Sudan’s government in Khartoum is under fire for its bid to chair this year’s African Union Summit in Khartoum, which would make Sudan the organization’s next leader. Five of the organization’s fifty-three leaders have asked Sudan to withdraw its bid (Reuters), saying the country’s ongoing civil war and record of human rights abuse in its northern Darfur region would damage AU efforts at reform (Independent). Sudan has said it is prepared to drop its bid to chair the summit (BBC) to avoid splitting the organization.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million people displaced in the northern Darfur region in the past three years; the conflict is profiled here by journalist Samantha Power in the New Yorker, who was also a panelist on a CFR meeting on Sudan last spring. Although seven thousand AU troops are currently stationed in Darfur—a dry, undeveloped area the size of Texas—tens of thousands of Darfurians are still threatened by violence (CSMonitor). A recent AU report (PDF) says the organization has had to work with “about half the logistical capacity” necessary. Experts also fear the discord created by Sudan’s decision to chair this year’s AU summit could disrupt the shaky peace deal signed by the Muslim government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, a rebel movement from Sudan’s largely Christian south, last January. The agreement ended a war that had raged for more than two decades, claimed 2 million lives, and left some 4.5 million southern Sudanese homeless.