Sudan: It's Like the Weather


March 26, 2007: Darfurs demography has changed since the war there started in 2003. Many villages are now empty, their inhabitants living in refugee camps either in Sudan or in Chad. There is a continuing debate over whether or not the action in Darfur fits the definition of the 1948 Genocide Convention. It certainly appears to do so, since the definition is "campaigns against ethnic groups with the intention of eliminating them in part or in a whole, as a consequence of a deliberate governmental military strategy." However, many insist that a more absolute definition of genocide be used. That is, as the total elimination of a group. This is what the Germans tried to do to the Jews during World War II, or the Hutus tried to do to the Tutsi in Rwanda in the 1990s. Genocide is an ancient practice. What is going on in Darfur is more akin to "ethnic cleansing" (forcing a population to move, not trying to kill them all.) The 1948 Genocide Convention used a broader definition of genocide, and that has caused endless problems ever since.

March 24, 2007: Eight members of the Minnawi-faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement and two Sudanese police officers died in a violent if somewhat mysterious incident. The Minnawi faction signed the May peace agreement with the Sudan government. The incident took place in Omdurman, which is in eastern Sudan (across the Nile from Khartoum). The SLM reported that government police surrounded SLM headquarters building. A firefight broke out. The government said that the police came to arrest a man for a traffic violation. But 41 SLM members were arrested. An SLM spokesman is saying that the incident puts the May peace agreement with the Minnawi faction "at risk." No kidding.

March 22, 2007: South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, once again called on Darfurian rebels to come to south Sudan. Kiir wants the Darfur rebels to reach a "consensus" political position. Once that is achieved, Kiir argues that useful peace talks can begin with the Sudan government in Khartoum. Kiir wants to have what he calls an "all Darfur conference" in Juba, Sudan, sometime in April.

The Sudan government said that it was "suspending" 52 NGOS currently operating in Darfur. Suspension means they cannot work in the Darfur region. The Sudan government said that the NGOs have not complied with regulations which prevent "fraud." The NGOs, of course, see this as harassment by the Sudan government - which is itself notoriously corrupt.

Chad accused Sudan of bombing two Chadian villages on the border with Sudan. Sudan denied the accusation. Who knows what happened. What is important is that Chad has now accused Sudan of breaking the "non-aggression pact" signed in February. That agreement included promises by Chad and Sudan to prevent rebel groups from operating in their territories (ie, Sudanese rebel groups operating in Chad, and Chadian rebels operating in Sudan).

March 20, 2007: France's Jacques Chirac said that Sudan needs to face sanctions for "crimes against humanity" in Darfur. Chirac advocated the deployment of "UN and African Union forces" to Darfur. France and Great Britain have both increased rhetorical and diplomatic pressure on the Sudan government.




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