Peacekeeping Force in Sudan Possibly Delayed

Peacekeeping Force in Sudan Possibly Delayed

By Elizabeth Costner
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Deployment of a joint UN-AU peacekeeping force to Darfur may be delayed due to several challenges in the region.  On Tuesday the head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, “complained that Sudanese government red tape and lack of resources are delaying the deployment of an international force to protect civilians in the war-stricken region of Darfur.”

The joint peacekeeping force, named UNAMID, was approved in July in order to eventually take over for the current 6,000 ill-equipped African Union forces that have been in the area since 2004.  Khartoum has put up much resistance to the force, and only accepted it on the condition that it be mostly composed of African troops.  Further demands from Khartoum have made it “impossible for the mission to operate” according to Guehenno.   The UN is still awaiting authorization for non-African troops, land for the UNAMID bases, and authorization for night flights. 

It is now five weeks before the scheduled deployment and transfer of authority to UNAMID and the UN and AU have both been facing problems getting the needed troops. The force is also short of critical mobility capabilities such as helicopters. 

Additionally, the ongoing conflict between the government and rebel groups has made things even more difficult and dangerous for those in the area.    Peace talks began in Libya on October 27 but have been boycotted by most of the rebel groups.  Jan Eliasson, the UN’s top political envoy for Darfur says the atmosphere is less positive than it was this summer and that they “will only be able to make progress if the parties show seriousness, political will, and a focused commitment to peace.” 

Violence in Darfur has displaced 30,000 people since October alone, brining this total for this year to 280,000.  Since fighting began in 2003, over 200,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have been displaced.  On Monday, the International Crisis Group issued a report cautioning that new dynamics in Darfur could lead to an Arab insurgency, further leading to worries of increased danger.

For more information, please see: – Sudan: Darfur Fighting ‘Displaced 30,000 in October’ – 28 November 2007

BBC News – Sudan ‘blocking’ Darfur mission – 28 November 2007

LA Times – Darfur may not get peacekeeping force – 28 November 2007 – UN: Sudan blocking Darfur force – 28 November 2007

AFP – Darfur peace force delayed: UN official – 27 November 2007

For more information on the Sudan situation, please see the following Impunity Watch reports: Threat of War in Sudan; Continued Delays in Deployment of Sudan Hybrid Force;  Sudan Talks Falter; Upcoming Peace Talks in Sudan in Jeopardy; New Atrocities in Darfur; Ceasefire Ends in Sudan; African Union Peacekeepers Attacked in Darfur; Ongoing Conflict in Sudan; ICC Prosecutor Demands Arrests in Sudan; Secretary General Urges Sudan President to Commit to Ceasefire; Peace Talks on Darfur Scheduled for October 

BRIEF: Fighting between Rival Factions in Northern Lebanon

TRIPOLI, Lebanon – Rival factions engaged in a gunfight in Shiraa Square in the Abu Samra neighborhood of Tripoli.  Members from the Islamic Unification Movement (IUM) and from the Tripoli Brigades exchanged automatic fire for about 30 minutes.  IUM is close to the pro-Syrian opposition while the Tripoli Brigades is linked to the anti-Syrian March 14 political coalition and leader Saad Hariri.

The fighting resulted in one death, allegedly the son of the leader of IUM, and six other injuries.  There are also unconfirmed reports of the death of a member of the Tripoli Brigades as well.

Fighting subsided when Lebanese Army troops arrived at the square.  Additional troops were deployed to the area and the police reports that relative calm has been restored.

For more information, please see:

AHN – Rival factions clash in Lebanon: 1 dead, 6 injured – 28 November 2007

BBC – Gunfight raises Lebanon tension – 28 November 2007

Reuters – Rival factions clash in North Lebanon, one dead – 28 November 2007

Solomons Government Still Unsettled

By Sarah C. LaBelle
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

HONIARA, Solomon Islands – Earlier this month, nine high-level government ministers in the Solomon Islands defected to the opposition, creating an opening for the opposition to call for a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.  Both sides maintain that they have the numbers to rule, causing a political stand off, and rumours are still flying over alleged defections from both sides.  (For more on the initial events, please see the Impunity Watch report here.)

This week, the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation that four MPs defected from Opposition for the government, but those MPs deny that this is the case.  Gordon Lilo, one of the nine initial defectors, criticised SIBC’s report, telling Radio New Zealand International, “Those claims are just frivolous because the bodies are still with us; physically, they’re still with us, and it’s just unbelievable for people to think that people like Steve Abana could ever move, Edward Huni’ehu could ever move,  Stanley Sofu would move.  They’re just trying to create uncertainty, it’s only propaganda.”  Abana, Huni’ehu, and Sofu were among the four recently reported to have defected to the government.

Opposition leader Fred Fono has accused Sogavare and Attorney General Julian Moti of abusing the court process based on Moti’s declared intent to file a case with the High Court yesterday afternoon, seeking a clarification of the constitutional issues surrounding the political turmoil.  A spokesman for the High Court confirmed that the Court received Moti’s paperwork, and that while a date has not been set for the hearing, the Court is treating it as an urgent case.

