Friday, May 30, 2008

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan Responds To Save Darfur Coalition's Joint Statement

30 May 2008 01:43 Africa/Lagos

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan responds to Save Darfur Coalition's joint statement

WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The historic race for the President of the United States is without a doubt an occasion that many are watching closely and whose results are awaited with baited breath as the outcome is one that will determine the course of the country and in many ways, history itself.

The candidates are advocates of change, a notion ornately captured in compelling slogans like Senator McCain's "straight talk", Hillary's "a change we need", Obama's "a change we can believe in". This message is accompanied by policies that seemingly offer a striking contrast to their predecessors. Their words are not only resonating with fellow citizens here in the U.S., but in fact have reverberated across the entire globe, where one finds a number of societies, countries and cultures fervently seeking for a change in the way they relate to the United States.

Ideally then, foreign policy should be one that reaches out to these citizens of the world. It should be one that strives for inclusion, for understanding through dialogue. It should value diplomacy over aggression in solving perceived differences. And it has to be consistent and holistic in approach. Yet the joint statement released yesterday by the "Save Darfur Coalition", bearing the signatures of the candidates, deviated from this grandiose notion of 'change' that they have so championed.

"There can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it" the statement read on the Coalition's website. To make this claim is hardly "Straight talk". And if in fact change is our genuine concern, then it seems we should begin by providing an objective account of reality. Nowhere in the joint statement was the voter given the chance to discern it for him/herself. The "Save Darfur Coalition", after concocting an idyllic picture of events, went as far as drafting an editable "thank you" letter to the candidates for voters to submit. A ready made "thank you" letter, as if voters were short for words to use.

Nevertheless, the joint statement was concerned with two issues, Darfur and the CPA. It is troubling that the statement failed to mention anything concerning the two-dozen rebels in Darfur, as if to suggest that their presence amongst civilians were benign. Those that are privy to the realities on the ground however, have contradict the allegation that the Government is the principal source of instability in the region. Impartial observers have identified the rebels as the cause of violence and the major variable fueling the Humanitarian crisis. Their assault and robberies against aid workers, attacks on international peace keeping forces in addition to using civilians as shields are some of the heinous crimes condoned by the "Save Darfur Coalition" as they refrain from speaking about them.

Bewildering still, the statement did not contain a single word regarding the May 10th rebel attack on Omdurmon that killed nearly 200 people. This was an incident that appalled even the people of Darfur who immediately denounced the attack and made it clear that the Rebels did not represent their interests. It was a revealing moment that the Save Darfur Coalition chose to simply ignore as it threatened their agenda of trying to portray the government as having the monopoly on violence. What no one can deny however is that the government has been the only stakeholder that has consistently called for a political solution, the only viable solution to the conflict. If the reasons for picking up arms were political in the first place, why are they now refusing to come to the negotiating table to craft a political settlement?

Regarding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it is true that there are times when both partners express dissatisfaction, whether its in the provisions of the document or frustrations arising from the pace of implementation. This is to be expected in any landmark agreement. The parties are diligently working to remove any obstacles that could potentially delay the election in 2009. The nationwide census has finally commenced. This is the first milestone towards conducting the upcoming elections in order for the country to make its way into a democratic transition. Border demarcation is also underway. The government of south Sudan officials publicly declared that over three quarters of the document has been implemented. And the partners are steadfastly working to resolve the remaining issues; Abyei, being the most prominent. Indeed this is an area that has proven to be very sensitive. It's been the center of recent skirmishes between the parties. But despite its sensitivity, the partners are together and have vowed that there will be "no return to war" as resolved in the meeting convened by the Ceasefire Political Commission yesterday.

The incumbent, which ever of the candidates the American people choose, should heed the calls for peace coming from the people of Darfur. The government of Sudan has made over 30 attempts to negotiate with the rebels but it has been unsuccessful. The reasons are well known by any unbiased observer. Solving the problem begins with sincere intentions to change the situation, as such, Sudan calls on the peace loving international community to push the rebels to end this catastrophe once and for all by getting them to the table of negotiations to help map out a peaceful future for their country. The incoming President's push for "change" will only have an impact on the people of Darfur when that change he/she advocates for has taken stock of all their realities.

Press and Information Office.

202 338 8565

Source: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

CONTACT: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan Press and Information
Office, +1-202-338-8565

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The 46 Nigerian Peacekeeping Soldiers from Darfur Would Not Have Been Killed if...

A Nigerian soldier at a ceremony.

Wednesday May 21, 2008, was one of the saddest days in the history of the Nigerian Army as Nigeria lost 46 Nigerian soldiers who had returned from their peacekeeping mission to Darfur.

I was angry and sorry for the unfortunate 46 Nigerian African Union Peacekeeeping soldiers who were killed in the ghastly road accident in Northern Nigeria last Wednesday May 21, 2008.

I was angry, because this horrific accident could have been prevented!

Captain Albert Okojie and the 45 other soldiers were risking their precious lives in Darfur for six months as peacekeepers in the African Union (AU) Hybrid Force and they survived the dangers of the mission. They were flown back to Nigeria safely and were looking forward to returning to their 245th Battalion in Monguno and to reunite with their loving families and others the following day. But they were killed on that fateful Wednesday as an empty petrol tanker crashed into their military convoy and exploded along the Kari-Potiskum-Maiduguri Road in Bauchi State.

They would have been alive and well today if their convoy had a road safety escort!
The road safety escort would have seen the danger of the speeding petrol tanker ahead of them and the ghastly accident would have been prevented.

