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February 2012 - Posts

Sudan Islamists warn Bashir over Shariah constitution

February 29, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A coalition of radical Islamic groups in Sudan has threatened to unseat the country’s President Omer Al-Bashir if he fails to heed demands for a constitution based on Shariah laws.

Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in prayer after winning national elections in 2010 (Reuters)

Sudan’s far-right and Islamist groups have been lobbying to have the country’s 2005 Transitional Constitution replaced with an Islamic one after the mainly Christian South Sudan gained independence in July last year.

To that end, they formed the Islamic Constitution Front (ICF) and proposed the Draft Constitution of Sudan, which is based entirely on Shariah law and according to a report earlier this month, prohibits the appointment of women in the judiciary.

On Tuesday, the ICF held its foundation conference in the capital Khartoum, and the coalition members who include the Salafi Ansar Al-Suna, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Just Peace Forum (JPF), signed its founding statement which called for the application of Shariah laws.

The conference, which was attended by a host of political parties, saw some ICF representatives boldly warning the government and President Bashir of an uprising by Islamists if their proposed constitution is not adopted.

Addressing the opening session, the ICF member and Imam of the Grand Mosque in Khartoum, Shaykh Kamal Riziq, regretted the fact that it was them who took the initiative to propose the Islamic constitution rather than the government itself.

He went on to warn that the government was now facing a choice between adopting their constitution and leaving.

“I find no qualms in telling the government that it should either rule by Islam or go unregrettably” he declared.

Omer Hadra, another ICF’s member and representative of the Khattmiya religious sect, took it a step further, threatening to topple President Bashir if he does not approve the draft constitution.

“We will submit this Islamic constitution to you [Al-Bashir] and if you fail to apply it, I swear to God we will have you overthrown,” Hadra said.

The leader of the far-right JPF, Al-Tayyib Mustafa, pointed out that Muslims now make up 97 percent of Sudan’s population and all of them want to apply Shariah.

Mustafa, who happens to be a close relative of Bashir, added that Sudan’s new homogeneous reality had ended the debate on ethnic and religious diversity.

The ICF’s secretary general, Shaykh Al-Sadiq Abdella Abdel-Majid, vowed that they would have a strong word with the government should it fail to apply what he termed as God’s rules. He warned that they would not compromise on Shariah no matter the challenges and obstacles.

Bashir, an Islamist himself, is unlikely to feel threatened by the warnings. He was, after all, faster than the radical Islamists themselves in declaring the intention to transform Sudan into an entirely Islamic state.

In December 2010, as it became certain that South Sudan was going to secede, Bashir gave a speech in which he announced that Sudan’s constitution will be amended to be fully based on Shariah. He also said that Arabic will be the only official language.

In a related context, the ICF’s leader Abdel Majid accused unnamed Sudanese political parties of working in collaboration with Western countries, including the United States and United Kingdom, to eradicate Shariah laws in the country.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is seeking to include opposition parties in the debate about the new constitution. The party announced this month that a committee had been formed to receive proposals from political parties on the new constitution.

Unlike Islamist groups, mainstream opposition parties tend to advocate a “civilian constitution”.

However, they assiduously avoided calling for a secular one on account of the negative perception of the word secularism in Sudan’s Muslim conservative society.

Sudan’s Bashir invited to attend Arab League’s summit in Iraq

February 28, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has received an invitation from his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani to attend an Arab League’s summit slated for late March in Baghdad.

FILE - Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir (REUTERS)

The invitation was contained in a letter delivered to Al-Bashir by the Iraqi ambassador in Khartoum Salih Tamimi.

In response, the Sudanese government issued a statement welcoming the invitation and affirming Khartoum’s solidarity with the Iraqi government and people, according to official media.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s state minister for foreign affairs, Mansour al-Agab, held a meeting on Monday with the Iraqi ambassador and discussed arrangements for the Arab League’s summit, according to official media.

The Sudanese minister invited the Iraqi government to participate in Istanbul Conference.

The Istanbul Conference is due to be held in Turkey in late March to discuss relief of Sudan’s external debts and economic assistance to help Khartoum cope with the loss of oil revenues as a result of South Sudan’s secession.

Al-Bashir is unlikely to face risk of arrest should he honor the invitation to visit Baghdad since Iraq is not a state member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Sudanese leader is wanted by the Hague-based court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Similarly, Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported on Monday that Al-Bashir had been invited by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union to attend a summit due to be held in the Qatari capital of Doha from 7 to 5 March on telecommunication in the Arab World.

South Sudan army denies participating in South Kordofan’s attack

February 28,2012, (JUBA)- South Sudan’s army on Monday strongly denied reports alleging that it has participated in the fight involving coalition of Sudanese rebel groups from neighboring Sudan in South Kordofan State.

