Sudan News

Latest News | News Releases |

Recent Posts

Tags

Community

Email Notifications

Archives

November 2013 - Posts

Khartoum airport ‘worst in the world’: envoy

November 30, 2013 (WASHINGTON) - The British ambassador to Jordan Peter Millett, has made a scathing assessment of Sudan’s main international airport, describing it as the “worst” in the world.

Passengers arrive at Khartoum’s international airport

Millett asked his Twitter followers to provide feedback on their worst airport experience, starting with himself.

“Which is your worst airport in the world? For me it’s Khartoum Last week it was hot, dirty and devoid of any information or welcome”, the UK envoy in Amman tweeted. He gave no further details as to why he was visiting the Sudanese capital.

Sudan-Iran relations not meant to threaten Gulf states: VP

November 30, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese vice-president Al-Haj Adam Youssef has stressed that his country’s relations with Iran will not come at the expense of its ties with Arab Gulf states, denying reports of tensions with Saudi Arabia.

Sudanese vice-president al-Haj Adam Youssef
Sudanese vice-president al-Haj Adam Youssef

In an interview with London-based Asharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper, Youssef said Sudan’s relations with Iran are based on common interests and not intended to threaten the interests of the Arab Gulf states.

The mostly Sunni Muslim Arab Gulf states are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, fearing the Shiite-led country is seeking regional dominance that will stir sectarian tensions. The Syrian conflict has also increased the divide between the two sides, with Arab monarchies supporting the rebels and Iran backing the Al-Assad regime.

The vice-president stressed that Sudan’s ties with the Arab Gulf states are based on geography, kinship, and religion, describing the relationship as strategic and eternal.

He also said Sudan remained keen to maintain and develop ties with Gulf states.

The Sudanese government has allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan three times in the past year, but denied suggestions of a military alliance between the two countries.

The Saudi pro-government Al-Riyadh newspaper blasted Khartoum over its decision to allow Iranian warships to dock, saying Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s regime is now at odds with most Arab countries and is struggling to attract Arab or foreign investors.

Last August, Riyadh blocked a plane carrying the Sudanese president from entering its airspace en route to Iran to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new president Hassan Rouhani.

Bashir, who performed the Muslim Hajj (pilgrimage) earlier this year, did not meet with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz during the visit, despite the Saudi monarch holding separate talks with the Turkish and Pakistani presidents who also performed Hajj this year.

Youssef maintains that Sudan’s ties with Saudi Arabia remains strong, pointing to large Saudi economic investments in Sudan, as well as the kingdom’s ongoing support to Sudan in regional and international forums.

“All rumours about tepid relationship between the two countries fall within the category of evil purposes, emanating from those who seek to play in troubled waters”, he said.

NEUTRAL ON EGYPT

Youssef also touched on Sudan’s relations with Egypt following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, saying Sudan doesn’t interfere in Egypt’s domestic affairs and that his government respects the choice of the Egyptian people.

He affirmed that Sudan would mediate between the government and the Islamic opposition if asked to do so by the Egyptian government.

Sudan’s Islamist government appeared uncomfortable with the developments in Egypt given the common ideology it shared with Morsi and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which brought him to power.

However, Khartoum insisted that it is remaining neutral on the political change in Egypt, stressing it is an internal matter.

Unlike most Arab leaders, the Sudanese president has not yet congratulated interim Egyptian president Adli Mansour on his new role.

31 foreign pharmaceutical companies stop dealing with Sudan

November 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Drug Importers Chamber (DIC) has revealed that 31 foreign pharmaceutical companies refused to deal with Sudan until repaying the outstanding credits which amount to $90 million and accused the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) of failing to provide the foreign exchange.

The DIC warned against the significant shortage in drugs, describing the government’s decision to provide foreign exchange for the basic commodities as "ineffective".

The chamber renewed its call for allocating a portion of the gold revenues for drugs importation instead of allocating %10 of the revenues of the non-oil exports which only provides %30 to %40 of the actual needs.

The DIC spokesperson, Yasir Hamed, told reporters on Tuesday that the CBoS failed to provide the necessary amount of foreign exchange needed for drugs importation, stressing that the %10 of the non-oil exports revenues allocated for the purpose provides only $100 million while the actual needs amount to $300 million.

He pointed that the government’s decision to provide hard currency for the important and life-saving drugs reflects the failure of the CBoS and the ministry of finance to provide foreign exchange, pointing that doctors and pharmacist do not agree on the definition of the life-saving drugs.

The DIC went further to complain that this inability to provide foreign currency for drug importers, is the main reason for increase in drug price.

Several pharmaceutical companies were forced to shut down over lack of hard currency.

