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Police fire tear gas to break up Sudan water demos
by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) July 22, 2011

Police used tear gas in Khartoum on Friday to break up three separate protests at the lack of running water, witnesses said, two days after a similar demonstration in neighbouring Gezira state.

About 300 people took part in the first demonstration, in a southern suburb of the Sudanese capital called Debra, which grew when people going to the mosque for Friday prayers joined them at about 1:00 pm (1000 GMT), several of the protesters told AFP.

They closed the road, burned tyres and shouted: "We want water!" with a small number of them also calling for regime change, before riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters and beat them with batons.

In the nearby suburb of Sahafa, and also in Omdurman, the capital's twin city just across the Nile, between 200 and 400 people took to the streets also to demonstrate against the lack of water, protestors there said.

Riot police again used tear gas to scatter the crowds.

Khartoum sits on the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, whose levels have has risen in recent months, due to seasonal rainfall upstream.

But the water is muddy and the pipes in many parts of the city have been dry for days.

The water authorities were quoted in the local papers on Thursday blaming the lack of rain in the Khartoum area, which is unusual for this time of year and which they say would clean the river water, for their inability to supply households in the city.

On Wednesday, at least 500 protestors took to the streets of Wad Madani, the capital of Gezira state, to complain about the lack water, insisting that they were not demonstrating for political reasons, according to several witnesses.

But a large number of riot police deployed in the area and again dispersed the protesters with tear gas, the witnesses added.

Activists seeking to emulate events in Tunisia and neighbouring Egypt tried to organise nationwide anti-regime demonstrations in Sudan earlier this year.

The sporadic protests failed to gather momentum, however, partly because of the zero-tolerance policy of the authorities.

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Darfur clashes ongoing, but appear on decline: UN
United Nations (AFP) July 22, 2011 - Aid efforts in Darfur are still being hampered by clashes but the situation in the western Sudanese region appears to be calming down, UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari told the Security Council Friday.

"Ongoing intermittent clashes continue to adversely affect the humanitarian situation" displacing some 60,000 to 70,000 people, said Gambari, the UN special representative to the African Union said.

But he added that "considerable progress" has been made since May during negotiations in Doha between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the rebels. "Clashes and displacements are now on the decrease," said Gambari.

"Every effort should be made for reaching a ceasefire. The imperative of peace is now, as the people have suffered far too long and far too deeply," he said, adding that of Darfur's 7 million residents, 1.8 million now live in refugee camps.

Gambari insisted that occasional attacks against UN personnel constituted "war crimes and should not be unpunished."

Despite these attacks, a UN and African Union peacekeeping force (Unamid) continues its patrols.

A vast region in the west of Sudan, Darfur has suffered a civil war since 2003 that has resulted in 300,000 deaths, according to UN estimates (10,000 according to Khartoum) and 1.8 million refugees.

On July 14, Khartoum signed a peace agreement in Doha with a rebel group from Darfur, the Movement for Liberation and Justice (MJL), a coalition of small rebel groups.

But the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the most militarized of Darfur's rebel groups that participated in the negotiations, refused to sign the agreement, rendering the accord's results unpredictable.

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Ethiopian peacekeepers to deploy in Sudan's Abyei
Khartoum (AFP) July 21, 2011
Ethiopian peacekeepers have started to arrive in Sudan's flashpoint Abyei region and will begin operations by the end of the week, official media reported Thursday, paving the way for the army's withdrawal. "A brigade of Ethiopian peacekeepers will arrive in the Abyei region later this week ... Around 4,200 troops have already travelled (to Sudan) overland in the past week," an Ethiopian for ... read more

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