for foreign currency is causing the rise of the Dollar, the Khartoum dealer said. He expects that the Sudanese Pound will slide even further on the parallel market. Sudanese economists say that the government is the largest buyer from the black market, including the Central Bank and other government institutions. More than five years ago, foreign currency reserves at the Central Bank of Sudan—needed to import foodstuffs and medicines—began declining sharply.
[It is very important to remember that the drop in foreign currency reserves in the Central Bank of Sudan began “more than five years ago”—before the July 2011 independence of South Sudan. The regime has been running the economy into the ground for many years, and only large oil revenues prevented their destructive policies from becoming evident sooner, especially in the agricultural sector—ER]
In May this year, Sudanese economists warned of a considerable rise in food prices during the coming months. They said that the rising inflation rate over the last two months was an indication that prices of basic commodities will continue to rise significantly the coming period. The economists attributed the inflation to the decreasing value of the Sudanese Pound. They said that Sudan’s production losses, rampant corruption, the drop in remittances by Sudanese expatriates, and huge expenditure on military operations have also considerably damaged the country’s economy.
[Here we should again recall the deeply pernicious misrepresentation of the Sudanese economy by Edward Gemayel, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan; Gemayel declared in a press release of October 2013 that “Sudan has a long track record of implementing sustainable economic policies.”
Gemayel should have a conversation with those waiting in bread lines…lines created by the shortage of bread, created by the shortage of wheat, created by the lack of foreign exchange currency. Perhaps he can explain exactly what he means by “sustainable”—ER]
• Concerns about food gap, price rises in Sudan | August 21, 2015 | Khartoum / Darfur
A political party has predicted a food gap for the Sudanese people in the coming season, because of the delayed entry of the rainy season, and a poor preparation of irrigation projects. The irregular rainfall has resulted in concerns about a rise in food prices. Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb, the Sudanese Communist Party’s secretary, told Radio Dabanga that poor preparations, lack of diesoline, and lacking water canal maintenance will lead to shortages in key crops such as sesame, sunflower, and groundnuts.
The late start of rainfall this year in most of the five Darfur states has raised concerns about the proceeds of the current agricultural season. In various interviews with Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, Darfuri farmers expressed their concern about the start of the rains in August instead of June. An East Darfur farmer, quoting agricultural experts, said that the situation requires from the government to take the necessary precautions and arrange for strategic stocks to cope with the expected failure of the agricultural season.
While parts of Darfur have been afflicted by heavy rainfall since this summer, not a single raindrop has fallen in other areas. The local drought forced a number of herdsmen to move their livestock to the south and east of Nyala, a resident reported to the radio station at the end of July.
[This grim prospect for this year’s crops should be seen against the backdrop of what is already extremely serious malnutrition in all of Sudan, especially among children under five (see above)—ER]
• Homeless protest the removal of their houses in Khartoum | August 28, 2015 | Khartoum
The former residents of El Kheirat in the east of the Sudanese capital protested yesterday against the removal of their houses by authorities on Sunday. About 800 houses were demolished the same day, affecting hundreds of families, which now live outside… “800 families now live in the open during the rainy season, at risk of the outbreak of disease,” Hamid Mohamed said.
• Special envoy inquires about Sudan’s gum Arabic for US market | August 28, 2015 | Khartoum
The delegation of the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan held talks with the Sudanese Gum Arabic Company on Thursday and showed interest in whether the country is ready for the US market of gum Arabic.
[It is not clear whether this happened or happened in the way that is reported here; expanding trade with Sudan at the very moment in which the regime seems destined to be removed by popular force because of a collapsing economy is the last thing the Obama administration should be doing; increasing the number of dollars it sends to Khartoum is deeply counter-productive—we should watch carefully for Booth’s departing statement—ER]
The president of the Gum Arabic Company, Abdelmajid Abdelgader, said that the team of special envoy Donald Booth wanted to be guaranteed on whether Sudan was ready to export a sufficient production of gum Arabic to the U.S. The president told reporters yesterday that during the talks at the company’s headquarters in Khartoum, they raised the problems facing the gum Arabic production, the most prominent being the American sanctions. He added the ban of international banks dealing with Sudanese banks and the difficulty of transferring money to the problems.
