Thursday, January 24, 2008

I haven't forgotten John Granville, have you?

Sudanese police question witness in US diplo murder case.

Investigators have questioned a key witness whose testimony should assist in arresting suspects in the murder of a U.S. diplomat shot in Khartoum on New Year's Day, Sudan's justice minister said Monday.

A taxi driver who witnessed the killing of John Granville and his driver Abdel-Rahman Abbas has come forward to police with "valuable information", said Mohamed Ali al-Mardi. His testimony will help apprehend the man, men or organization involved in the killing,» al-Mardi said. He would not elaborate, but several Sudanese newspapers said the taxi driver had described a suspected gunman. The independent Al-Rai Al-Amm quoted unnamed judiciary officials as saying the witness had also provided police with the license plate of the killers' car.

Meanwhile, the Mexican standoff over the US Embassy continues. US Says it will not pay Sudan to admit equipment for US embassy. Are they looking for the jizya?

The Sudanese government has refused to release containers imported by the US embassy without payment of custom fees. Sabir Mohammed Hassan, governor of Sudan Central said that his government will not to give the US embassy equipments “any special consideration”.

Here's the real rub...

Hassan met last week with the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas Greenfield and asked that Washington return money confiscated following a ruling by U.S. court that ordered Khartoum to pay some $8 million to the families of U.S. sailors killed in the bombing of an American naval destroyer seven years ago in Yemen.

But is the US playing hardball right back?

Press reports in Sudan have quoted government officials as saying that they are growing increasingly frustrated with the impact of US sanctions on their economy which prompted their central bank to convert their reserves from dollar to Euro.

Moreover Khartoum complains that the US is using its influence on International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to prevent them from extending credit to Sudan under favorable terms.

It looks like hardball is called for as Sudan appoints Janjaweed leader as "government adviser".

The Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir defended his choice of a Musa Hilal a notorious Janjaweed leader, as government adviser last week...Hilal has been named by numerous eyewitnesses in Darfur as leading terror campaign against the African tribes in the war ravaged region.

To make matters worse the US and the EU aren't happy:

The Turkish Daily News quoting unidentified officials said that Ankara has ignored repeated requests by Al-Bashir to visit in the past. The driving force behind this position was “the Foreign Ministry bureaucrats, who managed to convince Gul when he was foreign minister to ignore the Sudanese leader’s requests to visit Turkey”.

According to the newspaper former Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer “had stuck to the ministry line and refused to accept al-Bashir’s request to visit Turkey”.

“Al-Bashir’s visit marks a clear departure from Turkey’s general stance of avoiding high-level contacts with Sudanese officials” the newspaper said.

Gul, who looked uncomfortable during the news conference, said he had urged Bashir and other parties to seek a peaceful end to the conflict in Darfur.

An interesting sidenote to the visit: Sudanese official violates Turkish Protocol at Ataturk mausoleum. The goofy thug kept his jacket hood up as he signed the guestbook. I don't know what they were so upset about - it looked kind of like "hijab for men" to me. For his part, the Sudanese official said "he was cold" as he signed the guest book for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir. (What? This guy can't sign his own name?)