The government of Sudan yesterday removed five generals, including one under UN sanctions and one labeled by the previous US Administration as an important liaison between the government and janjaweed militias, according to state media. The reshuffle precedes by one day the appearance of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo at the United Nations Security Council. It also comes four days before a Security Council consultation on the topic of Sudan. The ICC prosecutor is expected this afternoon in New York to ask the 15 nations of the UN Security Council to take action over Sudan’s refusal to hand over two other suspected war criminals.
President Omar Al Bashir ordered the removal of the generals as part of regular personnel changes and retirements, state media reported. The ousted deputy commander in chief, General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, was accused by George W. Bush’s Administration of having “provided the Janjaweed with logistical support and directed attacks.” He was listed on a US government blacklist alongside Ahmed Haroun, one of the men sought by Ocampo for trial. Another of the removed generals, Major-General Gaffar Mohammed Elhassan, was Western Military Area Commander from approximately November 2004 until early 2006. He was accused by a UN Panel of Experts of breaching a UN Security Council resolution. The panel of experts said that he had admitted to having authorized offensive military flights and transferred military equipment into Darfur.
Earlier yesterday, a top UN diplomat met with Sudan’s Vice President to discuss the upcoming consultation at the Security Council. Ibrahim Gambari, the civilian leader of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), was received in Khartoum by First Vice President Ali Osman Taha. The two men exchanged views on the mediation of the Darfur peace process and the role of UNAMID in that effort. According to a statement issued by the peacekeeping mission, they also discussed the ongoing diplomacy involving the major foreign powers and institutions. Gambari “informed the Vice President on the outcome of a series of strategic meetings on the Sudan held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May of this year,” the statement said, referring to the May 10 meeting on UN deployment in Darfur. The two men also discussed prior meeting of the UN Security Council: “Professor Gambari touched upon his briefing to the UN Security Council on 20 May to introduce the Secretary-General’s 60-day report and to brief them on the situation on the ground.”
Yesterday Gambari also met with incoming UK Ambassador Nicholas Kay and US Chargé d’Affaires Robert Whitehead. Gambari was previously a visiting professor at universities in New York and Washington, and he has ties with the Brookings Institution, the think-tank that provided several senior foreign policy advisors to President Barack Obama, including US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. Since taking up his current post on 1 January 2010, Gambari has signaled that he wishes the peacekeeping mission in Darfur to be more actively involved with supporting the Darfur peace process. He will join other diplomatic heavyweights at the consultation in New York on Monday, including the head of the other UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Haile Menkerios, the chief mediator of the Darfur conflict Djibril Bassolé, and the Chairman of the African Union Panel on Darfur (AUPD) Thabo Mbeki. (AP Photo: Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir on 22 April 2010)