December 21, 2009

Limited rain in East Africa causes drought

Rainfall has been very limited in East Africa this year. The United Nations and aid agencies are calling for funds to prevent starvation among people in southern Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. Malnutrition rates are up, cholera has been reported, millions of animals have died. A map created by Oxfam shows how little rainfall there is compared to normal amounts.
In the north of this map, the little rain may not be so problematic since rains were adequate earlier this year.

Analysis. Will the south vote to leave?

Various news reports examine the rising tensions in the south, and the upcoming referendum in 2011.
The Sudanese government passed a bill that appears to reserve the right to allow the south to proclaim its own independence.

Here's the key quote:
Meanwhile, the parliament endorsed in its evening session the referendum draft law of south Sudan for the year 2009 in the general feature stage.
Parliament speaker affirmed the importance of the said law indicating that the application not an easy thing calling for enlightening the southerners with regard to the said law.
Ghazi Salahuddin affirmed that the secession will have its impacts on the region saying that we are looking for the unity of all Africa and not the unity of Sudan only.
He said that the said the referendum is a national affair affirming that there are procedures required for secession indicating that it should be recognized by the mother state with accordance to the international law.

Other recent articles in the media.
From World Net Daily

From All Africa

Analysis: Sudan - Preventing Implosion
Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement – all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP)....

The Government of South Sudan now has their own website.

Eastern Front members walk out of parliament

The Beja Congress members walked out of parliament to abstain from voting on a National Security Act of 2009 that gives greater powers of arrest to authorities. Other minority groups in parliament like the SPLM and Darfur Peace Faction also walked out. They held a press conference explaining their decision to boycott the voting.
[Officially there are no members of the Beja Congress in parliament. Instead they are considered members of the Eastern Front, which is a joint party of both Beja and Rashaida tribesmen. Most members of the Eastern Front acting in parliament are from the Beja tribe, though.]

More details here: 

December 14, 2009

OT. Brief business analysis of goat herding in Mongolia

Off Topic. Low prices for cashmere wool cause herders to raise more goats to fill up the lower income. More goats consume more grass, and their greater numbers break the fragile soil crust, which increases the dusty sand in the area, which reduces the plants and grass. Compound this with an extended multi-year drought. Some scientists think the rivers and lakes have disappeared because of the lack of rain, but also the lack of rivers and lakes may make the rain less frequent.

It's a complex system that may be spiralling out of control. But what can one farmer do?

Find it in the New York Times

Sourced on December 14, 2009 from

December 12, 2009

OT. Wild camels invade Australian town

Off Topic News. Reported in late November, the small Australian town of Docker River has been invaded by about 6,000 camels looking for water, because of a regional drought. People are afraid to go outside because of the large animals. They arrived over the course of a few weeks, and have been wrecking fences in their search for water. The government has authorized a hunt from helicopter, which will allow hundreds of these animals to be shot. Their bodies will be allowed to rot in the countryside. Some animal rights groups are protesting this cull.

Camels were imported into Australia in the 1800s, and there are an estimated 1,000,000 wild camels in the outback.

Some Australian farmers raise camels and race them. Here's a video slideshow [about 25 pics] and radio interview with a small Australian woman who is a camel jockey.

December 10, 2009

Beja Congress leader stopped at border

Beja Congress leader and Presidential Advisor Musa Ahmed was stopped at the Sudanese-Egyptian border when he tried to go into the Halaib region to “assert the sovereignty over the [Halayeb] triangle and inspect the situation of the people and provide moral and financial support to the members of the Sudanese army unit trapped inside since the [Egyptian] occupation began”

The Sudan Tribune has the source article. Read it now.

COMMENT: This is a very strong statement by Egypt. They have prevented an authorized representative of the Sudanese government access to land claimed by Sudan. Mind you, if they are holding some soldiers as 'defacto' prisoners, the Egyptians have already made a strong statement of land ownership. See posts below for more info about the dispute over the Halaib Triangle.

UPDATE- December 17.
Beja Conference [sic] welcomes arbitration on Halaib Sudanese Beja Conference [A Sudanese political party from the eastern region of Sudan] announced that it welcomed the transfer of the dispute on Halaib between Egypt and Sudan to the International Court of Arbitration, in order to settle the issue. Chairman of the Party, Abdullah Mousa commended Egypt on accepting to address the issue through legal channels. He also urged the Sudanese government to respect political and geographical borders. (The Democrat)

December 7, 2009

Tour the border lines between Egypt and Sudan

Google Sightseeing reviews the odd borderline between Egypt and Sudan in a recent blog entry. They explain some background, and note that there is a border post on the 22°N latitude line, but not on the administrative border.

Have a look.


December 5, 2009

US talks about what to do in Sudan

The US House Committee on Foreign Relations brought in four experts to give their ideas on what is needed in Sudan to help ensure a smooth election in April 2010, and referendum in 2011. The text of each presentation is online. Randy Newcomb mentioned the possible dangers in the east of Sudan.

He said, " I want to mention one final area that has been neglected, but that represents another potential powder keg: Eastern Sudan. Despite being a recent conflict area and struggling to implement the 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, we were disappointed that Eastern Sudan went unmentioned in the Obama Administration's recent review of Sudan policy. We encourage increased attention to this and other conflict areas in the North. While Darfur and the CPA often steal the limelight, center?periphery conflict exists across Sudan and demands a comprehensive approach."

Randy Newman

Enrico Caarisch

John Prendergast

Jonathan Gration 

December 4, 2009

April 2010 Elections - getting ready

 The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released a new election schedule. Campaigns for all levels of elections shall take place within a 57 day period, from 13 February to 9 April 2010. Voting begins on April 11.

The final lists of candidates would be released on 10 February.

Counting votes, and the release of results will be done within 8 days of voting- by April 19, 2010.

Currently, local dailies report nearly 11 million voters have so far been registered across the country. Registration was initially scheduled to end on Monday, November 30, but was extended for another 7 days until December 7.

The states with the highest percentage of registration is Unity State [south], followed by Western Bahr el Ghazal state [south], Kassala [north], and Khartoum [north]. Percentages were not released. The states in which the registration turnout has failed and ranked the least are Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria.

The Sudanese electoral board has also announced that it has so far registered more than 11
million voters in the 15 Northern states and 2.6 million voters in the 10 Southern states.