AMMONNEWS - Two Jordanian officers of the Public Security Directorate (PSD) working with the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force, UNAMID, in Darfur, Sudan were kidnapped on Saturday, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Ali Ayed said.
Ayed told Jordan News Agency, Petra, that the two officers were kidnapped at 7 AM Saturday morning by an armed group that intercepted them while walking to a UNAMID transport dispatch point with a group of four Jordanian PSD officers working with the United Nations in a humanitarian mission.
Ayed added that the two officers were kidnapped along with their vehicle by an armed group, their whereabouts are yet unknown.
""The officers, who had been walking to a UNAMID transport dispatch point, were 100 metres (yards) from their residence in the city's Almatar area when they were blocked by three individuals in a 4x4 vehicle. The perpetrators seized the peacekeepers at gunpoint and sped off," the UNAMID peacekeeping mission said in a statement on Saturday.
The two officers work as police advisors to UNAMID and were unarmed.
The Minister said that the Jordanian government, PSD and the Foreign Ministry are coordinating with Unamid in following the case closely since the time of the incident. UN mission in Darfur has formed a team to track the case and coordinate with Jordanian authorities.
The UN peacekeeping mission says that they have had no contact with the kidnappers yet.
Ayed added that initial information indicates that the two officers are unharmed, stressing that the two other Jordanian colleagues, who had witnessed the abduction, are in good health as well.
He noted that initial information confirm that the two officers were targeted for being part of the United Nations cadres in Darfur, and not because they are Jordanian.
He stressed that Jordanian authorities will continue to follow the case closely and exert efforts to release the two officers and ensure their safe return.
At least 19 foreigners have been abducted in Darfur since March 2009. All have since been freed, except an American aid worker who was abducted in May, whose captors are demanding a ransom.
It was reported in the international media this week that some political forces in Sudan have called for an early demarcation of the borders between the South and the North before the referendum on self-determination, wrote Azraj Omar in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Arab.
“This is a dangerous precedent and prompts us to wonder about its timing and the reasons behind it.” There are two possible explanations. First, political leaders in the North may have succumbed to the idea that separation was imminent. Second, it may be a pre-emptive measure to avoid a future eruption of violence in southern Sudan between advocates and opponents of the secession project.
The last scenario is more plausible, since the process of the delination of frontiers will involve more than the mere definition of geographical coordinates. It is a means by which to legally divide shares of oil and water resources.
If launched, demarcation cannot technically be achieved in the remaining six months before the referendum, as it needs both lengthy negotiations and international supervision. Moreover, there are still plenty of overlapping issues that need to be addressed.
The most plausible reason behind the move is that the separatists want to impose a de facto situation prior to the poll to allow themselves to tailor the borders.
US presence in Iraq depends on interests
In a comment piece for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej, Saad Mehio described the US withdrawal plan from Iraq as facetious.
Washington is aiming mainly to ensure firm control over the country under the disguise of an ongoing programme of military training to increase the Iraqi army’s preparedness to defend the country against external enemies, “or one enemy, which is, of course, Iran”.
The US existence in Iraq may take many forms. It is possible, for example, to be under the cover of a UN Security Council resolution to establish international forces to protect Iraq’s borders. The US can also conclude long-term military agreements with Iraq, which will give rise to a need for the supply of American weapons, maintenance and training.
The US approach is less welcome in Iraqi, both by politicians and the army. Both are obssessed with maintaining order inside the country more than ensuring security along the borders. The chief of staff, Gen Babacar Zebari, explicitly hinted at that when he said that the Iraqi army would not be able to guarantee the security of the country by 2020, urging the US forces to stay until then.
But it is hard to know whether the US will respond positively to the Iraqi demand after the huge losses it has sustained. The future of the US presence in Iraq will be largely determined by future regional conflicts.
A Kashmiri ‘intifada’ is imminent against India
“Is it true that Kashmir is on the verge of a massive popular uprising against the Indian presence in the province?” This question was posed by Mazen Hammad in an opinion article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.
Popular revolts in Kashmir have erupted for three summers in a row, and have led India to its most serious internal crises in recent memory. India in an unenviable situation, not because of the ferocious and persistent resistance but because of the federal government’s failure to calm the Kashmiris. India has attempted to lure them with money and election privileges, and also used force to subdue them, but to little avail.
“It is not about money – you have spent huge amounts of money,” said Amitabh Matto, a professor of strategic affairs at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and a Kashmiri Hindu. “It is not about fair elections. It is about reaching out to a generation of Kashmiris who think India is a huge monster represented by bunkers and security forces.”
With no apparent avenue to a settlement, as India continuously rejects international mediation, many Kashmiris have grown desperate and resorted to violence to express their anger. “If this continues, prospects of an all-out uprising is looming ahead.”
Needed: a basis for direct negotiations
“It is the farce to end all farces. A radical disagreement on negotiations before they even start,” commented Rajeh al Khouri on the impending Palestinian-Israeli direct talks in the Lebanese daily Annahar.
The US envoy George Mitchell ended his 17th visit to the region without succeeding in persuading the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set a definite basis for the upcoming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Does that mean that Washington has retracted its previous agreement to the international quartet’s statement? That statement called upon Israel to freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It urged Israel to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians within two years, which would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State according to 1967 lines.
In an effort to forge ahead with the peace process, Saudi-Egyptian-Palestinian talks were held this week. European states backed by Russia and the UN are said to be working on issuing a statement to determine the basis of the negotiations agenda.
Nevertheless, if history has taught us something, it’s that what Israel rejects, neither the US nor Europe can impose.
* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi
By Deng Malual Jok
Warmongering minds are nothing, but the unstable circumstances any country should prevent. More sweet talks and detailed meetings have been made; still the NCP is too notorious to learn from what the SPLA/M has been fighting for over two decades to bring some change. Nobody likes war, but when all the handy tools are used and never a word to settle something, war is the choice to land on what you want. Preaching the war sermons a big error! And I encouraged all of us to distant ourselves from it.
In wisdom words of our late leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior, quote "You can't solve a problem of any particular part in the Sudan unless you solve the whole problem." The big problem in the Sudan is with Khartoum government. He went on saying "If somebody comes and sit on your shoulder, take this picture... who's fault is it
Southerners were the first people to oppose the Khartoum government in the history of the Sudan. We were the first reactants to the messed up situation and we are being the targets of our attitudes to claim the windows of equal opportunities to all people in the Sudan. We would have won the war if we were to get under one goal to take away the little Khartoum government and remained as one country.
If I had a chance to lobby the oppressed people in the whole country of which I think I'm doing through writing my opinionated articles; all must joined in to endorse the Southerners rights, and then the oppressed should have their rights coming up referendum.
We tried everything we could to make the country one, but our brothers and sisters in Khartoum's (NCP), didn't get it for million times. I think this is the time to take the case to where it has to end.
SEVERAL development programmes have stalled along the border of Uganda and Southern Sudan in Lamwo district due to land wrangles, threatening the lives of about 50,000 former IDPs.
According to Sylvester Opira, the deputy resident district commissioner of Kitgum district, the construction of a 66km road by the Uganda National Raods Authority from Kitgum to the Sudan border halted due to the dispute.
Opira said the Sudanese are claiming about 20km of land inside Uganda, which include parts of Madi-Opei, Agoro, Potika, Lokung and Palabek sub counties.
“We have four primary schools in this disputed land. The Ugandan foreign affairs ministry has been informed to link up with members of Inter Governmental Authority for Development to resolve this border dispute,” he told the New Vision in an interview last week.
“The Southern Sudanese authorities have stopped Ugandan engineers from surveying Kitgum-Madi-Opei road up to the border. The engineers should have started last year but the dispute has stalled it,” Opira said.
He further said the Sudanese authorities had started surveying land from Magwii and crossed the actual border inside Uganda through Ngomo-romo to Nyimur bridge last year.
“We stopped their engineers from continuing with surveying Ugandan land,” he said.
He added that last year, the Sudanese also wanted to build a border post near Apirit, which is about 14 km inside Uganda but were stopped.
By Deng Malual Jok
Ladies and gentlemen we can not stop ourselves from sharing our thoughts when the time is ticking down toward a referendum. Most of the literates’ status quo folks being filled with special interest are pocketing cash behind the
Ideas are not the same and we certainly never think alike in every walk of lives individually and collectively to airing out our ideas. We must talk about "
We should give respects to our PhD holders who had the chance to gain those big credentials in education, but we couldn't allow them to take us in the wrong directions when they turn their backs to our land chasing bucks/monies. Many people are with me on this and when we join our supports together, and then people of the
I cautioned all of us both illiterates or literates respectively to write articles that are making sense than speaking our minds about the things which are not buying support to our nation. Your detailed articles will get a lot of attention to mass Populations on informative thoughts. Many people can read these days and let's consider ourselves as citizens shaping our land. Whether through poetry, books, and Life stories... we shared the same histories and make sure that there are those who were/are in the fields to be very skeptical about our works.
"Never again will we get talked down to where we can go sleep, we've been awaken all days and nights!" I love my awaited new country
Our country will not fail us unless we fail ourselves. Long Live multi-duties we can create and make those who aren't cooperative include themselves in the party.
The plan in the war-torn region comes ahead of a scheduled January referendum on independence, which most people here believe will lead to the creation of the world's newest country. The south is rich in oil, but poverty and hunger is high throughout the region, which is struggling to recover after a civil war more than two decades long.
The $10 billion concept will take decades to carry out, officials concede, though it may never escape the planning stages. The southern government's own 2010 budget was only $1.9 billion, and the U.N. says more than 90% of Southern Sudan's population lives on less than $1 a day.
The plans have evoked bemused smiles — or outright laughter — in Juba, a town that until two years ago barely had any paved roads.
"It doesn't seem like the (Government of Southern Sudan) should be using its resources or staff time when the people of Southern Sudan lack basic services like health care and water," Nora Petty, an aid worker in Juba with the Malaria Consortium.
Government officials concede that a lot of money is needed to finance the project, which includes a plan to transform two state capitals into the shapes of a giraffe and a pineapple.
Juba — the capital of Southern Sudan — is to be reshaped into a compact rhino with two pointy horns. The new area will be called "Rhino City."
Officials said the plan would bring order to the city's chaotic layout.
"Juba is made up of slums," said Jemma Kumba, the minister of housing and physical planning.
Detailed architectural drawings of Rhino City show that Central Equatoria's police headquarters would be situated at the rhino's mouth, an amusement park at the ear, an industrial area along the back and residential housing throughout the four legs.
"It's very innovative. That's our thinking. It's unique. It's the Ministry of Housing thinking you have to be unique to attract the people," said Daniel Wani, undersecretary of Southern Sudan's Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning.
If the animal-shaped towns come to be, they will join other famously shaped cities around the world. Dubai created several palm-shaped residential islands off its coast. In Argentina, planners shaped the town of Ciudad Evita into the form of Eva Peron, an actress and wife of former President Juan Peron who was known as Evita.
Of course, per capita income in the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located, is around $42,000 a year. In Sudan, it's just $2,300.
And unlike well-developed Dubai, Southern Sudan still lacks basic infrastructure such as roads to connect its state capitals. Outside the southern capital Juba, structures aside from mud huts are rare, and in Juba, services such as electricity and sewage are a luxury.
The Minister of Roads and Transport, Anthony Makana, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he needed up to $6 billion to pave 8,000 miles of roads in the south.
Makana said the project would connect all of the southern state capitals, but he noted that funding is a concern, given that the government has not finished paying the contractors who built 4,350 miles of red clay and gravel roads since 2005, when the landmark peace accord between the north and south was signed.
Khartoum - Ten people were killed after a mine collapsed in a desert region of northern Sudan that is currently in the grip of a gold rush, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.
"Ten people are dead following the collapse at a small gold mine at Kabkabah village in the Abu Hamed sector," a ministry statement quoted Nile state police chief Adel Khujly al-Jak as saying.
Rising gold prices combined with the availability of metal detectors has sparked a gold rush in northern Sudan, with thousands of prospectors descending on the area in recent years in the hope of striking it rich.Several reports have appeared in the Khartoum papers about deadly accidents, usually citing anonymous sources. Prospectors from the north often come to the capital to sell gold in the large Al-Arabi souk.