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers hold Ak-47 rifles (Reuters)

Colonel Phillip Aguer, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) told reporters in Juba on Monday that Khartoum was only “diverting” attention of the Sudanese people from their own failures.

“The fighting that lasted several hours on Sunday was purely a clash between coalition of Sudanese rebel groups within Sudanese territory. The SPLA did not in any way take part. It took place 4 miles away from South Sudan territory”, Aguer said.

The senior military officer further said that the Sudanese army is known for “defying and violating” bilateral agreements.

“How many agreements have they [government in Khartoum] violated? They just violated memorandum of understanding on non-aggression and cooperation which the two parties signed recently in Addis Ababa, by bombing Jau and launched ground attack on Balbala in Western Bahr el Ghazal," explained Aguer.

"Everybody knows this. The international community knows it well that Khartoum does not respect agreements and so it should actually be the government of South Sudan to complain to the international community including Security Council of the United Nations of Khartoum’s behavior towards the Republic of South Sudan", he asserted.

Nhial Deng Nhial, the country’s minister of foreign affairs, also refuted claims made by Sudanese government in which it accused Southern army of participating in the clashes .

“This is not correct. The SPLA did not take part in the fighting. We do not support war. We have said this time and again that political differences between the two states cannot be resolved through the use of violence”, Nhial told reporters in Juba.

Marial Benjamin, minister of information and broadcasting also described Khartoum’s accusations as mere “covers”. “

The fighting took place four miles away from Jau which is an area inside territory of the republic of South Sudan, Marial said.

None of the officials commented on statements made by commissioner of Pariang County Mabeak Lang Bilkuei in which he said that SPLA managed to expel Sudanese army out of Jau after intense fighting on Sunday.

Jau is a region along the poorly defined borders claimed by both countries. Last year Juba accused Khartoum of illegally occupying it and submitted a complaint to the UN Security Council (UNSC) protesting it.

Yesterday, the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), an alliance of rebel groups including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) and the Darfur rebels Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid Nur (SLM-AW), and the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Arkoi Minnawi (SLM-MM), claimed to have taken control of Jau town and Toroge areas in South Kordofan.

The statements made by Pariang County commissioner will likely embarrass the rebels who insist that they received no backing from South Sudan.

Sudan army said yesterday that fighting is ongoing in Buhairat Al-Abiyad at Jau town and reiterated allegations to Juba of involvement.

Today the Sudanese presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail said that all options are on the table including military one in responding to South Sudan’s "aggression".

"South Sudan bears the full responsibility in this attack. South Sudan government should stop refuting and lying. It should acknowledge if it has enough courage to bear the responsibility and its consequences," said Ismail according to Xinhua news agency.

"We were attacked and we will no doubt respond to this aggression to defend our land. We will adopt all steps and there is no closed course for us. We will file complaints to the UN Security Council, the African Union and the committee supposed to monitor the security agreement recently signed between the two countries on refraining from attacking the border."

Sudan says it will not accept less than ‘rewarding return’ in oil talks with south

February 28, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Monday signalled a more rigid approach to the negotiations on oil with South Sudan by saying that it will not change its previous positions.

Said Al-Kahteeb, a senior member of North Sudan’s negotiating team addresses a press conference on January 28, 2012 in Addis Ababa (AFP)

Said Al-Kahteeb, a senior member of Khartoum’s negotiating team, was quoted by the pro-government Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website as saying that they will not forfeit their right to a rewarding return in the next round of talks.

Previous rounds of protracted negotiations failed to yield an agreement on how much landlocked South Sudan should pay for transporting its oil through Sudan’s infrastructure, triggering a crisis that saw Khartoum confiscating oil and Juba suspending oil production all together.

The stand off gave rise to heightened tension and frantic diplomatic efforts by regional and international stakeholders to avert a renewed conflict as officials from both countries exchanged warnings of a return to war.

During this month’s negotiations in Addis Ababa, Khartoum reportedly asked for $36 per barrel but Juba immediately dismissed the figure. South Sudan wants to pay around $1.

Al-Kahteeb said that his delegation demonstrated flexibility and commitment to allowing South Sudan to export its oil and reaching an understanding with the other side.

But he stressed that such an understanding “cannot be built on the price that South [Sudan] government delegation is talking about”.

The Sudanese official said they are still awaiting a confirmation on the official date for next negotiating round from the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

On the other side, South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum said they will come to the talks with an open heart but insisted that they will not pay more than $0.69 per barrel. He also said that Khartoum must reimburse Juba for the oil it has seized since last year.

He said that should talks fail again then oil closure is likely to continue adding that that southerners would rather be patient than have someone else steal their resources.

South Sudan took with it three quarters of Sudan’s daily oil production of 500,000 barrels when it seceded in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil wars between the two sides.

