News / Africa

E. Africa Summit Expected to Push Sudanese Parties Toward Referendum Deal

East African leaders are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Addis Ababa to try to pressure north and south Sudan to settle critical issues blocking a January referendum on southern independence.  Our correspondent reports that ministers laying the groundwork for the summit are hoping for a breakthrough.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is in Addis Ababa for the one day summit.  So is southern Sudanese President Salva Kir, along with the leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti.  The meeting was called under the auspices of the East African economic group known as IGAD, or the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Somalia will be the only IGAD country not expected to be represented at the meeting.  President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is said to be busy at home with pressing business.   

The summit is intended to break a north-south deadlock over several critical issues that threaten to scuttle the January 9 referendum on southern Sudan's independence.

Experts say that unless key differences are settled during the next few days, it will be impossible to organize the vote, which is a critical element of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended two decades of war.

IGAD foreign ministers meeting on Monday reported progress on a formula they hope could break the impasse.  Kenya's Acting Foreign Minister George Saitoti says the deal would involve focusing solely on priority issues surrounding the status of the oil-rich Abyei region and the citizenship of its people, while putting aside other issues until after the referendum.

"There are going to be two categories," said Saitoti. "Priority issues are the ones that need to be addressed, before referendum.  There are going to still remain and will be the post-referendum issues that deliberations will be moving.  Issues that must be addressed fully are demarcation, citizenship.  Abyei is a key issue, including matters relating to wealth."

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn says the hoped-for key to success will be having the principals to the dispute sit face-to-face in the presence of concerned regional leaders.

"Abyei is the major issue, and this issue has been transferred to the principals - the president of Sudan as well as the first vice president and president of the government of South Sudan," said Hailemariam. "And I think the heads of state will also deliberate on this issue, and it is directly given to them."

African diplomats close to the talks say even with the persuasion of influential regional leaders like Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, it might be difficult to find a satisfactory compromise.  A southern Sudanese diplomat says that any concessions on Abyei would be tantamount to "political suicide" for President Salva Kir.

But other experts say compromise is the only option.  Kenya's George Saitoti says the summit is the last best chance to save the referendum.

"The good thing is this summit will have good attendance at high level, and issues that appear to be difficult may very well be solved in the course of the deliberations for the summit," he said. "The key thing, Abyei should not be the obstacle to holding the referendum.  I think some understanding could very well evolve on that."

Kenya called the summit last month as head of the IGAD subcommittee on Sudan.  But the meeting was postponed and moved from Nairobi to Addis Ababa after the International Criminal Court asked Kenya to arrest President Bashir.  The ICC wants to try the Sudanese leader on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the country's western Darfur region.

Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, therefore it is under no obligation to arrest Mr. Bashir.   

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid