Friday, May 26, 2006

Sudan, east rebels to start peace talks in Eritrea

Reuters report May 26, 2006:

Sudan's government and eastern rebels will hold talks in Asmara next month to try to end a simmering insurgency in the remote but economically important region, Eritrean officials said.

Khartoum -- which signed a peace agreement with southern rebels in 2005 and has also faced an insurgency in its western Darfur region -- will begin negotiations on June 13 with the Eastern Front, Eritrea's official Web site said.

Eastern rebels, whose revolt has rumbled for about a decade, share the complaints of counterparts in Darfur and former rebels in the south that Khartoum has failed to develop their far-flung regions while exploiting their natural resources.

The article on, the site of Eritrea's Information Ministry, said the government and the Eastern front signed an initial agreement on dialogue this week in Asmara.

"The agreement underlined that the dialogue should take place in a manner that would reinforce the on-going peace process in the Sudan, satisfy both parties and promote the peace, unity and stability in the country," the article said.

Sudanese Federal Minister Abdel Basit Sabderat and Mussa Mohamed Ahmed, leader of the Eastern Front, signed the agreement, it added.

"Both sides have agreed on Eritrea hosting the dialogue, the first of which is scheduled to take place on June 13, 2006."

Sudan this week released three members of the east's main political party, a key demand for talks to begin.

The Eastern Front includes both eastern rebel groups and the main political parties in the area.

The drought-stricken east has some of the highest malnutrition rates in the country, yet is home to Sudan's largest gold mine, its main port and major oil pipeline.

The main eastern tribe is the Beja.

The rebels took up arms in the 1990s and control the small Hamesh Koreb area near the border with Eritrea.

Relations between Eritrea and Sudan have been fraught in the past, with both sides trading accusations of support for armed insurgents on each other's territory.

Eritrea denies giving military support to the eastern Sudan rebels, but admits to political support.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pictures of the $100 laptop: 1st working model of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

From May 23, 2006 blog entry by Pablo Halkyard at PSD blog - The World Bank Group:
Pictures from the unveiling of the first working prototype of the $100 Laptop at the Seven Countries Task Force today. Green became orange, and the hand-crank is gone. Compare with Intel's sub-$400 entry and AMD's $185 version.
Note, at the entry a techie commented: "Awesome. I want one. What is there to stop gringos from buying them all to have their recipes on the kitchen or to use as poolside or beach laptop?"

Click here to learn about One Laptop per Child and view pictures of original green prototype with hand crank.

1st working model of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) on Flickr

Photo: 1st working model (OLPC) - taken at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2006; cameraphone upload by ShoZu - Uploaded to flickr by Pete Barr-Watson

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blogging anonymously from Ethiopia

If you want to blog from Ethiopia and protect yourself to the greatest extent possible, you should do the following:

Click here and read Ethan's blog entry at My Heart's in Accra.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ethiopia delivers petition against VOA, Deutsche radios

Sudan Tribune report May 20. 2006 - excerpt:
Documents of petition collected in opposition to "unbalanced and destructive" reports on Ethiopia by the Amharic services of the Deutsche Welle and Voice of America (VOA) services were handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for delivery to the legislatures of the countries hosting the two media organizations, the Ethiopian radio reported.

Ethiopia had charged five VOA Ethiopian journalists of treason, genocide, conspiracy, causing armed uprising and trying to overthrow the constitution. But authorities under external pressures dropped these charges against VOA staff.

In a press release issued on 22 March, CPJ said US diplomatic pressure may have played a part. VOA, which is funded by the US government, broadcasts into Ethiopia in the local language, Amharic.

UN to halve Eritrea-Ethiopia force

The UN plans to halve its peacekeeping force on the tense border between Ethiopia and Eritrea after talks this week failed to break a deadlock between the arch-foes, diplomats said Friday, Sudan Tribune reported May 19, 2006.

"The London talks this week failed," one western diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "So the UN has now decided to reduce UNMEE's military troops from 3,000 men to 1,500 men."