[These are precisely the sorts of problems genocidal regimes should encounter—and the Europeans should be doing much more to assist in creating “difficulties” for a regime that, so long as it remains in power, will continues to wage brutal wars against its own people—ER]
The US delegation “showed convictions that Sudan is the only source for the production and export of gum Arabic,” Abdelgader said. “The American officials wanted to know whether Sudan is ready to meet the needs of the US market of gum Arabic.” Gum Arabic is an emulsifier and a stabiliser made from the branches of the acacia Senegal tree. Sudanese gum Arabic was the only exemption when the United States imposed trade sanctions against Sudan in 1997 for supporting terrorism. The US said that such a ban would have hurt the country’s food industry.
[U.S. policy assessment in granting the exemption is a reflection of the narrow political interests of former Congressman Robert Menendez, whose district has the largest gum Arabic processing plants in the country; perhaps unsurprisingly, “Senator” Menendez has been charged with significant corruption in office. Gum arabic is not critical to the U.S. food industry: the overwhelming amount is used in candy, chocolate, and soda pop as an emulsifier. It is also used in printing ink, and there was heavy pressure from those in the printing industry to grant an exemption—ER]
Sudan is the globe’s foremost producer at an estimated 88,000 tons per year. Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria produce 95 percent of gum Arabic exported to the world market. An economist told Radio Dabanga that increased export of gum Arabic may not only lead to improved relations with the US, but will boost the Sudanese economy significantly.
[And “boosting” the economy is precisely what the Obama administration should NOT be doing—ER]
On Wednesday, Booth discussed with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour the outstanding issues between the two countries. “The visit comes within the framework of our diplomatic efforts to develop ties with the Sudanese and to discuss all issues framing relations between the two nations,” said the US embassy spokesman, Caroline Schneider.
[By design, there is nothing of note in this statement—ER]
A provisional UN agenda for a sustainable development summit next month in New York has listed the Sudanese head of state as scheduled to speak on 26 September. Sudan’s Deputy UN Ambassador Hassan Hamid Hassan replied affirmative when asked whether President Omar Al Bashir would attend the summit.
[So, how will the Obama administration handle the insistence by al-Bashir that he be allowed to speak at the UN? Last year the State Department never responded to a request from al-Bashir for a visa; that trick is unlikely to work this time: a real decision must be made. Will an indicted génocidaire be allowed on American soil?—ER]
In February this year, Dr Ibrahim Ghandour (presidential assistant at the time) was invited to the American administration in Washington on a number of important issues related to the bilateral relations between Sudan and the U.S. The then Foreign Minister Ali Karti was allowed to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast.
[There are indeed many signs of growing rapprochement between Khartoum and the Obama administration—ER]
• Bashir appoints U.S. sanctioned general as new defence minister | Sudan Tribune: August 23, 2015 | Khartoum
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir issued a decree today in which he named a new defence minister to replace Mustafa Obeid who served in this role temporarily following the cabinet reshuffle of last June. The incoming top military chief General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf was the former head of military intelligence and also chairman of the joint chief of staff before he was relieved in June 2010.
Following his military tenure, Ibn Auf was chosen to be Sudan’s ambassador in Oman.
He is also on a list of individuals sanctioned by the United States in May 2007 for his alleged role in the Darfur conflict along with other figures. A U.S. State department Wikileaks cable from 2008 says that Ibn Auf “has acted as liaison between the Sudanese government and the Government-supported Janjaweed militias, which have attacked and brutalized innocent civilians in the Darfur region.” “He has also provided logistical support for the Janjaweed and directed attacks,” the cable reads. The appointment comes days after Bashir offered a two-month ceasefire to rebels in order to attend the national dialogue process initiated by him in early 2014.
[The announcement that Special Envoy Booth will be traveling to Khartoum came the same day that al-Bashir announced that his new Minister of Defense, a general who “is on a list of individuals sanctioned by the United States in May 2007 for his alleged role in the Darfur conflict along with other figures.” This only emphasizes how fully the Obama administration has “de-coupled” Darfur from the developing bilateral relationship between Khartoum and Washington—ER]
Bashir’s decision to bring a retired general into this position rather than an active service member may suggest his desire to mitigate the risk of a military coup. He has waited almost three months after the new post-elections cabinet formation in early June to pick a new minister. Since 2000, Bashir has picked only his closest confidants for this position including his current First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh and current governor of Khartoum Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein who held the defence portfolio since 2005 until last June.
