As the referendum approaches for Southern Sudan in January of next year to gain independence from Northern Sudan, our new Nursing & Midwifery College in Juba, awaits the results anxiously.  Our partner at the UNFPA in Sudan sends us these weekly media summaries as everyone prepares for the voting.

Media Monitoring Report October 11th

United Nations Mission in Sudan/ Public Information Office

Referendum Monitor

  • UN Panel arrives in Sudan to monitor referendum (Al-Sahafa)

  • Government delegation rejects new proposal by Gration on Abyei (Al-Sahafa)

  • Assembly Speakers says Abyei referendum depends on an agreement (Al-Sahafa)

  • SPLA orders moving of artillery to Abyei (Al-Rai Al-Aam)

  • Minister says authorities in the South destroyed border equipment (Juba Post)

  • NCP condemns harassment of unity rally by secession supporters (ST)

  • General Athor declares ceasefire (Al-Ayyam)

  • No National unity without southern unity – Lam Akol (Khartoum Monitor)

  • NCP says displeased by the UNSC visit (Al-Sudani)

  • We will recognize Israel if it recognizes us – GoSS official (Al-Rai Al-Aam)

  • Afro-Arab summit to send five leaders to defuse NCP, SPLM tension (Al-Ahdath)

  • “I will remain in the North after secession” – SPLM Atem Garang (Al-Sahafa)


UN Panel arrives in Sudan to monitor referendum

Al-Sahafa 11/10/10 – A UN Panel, formed by UNSG Ban Ki-moon to Monitor Sudan’s vote, arrived yesterday in Khartoum, headed by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapato,  to hold meetings with officials and to familiarize themselves with the technical preparations for upcoming referendum.  Sudan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Muawia Khalid said the Panel would begin its meetings with the Foreign Minister Ali Karti and would head for Juba on a seven-day visit for meetings with GoSS officials.

Sudan Tribune website 10/10/10 reported that a UN panel, recently appointed to monitor southern Sudan referendum, arrived in Khartoum on Sunday in a four-day visit to Sudan.  Chaired by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapato, the three-member panel is expected to hold talks with Sudanese government officials in Khartoum, Juba and Abyei.  The panel will seek to strengthen confidence between the two peace partners in the referendum process and encouraging them to resolve disputes or divergences related to the vote process.

“I am looking forward to this visit and the opportunity to meet with all the people who can help ensure that these referenda in Southern Sudan and the Abyei Area are successful,” Mkapato said. “There are many challenges ahead of us in the next few months but we are determined to do our utmost to help the people of Sudan.”

The other members are António Monteiro, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, and Bhojraj Pokharel, former Chairman of the Election Commission of Nepal.  According to SUNA 10/10/10, Mkapato hoped that his team would be able to play its role and to realize its objective of monitoring the referendum neutrally and with full honesty and independence. Meanwhile, SRSG and Head of UNMIS Haile Menkerios has welcomed the arrival of the international monitoring delegation.

The representative of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Hassan Al-Amin, also welcomed the international team for monitoring the referendum, affirming the government commitment to the Referendum Act.  SUNA learned that the delegation would hold meetings with officials of the Commission for the Referendum and a number of other government officials.

Government delegation rejects new proposal by Gration on Abyei

Al-Sahafa 11/10/10 – the delegation of the Sudanese Government for talks on Abyei in Addis Ababa rejected a new proposal tabled by US envoy Scott Gration to annex the Abyei territory to the South by a presidential decree to be issued by President Al-Bashir.

The newspaper has learned that Gration made the proposal and requested head of AUHIP Thabo Mbeki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Melez Zenawi to convince President Al-Bashir to accept the suggestion. Gration proposal is intended to overcome the Abyei referendum hurdle.  Similarly, sources said the NCP also presented new proposals which were rejected by the SPLM. The NCP proposed that a presidential decree should be issued to annex the northern part of the territory to the North and the southern part to the South.

Reportedly, the SPLM delegation to Abyei talks in Addis Ababa decided to declare the failure of the talks and return home but Gration requested a chance for another attempt.  According to Sudan Tribune website 10/10/10, mediators in Addis Ababa have tabled new proposals for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) to break the deadlock over the disputed border region of Abyei.

The U.S. sponsored talks on Abyei started since early October but both sides have stuck to their positions primarily due to pressure from the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok tribes who are the main inhabitants of Abyei.

The government sponsored Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) website reported that the two proposals include one that provide for the immediate subordination of Abyei to South Sudan and grant the Misseriya grazing rights. The other states that Abyei is to be divided into two zones, north and south.  Sources told SMC that the NCP delegation flatly rejected the first proposal and that discussions on the second one are underway. The sources denied any withdrawal by the SPLM delegation from the talks adding that both sides formed specialized committees to discuss all the outstanding issues.