A second Asmara-based diplomat confirmed that the reduction "is what is most likely to happen" and said a final decision by the UN Security Council could come as early as Monday.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Darfur, Eritrea and "the road to peace in the Horn of Africa runs through Asmara..."

A letter by Thomas C. Mountain in Hawaii to the Editor of The Arab American News (in response to a piece entitled "The danger of misunderstanding Islam," Issue 1056, May 5-12, 2006) is copied here in full. Note, Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea.

General public knows nothing of Sudanese conflict

To the editor:

I specialize in the Horn of Africa, as part of my 25 plus years of work on black and African history. I am married to an Eritrean ex-fighter and have a home in Asmara, where we will be retiring soon.

While I appreciate your expose of the Zionist role in the Darfur demonstration ("The danger of misunderstanding Islam," Issue 1056, May 5-12, 2006), I found serious problems with the list of demands included in the piece.

You need to stop telling the people of the Horn of Africa what is best for them and start talking with the leadership of the peace movement in the Horn. The saying in the Horn is "the road to peace in the Horn of Africa runs through Asmara...", and I doubt you were aware of this fact.

You actually called for Eritrea to stop supporting the Darfur people. If you mean militarily, you have been misinformed. If you have any evidence to support this charge, I urge you to provide it, for my investigation, including interviews with the Darfur leadership over the last 3 years, shows this is a complete fabrication. Logistically, claiming that a small, very poor country like Eritrea is able to ship tons of arms over a thousand miles across Sudanese territory controlled by the Bashir regime is very difficult to swallow.

The only support the Darfur fighters receive from Eritrea is diplomatic and publicity wise. Your call for Eritrea to stop supporting the Darfur fighters if they don't accept a "peace treaty" rammed down their throats by Western and AU pressure really smacks of paternalism and outright ignorance of the situation on the ground in Sudan.

Your naive call to basically trust the Bashir regime, who has broken/ violated all the "peace" agreements it has entered into, which is what accepting this latest "agreement" amounts to, is dangerous and badly misguided. The NIF government led by Bashir is violating the present CPA just signed last year, i.e. refusing to accept the "final and binding" demarcation decision between north and south Sudan, along with other major violations and failures to implement their promises.

The Bashir regime knows that if it loses a mere 2% of its representation in the Sudanese national assembly its days in power are over. The Darfur fighters are calling for a share of power in the government. This would have to come from the NIF/ Bashir regime's portion. Do you think Bashir is ready to give up his power without a fight?

Talk to the other Sudanese resistance organizations, i.e. the SPLA, the National Democratic Alliance, the Beja resistance in the east, the Darfur leadership and last but certainly not least, the Eritreans. With a more informed and balanced viewpoint you may have second thoughts on some of the demands you have listed.

Thomas C. Mountain

Editorial response: The list of demands the writer refers to are a list of suggestions put forward not by The Arab American News, but by a coalition of Muslim organizations in the U.S., as reported in the article.

Darfur Daily News petition for "Complete, Inclusive and Comprehensive Peace for Darfur"

Copy of an entry published today at Sudan Watch:

Darfur Daily News blogspot claims to be, quote "a reliable source of news and information about what is going on in Darfur at the moment located in The Hague."

The blog author has organised a petition online targeted at UN, EU, AU, USA, UK, Civil Society, H Rights, International Community.

The petition, entitled "Complete, Inclusive and Comprehensive Peace for Darfur", has 82 signatures to date. Goal is 400,000.

Note, at the moment the is temporarily unavailable, so I am copying their page/demands and publishing it in full at Ethiopia Watch, a sister blog of Sudan Watch.

Complete, Inclusive and Comprehensive Pease for Darfur Petition

We, the undersigned, are Darfurians, other Sudanese and concerned non-Sudanese who sincerely believe that the agreement that was signed on May 5, 2006 in Abuja, between one faction of SLM/A and the National Congress Party, does not address the root causes of Sudanese Conflict in Darfur and it is therefore unacceptable. We believe it will lead to more destruction of Darfurians and their region.