[This analysis is supported by a recent brief from the Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria, South Africa); the entire text appears in Appendix 2, but here is a key section:
Decisions of who would be assigned a command in the SAF have always been, and still are, crucially influenced by al-Bashir’s self-protective tendencies. Officers lacking professional qualities are usually given better appointments and accelerated promotions simply because of their loyalty and to secure the permanent loyalty of the SAF by preventing coups d’états. Divide-and-rule personal policies are constantly practiced.
This is precisely right. And, who better to protect al-Bashir than someone complicit in the same vast crimes in Darfur for which al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court: genocide and crimes against humanity?—ER]
• Sudan’s Communist Party rejects “any dialogue” with Khartoum | August 20, 2015 | Khartoum
The Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) will not enter into any dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party. The political secretary of the CPoS, Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb, said during a news conference held at the party’s headquarters in Khartoum on Wednesday that the Sudanese communists categorically reject any solution that will not lead to a radical change in the country’s governmental structure. He reiterated his party’s position, saying that the one-party system should be replaced by a transitional government for four years, “that will develop a new constitution in cooperation with all sectors of the Sudanese society.”
• Darfur students arrested in Khartoum court | August 27, 2015 | Khartoum
• Ten Sudanese Congress Party activists detained in Khartoum | August 23, 2015 | Khartoum North
• Al Bashir offers ceasefire, amnesty for rebels in Sudan’s dialogue | August 21, 2015 | Khartoum
[An utterly meaningless gesture—ER]
• South Darfur prisoners transferred to Sudan’s capital | August 20, 2015 | Khartoum
• Sudanese activists submit memo to Human Rights Council in Khartoum | August 19, 2015 | Khartoum
• “Compensation for September protest victims not enough”: Sudanese lawyer | August 16, 2015 | Khartoum
• UN experts urge Sudan to overturn ‘outrageous conviction’ for indecent dressing | August 29, 2015 | Khartoum
 The African Union—specifically the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC)—has failed miserably in negotiating forcefully with Khartoum.
It stood by, indeed facilitated the unworkable Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), despite overwhelming rejection by Darfuri civil society; it has failed to negotiate an end to the humanitarian embargo imposed by Khartoum on South Kordofan and Blue Nile; it has failed to respond in meaningful fashion to Khartoum’s continuing annexation of Abyei; it has failed to negotiate a meaningful cease-fire in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, or even to condemn Khartoum’s most egregious war crimes; it has allowed UNAMID in Darfur to be led by a series of incompetent, self-congratulating fools; it has allowed an incompetent Thabo Mbeki to stay on as leader of the “African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (the “implementation” referring to the implementing of the 2009 “Roadmap for Peace in Darfur, yet another disastrous AU failure). To be sure, the AU has plenty of company throughout the international community. But it is the African Union that continues asserts, explicitly and implicitly, that it is up to the diplomatic tasks at which it has failed so badly.
Thabo Mbeki, seen here with Zimbabwe’s brutal strongman Robert Mugabe…whom Mbeki assisted in a number of ways while president of South Africa
• Sudan requests AU to renew efforts towards lifting of sanctions | August 17, 2015 | Addis Ababa
The head of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, received the Sudanese Foreign Minister Prof Ibrahim Ghandour in Addis Ababa on Saturday. The FM briefed Dlamini Zuma on the impact of the unilateral sanctions imposed on Sudan, the efforts being deployed by the Sudanese government regarding the preparations for the National Dialogue announced by President Al Bashir in January 2014, the situation in Darfur, and the implementation status of the 2012 Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan.
[What seems to be the implicit argument here—that peace in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan is somehow to be blamed on “unilateral” (i.e., U.S.) sanctions—is preposterous propaganda—ER]
Dlamini Zuma seized the opportunity to reiterate the AU’s continued commitment to assist the Sudanese stakeholders overcome the many challenges confronting their country, and said that progress in addressing the conflicts facing Sudan would greatly facilitate the efforts being undertaken by the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). According to the AU press statement on the meeting on Saturday, Ghandour stressed the importance of the Union’s renewed efforts towards the lifting of sanctions imposed on his country.
The AU Commission head recalled that the AU has regularly called for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Sudan. He also called for the early completion of the exit strategy for the joint AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and reiterated the commitment of the Sudanese authorities to ensure the successful holding of the National Dialogue, including by facilitating the participation of all stakeholders.
