30 January 2013

Sudan Paid U.S. $200 Million to Darfur Authority, Regional Minister

Khartoum — The Sudanese government paid the first instalment of its financial commitment to the Darfur regional Authority (DRA), reaffirmed Tadjadine Bechir Niam, DRA Minister of Reconstruction, Development and Infrastructure.

Sudanese government and the former rebel Liberation and Equality Movement (LJM) signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) on 14 July 2011, but the head of the former rebel group and regional authority Tijani Al-Sissi kept blaming the government for paralysing DRA activities due to the lack of money.

The Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha announced on 15 January that t the Ministry of Finance and National Economy has issued a letter of guarantee to the Central Bank of Sudan to allocate 800 million Sudanese pounds for the DRA to implement the peace agreement.

"I can assure that we have the money at our disposal" said Niam in statements to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday. Adding "the federal government paid us all the $200 million that represents the first instalment for 2012".

The regional body received in the past small portions of this instalment.

He said the DRA, which is tasked with the implementation of the DDPA, will use this money to finance and implement projects related to the return of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, recovery and reconstruction projects.

He further said they will convene very soon a conference, the regional authority had to adjourn several times in the past, on the voluntary return of IDPs and refugees to be held in Nyala.

"This important event will be organised before the Donors conference", he stressed.

Despite its rejection by the three historical rebel groups in Darfur and the continuation of violence in the troubled western Sudan, the DDPD is seen by the regional and international community as offering a good opportunity to end the 10 year conflict.

But donors warned Khartoum they would not participate in the funding of development projects unless it honours its commitments and implement the deal particularly to fulfil its financial commitments and also to achieve justice in Darfur.

In his latest report on Darfur to UN Security Council discussed recently, the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Darfur special prosecutor, appointed in accordance to the DDPD, commenced his work

"On 12 December, (the prosecutor) informed UNAMID that it had opened investigations into 10 cases, among them crimes committed in 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012", the report said.

Niam said a commission tasked with the preparations of the donors conference finalised a number of projects to be presented at the international meeting which will take place in the Qatari capital Doha.

Regarding the date of the conference, the DRA chief who is touring currently Asian countries will visit also Doha to determine it with the Qatari officials. The minister however said it should take place in April.

He also said the DRA will continue to mobilise the international community and encourage it to participate in the donors meeting, pointing out to a tour in the Gulf states and some Western countries including Britain, France and the USA.

A first conference for international donors was held before the signing of the DDPD in March 2010, but it missed the $2 billion funding target. Cairo donors conference for Darfur raised only some $850 million.

Regarding the return of international nongovernmental groups to Darfur, the regional minister said an inter-ministerial committee formed last month will assess the humanitarian needs and will study how local authorities deal with foreign groups on the ground.

He stressed that the presidential decision of 23 December 2012 on the formation of a committee to authorise the nongovernmental groups to work in Darfur is effective since its issuance.

He further stressed that this committee will facilitate the work of aid groups and monitor their performances.

Sudan foreign minister Ali Karti criticised last December the eviction of aid aid groups from Darfur after the first indictment of president Omer Al-Bashir by the international Criminal Court on 14 July 2008.

Also the DRA demanded to authorise their return as many donors will implement their contributions in Darfur recovery and reconstruction plans though these NGOs.

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