Complete, Inclusive and Comprehensive Pease for Darfur

To African Union, Unite Nations, European Union, President Obasanjo and People of Nigeria, USA, Canada, Safe Darfur and All Civil Society and Human Rights organizations and Individuals concerned about Darfur, we undersigned are representatives of Darfur and other Sudanese civil society organizations and Sudanese experts concerned about the way the talks are ending in Abuja and we have therefore decided to present you our position and the position of most Darfurians and other Sudanese. Again, the suggestions that we provide below also present the opinion of the majority of Darfurians as well as many other Sudanese.

We would like you to know that tens of thousands of Darfurians worldwide are unhappy with the document that has been adopted by the mediators as the final peace agreement; out of 79 articles and reaction messages that are published in during the last two days concerning the document and its signature by Minni Arku Minawi, only two have commended it and all others were outrageous reactions and even many of them went as far as describing Minni Minawi as betrayer. Moreover, a quick study published by Alkhaleej newspaper on June 7, 2006 shows that none among the Darfurians in Khartoum whom the newspaper interviewed was happy with the peace deal and opinions of some Sudanese political parties (e. g. Sudanese Communist Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Umma Party, etc.) published in described the peace deal as irrelevant to the disaster that Darfurians have gone through. Furthermore, the telephone calls that we have been receiving from Darfurians and Sudanese all over the world confirm that 90% of Darfurians and over 70% of other Sudanese consider the document as flawed and therefore unacceptable. Many Darfurians went as far as describing May 5, 2006 as the day of mourn for all Darfurians except some clan politicians such as Minni Minawi and individual opportunists such as Dr. Abdelrahman Musa Abbaker.

Consequently, the document is unacceptable to Duarfurians and to Sudanese. Therefore, it needs substantial changes before Darfurians adopt it. We respect the efforts made during the production of the document, its adoption by the AU and the support that it got from the international community, but it is like a dress that does not fit the person for whom it was made and consequently it needs some adjustments. We heard that Abdelwahid Annur, Khaleel Ibrahim and their delegates were told: "Just take it or leave it!" We think that it is unfortunate that such language is addressed to individuals negotiating on behalf of the victims of genocide. The text can be amended even if most of the mediators believe that it is perfect. They see it in an outsider's viewpoint but we see it in an insider's viewpoint. They may want an instant solution, but we want a lasting one.

Based on what we have provided above, we strongly support the position of lawyer Abdelwahid Mohamed Ahmed Annur and doctor Khaleel Ibrahim until most of the following items are genuinely addressed in the peace document:

1) Guaranteed and adequately financed return of all indigenous Darfurians who have been forced out of their areas of origin since 1990. The definition of the international community to the problem of Darfur as a sudden explosion in February 2003 is faulty and will provide irrelevant solution and will lead to further complication of the situation. We therefore suggest that a commission including parties to the conflict and international community be formed to undertake the procedural issues related to repatriation.

2) All groups that have been imposed by the government on areas that are not their own should evacuate those areas to their legitimate owners. Khartoum is responsible for finding them other places and as many of them are not Sudanese Khartoum can arrange for their repatriation. The question to the authors of Abuja agreement is: "How can you repatriate the internally displaced Darfurians and Darfur refugees outside the country if their homeland areas are still occupied by the Janjaweed and their clans?"

3) Individual compensations to all refugees and displaced people that have been suggested by Mr. Abdelwahid Mohamed Ahmed Annur are not from his own invention. These compensations are what all Darfurians insist on. The amounts of 300,000,000 and 200,000,000 that have been suggested by the authors of Abuja document are completely irrelevant to the damage done and population displaced.

4) The commission that will be responsible for the establishment of Darfurians' historical rights on their tribal lands should also include a third party, that is to say, individuals assigned by the international community.

5) We strongly support Abdelwahid Annur and Khaleel Ibrahim in their position of one Darfur. The idea of three Darfurs is part of the National Congress Party's plan of "divide and destroy" so that it can rule the country for ever. We do not see any logic behind the National Congress Party's insistence in Darfur being three Darfurs other than what we have mentioned above. Yet, Darfur was one state until 1994. The question which we raise to the arbitrators in this issue is: "What is the logic behind accepting the South Sudanese right for one region; yet dying the same right to the Darfurians; however, Darfur was an independent kingdom until February 1916? What makes Darfurians deserve less?" Darfurians did not say that they want an independent Darfur; but the suturing (cut and paste) games of Khartoum will definitely push Darfurians to it.