Without the oil money now the two countries need to figure other ways to fund their budget which would be a more challenging and daunting task for South Sudan which is just building a nation from scratch.

Minister of Agriculture Survived and three persons martyr in plane crash

Gedarif, Feb. 27 (SUNA) - The State Minister at the Ministry of Information, Ustaza Sana Hamad, affirmed in a statement to SUNA that the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Abdul-Halim Ismail Al-Muta'afi, has survived in a helicopter plane crash at the area of Faw Monday.

The helicopter caught fire in Al-Fao town while it was carrying on board a delegation of the federal Ministry of Agriculture after two minutes from taking off.

The victims in the accident were Professor Tahir Siddiq, the Director of the Agricultural Research Corporation in Wad Medani, Eisa Al- Rashid the spokesman of the federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Air Engineer Mohamad Ali.

The wounded persons are Izz-Eddin Mohamed of the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Suleiman Al-Sir a photographer of the federal Ministry of Agriculture, and Salah Taha representative of the Agricultural Bank of Khartoum,who were all taken to Al-Faw Hospital.

Eye witnesses said that the plane encountered a technical fault which was repaired and then took off from Al-Faw town airstrip before the accident.

Headlines of daily news papers issued in Khartoum today Monday

صحفKhartoum 27/2/.2012

The Army: clashes with the forces from the south across the border.
The Government: the battles breaches the agreement and we have the right to respond.
Parliament to discuss with the Minister of Finance budget alternatives.
Ibrahim Ahmed Omar: National Congress will not declines from responding to the reasonable demands .
Parliamentary efforts to stop the judicial proceedings against farmers.
Returning the device of cardiac catheterization to the Chinese hospital.

Southern state support SPLA attack on southern Kordofan.
Opening (70) new health centers in Khartoum during this year.
Sheikh Hamad directed the Qatari companies to expand their investments in Kassala
Al-Bashir briefed on the steps of establishing a free trade zone between Sudan and Eritrea.
Badria: affirmative action for women is binding in all legislation.
Al- Bashir directs the political forces to participate in making the Constitution.
The government refuses the entrance of new organizations in South Kordofan.
Struggle within the Revolutionary Front on the field leadership of the Alliance.

Serious development: the State of the South Army launched an attack on the Sudan.
the SPLA leadership Mobilizes Darfur rebel forces in the Unity State.
SPLA continues its support of the ninth and tenth troops in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
the Army Spokesman: your armed forces defends the gains of the people and repel the violators .
Foreign Affairs condemns the continuation of an aggressive attacks by the State of South Sudan and affirming the right to reply.

Fierce battles between the armed forces and the SPLA on the borders.
Al-Mirghani directs the leaders of his party not to talk about withdrawing from the government.
Opening the bids for the new oil squares next March,.
Evacuation of South Kordofan girls hostels because of financial arrears.

The armed forces leads fierce battles against the insurgency in southern Kordofan.
Ministry of Finance: the establishment of a higher committee to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

South Sudan army in full control of Jau after heavy fighting with SAF - official

By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

Feburay 27, 2012 (BENTIU/KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), which is South Sudan’s official army has fully captured disputed Jau area on Sunday from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), an official in the Unity state told Sudan.

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers (Reuters)

Jau is a region claimed by both countries and has been a source of growing tension.

South Sudan has lodged a complaint last December with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) saying that SAF occupied parts of the country including Jau.

Mabeak Lang Bilkuei commissioner of Pariang County said that the control of Jau by SPLA is seen as a step forward towards preventing foreign invasion which he said was tried several times by SAF in the past.

The official claimed that SPLA has captured more than 15 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles and heavy trucks from SAF.

“More bodies from Sudanese Armed Forces are laid on ground and this is a lesson to [Sudan President] Omer Bashir who threatened the republic of South Sudan”, said Bilkuei.

SAF is battling rebels from Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile since last year.

Khartoum constantly accuses Juba of aiding the rebels in these states. It has also filed a protest with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on this.

Arop Riak Malual a Youth leader of Pariang county said that the entire county was "very happy" to heard that Jau is currently under SPLA control.

“I want to tell the people of Unity State particularly the Dinka Pariang to feel free after their national army won victory in Jau. All this time SAF was claiming to be men but today they appeared as women after their defeat from SPLA”, said Malual.

The authorities in Bentiu hospital confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Sunday that four soldiers are now being treated as a result of today’s battles between SAF and SPLA.

Pariang commissioner dismissed allegations made by SAF on the presence of SPLM-N in Jau.

He asserted that SAF are having plans to take over control of South Sudanese towns which has potential resources in reference to oil.


Today, the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) released a statement saying that it launched a joint attack along with SPLM-N and other rebel groups managing to take over Jau and Tarogi after heavy fighting on Sunday.

The joint forces led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, former deputy governor of South Kordofan, also gained a large cache of weapons in the aftermath.

SAF military spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad confirmed the fighting saying that South Sudan army infiltrated six kilometers inside Sudanese territory in an area known as Buhairat al-Obiyad.

"An alliance bringing together South Sudan’s army and rebels from South Kordofan and Darfur on Sunday morning attacked Buhairat Abiyad at Jao town," said SAF statement.

SAF said that South Sudan set up an advanced command center overseen by SPLA and Unity state governor Taban Deng to bring together all Darfur rebel groups in two sites.

Despite warnings by Sudan’s negotiating teams in Addis Ababa to their southern counterparts, Juba continued their activities of supporting rebels, he said.

The army spokesman said that this violated non-aggression pact signed this month between the two countries.

The agreement, which was reached under the mediation of the African Union in Addis Ababa, stipulated that the two sides should respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other, non- intervention in each other’s internal affairs, rejecting the use of force and observing common interests and peaceful co-existence.

But JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal dismissed the allegations of South Sudan’s involvement.

"These statements are clear evidence of the unwillingness of the government to recognize the ability of armed resistance to defeat it without external support and this is what it has kept repeating since 1989," Gibreel told Sudan.

Khartoum and Juba have recently seen their relations deteriorate sharply over an oil dispute.

Juba suspended its entire oil production of around 350,000 barrels per day after Sudan started last year to confiscate oil from pipelines running through the north to its Red Sea port.

Khartoum says that it is simply getting its dues on unpaid invoices of South Sudan for oil transit fees.

The Sudanese president said in a TV interview this month that the current situation make the two countries closer to war.

South Sudan accused its northern neighbor this month of using militias at the its borders with the intention of sabotaging oil fields in the Unity State.

"Khartoum continues to use proxy war at the border and they have been bombing Jau while Militias are being pushed at the border to sabotage oil stations as an escalation," said South Sudan Deputy Minister for Defense and Veteran Affairs, Majak Agoot this month.

Oil is the lifeline of both economies, but the South is more vulnerable because it has almost no other industries to fall back on beyond the oil sector. It also relies heavily on imported goods which are brought in for a hefty premium on unpaved roads from Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. More than 90 percent of its goods come in that way.

Sudan on the other hand faced a sharp drop in income and foreign currency which pushed inflation rates higher and drove the exchange rate of the pound to unprecedented low levels.

SPLA top generals asked by anti-corruption to declare their assets

February 27, 2012 (JUBA) – Top generals of the South Sudan army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), have been asked by the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) to declare their income and assets, in the latest effort to entangle corruption.

SPLA generals wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011.

The accounts of the army and other organised forces have not been audited since 2005 and a lot of money is believed to be unaccounted for in the institutions.

On Sunday the chairperson of the SSACC Judge John Gatwech Lul, met with the Chief of General Staff, James Hoth Mai, and his five deputies at the army’s general headquarters in Bilpam. Gatwech presented income and assets declaration forms to the army leadership and asked them to cooperate.

The Chief of General Staff, James Hoth Mai, assured anti-corruption chairperson of their full cooperation to declare their assets. He said there is no reason for people to “panic” because it is the right way to stamp out corruption.

The result of the auditing of government accounts from 2005 to 2006, released by the Auditor General and presented to the parliament recently, has shockingly revealed that over $1 billion US dollars ’disappeared’ in that period alone and could not be accounted for.

The revelation prompted the South Sudan parliament to summon both the former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Arthur Akwen Chol and the Governor of the then Central Bank of Southern Sudan (CBoSS), Elijah Malok Aleng, accusing them of facilitating corruption.

However, only Elijah Malok appeared in the parliament and denied the accusations directed to him, but said some of the money was diverted to the personal bank of the former finance minister, Arthur Akwen, who asked the bank to transfer such amount from abroad to his personal account.

Two weeks ago Akwen organized a press conference in Juba in which he denied all the accusations against him. One of the accusations is about vehicles he purchased for the government in 2006 from cardinal company with what was found to be a double price for each vehicle he purchased, leaving millions of dollars unaccounted for.

He said he was "directed" by the Vice President, Riek Machar, to purchase the vehicles from the company.

Machar acknowledged that he “referred” to the minister the urgent need to purchase vehicles for the government institutions as the institutions were being established, but did not “direct” him on the technicalities involved. He said the technical details such as how much each vehicle should cost was determined by the ministry of finance and economic planning.

Machar, declared his income and assets two weeks ago and urged others to follow suit.

Akwen also accused the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, of embezzling $30 million and diverting the amount to his personal account, explaining that the order to release the money came from “above”, which name he did not mention.

Pagan Amum denied the accusations and threatened to take Akwen to court over the matter. Akwen maintained that he has the documents to support his revelation.

He also revealed that there are 13 more corrupt senior officials in the government and dared the speaker of parliament, James Wani Igga, to have courage to release the list of the names to the public.

Hundreds of corruption related cases have been waiting for years without proper investigation or prosecution of the culprits.

There are fears in the public that once the Auditor General releases the auditing result from 2007 to 2011 more billions of dollars may be reported unaccounted for. The period also witnessed the "Dura saga" under another former minister of finance, Kuol Athian, which officials described as the most costly corruption scandal since the formation of government in 2005.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has announced that the SSACC also takes the responsibility of prosecuting culprits after they investigate cases and find them guilty. The prosecution power used to be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice.

However, the chairperson of SSACC Gatwech, said that until the president’s statement is translated into law the commission will not be able to prosecute. He urged the ministry of Justice to expedite the bill and present it to parliament in order to enact a law which will give legal powers to the anti-corruption body to prosecute culprits.

Salva Kiir has given 31st deadline to all the constitutional post holders and senior civil servants throughout South Sudan to declare their income and assets, or else submit their resignations.

Judge Gatwech earlier on said his institution has been establishing cooperation with governments abroad so that they reveal accounts of South Sudanese officials in their various financial institutions.

There also suspicions that some officials might have banked their money abroad under different names, making it difficult to trace.

He also added that they are mobilising expertise from Europe and America to assist the commission in using the latest techniques of tracing and detecting “stolen” money from bank accounts around the world.

Sudan’s religious group says targeted by government

February 25, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of Sudan’s mainstream Islamic Salafi faction, Ansar al-Suna, has accused the government of waging an increasingly hostile campaign against their creed under the influence of rival religious groups.

FILE - Hamza Abu Zaid, leader of Ansar Al-Suna group in Sudan (Al-Sahafah newspaper)

Ansar Al-Suna’s leader Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamza said during a sermon he delivered prior to Friday’s prayer in Khartoum that rival Sufi factions are exerting intensive pressure on the government to limit the activities of his group.

Hamza, who was addressing a crowd of his group’s followers, said he expects the government to conduct a “ferocious” campaign against the Salafi currents in the country.

Ansar Al-Suna followers have clashed earlier this month with their Sufi counterparts during celebrations of prophet Mohamed’s birthday in the Sudanese capital.

The clashes prompted the police to intervene and arrest dozens of supporters from both sides.

Ansar Al-Suna, which adheres to a textual interpretation of Islam, sees heresy in Sufi groups’ practices of idolatry and celebrating the prophet’s birthday.

Hamza leader said that the authorities had taken measures to halt the public scholarly seminars that his group used to hold.

He went on to demand that the government declares a clear position on what he described as the aspects of polytheism practiced by Sufi groups.

Ansar Al-Suna’s ledare also denied accusations that his group had destroyed shrines of Sufi Sheiks, calling for an investigation into the allegation.

Several Sufi shrines in Allafon suburb, 35 kilometers south of Khartoum, were set ablaze and exhumed in late 2011 by unknown people. Sufi groups accused Salafis of standing behind the incident.

Sudan’s NCP shuffles top leadership positions amid growing pressure for reforms

February 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) held a meeting chaired by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir that lasted until the early morning hours of Thursday and approved a series of changes to the leadership positions which saw several senior figures giving up their long-held posts.

Bashir’s powerful assistant Nafie Ali Nafie is no longer heading the NCP’s Organizational Secretariat and was replaced by Hamed Sideeg who is a longtime member of the Islamist movement and a rapporteur at the party’s leadership council and the Islamist Shura council.

The head of the NCP politburo Qutbi al-Mahdi saw his position given to Sudanese 2nd Vice President Haj Adam Yousef. The former chief of the country’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) Hasabu Mohamed Abdel-Rahman was appointed to lead the political relations bureau.

Abdel-Rahman is a leading figure from South Darfur and was believed to be a one of the candidates to become governor of the newly established East Darfur state. He was accused of mishandling billions of Sudanese pounds during his term in HAC but he was never charged or investigated.

The veteran Islamist figure and the current oil minister Awad al-Jaz was replaced as NCP’s Economic Secretariat chief by former governor of Sudan’s central bank Sabir Ahmed al-Hassan. The latter is also one of Khartoum’s lead negotiators in the oil talks with South Sudan.

Amin Hassan Omer, who is in charge of overseeing the implementation of Darfur peace accord signed last year, has taken over from Ibrahim Ahmed Omer in the Culture and Intellect bureau at the ruling party.

Ibrahim Ghandour and Mustafa Osman Ismail maintained their positions in the External Relations and Media bureaus respectively.

