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Thursday:  July 31, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in John Prendergast (2)

Thursday
Nov182010

Late, but not too late, for Sudan (Perspective) 

Sudanese receiving medical attention - photo: MSF(HN, November 18, 2010) Well, we're in it now. What we do best. Diplomacy. The White House has dispatched Senator John Kerry to Sudan with a proposal for peace between the North and South. It’s a giant step toward avoiding the kind of bloodshed that killed more than two million people in Sudan’s previous 20-year North-South civil war, which ended only in 2005 – and is threatening to erupt once again.

In recent months, President Barack Obama has stepped up his own involvement and that of senior figures in his administration in support of a peace strategy for Sudan. On his behalf, Kerry has delivered a package of proposals designed to break the logjam that has brought the North and South to a dangerous crossroads.

We have written a memo that spells out some of the essential elements of what a grand bargain for peace in Sudan could look like. If you’re interested in the specifics of a possible peace deal – and in actions that you can take to support it – go to www.sudanactionnow.org.

There is little time to waste. On January 9, 2011, the people of Southern Sudan will vote for independence from the North, taking with them up to three-quarters of the country’s known oil reserves and placing millions of civilians in the direct path of war.

The government in Khartoum (the capital in the North) is led by Omar al-Bashir, whose accomplishments, which include overseeing war crimes during the previous North-South war and engineering the atrocities in Darfur, have brought him arrest warrants for war crimes and genocide from the International Criminal Court.

And yet renewed war in Sudan is not inevitable. A complex but workable peace can be brokered if all interested parties become more deeply involved. The current moment requires robust diplomacy – the kind that can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but that gets the job done. We believe that Kerry is a skilled emissary and can help the parties find the compromises necessary for peace.

Any agreement preventing a return to war would necessarily involve the National Congress Party, representing the North, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, representing the South. But it would also involve the United States, whose post-referendum relationship with the two parties will have enormous influence over whether a deal gets done.

We believe that a grand bargain to lay the foundation for lasting peace between the North and South would oblige the parties to:

·        hold the Southern Sudan referendum on time and fully respect and implement the results;

·        reach a mutually satisfactory agreement concerning the territory of Abyei, a key disputed border area;

·        craft a multi-year revenue-sharing arrangement in which the oil wealth of Abyei and key border areas could be divided equitably between the North and South, with a small percentage going to the Arab Misseriya border populations for development purposes;

·        demarcate the uncontested 80% of the border and refer the remaining 20% to binding international arbitration;

·        create serious protections for minority groups, with consideration of joint citizenship for certain populations, backed by significant international consequences for attacks on southerners in the North or northerners in the South.

The US role as the invisible third party to the agreement involves a series of incentives offered to the regime in Khartoum to ensure agreement and implementation of a peace deal. In exchange for action on the North-South and Darfur peace efforts, the US would implement a clear, sequenced, and binding path to normalization of relations.

This would involve – in order – removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, exchange of ambassadors, lifting of unilateral sanctions, and support for bilateral and multilateral debt relief, together with other economic measures by international financial institutions. Conversely, the US must be prepared to lead international efforts to impose severe consequences on any party that plunges the country back into war.

Peace and security in Darfur should be an essential benchmark for normalized relations between the US and Sudan. The Obama administration should hold firm on this through the coming rounds of negotiation, and should appoint a senior official to help coordinate US policy on Darfur in order to ensure that peace efforts there receive the same level of attention as the North-South efforts.

Peacekeepers in Sudan - photo: UN What is needed now is political will – and not only in the US – to sustain this diplomacy. The European Union and Sudan’s neighbors – in particular Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda – will also need to play a robust role. And China’s diplomacy in Sudan, where it has invested massively in developing the country’s oil resources, will be a test of whether or not it intends to be a responsible stakeholder in Africa and the wider world.

Ensuring that governments work toward peace is where you come in. Keep the pressure on them. Support the peace process. Your voice can prevent a war. Not guns. Not money. Just our voices.