6) We want as more autonomous Darfur as possible in exchange for the three cabinet ministers, and the three state ministers and 12 members of appointed undemocratic assembly all that is part of Khartoum's politics of suturing. In exchange, we want that governor of Darfur and 80 percent of the ministerial and all other positions in one Darfur be filled by the movements of Darfur. The assistant president or whatever name Khartoum wants is fine at this stage but he/she should be elected by the people of Darfur and his responsibility should be the follow up of the execution the peace agreement. All Darfurians should elect the person who will occupy that position so that she/he can do his/her job with confidence.

7) Darfur should be as autonomous as possible to have the right to develop its own educational plan (from daycare to university), its own independent police, independent legal system, sign trade agreements with neighboring countries, etc.

8) The percentages of the amounts that will be invested in Darfur from the federal revenues should be precisely defined in the agreement otherwise they will end up as mirage in the desert.

9) The share of the local people, municipalities, provinces and the region of Darfur in the subsurface resources (minerals) should be precise. We insist on the settlement of the aforementioned items in Abuja so that future conflicts, which might be more costly, can be avoided.

10) The agreement to be reached should be endorsed by strong guarantors. In addition to AU which is the mediating body we urge international bodies such as UN, other regional bodies such as EU and democratically sustainable countries (USA, United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, France, Netherlands, etc.) that usually take initiative in peace making, peace keeping and protecting to endorse it.

We reiterate that the position taken by Abdelwahid and Khaleel is the position of the majority of Darfurians and any peace deal without their endorsement will be incomplete because they are more popular among Darfurians and other Sudanese than those who left the demands of Darfurians down and signed Abuja deal only to satisfy their individual greed. According to a recent statement by Minni Minawi's spokesman, Mahjob Hussein, at , Minni Minawi's faction is " the main faction and it is the one that will keep the security and order in the region and the small movements have to be careful about their press conferences and media releases otherwise they will be punished." We believe the above quoted statement is a sign of the beginning of anarchy. Minni Minawi's faction might have the support of some soldiers but only the support of a handful of civilians because of its leaders' arrogant claim that the soldiers are the only legitimate representatives of the people of Darfur and their cause.

We are not sadists, but our knowledge of the problem of the region and its population compelled us to come out with this statement which we believe will contribute towards finding everlasting and sustainable solution to the problem. The door for genuine peace for Darfuris expires on May 15th, 2006. Why should not the door for peace be left open for comprehensive deal?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ethiopian 'coup plot' trial opens

Ethiopian prosecutors on Tuesday accused a group of jailed opposition figures of conspiring with Eritrean-backed rebels to foment a coup by inciting violence after disputed elections last year.

Laying out the state's case against the 111 defendants on the opening day of their trial, prosecutor Shimeles Kemal said the group had worked with rebels supported by Asmara to destabilize the government in Addis Ababa.

"They have been collaborating with a clandestine Ethiopian organization, the Ethiopian Patriotic Front, which is supported by the Eritrean government and has openly declared an armed struggle to overthrow the government," he said.

The 111 - 101 individuals, four political parties and six newspapers - all stand charged with conspiracy to foment a coup, while 54 face more serious charges ranging from high treason to genocide that could draw death sentences.

Those charged with high treason, including nearly the entire leadership of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), have been specifically linked to the previously unknown Ethiopian Patriotic Front, Shimeles said.

Full report Sudan Tribune 3 May 2006.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Central Africa fears involvement in Chad troubles

The Central African Republic has closed its frontier with western Sudan where civil war has been raging, but now fears rebels from another neighbour, Chad, are being infiltrated by air via Sudan to set up rear bases on its territory.

And the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) is now worried that the presence of these bases could drag its country into conflict between rebels and the government in Chad.

Full report Sudan Tribune May 1 2006.