Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Wednesday, May 23

Darfur roundup

The ENOUGH campaign - a collaboration between the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Center for American Progress - has a new report entitled A Plan B with Teeth for Darfur. As with previous ICG documents, the report urges the United States and the West to impose some tangible costs on the Khartoum regime: "If there is a Guinness Book of World Records entry for most threats issued with no follow up, the international community’s response to Darfur is likely setting a new standard."

The US and UK have been fairly quiet this week on issuing new threats.
Long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden called for the use of US troops in Darfur. And a group of Republicans in Congress last week urged President Bush to impose new sanctions on Khartoum. AU envoy Alpha Konare discouraged the idea of sanctions, however. And in response to another Western proposal, a top EU general said that a no-fly zone won't work in Sudan.

Gerard Prunier has a new piece on Darfur in Le Monde Diplomatique. He discuss how Khartoum's fear of Southern secession is driving its policy in Darfur, and how Sudan's role as an ally in the War on Terror is impacting US policy.

The London Times examines the growing number of Janjaweed fighters defecting to the rebel side. A new report from the UN Human Rights Council charges that Sudanese security forces killed at least 100 civilians between January and March, and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has promised an investigation into reports of recent bombing attacks by government forces in Nyala, North Darfur. Rebels accused the government of bombing a water station and killing civilians. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government has told newspapers to stop printing stories about rebel activities.

UN envoy Jan Eliasson said a "massive effort" to find a political solution is needed in the coming months . The UN and AU envoys have said they will make uniting the disparate rebel factions the focus of their mediation efforts. Meanwhile, though Patrols have resumed in the village where five Senegalese troops were killed last month, AU peacekeeping mission continues to struggle.

The Economist writes that both China and Arab countries are playing a more prominent role in efforts to mediate the Darfur conflict. Perhaps in response to the growing Western criticism of its support for Khartoum, China last week appointed a special envoy for Darfur and this week announced $10 million in humanitarian aid for the region. Former UN envoy Jan Egeland said that China, not the US, is the key to pressuring Khartoum on Darfur. But on a visit to Sudan this weekend, China's envoy rejected the idea of sanctions, and following the visit, the Sudanese government repeated its rejection of a proposed 20,000-strong UN mission. China's foreign minister also said that using the Beijing Olympics to highlight China's support for Khartoum is not in the Olympic spirit.

In regional developments, Chad's President Idriss Deby will visit Khartoum next month to follow up on the latest nonaggression deal signed between the two countries. Libya's Muammar Gadhafi said the international community should stay out of the Darfur conflict.

Mia Farrow and Jody Williams have an op-ed on divestment in today's Wall Street Journal. The Economist also takes a look at the growing divestment movement in the US which, the magazine concludes, isn't likely to produce much. Since January, Fidelity Investments, the world's largest mutual fund manager, has cut its holdings in PetroChina by 91 percent. John Edwards said he would sell his investments in companies doing business with the Sudanese government, and Rudy Giuliani said he would look into it.