February 10, 2009

Inside Sudan

Have been catching up on my Sudan reading recently for a big Darfur project. Found quite a few books I bought when I first arrived in Nairobi and abandoned after a couple of chapters. Some of them are much more interesting once you recognise the names and already have a bit of a handle on […]

February 9, 2009

Saving Darfur: The International Criminal Court and the Language of Righting Wrongs

Police wait for President Bashir to arrive in El Fasher last year Fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Uganda’s shadowy rebel cult, have forced more than 130,000 people from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo since Congolese soldiers joined Ugandan and Southern Sudanese forces in launching an all-out assault on guerilla hide-outs before […]

February 3, 2009


So first up, well done Unamid. Khartoum has asked the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force to pull out of Muhajiriya so its armed forces can bomb and burn the town at will. And Unamid has said no, we’re staying. But to do what? So far the hybrid force has done precisely nothing to prevent attacks by […]

January 26, 2009

Things in Sudan Could Go Either Way, Experts

Sudan is gearing up for judges at the International Criminal Court to decide whether to indict President Omar al Bashir on the three charges being pursued by Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Speculation is rife that a decision will come in February, although no-one knows for sure. Journalist and aid worker friends are already getting out – or […]

January 15, 2009

You Article is Nonsense and Why isn’t it on the Website?

On Monday Hassan al Turabi, once the Islamist power behind the Sudanese president, gave interviews to the BBC World Service, Reuters and AFP calling for Omar al Bashir to give himself up to the International Criminal Court to prevent further international isolation of Sudan. In doing so he was the first opposition leader to break […]

January 14, 2009

Catching Up

Back from holiday and now trying to catch up on email, phone messages and blog posts that I missed during the past fortnight. Meskel Square offers a guide to Sudan’s year ahead The wildcards The International Criminal Court This is the only thing people are talking and thinking about in Sudan right now. What will […]

December 21, 2008

My African Predictions for 2009

This year I lost $200 in bets on the US presidential election and remain committed to swimming naked to Tuti island in the middle of the Nile on my next visit to Khartoum. That is not enough to stop me making a few more predictions of the events that will shape the African news agenda […]

December 16, 2008

Finding Peace in Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic

How much time do you give peace negotiations that involve such slippery characters as Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni. Or Laurent Nkunda and Joseph Kabila. Or Somalia where the Shabab is not even involved. And don’t get me started on Darfur. Well time has run out for the Ugandan peace process. After two years, numerous […]

December 16, 2008

Crilly’s Cool Ones

So my brief guide to African beers appeared in The Times this morning. Crilly’s cool ones… St George: Rich and fruity, packed with hoppy flavour; a fitting taste for a beer that is named after the patron saint of England — and Ethiopia 9/10 Castle: South African beer exported all over the continent. The closest […]

December 10, 2008

For Sale: Lord’s Resistance Army feature

Earlier this year photographer Kate Holt and I chartered a plane to fly from Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the tiny village of Doruma which was recovering from repeated attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army. We found people living in fear of the next assault, as LRA raiding parties roamed the jungle […]

November 8, 2008

Britain, Leaks and those Awkward Tanks

The manifest from the Faina obtained by Reuters and the BBC If this ever gets out it will not be good for UK-Kenya relations, the latter never slow to accuse the former of meddling in Kenyan affairs, maintaining a colonialist mentality and forgetting that the East African country has been independent for more than 40 […]

October 23, 2008

Devils and Details

George Clooney’s people have still not contacted my people over the great “Put Up or Shut Up” debate he proposed last year. George has now at least been to Darfur (albeit for about 24 hours before being struck down by diarrhoea and having to be smuggled back to the comforts of the Rotana Hotel in […]

October 9, 2008

Welcome to Khartoum

[video:youtube:uA3FOuo8iDo] The reassuring voice of air traffic control as you land in Khartoum International Airport courtesy of Blake Evans-Pritchard, “I must apologise for the time it took for us to taxi across the runway,” announced the pilot once we had touched down in Khartoum’s airport – already, his voice was dripping with sarcasm. “There were […]

September 29, 2008

Kenya, The Pirates and those Rather Embarrassing Tanks

Pirates with the MV Faina (US Navy pic) So where were the MV Faina’s 33 T-72 tanks heading? The fog of misinformation surrounding their destination suggests a fresh scandal brewing. As soon as I heard the ship had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia last week, I was content with the information […]

September 17, 2008

Live tonight: Lord Malloch-Brown – An unlikely diplomat

[video:bliptv:1278256] Lord Malloch-Brown, UK Minister for Africa, Asia and the Middle East, will be in conversation with Richard Beeston, Foreign editor at The Times, at the Frontline Club tonight – Weds 17 Sept. It’s a sell out event, so if you haven’t got a ticket do please join us on the Frontline Club live channel […]

