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From the African Union Summit to Darfur—Musings about Sudan

The 6th African Union (AU) summit took place in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum from 16-24 January 2004. Key on the agenda was who should succeed the Nigerian president as the next African Union chairperson. Tradition dictates that the leader of the host country should become the next chairperson. However, several African nations appeared unwilling to allow the Sudanese president take over the helm of affairs, given Sudan’s poor record in the Western Sudanese province of Darfur. A compromise was reached and the president of Congo-Brazzaville was elected to chair the African Union for the next one year.

The blog Sudan Watch muses about the AU summit, focusing on two presidential yachts that were ordered by the Sudanese government for ferrying dignitaries. Unfortunately, the boats never made it on time. The first of them arrived in Sudan after the summit had ended. The blog Harowo also looks at the AU summit, quoting a report from the East African of Kenya, which hails the AU’s decision to elect the president of Congo-Brazzaville and not that of Sudan as its head in the coming year. The report also notes a peculiar seating arrangement at the summit:

“…the decision to alter the seating arrangements at the summit to put a ‘buffer’ between Ethiopia and Eritrea, was a clear indication that the AU was not yet ready to deal with an issue that could result in fresh hostilities between the Horn of Africa neighbours…The two countries were kept apart by Gabon, Gambia, Guinea and Ghana”.

Pambazuka News, in an article by Eva Dadrian, takes a look at the massacre of Sudanese refugees in Cairo by Egyptian security forces on December 30, 2005. In the opinion of Eva Dadrian, the fact that Sudan was meant to host the AU summit, given its record in Darfur, was an insult not only to those in Darfur but also

“…to the memory of those Sudanese refugees who were trampled to death or died of their wounds during and after the vicious attack by the Egyptian security police…just across from the UNHCR office… they were staging a sit-in in protest at the UNHCR’s earlier decision to close their files and start their repatriation [back to Sudan]”.

Eva Dadrian further accuses the Egyptian security forces of aiming

“…mainly at the heads, kidneys and genital parts of male and female refugees alike. All those who died and whose corpses are still lying in morgues have head wounds, brain haemorrhages, burst kidneys and burst pancreas”.

Darfur is one issue that ever remains on the minds of those who blog from or about Sudan. Sudan: The Passion of the Present notes that while the American President, George W. Bush, made reference to the word “genocide” in his State of the Union speech, he did not mention Darfur specifically. The blog Coalition for Darfur quotes a report from savedarfur.org, which notes that on

“February 1st [2006], the United States assumes the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for one month, giving America a unique opportunity to help the people of Darfur by leading the international community to take action. Specifically, the U.S. must use its time as head of the Council to take the necessary steps to turn the under-funded and under-equipped African Union peacekeeping force into a much stronger and more capable United Nations peacekeeping force. If America is serious about helping the people of Darfur, this is not an opportunity we can pass up”.

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