By Matthew Russell Lee
Inner City Press
UNITED NATIONS – Information about the Horn of Africa flowed Wednesday in the half-light outside the UN Security Council, after an uneventful session about Sudan and Guinea-Bissau. Unprompted, the representative of Saudi Arabia denied that his country has shipped arms into Somalia, while Sudan accepted a benign spin of Ethiopian shipments into South Sudan.
Inner City Press began by asking Sudan’s Ambassador, on the record, about reports of Ethiopian arms shipments to Juba and South Sudan, and that the tanks hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia were also headed for South Sudan. He said quickly that the tanks’ destination s being investigated and Ethiopia has provided clarification, ostensibly the weapons are meant for some exhibition in Juba, leaving Sudan’s relations with Ethiopia positive. The connection between this and positions on suspending the International Criminal Court’s proceedings against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir remain to be reported, on the record.
Earlier in the week, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Michele Montas for any UN response to reports that Sudan has arrested one of the two current Sudanese ICC indictees, Ali Kushayb. The first day, she said those were only reports. Then on Wednesday she said, “I’ve been asked about reports indicating that the Government of Sudan has detained Ali Khushayb for crimes committed in Darfur, which the Secretary-General has noted. If confirmed, this is a welcome step towards the vital need to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for crimes in Darfur.” Video here.
Inner City Press asked Sudan’s Ambassador later on Wednesday to respond to this UN quote. “Who is she to comment on that?” he asked. “What business is it of hers?”
On Thursday, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas if she, Ban or joint UN-African Union envoy Bassole had any comment on President Al-Bashir’s so-called “people’s initiative” convened in Darfur, without involvement of armed rebels. Ms. Montas said that Bassole is attending, and that any comment would be made only after the initiative is over. Video here. Sudan’s Ambassador’s review of Mr. Bassole was given, but on an off the record basis.
Just then coming down the second story hallway of the UN was Saudi Arabia’s representative / charge d’affaires, Abdullatif Sallam. “Ask him something,” it was suggested to Inner City Press. As a softball, Inner City Press asked, “What about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Somalia negotiations” — a process that like that in Darfur excludes the armed insurgents, but which has nonetheless been repeatedly praised by the UN. “It is not good,” the Saudi said enigmatically.
Moments later he doubled back and whispered in the Sudanese Ambassador’s ear. “Saudi Arabia denied it has been providing weapons in Somalia,” was the statement that emerged. Thou dost protest too much?
Footnote: the UN’s own press release about Wednesday’s Security Council resolution on Sudan says that 400,000 people have been killed in Darfur. Since many knowledgeable sources use the figure of 200,000 and controversy obtained to the UN’s John Holmes raising the figure to 300,000, one wonders where this 400,000 comes from — inflation?
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan summoned the Kenyan and
Ethiopian Woyanne ambassadors on Monday to protest against what it said were illegal shipments of arms to its semi-autonomous south, state media reported.
Khartoum was protesting over “violations” linked to an arms shipment seized by pirates off Somalia’s coast that Western diplomats said was bound for south Sudan, and a plane-load of weapons from Addis Ababa, state news agency SUNA reported.
SUNA stopped short of accusing Ethiopia and Kenya of directly supplying the arms to south Sudan, which won its own government and the right to its own army in a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that ended a two-decade civil war.
But it said that “against the backdrop” of the two shipments, the foreign ministry asked both envoys to “inform their governments of its protest at these violations”.
The move raised the heat in a simmering row over the shipment of 30 tanks seized by pirates last month off Somalia that western diplomats said were heading for south Sudan in possible breach of the peace agreement.
The pirates, who are still holding the cargo, said paperwork showed the tanks were heading to south Sudan through Kenya’s port of Mombasa. South Sudan has denied ordering the tanks and Kenya has insisted the machines were meant for its own army.
Sudan’s foreign ministry also protested about unspecified weapons that it said had arrived in south Sudan’s capital Juba on Friday on an Ethiopian military plane, SUNA said.
Southern officials and army officers on Monday denied the weapons were part of an arms delivery and told Reuters they had been brought in as exhibits in a long-planned trade fair.
Lieutenant General Biar Ajang of the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) said that rumours of an Ethiopian delivery of armaments were “confused”.
“They are coming to show local products, tents, uniforms, armaments, shells … like a shop,” he said.
Ethiopia’s Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters some of the weapons had been taken to SPLA headquarters for inspection. “They are samples. Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing,” he said.
Sudan’s foreign ministry said it was surprised at the shipments as both Kenya and Ethiopia had backed a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, SUNA said.
There are currently no global arms embargoes banning south Sudan from buying arms or supplying the SPLA.
But the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ban both the north and the south from building up arms without the approval of a north-south Joint Military Board.
Activists have repeatedly accused the northern Khartoum government of also re-arming, and of breaching the terms of a U.N. arms embargo covering the warring parties in the separate Darfur conflict.
(Additional reporting by Skye Wheeler in Juba, editing by Mark Trevelyan)
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (ST) – The Sudanese government revealed today that a militia leader wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been detained and will stand trial for his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.
The Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat told the Associated Press from Cairo that militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb “is in government custody”.
“Kushayb will be tried in Sudan’s domestic courts. He is under investigation. He will be held accountable” Sabdarat said.
The move come almost three months after the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced in mid-July that he requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
Following that Sudan has been looking into ways that would allow it to avoid confrontation with the international community over the ICC through conducting trials for lesser suspects.
The judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants last year for Kushayb and Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs on 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. But Khartoum has so far refused to hand them over.
Khartoum had long claimed that Kushayb was in custody since November 2006 for investigations into allegations of violations he committed during the peak of the Darfur conflict in 2004.
Sudan’s former Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told a news conference in Khartoum in February 2007 that “Ali Kushayb, along with two other individuals, was sent for trial. He was detained as a suspect, questioned, his statements were evaluated and witness statements recorded, and then the decision was taken to refer him to court”.
But in March 2007 Kushayb’s trial was delayed when the defendants filed an appeal with the Justice ministry after which Abu-Zeid told reporters that Kushayb’s appeal was denied that there is “sufficient evidence to proceed with the case”.
Shortly afterwards the Sudanese justice ministry ordered a ban on publishing reports or details relating to criminal cases on Darfur conflict and many observers at the time voiced skepticism over Khartoum’s seriousness to try perpetrators of crimes in the war ravaged region.
In October 2007 Sudan’s former foreign minister Lam Akol told the pro-government daily Al-Rayaam from New York that Kushayb was freed “due to lack of incriminating evidence against him”.
However Al-Mardi issued a quick denial to the Al-Rayaam report describing it as “false” without directly commenting on Akol’s statements.
The former Justice Minister was asked again by Al-Rayaam last November on the whereabouts of Kushayb and he reiterated that the militia leader was “never released” before saying that he refrained from commenting on the issue “because it is under investigation”.
In April the spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London, Khalid Al-Mubarak was quoted by Voice of America (VOA) as saying that Haroun and Kushayb were not prosecuted “because there is no evidence against them”.
Again in June Amin Hassan Omar, a leading figure in the National Congress Party (NCP) and a state minister also confirmed Kushayb’s release.
Sabdarat did not say on what charges will Kushayb be prosecuted despite earlier assertions that he has been cleared from any wrongdoings.
The ICC Statute prevents investigation into crimes that were looked into by local judiciary under the concept of “complementarity”.
Sudan must prosecute Haroun and Kushayb for the same accusations brought against them by the ICC in order for the latter to lose jurisdiction over their cases.
Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UN Security Council (UNSC) triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.