August 25, 2008

Silver for Sudan

Ismail Ahmed Ismail trains in Khartoum’s decrepit athletics stadium Sudan has been celebrating its first Olympic medal after Ismail Ahmed Ismail battled all the way to the line for an 800m silver. The country’s big hope for a gold, the world number one this year Abubaker Kaki, crashed out in the semis but Ismail’s medal […]

August 13, 2008

Darfur: Not the Size of France or Texas

Poor befuddled readers of newspapers can’t be expected to understand straightforward units of measurement so when it comes to geographical area we journalists have a neat (where neat means hackneyed) trick – compare the subject of the article to things the reader might know. Traditionally this has been the football pitch as in…”the Beckhams’ front […]

August 10, 2008

Saving Darfur II

My lurch from left-wing idealist living in Britain, to right-wing realist in Africa continues apace. This time it is The Spectator that seems to have nailed the analysis of Darfur… The exclusive focus on bashing the government has emboldened the rebels, encouraging them to keep up the fight and shun the negotiating table. The peace […]

August 8, 2008

Top tips for reporting from Sudan

Heading to Sudan? Ever wondered what to look out for? Rob has the lowdown with his top tips for working in the African nation. I particularly liked number five, Don’t bear an uncanny resemblance to the previous BBC stringer who got kicked out. link

August 7, 2008

How to Operate in Sudan

Soldiers wait for President Bashir to arrive in El Fasher last month Two contrasting views of operating in Sudan. Jennie Matthew of AFP describes her frustration at trying and failing to travel to the Merowe Dam where last week 200 families said they were deliberately flooded out of their homes. As always, the man from […]

July 29, 2008

Cash Float

$40 for a swim. No wonder it’s empty Before heading to Darfur last week I treated myself to a swim. Not any old swim you understand, but a dip in the Rotana swimming pool. This is a new hotel in Khartoum that seems to be designed specifically to mop up those generous per diems paid […]

July 28, 2008

It’s Not About Boots on the Ground

A UN-AU hybrid patrol sets off for Siliea in West Darfur. The helmets have been painted blue but no-one has got around to removing the old Amis logo African aid agencies released a report today saying the joint African Union and United Nations mission to Darfur was failing to protect civilians. We’re at the six-month […]

July 25, 2008

Bedtime in Nyala

Beds in a courtyard in Nyala, Darfur, before it started raining At the end of a long day standing in the blistering sun without water watching the Sudanese president addressing 10,000 people in El Fasher and then 20,000 people in Nyala, what you want is a bed. If it is a bed in the cool […]

July 24, 2008

The Bashir Boogie

Omar al-Bashir arrives in El Geneina, West Darfur Just back in Khartourm from a trip to Darfur with President Omar al-Bashir, who is waiting to find out whether the International Criminal Court will issue a warrant for his arrest. The trip was astonishing and fascinating in many ways. It was a whistle-stop tour of El […]

July 22, 2008

My Home from Home

The old timers will tell you it’s not how it was, but there’s still a special spirit among foreign correspondents. The new arrivals from London don’t always get it at first but they usually fall into line eventually. The point is that exclusives are few and far between and they will anyway end up on […]

July 20, 2008

Those Were the Days

I really must get around to reading Michael Asher’s Khartoum. Every time I stay at Meskel Square’s house I flick through his copy (I note a corner is still turned down at page 164) and think what a good read it looks. At every turn of this Arab-African city you get a sense of history, […]

July 19, 2008

The View from Khartoum

So it’s almost a week now since the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court revealed his evidence against President Omar al-Bashir. And it’s still pretty difficult to work out where things are going. The consensus among aid workers and UN staff here is that things will stay quiet while Khartoum goes down the diplomatic road, […]

July 16, 2008

Breakfast in Khartoum II

The best carrot cake in East Africa Yes carrot cake for breakfast. I’ll be bringing you an update on the impact of Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s evidence against President Bashir as soon as I have the faintest idea what’s going on. It’s fair to say that reaction here is mixed.

July 15, 2008

What next?

So the prosecutor published his evidence and President Bashir now stands accused of war crimes, genocide and murder. There was a mix of reaction here in Sudan from the angry to the considered and it seems the government may be mulling over exactly what to do. Could a palace coup be an option? After speculation […]

July 13, 2008

Khartoum Bound

A UN-AU hybrid patrol sets off for Siliea in West Darfur. The helmets have been painted blue but no-one has got around to removing the old Amis logo Heading to Khartoum to see what comes out of the International Criminal Court. Readers of this blog will know that prosecutors have President Bashir himself in their […]