[When it comes to the African Union, Khartoum is all “take” and no “give”; and since the AU keeps giving, one way or another, Khartoum keeps taking—ER]
The chairwoman acknowledged the need to develop an exit strategy for UNAMID. She said that “such a strategy should be conceived and implemented in a manner that does not jeopardise the gains made since the deployment of the operation.”
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the first woman to lead the continent, and the first from southern Africa, since the AU’s predecessor (the Organization of African Unity) was founded in 1963.
[Zuma’s claim of “gains” made by UNAMID is absurd, as surely she must know—all she need do is look at what is reported by Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, and occasionally human rights groups (e.g., the Human Rights Watch report on the mass rape of women and girls at Tabit, North Darfur and the failed UNAMID investigation). And Zuma must also know that the mission has failed in large measure because of the obstructive measures taken by Khartoum (see, for example, the above dispatch detailing the grounding of all UNAMID aircraft in North Darfur). This kind of disingenuous “non-speak” seems to be an AU specialty—ER]
• Sudan’s opposition condemns “silence” of international community | August 19, 2015 | Khartoum
Sudanese opposition forces denounce the silence of the international community regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. In a press conference in Khartoum on Tuesday, Dr Maryam El Sadig El Mahdi, co-vice-president of the National Umma Party, condemned the continuation of the government’s air and ground attacks against “innocent civilians” in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and Darfur, as well as the ongoing suppression of the freedom of expression in the country. She fiercely criticised the international community for its “dealing with the Sudanese regime’s gross human rights violations in the country in an out-of-date manner.”
[Sadly, the feckless manner exhibited by the international community does not go “out-of-date”—ER]
• Displaced doubt impact of AU delegation visit to Darfur | August 20, 2015 | Darfur
The Darfur displaced have expressed their reservations about the one-day assessment visit of a delegation of the AU Peace and Security Council to North Darfur on Friday. Ahmed Ateem, coordinator of the North Darfur camps, called on the delegation members not to restrict their meetings to government officials, but to also visit the camps. He told Radio Dabanga, however, that most displaced regard the visit as “a public relations activity in favour of the government. “The Sudanese government has invited the AU delegation and set the stage for misleading reports by officials that do not reflect the reality of most of the people in Darfur. This visit may well be a forebode of new violent actions against the Darfuris.”
The coordinator of the Central Darfur camps for the displaced underlined Ateem’s words. He urged the AUPSC to be “neutral” in its assessment of the situation in Darfur. “If they really want to retrieve the facts, they should also visit camps that “are not controlled by the government.”
[We may be sure that the AU delegation will NOT visit camps that are “not controlled by the government,” and that they will NOT meet with people who can speak openly for fear of savage retribution my Khartoum’s security forces, which will be omnipresent during this visit—most out of uniform—ER]
• “AUHIP mediation should be strengthened”: Sudan’s opposition forces | August 24, 2015 | Addis Ababa
The Sudan Appeal forces, represented by leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance and the National Umma Party, led by El Sadig El Mahdi, submitted a position paper to the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa on Sunday evening.
[Even if Mbeki’s AUHIP takes the document seriously, there will be no seriousness in attempts to use it as a negotiating bridge with Khartoum: Mbeki is far too close to Khartoum to be a true mediator—ER]
• AU: “Holistic solution” required for Sudan | August 26, 2015 | Addis Ababa
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AUPSC) has demanded the various parties in Sudan concert their efforts to realise peace and a democratic transformation in the country.
[The AUPSC is clearly willing to ignore the fact that all of Khartoum’s effort have been precisely to forestall a true “national dialogue”—that the regime has absolutely no intention of working in “concert” with the growing political opposition—ER]
• Sudanese opposition leaders meet with AUHIP team | August 23, 2015 | Addis Ababa
The consultation meeting between the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and leaders of the Sudanese armed and civil opposition started in Addis Ababa on Saturday.
AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki had invited a number of opposition leaders for a two-day meeting planned to commence on Friday to discuss discussing alternatives for a solution to Sudan’s multiple crises.
The Sudanese government told Mbeki early this month that it adheres to its rejection of merging the peace talks on Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile) with a broad national dialogue, to be held under the auspices of the AUHIP outside Sudan.
