News / Africa

Optimism, But No Deal, at Summit on Sudan Referendum

An East African regional summit on Sudan has ended with no deal between north and south on key disputes threatening a referendum on southern independence. But the two sides did agree to keep talking as time for a deal runs short.

Five heads of state and one possible future head of state gathered at a posh hotel Tuesday to see what could be done to ensure the success of southern Sudan's January 9 independence referendum.

The vote is one of the final pieces of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended a 20-year civil war that killed an estimated two million people.

A summit communique urged north and south to "expeditiously resolve" remaining differences, including how to arrange a separate referendum on whether the oil-rich Abyei region goes north or south in the event of secession.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Kenya's ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, Monica Juma, said a deal on Abyei appears close under the guidance of a high-level panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

"Both parties have provided assurances they will engage with this matter, difficult as it might be, and the general sense is there is a commitment to deal with the Abyei, and we believe it is going to be resolved, frankly," said Juma.

Diplomats say the real summit business was done on the sidelines. There, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and his first vice president, southern Sudanese leader Salva Kir, met with leaders, mediators and diplomats trying to help broker a deal.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi emerged from an hourlong meeting with the two principals saying the difficult details of a deal on Abyei are likely to emerge from the Mbeki panel within days.

"We didn't get into the details of the discussion on Abyei," he said. "We expect the panel to lead the negotiations on Abyei sometime this week.  What we tried to create was the right environment for the negotiations on Abyei to make progress, and I believe we made quite a lot of progress in creating the right environment."

In a separate interview with Reuters this week, Mr. Meles warned of what he called "ghastly consequences" for Africa if north and south Sudan return to war. He said all out war was "possible, but not inevitable."

Optimism, But No Deal, at Summit on Sudan Referendum
Optimism, But No Deal, at Summit on Sudan Referendum
Speaking to VOA Tuesday, the Ethiopian leader said if the two sides could find their way through to signing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, they can solve the Abyei dispute, too.

"Yeah, Abyei is a tough nut to crack, but it's not as tough as the overall peace issue of the south," he said. "If we have succeeded in cracking that nut, there is no reason Abyei could not be cracked.  But it takes some doing. It's not going to be easy. But I think there is a way around it."

African diplomats close to the negotiation process say the focus of the talks will shift back to Sudan within days, as the Mbeki panel unveils its Abyei proposal. Kenya's acting foreign minister, George Saitoti, said Monday there is still a window of about 10 days in which to reach a deal that would allow the referendum process to go ahead smoothly.

Kenya called this regional summit last month, but had to postpone it and move it out of Nairobi after the International Criminal Court requested that President Bashir be arrested.  The ICC wants to try the Sudanese leader on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The venue was switched to Addis Ababa because Ethiopia is not a member of the ICC, and under no obligation to arrest Mr. Bashir.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid