Thursday, September 4, 2008



By Wasil Ali
Sudan Tribune
February 26, 2008

Sudan’s senior presidential assistant yesterday warned a visiting Chinese official about the negative implications of their role in Darfur.
Minni Arcua Minawi met with the Chinese envoy to Africa Liu Guijin on Monday to discuss the Darfur crisis and the role Beijing could play in resolving it according to Sudan news agency (SUNA).

However Minawi, speaking to Sudan Tribune by phone from Khartoum said that he had tough words for Guijin.
“I told him [Guijin] in no uncertain terms that the Chinese position on Darfur is not a good one and we are not happy about it” Minnawi said.

Liu Guijin arrived in Khartoum for top-level talks with Sudanese officials amid reports of fresh aerial bombings in western Darfur as the United Nations expressed grave concern for the safety of thousands of civilians.
Minawi said that the Chinese envoy expressed his country’s willingness to “finalize the crisis through peaceful means”.

“He [Guijin] was talking as a diplomat and I could not play the same role. The lives of the innocent Darfurian people are at stake here” he said.
“The message I gave to the Chinese is this; Do not invest in Darfur blood” Minnawi added.

China has strong trade and military links with Sudan, which is accused of backing militias that have raped and murdered in Darfur.
Critics say Beijing should use these links to pressure Khartoum on this issue. China says it is already doing all it can.

International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in the conflict, which Washington calls genocide, a term European governments are reluctant to use. The Sudan government says 9,000 people have been killed.

This is the first time Minawi makes a public rebuke of Beijing. The strong statements reflect a growing frustration among Darfurian people about the Chinese support to Khartoum which they feel is directed against them.

In May 2006, the SLM signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) with the Sudanese government and its head Minni Arcua Minnawi was appointed as the senior assistant of the Sudanese president in August of the same year.

However Minawi’s faction accused the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of ignoring the implementation of the DPA.
Last week the UNAMID disclosed that Khartoum is not remitting payments to the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund (DRDF). The latter was formed under the terms of the DPA to administer development projects in the region.

The DPA states that Khartoum must “transfer from the National Revenue Fund into the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund an amount equivalent to $300 million for the year 2006, not less than $200 million in 2007 and not less than $200 million in 2008”.

Minnawi also said that the insecurity in Darfur means that no population census can be conducted and consequently no elections.
“There is no such thing as having a census without security on the ground. There are millions of IDP’s and refugees all over Darfur. At the same time you cannot have elections without Darfur. If you do, then this means that you don’t consider Darfur to be part of Sudan” he added.

The former rebel leader said that he spoke with the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) on the matter.“They [SPLM] told me that resolving the issue of Darfur and Abyei is the key to having the general elections in 2009” Minawi said.
However the SPLM made no commitment to postpone the elections if things don’t improve in Darfur.

Al-Tigani Abdullah, a senior adviser to Minawi said that the NCP could not win the elections in Darfur unless under these “chaotic circumstances”.
“They resettled all these Arab tribes from West Africa in Darfur giving them lands and drove the original owners out. They want these tribes to vote for them in the elections” Abdullah said.

“This is a dangerous game Khartoum is playing. No elections conducted today in Darfur can be fair and they [NCP] know it. This would alienate the Darfurians and there are already mounting voices calling for the secession of Darfur from Sudan” he added.

Sudanese officials have made contradicting statements on the issue of conducting elections in Darfur. Last week the Information Secretariat official in the ruling National Congress Party, Kamal Obeid and the minister of State for Information said that the general elections in the country can be completed without the participation of Darfurians due to the political instability in the region.

However Sudan’s presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi rebuffed Obeid’s remarks later saying that “elections can be held in 99% of Darfur”.

The SPLM signed a peace deal in January 2005 with the government of the National Congress Party in January 2005 ending two decades of civil war in Southern Sudan. The peace deal made the SPLM, the ruling party in the south and the NCP the ruling party in the north.

In 2011, southerners will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether they want to be independent or remain part of Sudan. A census is supposed to prelude the elections but has stalled because of cash shortage.