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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs