National Congress

In a matter of days, or hours, the northern Sudanese state of Blue Nile seems likely to be the scene of the most violent military confrontation in Sudan for almost a decade. The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) released a highly alarming report on September 23, based on substantial satellite photography, indicating that armed forces of Khartoum’s National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime are mobilizing in a massive formation of armor, troops, and military aircraft: “heavily camouflaged, mechanized units comprising at least a brigade—3,000 troops or more.

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Bentiu, Sudan—Two days ago, President Omar Al Bashir made what is likely to be his last visit to Juba, the southern capital, as the head of a unified Sudan. Promising to be “the first to recognize the south” if southerners vote for independence in this weekend’s referendum, Al Bashir’s conciliatory tone left people here scratching their heads about his real intentions. Mistrust of his ruling National Congress party is intense in the south, and, until last week, officials in Khartoum had been uniformly hostile about the possibility of secession.

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When Manuel Zelaya was deposed as president of Honduras with the support of the Supreme Court, the National Congress, the attorney general and most of his own party, much of Latin America went into conniptions about safeguarding the constitution. Of course, that was precisely the issue. Zelaya was about to traduce the constitution, which forbade extension of the chief executive's term, precisely his intention. This is common in the lower part of the Western Hemisphere, and it is the opus operandi of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Zelaya's chosen instrument was a referendum, the tool of tyrants.

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Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror By Mahmood Mamdani (Pantheon, 398 pp., $26.95) The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All By Gareth Evans (Brookings, 349 pp., $24.95) I. IN THE SUMMER OF 2007, Mahmood Mamdani found himself at a meeting of activists and politicians, listening to sentiments that had by then become quite common among a certain class of politically active Americans. The speakers were calling on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Darfur.

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