The NCP’s Vice Chairman Nafie described the restructuring as part of the change process and vowed that this will continue whenever necessary and wished luck for the “young” faces.

Nizar Khaled Mahjoub, a member of the NCP political bureau, said the aim of the changes was to reset mentalities adding that there are reform issues that need to be addressed requiring political will from high up.

He added that the shuffling was one of the outcomes of the NCP Refresher convention that took place last November.

Last month, news of a mysterious reform memos drafted by unnamed members of the NCP and the Islamist Movement leaked to the media underscored the urgency of addressing widespread corruption, establishing a citizenship-based state and banning the combination of party positions with constitutional positions.

The Sudanese president dismissed these memos in a TV interview this month saying that those behind the memos would be held accountable if known.

The secession of South Sudan last July meant that Khartoum lost about three-quarters of its oil, the main source of state revenues and hard currency. The Sudanese pound has slumped by as much as 70 percent below the official rate. Annual inflation is at 18 percent as the cost of food imports has shot up. Wars against insurgencies in different parts of the still-vast country have also soaked up government funds.

Many ordinary citizens say that they have been forced to give up certain food items as they are unable to keep up with rising prices.

Military sources revealed to Sudan Tribune in January that 700 officers within the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) warned Bashir and his defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein against rushing to war with South Sudan citing challenges facing the army. Tensions between the two countries have grown dramatically over a dispute on oil, borders and alleged support of rebel groups.

Furthermore, the NCP is feeling pressure of Arab Spring sweeping the region that saw the toppling of deeply entrenched regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

But there is no indication of similar move in Sudan despite the outbreak of several small demonstrations in the last few months protesting deteriorating public services.

However in recent weeks the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have stepped up their arrests of activists as well as students and closing down newspapers including one this week.

Sudan’s NCP denies moves to register Islamic Movement

February 22, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Nafie Ali Nafie, the vice-chairman of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), has emphatically denied reports on plans by some Islamists to re-establish the currently dormant Islamic Movement (IM) as an independent political party.

FILE - NCP vice-chairman Nafie Ali Nafie

In a press conference held in Khartoum on Tuesday, Nafie was asked by reporters on the veracity of press reports that some Islamist figures were planning to re-register the IM as a political party.

“No, this is not true”, he tersely replied. Nafie added that if these rumours are based on the recent reform memo submitted by a group of Islamists, he has already met members of this group and they are not contemplating such move.

“This is a group which gave us advises and is talking from within. They share the same ideas and program of the NCP but they are only seeking better performance” Nafie said.

The IM was dissolved few years after Sudan’s Islamists took power in a military coup in 1989. It comprised a wide spectrum of Islamists including those who supported the coup and those who did not.

Following the 1999 schism in the NCP between supporters of the ousted NIF leader Hassan Al-Turabi and fellow Islamists who sided with President Al-Bashir, the IM was revived but it remained largely dormant, confining its activities to issuing statements on national occasions.

The IM’s secretary-general is Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.

In January this year, news of a mysterious reform memo drafted by dissatisfied members of the NCP and the IM leaked to the media. The memo, reportedly signed by 1,000 individuals, underscored the urgency of addressing widespread corruption, establishing a citizenship-based state and banning the combination of party positions with constitutional positions.

Media reports in Khartoum spoke over the last two days about a number of Islamists intending to re-register the IM as a political party. As of Saturday, 18 February, nearly 2,000 members of the IM began receiving text messages informing them that the old group is about to re-emerge.

“The Islamic Movement is pleased to invite you to attend its first foundational conference which will empower the youth and those praying in the dark to dispel years of submissiveness and disappointment” part of the text message seen by Sudan  read.

A source close to Islamists told Sudan  that the group intending to re-register the IM is seeking by this step to activate its membership following the political changes that resulted from the breakup of the country with South Sudan’s secession in July.

The source revealed that their group had already begun the procedures to register the IM with the registrar of political parties.

He indicated that some NCP officials had sent messages urging them not to rush registration while some IM members opine that there is no need for registering it as a political party but there is a need to re-activate the existing structures.

Sudan’s rebels elect Malik Agar leader of their alliance

February 22, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Malik Agar, chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) is elected president of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of four rebel groups formally established in November 2011.

Malik Agar (Reuters)

The rebel alliance released on Monday a press statement saying Agar was elected after a series of meeting for the leadership of the four groups in the areas held by the rebel SPLM-N in South Kordofan.

The leaders of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Gibril Ibrahim and the two factions of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) of Abdel Wahid Al-Nur and Minni Minnawi are designed vice-presidents.

Abu Elgasim Imam al-Haj, of the SLM-AW who is appointed official spokesperson of the rebel alliance.