[The AUHIP is evidently willing to accept Khartoum’s peremptory rejection of what is in fact necessary for the peace that the AUHIP declares itself to be supporting; this ultimately represents a willingness to accommodate the Khartoum regime at all costs, something much appreciated by senior military and security officials in their remarks about Mbeki in the leaked minutes of their August 31, 2014 meeting in Khartoum. So long as Mbeki and the AUHIP continue to be the diplomatic lead in the effort to bring peace to Sudan, we will see more such temporizing, disingenuous, and dilatory “negotiating”—ER]
The [AUHIP] invitation was marked by confusion. The National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties) and Sudanese civil society organisations, allied under the Civil Society Initiative did not receive the invitation.
[We need to add gross diplomatic incompetence to the attributes of the Mbeki-led AUHIP—ER]
• Sudan’s Consensus Forces not invited to Addis | August 20, 2015 | Khartoum
The National Consensus Forces (NCF) announced that its member parties will not participate in the meeting between the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the Sudanese opposition forces in the Ethiopian capital on Friday. Siddig Yousef, prominent member of the NCF, a coalition of opposition parties, told Radio Dabanga that the AUHIP did not extend an invitation to all signatories of the Sudan Appeal. The NCF signed the Sudan Appeal, a two-page political communiqué calling for regime-change, in Addis Ababa on 3 December last year, together with the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance, the National Umma Party, and the Civil Society Initiative.
• Darfur’s SLM-AW declines AUHIP invitation | August 19, 2015 | Paris
The mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement, headed by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), has declined the invitation of Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), for a meeting with the Sudan Appeal forces in Addis Ababa next Friday.
In an interview with Radio Dabanga, to be broadcast today, the Darfuri rebel leader said that he will not attend the meeting, “because the AU mechanism is calling for negotiations that will end up with the distribution of positions, while the SLM-AW prioritises a comprehensive and just peace.
• “We are committed to a peace process”: Darfur rebel leader | August 18, 2015 | Radio Dabanga
The joint statement of Darfur’s three main rebel movements and the Special Representative of UNAMID on Saturday, was signed in light of two resolutions by the African Security and Peace Council and the UN Security Council, now says one of the attending rebel leaders. “The resolutions seek to start an inclusive political process under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel.”
Minni Arko Minawi, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM), told Radio Dabanga on Monday that the SLM-MM and the two other rebel movements, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the SLM led by Abdel Wahid El Nur (SLM-AW) still reject the Sudanese government’s Doha peace agreement that dates from 2011. “However, we are committed to any peace process if the National Congress Party [NCP, ruling party] is committed to it.”
• AU mediation to meet with Sudan Appeal signatories on Friday | August 17, 2015 | Addis Ababa
The AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) has invited leaders of the Sudanese opposition for a meeting in Addis Ababa coming Friday and Saturday.
Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and Foreign Relations secretary of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, told Radio Dabanga that AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki invited 15 members of the Sudan Appeal signatories to discuss their stance on a comprehensive solution for the Sudanese crises.
Leaders of the SRF, the National Umma Party, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), and the Civil Society Initiative (CSI) signed the Sudan Appeal in Addis Ababa on 3 December last year.
In the two-page communiqué, they call for the ending of the civil wars in the country, the dismantling of the one-party system, and the rebuilding of Sudan based on democratic principles and equal citizenship. The signatories agree that if a peaceful regime change cannot be achieved by a broad national dialogue, it should be enforced by a popular uprising.
Earlier this year, AUHIP chairman Mbeki attempted to break the deadlock over the negotiations between Khartoum and the Sudanese rebel movements by inviting them to Addis Ababa on 29 March, to discuss the Sudan Appeal forces’ proposal to merge the peace negotiations on Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile) with a broad national dialogue. The NCP declined to attend at the last moment.
[This was no last-minutes decision; Khartoum never had any intention of participating in such a discussion, as the leaked minutes of August 31, 2014 make abundantly clear; promoting a “national dialogue” is for Khartoum simply propaganda that is fundamental to the regime’s diplomatic game plan—ER]
The first page of the leaked minutes from an August 31, 2014 meeting of the most senior military and security officials in the Khartoum regime. It reveals a telling complacency whenever Mbeki is discussed.
Mbeki visited Khartoum early last week to discuss the proposal. The government however adhered to its rejection of the merger as well as to hold the dialogue abroad. He said during a press conference on Tuesday that the government is willing to agree on a ceasefire for the Two Areas. As for Darfur, Khartoum keeps to its stance that the remaining rebel movements should join the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).