Assembly Speakers says Abyei referendum depends on an agreement

Al-Sahafa 10/10/10 – National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, at press conference yesterday, accused the SPLM of seek to reignite war between the North and the South, warning that “there will be no permanent peace under threat of war”. He said the conduct of the referendum in Abyei depends on reaching an agreement”. Al-Tahir said the SPLM has discontinued all contacts with the NCP and all its leaders are in the South.

According to The Citizen 11/10/10, Al-Tahir has threatened to impede Abyei referendum if the SPLM insisted on its position on the Misseriya vote at the referendum, voicing his rejection of the amendment of the referendum law by adding 40 seats for southerners, a step that he described as unconstitutional and a reaction by SPLM to the domination of the National Congress Party of the National Assembly.  Al-Tahir accused SPLM of violating the Abyei Protocol and the PCA ruling that granted the Misseriya the right to vote. “The referendum will not be held without the Misseriya whatever the case,” he said.

SPLA orders moving of artillery to Abyei

Al-Rai Al-Aam 11/10/10 – The SPLA has reportedly begun deploying troops at the border between the North and the South and also directed its cadres to leave the North for the South.  A source revealed to the newspaper yesterday that the artillery unit in Yei received orders from the SPLA last week to move to the border areas with the North particularly the Abyei territory, adding  the SPLA moved 20 armoured vehicles from “Bania” area in eastern Equatoria towards Abyei.

The Misseriya also accused the SPLA of deploying 700 troops at Abu Ghazala area and at Abu Kharit north of Abyei.  According to the sources, the SPLM also directed its southern cadres in the North to travel to the South. SPLA soldiers hailing from the Nuba and the Blue Nile areas have also been instructed to report to their military units.

Minister says authorities in the South destroyed border equipment

Juba Post 11/10/10 – Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti has accused the authorities in southern Sudan of destroying all equipments meant for demarcating the North-South border.  Karti made the remarks while addressing a visiting UN Security Council delegation in Khartoum. He said the border demarcation team deployed the equipments at the North-South border but they were dismantled.

Karti claimed that the equipments were deployed on the ground along the border but they were unfortunately destroyed by the county commissioners along the border lines who happen to be representatives of the SPLM. He said both the SPLM and the NCP reached an agreement on 80% of the border line and were pushing for negotiations to settle the remaining 20%m, but the incident that saw the destruction of the border demarcation equipments has made it difficult to practically demarcate the line.

General Athor declares ceasefire

Al-Ayyam 11/10/10 –The defected SPLA general, George Athor, said that he had accepted the amnesty decreed by GoSS President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

In an interview to Radio Miraya, Athor declared a unilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, affirming that negotiation between him and the Government of Southern Sudan would start soon.

According to Sudan Tribune website 10/10/10, Gen. George Athor Deng, a former chief of staff to the southern army, who rebelled against the southern government, after losing a bid to become governor of Jonglei state, has welcomed Wednesday’s presidential amnesty directed at him and other rebels.  Speaking to United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) sponsored Miraya FM on Sunday; Gen. Athor said he will respect President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s call for peaceful return and reintegration of his forces into the south’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  Gen. Athor contested for Jonglei state gubernatorial post but lost to incumbent governor Kuol Manyang Juuk of the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM)- the political wing of the SPLA.

Athor alleged that the SPLM, which has governed the southern region since a 2005 peace deal rigged April’s elections against him and chose to start an armed uprising in protest.  Since his forces first attacked Dollib Hills in Upper Nile state in May 2010, which the SPLA blame on Athor forces, the regional army made several attempts to demolish his forces but in vain.

The government of southern Sudan (GoSS) initially rejected peace talks proposed by UNMIS and turned down several efforts by local community leaders for peaceful resolution.  Last week, President Kiir released a decree pardoning Gen. Athor, Gen. Gabriel Tenginyang and others who rebelled against his government to rejoin after disarming their forces. Details from Athor’s acceptance are still sketchy.

The amnesty was welcomed on Saturday by John Kong Nyuon, a security adviser to the president of the government of southern Sudan.  On Wednesday, Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the government of southern Sudan and a commander in chief and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army issued an executive order pardoning the four military officers, Lieutenant General George Athor Deng, Major General Gabriel Tanginye, Robert Gwang and Colonel Gatluak Gai.  The executive order urged the officers to immediately join ranks and files of the SPLA forces and assured them they would be able to move freely in the region without any fear.

The pardon will not come into effect unless the officers lay down their arms without condition and return to rank and files of the regional army. Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, Nyuon commended the decision of the president and urged the officers to return.  The decision taken by the president is excellent, wise and unifying decision,” said Nyuon.

The BBC noted that the report coincided with the visit of the United Nations Security Council and that the move could be seen as a way to show visiting diplomats the south’s seriousness to provide security ahead of the January’s referendum on southern independence.

Kiir issued the order following a meeting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM and representatives from other political parties to prepare for South-South dialogue conference, scheduled to take place on 13 October 2010.The agenda of the conference is believed to include discussion about ways to reach consensus on the conduct of the referendum on self-determination for the people of the region. It will also touch on post-referendum governance.

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