Sudan  learnt that Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, SPLM-N deputy chairman, is chosen commander in chief of SRF joint military units.

The election of Agar and Hilu to the two leading political and military positions is explained by the failure of Darfur rebels to agree on who among them can take one of these posts.

Gibril Ibrahim was proposed to take the SRF presidency but the other two groups objected this choice, sources told Sudan Tribune.

Last August after the untimely announcement of Koda alliance between the SPLM and the two SLM factions, Yasir Arman, SPLM Secretary general, intervened to say talks are still going and that was not a final alliance pact. He also stressed that JEM is part of the process.

JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim is tasked as vice-president with the foreign relations and humanitarian affairs, Abdel Wahil al-Nur is a vice-president for political and regulatory affairs while Minni Minnawi is in charge of finance and administrative affairs.

The rebel alliance calls to topple the Sudanese government through political and military means. The members of the SRF say the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) refuses political settlement and it becomes a major obstacle for Sudan’s political stability.

However, the major Sudanese opposition forces distanced themselves from the SRF and called for a negotiated solution saying more blood puts the integrity of the country at risk.

The NCP accuses Juba of supporting the alliance saying it uses it to get more concessions in the difficult talks on the pending issues, including Abyei, between the two sides since the independence of the South Sudan.

Khartoum also accuses Hassan al-Turabi’s party, Popular Congress Party and the Communist Party of working with the rebel alliance to overthrow the regime but the two political forces say the NCP launches such accusations to confiscate fundamental freedoms.

Turabi accuses Sudan’s security apparatus of bugging his office

February 20, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Islamist opposition leader Hassan Al-Turabi has accused the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of installing secret listening devices at his party’s headquarters, criticizing such precedent as dangerous and warning of brewing discontent within the country’s army.

Sudan’s opposition leader Hassan Al-Turabi during his press conference in Khartoum on 19 January 2012 (ST)

Al-Turabi convened a press conference in the capital Khartoum on Sunday and displayed two listening devices he claimed were found planted at two offices inside the headquarters of his Popular Congress Party’s (PCP) in Al-Riyadh residential area.

According to the opposition figure, one device was planted in the electricity cable wired to the table he sits behind while the other was installed in a downstairs office space where the party’s general secretariat usually holds meetings.

In December last year, the NISS accused Al-Turabi of planning a military coup against the government, saying that his plan was contained in documents caught in the possession of his senior aide Ibrahim Al-Sanousi who was arrested earlier that month .

But Al-Turabi denied the charge at the time and later released the documents which he claimed were “stolen.” The documents seen by Sudan spoke of possible scenarios to topple the government but clearly stated that a military coup was “somewhat unlikely.”

Al-Turabi said in Sunday’s press conference that he began to suspect espionage after the NISS’s director Mohamed Atta revealed the coup accusations.

He also said he does not exclude the possibility of the involvement of foreign intelligence entities, saying that they are after all wary of the expansion of Islamist movements in the Arab world.

Al-Turabi displays listening devices he claimed were planted at his party HQ. He was addressing a press conference in Khartoum on 19 January 2012. (ST)

Al-Turabi revealed that his party had decided after careful deliberations to sack the person in charge of guarding his office without informing him of any official charges.

The PCP leader indicated that the person in question was responsible for guarding his office and used to sleep there sometimes.

Al-Turabi said his party had already taken legal steps and informed the police criminal investigation department. However, he added that his party had sensed leniency on the part of the police to investigate the issue, saying that government apparatus including the police were under orders from above and will not find any listening devices if they are told not to find.

The Islamist figure said that the attempted espionage sets a dangerous precedent. “We no longer feel safe anywhere” he declared, adding that he now expects to find similar devices in his house and car.

He went on to criticize the NISS for resorting to espionage. “What is left for them to do? Was it not enough that they have already imprisoned us and closed down our newspaper? We did not expect that they would go as far as invading the privacy of our offices, houses and cars.”

Al-Turabi has been in and out of jail since he was ousted from power in 1990 following a bitter power struggle with president Al-Bashir and fellow Islamists. His party’s mouthpiece, Ra’y al-Sha’b newspaper, was suspended indefinitely last month.

The PCP leader said that his party has no secrets to hide since it already declared its goal of toppling the government through popular uprising. He further warned that what he termed as the upcoming revolt would be strong.

Al-Turabi said that the Sudanese army is growing increasingly unhappy about the war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Sudan’s army and allied paramilitary forces have been fighting indigenous rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State as of June and in Blue Nile as of September last year.

Sudanese police storm Khartoum University’s compounds, over 317 students arrested

February 18, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese police in the early morning of Friday raided dormitories of the University of Khartoum and arrested over three hundred students in anticipation of a new protest they planned to stage this weekend.