[Mbeki achieved precisely nothing—Khartoum has since declared a two-month cease-fire, which will have absolutely no affect on military conduct. Mbeki did not succeed in his other objectives, including moving Khartoum away from its insistence that the DDPD is the ONLY peace it will negotiate for peace in Darfur. And the reason is clear: another set of peace negotiations might actually produce something meaningful; by cleaving to the DDPD, Khartoum can claim that it has signed a peace agreement…it’s only the rebels who are hold-outs. The international community has assisted Khartoum in playing this nasty game by pretending that there was real potential in the DDPD, when any honest assessment would have made clear that without support from Darfuri civil society and the much more powerful non-signatory rebel groups, the DDPD was dead in the water as soon as it was signed—ER]
• More opposition parties applaud AU statements on Sudan | August 28, 2015 | Khartoum
Sudan’s opposition parties have welcomed the outcomes of the newest African Union Peace and Security Council’s meeting on Tuesday. The council repeated the importance of a holistic approach to solve the multiple crises in Sudan and realise a democratic transformation. The National Umma Party described the council’s decision, to call on the Sudanese government to desist from any actions that would jeopardise an all-inclusive national dialogue and to hold an urgent pre-dialogue meeting that includes all relevant parties, as a “victory for the national political vision that will lead to a democratic transformation.”
[Sadly, a victory in name only; the AUPSC statements mean nothing to Khartoum, and will do nothing to change its obdurate negotiating stance—ER]
“This decision by the AU PSC can be considered a failure of the Sudanese diplomacy, in spite of the tours the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, has made to […] African countries.”
[Since there is no evidence that the AUPSC will offer anything but words that may please, it would seem unwise to judge too quickly how successful Foreign Minister Ghandour has been—ER]
APPENDIX 1: Human Rights Watch on Sudan: Sudan: “Wave of Opposition Arrests: Uphold Free Speech, Assembly
(Kampala, August 28, 2015) – Sudanese security agents have arrested, detained, and interrogated at least 17 members of opposition parties since early August 2015, Human Rights Watch and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) said today. Most of those arrested are affiliated with the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), which has an active student and youth wing and conducts public rallies and events.
The Sudanese government should stop arresting and detaining members of opposition parties simply for expressing their political views and participating in public forums, the groups said. It should also reform its abusive national security service, and hold those responsible for human rights violations to account.
“Sudan’s national security officials are abusing people just for expressing their political views,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should put an end to these tactics, rein in the national security service, and uphold free speech and assembly.”
Several of those detained told Human Rights Watch and the ACJPS that they were subjected to violence and other abuse, including severe beatings by heavily armed National Intelligence and Security Service personnel. Most were released after being interrogated for several hours overnight, but were required to report back daily to the security service for further interrogations.
The recent arrests are part of a disturbing pattern of harassment and arbitrary detention of political opposition members to punish them for speaking out on political issues, the groups said. Between February and April, the authorities arrested and detained dozens of people both before and after the general elections in which President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
On the morning of August 5, 2015, eight armed security agents arrested Khalid Omer Yousif, a leader in the Congress Party, at his home in the al-Jereif suburb of Khartoum. They detained him until midnight and questioned him about his speech at an event he attended. They have also summoned him daily for further questioning and confiscated his car, his entire family’s identification documents, and his cellphone.
On the morning of August 8, security officials arrested Magdi Okasha, 33, and Widad Abdelrahman Derwish, 30, both members of the Congress Party who had attended recent public events. Magdi was arrested at his home by about 10 agents, while Widad was summoned by phone. Upon their release, they were ordered to report every day to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).
On the evening of August 17, three armed security officials arrested Wifag Mohamed Gorashi, 23, a student at Khartoum University, days after she spoke at a public event. The agents detained her for several hours and interrogated her about her links to the party.
Security officials also arrested two university students that day, in El Obeid market in North Kordofan after they participated in a public gathering organized by the Congress Party. A group of plainclothes agents arrested Mohamed Osman, 22, and Bashir Mohamed, 23, and later released them with instructions to return in the morning for further questioning.
On the evening of August 22, about 15 security agents armed with pistols and Kalashnikovs arrested eight Congress party members, four of them from Darfur, after they participated in a symposium at the party headquarters in Khartoum north. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch and ACJPS that the officers forced the men to stop their car, beat them with sticks and water pipes, and punched and stomped on them while arresting them and taking them to the intelligence agency office. Two detainees suffered head injuries. Five were released after a few hours, at around 3 a.m., and the others the following afternoon.