"For the past two years prospectors have been coming to us to sell gold," Mahdi, a jeweller in the market, told AFP. "Sometimes they have 100 grammes, 250 grammes or even a kilo or more.
"Here in Khartoum we have cash to buy their gold, whereas in the north the merchants have less liquidity." - AFP
WASHINGTON – A judge who questioned whether Barclays Bank PLC was getting off too easily nonetheless approved a deal Wednesday that will likely enable the financial institution to avoid prosecution on allegations that it engaged in $500 million in illegal transactions with banks in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma for more than a decade.
Under the arrangement with the Justice Department, Barclays will pay $298 million — half of it to the United States and the rest under an agreement with the Manhattan district attorney's office in New York.
In exchange for the London-based bank's ongoing cooperation, the two criminal charges the bank faces will be deferred and ultimately dropped as long as the financial institution demonstrates that it is complying with U.S. laws.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan expressed concern that no one working at the bank was charged criminally and that the $298 million would come out of the pockets of Barclays' shareholders.
It looks like the bank is "getting a free ride here; that is what the average person probably concludes," Sullivan said.
Justice Department attorney Kevin Gerrity said the deferred prosecution agreement represents a fair and appropriate resolution of the case, balancing the serious nature of the criminal charges and "doing the right thing."
Gerrity said "we looked very hard" to find individuals at the bank who engaged in the alleged criminal conduct.
"There was no paper trail?" Sullivan said. "Senior management has to know who is responsible. ... Someone has to mastermind this."
Gerrity said the bank spent $250 million conducting an internal investigation of the matter.
"They spent $250 million and didn't find anything? That's just shocking," the judge said.
"We did not find anyone" who engaged in criminal conduct, Gerrity said.
Gerrity said senior management did not know of the misconduct until 2006, and disclosed it to the Justice Department. Low-level employees carried out the transactions and it became a question of whether they lacked criminal intent, said David Braff, an attorney representing the bank.
Sullivan declared that "I am not trying to micromanage" the Justice Department, but the judge suggested that prosecuting the bank might have brought pressure to bear in terms of uncovering who was responsible for the alleged criminal conduct.
The judge said at the outset of the court proceeding that he was unfamiliar with deferred prosecution agreements like the one he was being asked to approve. His deep skepticism of the deal turned to acceptance over the course of the hearing, which lasted over an hour.
The Justice Department uses deferred prosecution agreements as an in-between option to obtaining the conviction of a corporation or declining to prosecute altogether.
The bank was accused of violating the Trading with the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
According to court papers in the case, Barclays concealed the transactions that it carried out with banks in the countries, which were under U.S. economic sanctions.
The papers stated that as early as November 1987, banks in the sanctioned countries directed Barclays not to mention their names on payment messages sent to the United States. The papers also said that Barclays' operating procedures educated employees on how to bypass filters designed to flag incoming payment messages involving sanctioned banks.
KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan expects to increase its oil production by up to one-third by next year, taking it to as high as 600,000 barrels per day, the country's new oil minister said on Wednesday.
Lual Deng said current average output is now between 450,000 and 470,000 bpd from the two blends -- Nile and Dar.
"For next year, all things being equal, we expect between 500,000 and 600,000. We are aiming at 650,000" bpd.
By comparison, output in Nigeria, Africa's largest producer, averaged 2.2 million bpd in 2009.
Sudan has an estimated six billion barrels of oil reserves.
Deng was speaking at a government-sponsored seminar on transparency in Sudan's oil sector, and promised that the ministry would now start publishing figures on daily output on its website.
"It is the lack of transparency, or the perceived lack of transparency, that has fuelled mistrust between partners," he said. "We want to enhance trust between the north and south."
Last year, non-governmental organisation Global Witness warned that lack of transparency could destabilise the 2005 agreement that ended Sudan's civil war between north and south, which was based on an agreement to share oil revenues.
The south Sudanese are due to vote in January in a referendum on whether to remain part of Africa's largest country, or to become independent.
Deng also expressed confidence that French oil giant Total, which has a huge untapped concession in south Sudan, will be guaranteed to keep it after the referendum.
"They wanted assurances what would happen after the referendum and they have been assured that the contract will be respected," he said, without explaining how he could speak for a potential new sovereign government in the south.