[dehai-news] VOA: Bush, Sudan VP Seek to Reverse Growing Threats of Violence,Genocide

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Jan 05 2009 - 09:36:13 EST

Bush, Sudan VP Seek to Reverse Growing Threats of Violence,Genocide

By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
05 January 2009

Sudan's First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit will meet with US President
George W. Bush at the White House today. Mr. Kiir, who also serves as
president of semi-autonomous southern Sudan, is expected to address concerns
about the US - brokered 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA), which
ended 22 years of civil war between Sudan's northern and southern regions.
The meeting takes place as the International Criminal Court (ICC) considers
whether to issue an impending indictment against Sudan's President Omar
Hassan al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Mr.
Bashir has threatened to accelerate attacks against civilians in Sudan's
besieged western region of Darfur if the indictments are carried out.

Sudan activist, the Reverend Gloria White-Hammond, is a Boston,
Massachusetts inner city minister and co-founder of My Sister's Keeper, a
women's group that is working with Vice President Salva Kiir to open a
school for girls in southern Sudan. She says that the looming indictment has
boosted the challenge for Mr. Kiir and the US administration of reducing
heightened tensions in both Darfur and southern Sudan.

"Everybody knows that the future for Bashir, in light of the ICC action
remains unclear. So President Kiir has always led with his own concerns
about southern Sudan, which as he understands now has implications, not only
for the southerners, but really for the entire country, particularly in
light of the ICC action," she said.

Monday's White House meeting also comes one day before Mr. Bush holds his
final meeting as president with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Despite
both parties' preoccupation with the Israel-Palestinian confrontation over
Gaza, the Darfur crisis is slated to be a top issue of discussion at
Tuesday's meeting. Increased violence and Sudanese government-backed air
strikes over Darfur could further hamper the work of a joint UN-African
Union peacekeeping force operating in the western region and block
deliveries of humanitarian aid by international rescue groups, should
President Bashir retaliate against legal action. The Reverend White-Hammond
says Washington needs to formulate a tough stand for Mr. Kiir to take back
to Khartoum to convince officials of strong international resolve to end the
government-backed violence.

"There is some concern that if in fact the ICC does move forward and indicts
President Bashir that that will mean repercussions for the people in Darfur,
and it will also have implications for the people in south Sudan. And that's
why you're seeing him (Mr. Kiir) and the party that he belongs to making
greater inroads. There was a recent visit into Darfur. I was able to visit
with him just this past August. You have to remember that this has
tremendous implications for President Kiir's role in the entire country,"
she noted.

In the past year, disagreements over rights and the allocation of profits
from the oil-rich Sudanese town of Abyei, which straddles the north-south
border, have led to renewed fighting and violations of the three-year-long
absence of hostilities. To ensure that the 2005 agreement for southern Sudan
remains in effect, Reverend White-Hammond says that Washington needs to hold
the parties responsible for carrying out their treaty obligations.

"We want to make sure that the Sudanese government really delivers on some
of the key provisions of the comprehensive peace agreement. Elections are
supposed to happen, according to the peace agreement, in July. At this
point, people surmise that if they do happen, it might be late 2009,
probably more into 2010. That offers the possibility of a democratic
transformation for Sudan. Again, we don't really know whether they will
happen, but if they are going to happen, it really is going to require the
support of the United States," she said.

While she has great praise for the Bush administration's leadership and
determination in brokering a peace deal for the people of southern Sudan,
Reverend White-Hammond says she is looking forward to later this month, when
the Obama administration takes office, when she predicts the new president
will seek a new multilateral approach that is designed to push the Bashir
government toward making peace. She cautions that new ways are needed to
overcome recent tendencies by Washington to let Sudan avoid accountability
for its actions in Darfur.

"One of the ongoing concerns has been that this current administration has
been trying to play it both ways. We been on the one hand saying, 'yes,
you're culpable in terms of genocide, but on the other hand, trying to get
their cooperation in terms of this war on terror. ' The next administration,
if not this one, should make it very clear that we are no longer going to be
doing it both ways, that we have evidence that suggests that there is in
fact culpability on the part of this government, that we're going to make
that evidence available," she argued.