The same evening, also in Khartoum north, about eight agents armed with pistols arrested two other party members who had attended the symposium. Mohammed Noor Terab and Mohammed Elraddi Salim, members of the party from Wad Banda, North Kordofan, were shoved into a security agency pick-up truck and beaten on the way to the agency’s office. They were beaten with water pipes during interrogations, then released at about 2 a.m.
Previous arrests include three members – Mastor Ahmed Mohammed, Asim Omer Hassan, and Ibrahim Mohamed Zain – for participating in an event after the April elections, calling for the release of detained party members. On July 6, the three men were convicted of disturbing the public peace and sentenced to 20 lashings without legal representation or an opportunity to appeal.
In June and July 2014, ACJPS documented the roundup of at least 28 Congress party members following the arrest of the party leader, Ibrahim Elsheikh on June 8. Elsheikh was arrested the day after he publicly criticized the government’s Rapid Support Forces at a party symposium in Al Nuhud, West Kordofan. He was charged with six offenses, including undermining the constitutional order, which carries the death penalty. All charges were later dropped and he was released on September 15.
In one especially violent example in 2014, Hassan Ishag, a journalist and party member who had attended the June 7 symposium and reported Elsheikh’s detention on social media, was arrested by plainclothes police officers on June 10. Ishag was beaten and kicked during interrogations, causing him to lose consciousness. He was then transferred to prison and detained without charge under the 1997 Emergency Act. He was released on September 19, 2014.
Intelligence agents also arrested three members of the Liberal Democratic Party on August 17, 2015, following an event at the Haq party headquarters in Khartoum. One of the detainees told Human Rights Watch that the officers questioned them for several hours about the party’s activities and work in Darfur, while beating them and forcing them to endure very cold temperatures or stand under the hot sun. The three were released after two days and ordered to return for more questioning over the following days.
The NISS has broad powers of arrest and can hold people for up to four and a half months without judicial review, well beyond the international standard. Amendments to the constitution in January 2015 further empowered the agency, by designating it a regular security force with a broader mandate to combat a range of political and social threats and take precautionary measures against them. The service is known for its abusive tactics, including torture, against real or perceived political opponents.
“The continuous arrests and harassment underscore an urgent need to reform Sudan’s draconian security service in line with international norms,” said Katherine Perks, ACJPS Programme Director. “Sudan should immediately stop the abuses, reform the security service, and hold abusive officers to account for these actions.”
APPENDIX 2: On the appointment of Awad al-Karim Ibnouf as the regime’s new Defense Minister
[a] The new minister, Awad al-Karim Ibnouf, is a retired army lieutenant-general who once served as the head of Sudan’s military intelligence agency and later as ambassador to Oman, a presidential source said. The government has rebuffed opposition and rebel demands to link political negotiations with peace talks. Bashir on Thursday set Oct. 10 as a date for a new meeting in a national reconciliation process that collapsed in January. He repeated his offer of amnesty for rebels who agreed to put down their arms and join the national dialogue between the government and opposition parties. (Reuters [Khartoum], August 23, 2015)
[b] “Sudan’s military discreetly reorganized” (excerpts)
Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria, South Africa), 12 August 2015
In June, al-Bashir effected an undetected but pivotal reorganisation of the military high command. He appointed new and more loyal officers to several key positions, including the joint chiefs, deputy chiefs of staff, as well as the chiefs of staff of Sudan’s army, navy and air force. Trusted officers also filled the inspectorate, human resources and military intelligence positions.
Berouk Mesfin, an ISS senior researcher based in Addis Ababa, presented this week’s View on Africa. He examined why the extensive reorganisation occurred, its political implications and how the Sudanese military high command has become the most important guarantee of Bashir’s personal grip on power.
Decisions of who would be assigned a command in the SAF have always been, and still are, crucially influenced by al-Bashir’s self-protective tendencies. Officers lacking professional qualities are usually given better appointments and accelerated promotions simply because of their loyalty and to secure the permanent loyalty of the SAF by preventing coups d’états. Divide-and-rule personal policies are constantly practiced. The new SAF command is seen by a number of military experts as consisting of officers who are primarily al-Bashir’s staunchest loyalists and have a history of liaising between the SAF and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). This trend clearly reflects the positioning of the NISS as the lead force in Sudan.