Sudanese police patrol the streets of the capital on November 18, 2009. (file photo/Reuters)

Since December students organised different protests in Khartoum asking to remove the Director of the University who asked the police to enter in the campus to disperse a student protest. The students demonstrated in support of the al-Manasir ethnic group’s demand for compensation, as they have been affected by the construction of Merowe Dam north of Khartoum.

Since, the University was closed in order to avoid any escalation of the protests, students were asked to return to their homes in the different provinces. However, many remained on the campus and called for a new sit-in outside the Director’s office on Sunday 19 February.

At dawn on Friday - the first day of the Sudanese weekend - the anti-riot police cordoned off the student housing block and started to evict the students, an eyewitness told Sudan . The source added that hundreds of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) members dressed in plain clothes participated in the preventive arrest of 317 students.

"The police armed with batons entered in the dormitories and arrested the sleeping studentSleep. Those who tried to resist were severely beaten," he said.

A detained student, speaking under conditions of anonymity, said they were transferred with other 50 students to a police station in Khartoum North where they were interrogated about their political affiliation and academic studies. He added the students were distributed to 10 different police centres for investigation.

Most of the detainees were released later during the day but were prevented from returning to the compound while others are still detained in unknown place.

Mohamed Abdallah Ibrahim, financial secretary of the Union of Students in Khartoum State condemned the raid on the university compound and stated that leaders of the Union intervened in eight police stations to release the arrested students.

He also disclosed that the police found among the detainees some people who were not students, but he added that the compound harbours workers and relatives of the students. He added that other compounds in Khartoum and Omdurman house the students of the two closed dormitories.

Al Fatih Hasabo, a member of University of Khartoum Students Committee, told reporters in a press conference that the raid on the compounds is "a remake of intrusion scenario and undue humiliation of students".

He added the students were incarcerated without charges and jailed with criminal.

Another member of the committee, Mohamed Omer Taha, said they stopped the negotiations with the administration of the University and intend to send a memorandum to the President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

He added they refused the intervention of the Director to secure their release, stressing they do not trust the University administration.

Last December, the students protested against a decision by the administration of the University authorising the police to enter the campus. The protesters asked for the resignation of the Director Sidiq Haiati for allowing the police to arrest al-Manasir students who demonstrated inside the University.

They also demand that the police forces are held accountable and that they receive an apology from the ministry of interior as well as compensating for those students who were affected by the incidents.

Sudanese authorities accuse opposition political parties of standing behind the unrest in Khartoum University, but the students deny such accusations.

The death of 79 Year Old Sudanese musician Mohammed Wardi

Tens of thousands of Sudanese citizens, including President Omer Al-Bashir attended the burial ceremony of iconic singer Mohamed Wardi who passed away on Saturday night after a long struggle with kidney complications.

  Photo of Mohammed Wardi July 1932 - Feb 2012

Sudan’s most famous singer died at the age of 79 in a Khartoum hospital, He was buried on Sunday at Al-Farouq cemetery in Khartoum where tens of thousands of peoples, including President Al-Bashir, gathered to pay their respects.

Early life

Wardi was born on the 19th of July 1932, in a small village called Swarda close to Wadi Halfa Northern Sudan.[1] His mother, Batool Badri, died when he was an infant.[1] His father, Osman Hassan Wardi, died when he was nine years old.[1] He was brought up in a diverse and culturally rich background and developed an interest in poetry, literature, music and singing.[1] Wardi traveled to Shendi to complete his education, and returned to Wadi Halfa as a secondary school teacher.[1]

Music career

In 1953, Wardi went to Khartoum for the first time to attend a convention as a teaching representative for his area.[1] He moved to Khartoum and started his career as a musical performer.[1] In 1957, Omdurman Radio chose him to record and sing on national broadcast in an arena with legendary singers such as Abdelaziz Mohamed Dauod, Hassan Atia, Ahmed Almustafa, Osman Hussaein and Ibrahim Awad.[1] Wardi recorded 17 songs in his first year.[1] A committee formed by Omdurman Radio's president that included top singers and songwriters such as AlKashif, Osman Hussaein and Ahmed Almustafa promoted Wardi to highest level as a professional singer.[1]

Wardi performs using a variety of instruments including the Nubian Tanbur and sings in both Arabic and Nubian languages.[1] He has been described as "Africa's top singer", with fans mainly in the Horn of Africa.[1] His songs address topics such as romance, passion, Nubian folklore and heritage, revolution and patriotism with some of his political songs resulting in him being jailed.[1] After the introduction of Sharia in 1989, he left Sudan to voluntary exile in Cairo.[1] He returned in 2003.[1]

He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of Khartoum for his continuous exposure and research of the Nubian language.

Poets/Songwriters with whom Wardi collaborated


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