The way to peace in Sudan is not simple, but it is achievable. There are hard choices to be made. We can make those choices now, or we can persuade ourselves that peace is too hard or too complex, and then look on resignedly from the sidelines as hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children needlessly die. It’s up to us.

George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of the NGO Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of The Enough Moment: The Fight to End Human Rights Crimes in Africa.

This article was originally printed in the Project Syndicate www.project-syndicate.org

 

Wednesday
Oct202010

(Report) SUDAN: The clock is ticking 

George Clooney speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC about his recent trip to Sudan (photo HUMNews) (HN, October 20, 2010) --- Actor George Clooney and author and human rights activist John Prendergast recently told the Washington political leadership - including President Obama, that the United States needs to stay involved in Sudan to avoid an “inferno.”

They also urged the US to put pressure on leaders in advance of southern Sudan’s independence referendum scheduled for 9 January 2011.

“We have an opportunity to prevent war from happening instead of mopping up a mess later on,” Clooney said.

Clooney is a co-founder of ‘Not On Our Watch’, an organization whose mission it is to focus global attention and resources to stop and prevent atrocities in Darfur;  Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project.  The two were in Washington reporting on their recent fact finding trip to Sudan.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement 

The referendum was promised by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005, ending decades of the north-south civil war. Under the agreement, the south formed its own government, which has limited autonomy and in which the north has a small representation. South Sudan is represented in the government of national unity, which is led by the Khartoum-based National Congress Party (NCP).

According to Clooney and Prendergast there have been 5 years to implement the CPA. However, Prendergast said: “The ball got dropped the day the peace agreement was signed...as we do so often we go off to the next thing and left the Sudanese to their own devices.  If we don’t urgently attend to Sudan the south will be an inferno again.”

Sudan this week and the question of Abyei

This week President Omar al-Bashir has said he is still committed to hold the referendum on the south’s independence, but insisted both sides first had to settle differences over their borders. Other oustanding issues include the sharing of oil, debt and Nile river water.

Southern Sudan president Salva Kiir vowed that the country would not return to civil war. "We do not want Abyei to become a potential trigger for a conflict again between the south and the north," Kiir said.

Much of the attention focuses on Abyei - a historical bridge between north and south which sits in the oil-rich Muglad Region.

Sudan (photo: CIA World Factbook) In July 2009, an international tribunal redefined the borders of the disputed oil region by splitting the contested zone between the two sides. In its ruling the tribunal, seated at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, overruled a decision by an international commission that Sudan's government rejected four years earlier. The ruling gives the north uncontested rights to rich oil deposits like the Heglig oil field, which had previously been placed within the Abyei region, which sits on the border between north and south. But the decision leaves at least one oil field in Abyei and gives a symbolic victory to the Ngok Dinka, an ethnic group loyal to southern Sudan that has pushed to join it in a referendum.

Last Thursday, October 14, Dirdiri Mohammad Ahmad, of the National Congress Party (NCP), said the January 9 vote on whether it should be part of the north or the south of the country could be delayed for months or the territorial row would be settled without a poll.

"It is very clear that right now it is not possible to have the Abyei referendum on 9 January, 2011. We all agree that this is no longer practical," he told reporters in Khartoum

 Ahmad said Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) could reach "a conclusion on the final status of the Abyei area" without having to decide the matter through a referendum.

Abyei's administrator and a member of the SPLM, Deng Arop Kuol, said the region's residents would not accept a delay and may hold their own vote without the central government's approval.

"A delayed vote is unacceptable," he said. "The people of Abyei are still holding out for the referendum to be held on January 9. If the government does not give them that option, we can have a self-run referendum."

Another real concern in Sudan is that, two years after the peace treaty, much of the south is heavily militarized. The reason has been that the north has grown dependent on the oil from the south and if the south secedes, the north stands to lose billions of dollars yearly.

Both the north and south claim the oil-producing region and fought over it during the two-decades long war, in which around two million people died.  

A delay of either the Abyei or secession referendum threatens to revive a new conflict between the two sides.

 - HUMNews Staff