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

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora