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

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora