|Africa News Digest
Will Darfur Violence Accelerate UN Deployment?
Oct. 2 (EIRNS)In the predawn hours of Sept. 29, the African Union camp at Haskanita in the southern part of Sudan's Darfur region, was attacked, killing ten soldiers of the AU peacekeeping contingent, seven of whom were Nigerian. Eight were wounded, and 40 were reported missing, according to the French daily Le Figaro on Oct 1. The attackers, who had 30 trucks equipped with modern weaponry, looted the camp.
According Le Figaro, the Sudanese government thinks the massacre was carried out by rebels who want to sabotage the peace talks scheduled for Oct. 27 in Tripoli, Libya. Le Figaro reports that the independent Moroccan daily al-Ayam says that "no one knows exactly who committed the massacre, but no one doubts its objective: to scare the hybrid force and to sabotage the peace process."
The UN aims to have 26,000 troops deployed by Dec. 31, at the latest, but the White House is now calling for the intervention to take place "as soon as possible." One of the killed AU peacekeepers was from Senegal, and its government made it known that it could pull out its 550 troops, "if the security conditions of its contingent and those of other African troops are not guaranteed." The other two peacekeepers who were killed came from Mali and Botswana.
The attack shows again that the nature of the "genocide" cannot be reduced to a simplistic conflict between "Islamic" Arabs and "Christian" Africans. The number of combatant groups in Darfur has grown from 6 to 16, according to the report.
Le Figaro cited sources who blamed the massacre on a dissident faction of the anti-government Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The JEM has been linked to Hasan al-Turabi, a former high government official, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who was pushed out of the government at the time it decided to implement a peace accord with rebels in southern Sudan. Le Figaro reported that elements of another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army, could also have been implicated.
'Elders': Darfur Atrocities 'Horrible'; But Not Genocide
Oct. 4 (EIRNS)Some of the false axioms upon which the anti-Sudan propaganda relating to the crisis in Darfur has been based, were confronted head-on by a group of elder statesmen, who arrived in Sudan Sept. 30 for a three-day visit.
At a press conference in Sudan at the end of the trip, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that the atrocities in Darfur were horrible, but they did not meet the legal standard of genocide.
The day before the group arrived in Sudan, ten of the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur were killed by anti-government rebels. The fact that their deaths were at the hands of well-armed rebels (the peacekeepers ran out of ammunition), threw a different light on the crisis: The press always blames the Sudan government for the violence there.
Another member of the group, veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, stated that the international community had acted irresponsibly in the past, by pampering the rebels without bothering to check if they represented anybody, and whether they were acting responsibly.
After arriving in Khartoum, the group of four well-known international leadersSouth Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel (wife of Nelson Mandela), and Brahimi visited southern Sudan, where a peace agreement between the government and rebels has been reached, and the Darfur region. The four are part of the "Group of Elders" that is chaired by Nelson Mandela. Tutu led the delegation.
The group called for the 27,000-man hybrid peacekeeping force that Sudan has agreed to, to be implemented as soon as possible, and said that the smaller African Union peacekeeping unit there now, should be better equipped.
Brown Losing Fight To Keep Mugabe Out of EU Summit
Oct. 1 (EIRNS)The attempt by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to bar the attendance of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at the European Union-Africa Union heads of state summit in Portugal in December, has so far failed, according to today's Guardian. Although Portugal has yet to issue an invitation, there is no sign that it will bar Mugabe from attending, thereby risking a collapse of the summit, since several key African countries would then boycott the event.
"It's the working assumption that Mugabe will be coming if invited by the Portuguese as expected," an unnamed European Commission official told the Guardian.
Mbeki Confident Zimbabwe Agreement Will Succeed
Oct. 6 (EIRNS)South African President Thabo Mbeki expressed confidence that the opposition in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will stick to its agreement with the ruling Zanu-PF, which will enable national elections to go forward. "We are quite confident that there will be a positive outcome that will create the political conditions to address the very serious economic crisis in Zimbabwe," Mbeki said yesterday, during a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Trying to throw cold water on the agreement, a report in today's London Financial Times, says that the MDC questions whether Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will honor the agreement.
Merkel told the press that Germany would not go along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's effort to bar Mugabe from attending the European Union-African Union Summit in Portugal. According to today's South African Mail & Guardian, Merkel said, "I have said right from the start that the President of the Republic of Germany wanted to invite all African countries to the summit, and it's up to countries themselves to decide how they are going to be represented at the table." Nonetheless, the Chancellor added, "I also said [to Mbeki] that obviously we will make all our assessments heard. We will also raise all our criticisms. We would do so in the presence of each and everyone and obviously each and everyone has the right to attend."