Friday, December 02, 2005

Yesterday I wrote about the changing Khartoum landscape, but forgot to mention the Egg.

The Egg (so named because of its peculiar shape) is a massive structure (a hotel apparently) that is being erected on the banks of the river Nile, right in downtown Khartoum. Some people say it's supposed to resemble a sailboat; a taxi driver tells me it's "Ghaddafi's house" (it's being financed by the Lybians).

A friend refers to it as The Teardrop, and today I realise her description might be the most accurate.

The hotel, I'm told, is being built for the African Union summit - a major event that is supposed to be taking place in Khartoum in January.

Since Sudan has not exactly been behaving like a particularly honourable member of the AU club, there has been lots of debate about whether or not it should really be permitted to host Africa's heads of state in this high-profile forum.

The summit, however, is just the beginning –what's even more worrying to some people here in Khartoum is the fact that Sudan is also up for the Presidency of the African Union next month. There's not just the small matter of principle (should a government with this much blood on its hands really be representing the entire continent?) – what’s also at stake is the question of how this move could impact on the African Union troops in Darfur.

Flawed as they may be, it's clear the African Union troops are the only ones who are currently mandated to address the abysmal security situation in Darfur - and the Sudanese government has not exactly been helping them on this front, as the recent row about the AU’s “grounded” armoured vehicles showed.

On a political level, there's an obvious conflict of interest in letting Sudan preside over the entire African Union at the same time it's hosting an AU intervention force (in particular one whose main job is reporting on ceasefire violations, including the governments own transgressions).

In the field, I shudder to think how tricky life could become for the AU troops if the Sudanese government gets to meddle in their affairs even more than they are trying to do already.

And somehow, each time my journey takes me along the river Nile this weekend, that unfinished blue-green monstrosity begins to look more and more like a Teardrop to me.


At , Blogger Paul Horwitz said...

The thought that Sudan could actually assume the direction of the African Union next month is indeed horrifying. How can a government that is currently "hosting" AU troops on its soil for the express purpose of trying to moderate that government's own genocidal policies possibly be seriously considered for the Chairmanship of the AU? How likely is this travesty of justice and morality to take place, and what, if anything, can the U.S. do to stop it?

At , Blogger Larryw said...

Dear Sleepless in Sudan,
Sorry if this question sounds ignorant. But are the Janjaweed completely controlled by the Sudan government? Is there anything short of an invasion that would stop the genocide? What needs to be done?

At , Blogger sean said...

I suppose it wouldn't exactly be unprecedented, unfortunately, if . In 1994, when Dallaire sent his famous "peux ce que veux" fax to DPKO headquarters in January of 1994, Rwanda had just been given its seat on the security council.

I suspect it's true that reality favors symmetries and slight anachronisms.

At , Blogger Anthony said...

Dear Sleepless,

What a thought- That Sudan could be at the front of African Union. The absurd keeps growing as does the teardrop hotel.


At , Blogger sean said...

It also favors the premature firing off of unfinished comments, it seems.

I'm pretty sure that "Sudan were to get the presidency of the African Union" was supposed to follow that lonely "if."

At , Blogger Kelsey C. said...

It's weird to think that Sudan, with genocide, may become the front of the African Union. I believe they are still trying to figure out the policies of genocide and what they are going to do about it. This makes me think that the government must not be very strong if they are having trouble moderating genocide policies. What makes Khartoum so special, and why is it famous?


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