I am sorry for them, and I sympathize with their bereaved families, relations, friends and all the members of the Nigerian Armed Forces who will miss them and who have lost the heroic service of these brave officers.

Nigerian soldiers at a parade

President Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria made the following statement in his tribute to the 46 Nigerian soldiers at their funeral ceremony.
"This is indeed a tragedy of enormous proportions. It is made more heart rendering by the fact that these were courageous heroic soldiers who had just acquitted themselves commendably in their tour of duty in the challenging terrain of Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region."

"To return home and end in this way is a calamity that Nigeria, the military establishment and in a special sense, their families will find difficult to live with. However, we can find solace in the knowledge that they have paid the supreme price and sacrifice in gallant service not only to our fatherland but in the course of international peace and security and in the service of humanity."

"We have an obligation to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain by recommitting to successfully driving peace efforts in the Sudan and other troubled spots on our continent and beyond. My heart goes out to all the aggrieved families to these fallen heroes. I pray that the Almighty God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss to deal with the unfortunate passing of their loved ones."

"I pledge that the Federal Government will do all that is necessary to mitigate the adverse effect of the demise of these gallant Nigerians on their families and their dependants."

"As we bid our departed patriots a final farewell, let us all pray that our nation will never again be visited by a calamity of this proportion. May God in His infinite mercy give them final eternal rest in His own bosom and in His very presence."

Names of the Officer and Soldiers are:

Captain Albert Okojie, WO Patrick Ogbudu, CPL Sini Jaduwa, CPL Ali Ibrahim, CPL Michael Andache, CPL Golmang Kassem, CPL Hashimu Ibrahim, CPL Ahmed Mohammed, CPL Aba Tijjani, CPL Alhassan Salisu, CPL Tukur Abdulkadir, CPL Ta'u Mohammed, LCPL Bitrus Goni, LCPL Zingur Mallam, LCPL Garba Saidu, LCPL Hamidu Ibrahim, LCPL Alamu Wasiu, LCPL Sani Abdullahi, LCPL Hamza Garba, LCPL Bala Mohammed, LCPL Ahmed Sulieman, LCPL Sabo Isah, LCPL Chindu Salisu, LCPL Saleh Ahmad, LCPL Audu Mamman, LCPL Shehu Mohammed, LCPL Shehu Umar, LCPL Salisu Rabiu, LCPL Tanko Madaki, Trooper Sanga Joseph, Trooper Bassey Egbala, Trooper Dauda Saadu, Trooper Aduo Freeman, Trooper Sanusi Bello, Trooper Adamu Jeje, Trooper Usman Umaru, Trooper Abdullahi Dauda, Trooper Moses Orimogunje, Trooper Idris Shaibu, Trooper Mutala Garba, Trooper Richard Zittee, Trooper Kabiru Yaro, Trooper Olowu Abolade, Trooper Peter Ije, Trooper Akande Oluwagbemi, Trooper Bitrus Yusuf.

May their souls rest in peace.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Embassy of Sudan Responds to Attack on City of Omdurman

11 May 2008 06:55 Africa/Lagos

Embassy of Sudan Responds to Attack on City of Omdurman

WASHINGTON, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Heavy gunfire and artillery rang through Omdurman as an anticipated attack by a rebel group came to pass on Saturday. The Chadian JEM who've long been under the surveillance of the Armed forces managed to reach the outskirts of the capital where they were engaged in a decisive battle by the security forces who maintained full control of the city. A nationwide alert, warning of the group's intention to carry out a massive assault on the capital was issued, and the necessary security measures were immediately taken once this threat was confirmed. The chief of the operation and his deputy were among those the forces killed.

From their point of departure in Apache, Chad, mounted in heavily armed vehicles, the rebels and the mercenaries approached Khartoum through the desert going northward where they encountered the national air force that left them scattered after sustaining an intense aerial assault. This occurred where no civilians were in sight, yet again the rebels were quick to resort to their usual cry, claiming that innocent people have been targeted by the government when in fact they were the ones who made the declaration that all the cities were, in the words of their spokesmen, "legitimate targets", a clear signal that there would be little regard for innocent civilians. In a strategy reminiscent of the usual recourse in their terror campaigns in Darfur, the group targeted humanitarian convoys as well as public facilities in an attempt to leave a lasting impact.

It should be made clear that this act of aggression had the full support of Chad's President who also happens to be tribally related to the leader of the group, Khalil Ibrahim. The mercenaries were trained and prepared by the Chadian Government; and this is an operation which Sudan holds that Government fully responsible for. Effective immediately, Sudan has decided to sever all diplomatic relations with the regime that has constantly supported the campaign of terror against the innocent civilians. This is also the same group that was implicated in the attack of the AU peacekeeping base in Haskanita that killed seven Nigerian soldiers serving in the African Mission in Darfur, an incident that barely gained international attention as tradition has allowed the rebels to act with impunity.

This incident comes at the heels of the Oslo talks where the Government of Sudan met with several donor countries that pledged their full support to a peace building process in the country including the swift resolution of the conflict in Darfur. And its timing cannot be seen as anything else but the blatant attempt to undermine the resolutions made at the consortium. Sudan welcomes the U.S. and UN's condemnation and further calls on the international community to hold Chad and the rebels accountable for this reprehensible incident.

Embassy of Sudan in Washington D.C.
Information Office
Phone: 202-338-8565
Fax: 202-667-2406

Source: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

CONTACT: Embassy of Sudan in Washington D.C. Information Office,
+1-202-338-8565 or Fax: +1-202-667-2406