Spokesman Says AMISOM Would Deal with al-Shabab Threat

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C
05 January 2009


The African Union military force in Somalia (AMISOM) says it is ready to
deal with threats posed by Islamists al-Shabab. The assurance comes after
the Islamic group Sunday threatened to continue fighting any international
force slated to intervene after Ethiopian troops leave. AMISOM says it has
the backing of ordinary Somalis, who have been expressing their frustration
with increasing attacks perpetuated by al-Shabab. Some political analysts,
however, believe the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops would plunge the country
into chaos. But some Somalis say the Ethiopian troop pullout would seriously
undermine the support that al-Shabab has been enjoying so far. Washington
has classified al-Shabab as a terrorist organization. AMISOM spokesman Major
Barigye Ba-Hoku tells reporter Peter Clottey that ordinary Somalis want
peace and stability to return to the country.

"As AMISOM, what (al-Shabab spokesman) Muqtar Robow is saying is nothing new
into this mission area. Secondly, we know that the people of Somalia are
tired of war, and so what we have been trying to do is to mobilize the
positive forces inside and outside Somalia to work with us, especially, the
Somalis," Ba-Hoku noted.

He said a military option is not the only solution to resolving Somalia's

"Our understanding of the problem here is that there is no amount of force
can resolve this conflict here. And fortunately enough, the majority of the
people of Somalia want peace, and we are working with the majority. And we
are sure that with the majority, the minority would soon be one of us.
Preparations are already done, and the Djibouti agreement says that once the
Ethiopian troops withdrew, there would be an arrangement between the Joint
Security Committees, which are constituted by the Transitional Federal
Government, the Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia, which signed the
agreement in Djibouti, and AMISOM, and that is what exactly is taking
place," He said.

Ba-Hoku said AMISIOM is in Somalia to ensure peace and stability.

"So I think our understanding as troops in the mission area is that there is
nothing that is lost. And we would continue to help the people of Somalia to
achieve peace," Ba-Hoku pointed out.

He said AMISOM would be resolute in providing security for ordinary Somalis
despite threats of Islamists insurgents.

"The assurance from AMISOM is the same assurance we had always given. First
of all, you will recall that with our arrival into this mission area, there
were many obstacles. And among other things, it was believed that Somalia
was a no-go area and having been in this area for two years there is nothing
that convinces me that this country is a no-go area. Yes, we admit there are
difficulties, there are challenges and hardships. But I mean what else can
the rest of the world do? Leave Somalis to go to the drains? And then for it
to become the breeding grounds for all sorts of criminals?" he asked.

Ba-Hoku said the ongoing instability is a result of an absence of a fully
functional Somali government.

"Some of the people we are dealing with are simply taking advantage of a
vacuum that ash emanated from a lack of government for the last 18years.
There is no more amount of time that we can give to this country to sort out
themselves alone," Ba-Hoku pointed out.

He said AMISOM's lack of the much needed manpower would be a herculean task
in its bid to ensure absolute peace and stability in Somalia.

"That is one of the challenges. You will recall that the amount of troops
that was planned for was eight thousand, and as we speak today, the troops
are about three thousand, six hundred, thereabout. Certainly, there is a big
shortage, and when you consider that the Ethiopian troops are withdrawing,
obviously that one makes us thinner on the ground. It creates strains us,
and we would be overstretched, obviously," he said.

Ba-Hoku said there is need to ensure Somalia is stable.

"I think for us as members that have been deployed into this mission area
from the African Union, a pan-African solution, a pan-African approach to
the problem is the way to go. I think there is no amount of sacrifices that
we should not do to achieve that," he said.

However, he said there are ongoing discussions to ensure an increase in
African Union forces in Somalia.

"I know that there are consultations at the highest levels between the heads
of state, the armies of these countries, the African Union Commission, the
Transitional Federal Government here, and the leadership of AMISOM. What I
can assure is that I think sooner than later, my opinion is that the year
2009 is a very defining year for Somalia," he said.

The spokesman for al-Shabab, Sheik Muqtar Robow, warned of clashes between
insurgent fighters in Somalia and reiterated their resolve to continue
fighting the Ethiopian troops, who began withdrawing from Mogadishu on
Friday. He vowed that his forces would continue attacking the retreating
Ethiopian troops. Robow pledged that the fighting would not stop, even after
the Ethiopian troops' withdrawal is completed over the coming days.



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