January 30, 2013
KHARTOUM – The Sudan-South Sudan Economic Conference took place in Berlin on Tuesday, January 29, with Germany pledging that economic development would safeguard against conflict and radicalism.
Initially scheduled for last October, the conference was postponed when protestors stormed the German embassy in Khartoum following a Youtube film by an American film that mocked Islam.
At the official opening German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle outlined German hopes that the conference would help Sudan and South Sudan “along the path toward peace”.
Speaking to some 300 attendees he said that economic development was key to obtaining stability in the volatile region, adding that poverty feeds extremism and hate.
Sudanese and international human rights activists, however, voiced opposition to the meeting.
Ahead of the gathering activists railed against Germany for hosting the event. Act for Sudan, a coalition of Sudanese and US activists and organisations protested the conference, circulating a letter signed by 64 international organisations as well as human rights advocates including the US Department of State 2012 Recipient of the International Women of Courage Award, Hawa Abdallah Salih.
The letter called on Foreign Minister Westerwelle to “cancel this conference that places Germany squarely in the role of generating financial support for the genocidal Sudanese regime”.