A knowledgeable source in Sudan says: “There are SAF officers who want the government to reform the SAF but instead the SAF ended up being under al-Bashir’s control. Infuriated by the lack reform to come out, many believe that middle-level and junior-level officers may contemplate how to change the status quo.”
[This is an extremely important observation: if change by force comes to Sudan, it will require the backing of these “middle-level and junior-level” officers. The dissatisfaction in this core part of the army has been reported for the past two years and more—ER]
The current 26-year-old government faces further erosion of internal support within and outside the SAF. Yet, it continues to resist implementing genuine political and economic reforms and continues to use violence to sustain itself in power. It has developed a complex web of tribal and economic patronages and it managed along the way to polarise a population resentful of the government’s repressive tendencies (often violently).
APPENDIX 3: Editorials by Khartoum’s propaganda organ
[a] “The mysterious statement,” Sudan Vision, 18, 2015
(Sudanese editorial criticizes AU [Peace and] [S]ecurity [C]ouncil’s statement on Darfur—[corrections to this key name are mine; I have left other illiteracies untouched—ER])
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) last communiqué issued at its 529th meeting held on 31st July 2015 adopted a decision on the situation in Darfur. In its fourth paragraph of the communiqué the AUPSC expresses concern over the continued armed conflict in Darfur, which constitute threat to peace, not only in Sudan, but to the neighbouring countries, and stresses the need for the parties to demonstrate renewed commitment in order to facilitate the political process.
In the above paragraph, there are negative suggestions towards Sudan despite the fact that Darfur region is witnessing a considerable stability especially in the battlefields after the decline of the insurgency and its limitation to remote areas in North Darfur [State].
[There is simply no limit to the shamelessness of the lies the regime will tell; and there is similarly no limit to the number of agreements that the regime will sign and then abrogate. This fundamental truth has still not registered with Mbeki, or he has chose not to deal with this truth in his position as head of the AUHIP—none of the readily imaginable reasons for such a choice are flattering of Mbeki—ER]
In the fifth paragraph, the AUPSC communiqué reiterates its appreciation to the UNAMID leadership, and notes with satisfaction the progress made in the implementation of UNAMID’s mandate, particularly with respect to the protection of civilians and welcomes the extension of the mandate of UNAMID until 30th June 2016.
[Wily as ever, the regime here uses the preposterous claim of the AUPSC to very good propaganda effect—ER]
This paragraph represents a certificate in favour of the UNAMID as it appreciated its role in boosting peace, stability and reconciliation in Darfur. We believe that such stance constitutes a shock to the Sudanese government which, forward strong arguments on the failure of the UNAMID.
[Khartoum yet again trying to have it both ways: peace has come to almost all of Darfur…but UNAMID has been a “failure”—ER]
The sixth paragraph of the communiqué the AUPSC condemns the continuing intermittent fighting between the government of Sudan and the Darfur armed movements, in particular in Central Darfur [State] resulting in continued displacement of civilian population. This is not true as Central Darfur State in particular did not witness any military operations in the last two years except the escape attempt of Zalingei prisoners.
[One is perforce struck again by the shameless mendacity of these men—reports of military activity in Central Darfur State (formerly part of West Darfur) have been continuous, including aerial assaults on civilian targets, widespread militia attacks, and attacks by the SAF itself—ER]
The question that poses itself is who provided the AUPSC with those misleading information?
[English 18 Aug 15 BBC Monitoring ME1]
[b] “UNAMID Attempts to Reopen Darfur Peace Dossier,” Sudan Vision | 19 August 2015
The UNMAID remained presenting itself to the international community as a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians and the access of the humanitarian aid to the affected people. As a matter of fact, its efforts to achieve peace were limited as it did not launch any tangible initiative to achieve peace in the region and the conflict continues since 2003. To the surprise of the observers, the UNAMID started recently a political activity which it launched with a meeting with DDPD non-signatory rebel groups in Paris.
[The last thing Khartoum wants is any diminishment of support for the worthless and unworkable DDPD, especially from the African Union. Everything in this “editorial” is guided by the desire to maintain support for the DDPD as it presently is—ER]
Accordingly, non-signatory rebel groups in Darfur region and the UNAMID agreed to work together for a viable and lasting negotiated settlement in order to end the 12-year conflict in the western Sudan region. The hybrid mission is assuming the mediation in Darfur conflict; however, last year the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) sought to include Darfur issue within a holistic approach for the Sudanese crisis.