Fono has also called on Sogavare to fill the five open ministerial portfolios for Public Service, Aviation, Peace and Reconciliation, Home Affairs, and Education.  Fono says that if Sogavare truly has the numbers to rule, it would not be a problem to fill those positions.  However, he suspects that Sogavare is leading the nation with “a minority and lying to the whole nation that he still has the numbers,” according to the Solomon Star.  The opposition alleges that they have 26 of the 48 MPs, and therefore the majority.

Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena has set December 13th as the date for parliament to convene.  He rejected both the opposition’s request for December 3rd and the government’s request for December 31st.  Waena feels that he is now constitutionally obligated to resolve the political impasse by convening parliament, and he believes that Moti’s court motion will interfere with his constitutional responsibilities.

Interestingly, the opposition group has not decided who will be Prime Minister if they succeed in ousting Sogavare, telling the Solomon Star that the important thing right now is to remove Sogavare from office.

For more information, please see:

Solomon Star – Waena tells PM to call parliament – 26 November 2007

Solomon Star – We’re going to court over date, says PM – 26 November 2007

Solomon Star – PM, Moti accused of abusing courts – 26 November 2007

Solomon Star – Opposition group says removing Sogavare comes first – 26 November 2007

Solomon Star – Opposition refutes report – 27 November 2007

Solomon Star – Fono tells PM to fill up vacant portfolios – 27 November 2007

Solomon Star – Government moves to block parliament sitting – 27 November 2007

Solomon Times – Opposition Members Deny Switching to Govt – 27 November 2007

Radio New Zealand International – More claims and counterclaims of MPs swapping sides as Solomons political crisis continues – 27 November 2007

Radio New Zealand International – Solomon Islands opposition MP grouping insists it has support – 27 November 2007

Islands Business – Government moves to block parliament sitting – 27 November 2007

Islands Business – MPs told to put budget first – 27 November 2007

Present Clashes in Chad

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch Reporter, Western and Central Africa

ABECHE, Chad – According to the Chad army, several hundred rebel fighters were killed near the eastern border. The present clashes have ended the month- long cease fire. The clashes took place near the volatile border of Sudan’s Darfur region, an area where 4,000 European Union peacekeepers are expected to be sent next year.

A rebel leader of the Union Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) has confirmed that seventeen of his armed militants were killed. The leader also claimed that 100 government soldiers were killed in the fighting that took place in the small towns of Forchana and Hadjer Hadid, located 70 kilometers east of Abeche. The UFDD has also stated that they will abandon the peace agreement signed with the government.

A military spokesman has reported that the “partial [rebel] toll is around 50 vehicles seized, around 40 vehicles destroyed, several hundred dead and several prisoners of war.”

Presently more than 60 people are being treated for combat related injuries in the hospital in Abeche. Aid workers based in Forchana have reported hearing machine gun and heavy gun fire on Monday morning. 

EU peacekeepers are hesitant to enter the region. One Chad based diplomat said, “This is a forewarning … nobody from the EU is going to feel confident now that there has been heavy fighting.”

For more information, please see:

BBC – Hundreds Dead in Chad Fighting  – 27 November 2007

Reuters South Africa – Chad fighting points to risks of EU deployment   – 27 November 2007

Janes- Potential for renewed hostilities as Chad truce lapses  – 27 November 2007

BRIEF: Demonstrations against Annapolis across Gaza and West Bank, One Demonstrator Killed

GAZA CITY, Gaza – Thousands of Palestinians gathered in cities across Gaza and in the West Bank to protest the peace conference currently underway in Annapolis.  At the largest rally, in Gaza City, leaders of Hamas spoke amongst chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”.  Hamas, who is labeled as a terrorist organization by the US, was not invited to the conference, and has been protesting against the conference for several days.  At the Gaza City demonstration, Haniya, the former Palestinian Prime Minister, stated that the “conference cannot change the reality of history and geography,” and that any conference that denies this reality is “doomed to failure.”

In the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) banned any demonstration against the conference, smaller rallies took place in major cities, such as Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus.  At these demonstrations, PA policemen dispersed demonstrators by firing live ammunition in the air, using tear gas, and by hitting individuals with batons.  At the largest West Bank demonstration in Hebron, one demonstrator was shot in the chest and was killed.  Medics report that several individuals sustained serious to minor injuries.  The Palestinian police have refused to comment.

Demonstrations against the Annapolis conference also occurred in other countries, such as Jordan and Israel.

For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera – Hamas says “Annapolis Doomed” – 27 November 2007

BBC – Gaza rally against Mid-East talks – 27 November 2007

International Herald Tribune – Israeli, Palestinians hard-liners demonstrate against US-sponsored Mideast conference – 27 November 2007

Reuters – Jordanians stage anti-Annapolis protest – 27 November 2007

Reuters – One killed in Palestinian clashes over Annapolis – 27 November 2007

Telegraph – Annapolis Middle East summit : Q&A – 27 November 2007