After South Sudan’s independence in mid-2011, Khartoum lost access to more than three-quarters of the oil reserves that were the main driver of an economic boom that lasted for much of the last decade.

Since then the government has struggled with a shortage of hard currency and revenue as the pound sank in value on the widely used black market and inflation soared.

The CBoS refuses to disclose the amount of Forex reserves it holds but a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows it having $1.6 billion in 2013 which covers only 2 months of imports compared to $1.7 billion in 2012.

An IMF online survey published in 2011 argues that that a country must hold Forex reserves that cover 3 months of imports at a minimum.

S. Sudan’s Kiir fires environment minister over fight

November 27, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has fired the national minister of environment, Abdallah Deng Nhial, a week after involving in physical fight with a member of parliament representing Warrap state.

In a presidential decree he issued on Tuesday, Kiir said the minister was relieved from his job with effect from 26 November, but no replacement was made.

The decree did not explain the reason for the removal of the minister. However, the physical fight involving the minister and a member of parliament last week was believed to be the cause.

While arguing in the premises of the national parliament in Juba, the national minister of environment, Abdallah Deng Nhial, and lawmaker Machok Majong Jong, representing Gogrial West county of Warrap state, took the law into their own hands when they resorted to physical fight.

Eyewitnesses said the two were arguing in a larger group on the fate of Abyei in the office of the chairman of the parliamentary affairs committee when the debate turned into quarrel and insults.

It was reported that Nhial from Bor South constituency in Jonglei state, asserted that “Abyei was already a gone case as part of the South Kordufan” in north Sudan; a view point which angered Machok, calling Nhial “bad names” that resulted in to a slap on his face.

Nhial was a senior leader in the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan Al-Turabi in Sudan and contested for presidential position on the party ticket in 2010 elections, until recently when he was appointed to the Juba cabinet portfolio in August following the 23 July reshuffle.

Politicians from Warrap state as well as a youth group lobbied the president to take action against ex-minister.

MP Majong on Tuesday last week also tried to raise a motion in parliament, urging for a vote of no-confidence against the minister because he slapped him.

However, a member of parliament told Sudan Tribune that the request was turned down as insignificant, telling the aggrieved MP to look for other legal avenues.

In a press statement issued by the youth calling itself Warrap State Youth Intellectuals Forum (WSYIF), signed by their chairman Peter Mayenwen Majongdit, the statement condemned the minister of environment for slapping their MP.

“WSYIF calls on the national minister to apologize to the people of the constituency of Kuach North and South Gogrial West, because the act done by the minister disgrace the entire community of Gogrial West and the people represented by the Hon. Machok Majong Jong,” partly reads the statement.

They also demanded disciplinary measures taken against the minister by the leadership.

Kiir cautions critics over dissolution of SPLM structures

November 25, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has dismissed critics opposed to his recent decision to disband all structures of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), saying the move was inevitable.

Kiir, who is also chairperson of the SPLM, said he took the decision after officials failed to hold a national convention to elect or re-elect new party members.

He made the surprise announcement during the official opening of a newly-constructed SPLM building in the capital, Juba, on 15 November.

Senior party members, including his former deputy Riek Machar, have strongly criticised the move, saying Kiir’s actions have paralysed the party.

“The president’s statement has created a paralysis in the party”, Machar said, adding that a party meeting scheduled for 23 November had “dissolved in thin air”.

On Sunday, however, Kiir clarified his earlier remarks and stressed that the SPLM dissolved itself due to its failure to hold the national convention in May as is required every five years under the party’s constitution. The last national convention was held in 2008, three years before South Sudan seceded from Sudan.

“I hear that some people are making unnecessary statements in the media and in the social gatherings, to the extent of even calling for my resignation if I do not like the SPLM”, Kiir said on Sunday.

“If what the media reported is correct about the statements attributed to some people, then it is the history and our people to judge who should leave the SPLM”, he added.

Kiir made the remarks shortly after chairing a meeting convened to discuss the composition of the committee tasked to reorganise the SPLM’s structures.

DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS?

Meanwhile, Kiir insisted the media had “misinterpreted” what he said on SPLM structures, instead of “quoting what I said, which they (the media) themselves recorded”.

On Sunday, the country’s vice-president James Wani Igga joined the list of senior party officials who claim that SPLM structures were still in place.

In a televised address on the state-owned SSTV, Igga maintained that the ruling party chairman will “soon” call for the National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting, thus the dissolution of the various organs will procedurally occur thereafter.

“An independent convention organising committee to oversee the conduct congresses at the lower level, from boma to payam up to the state [level] will be soon be formed", said Igga.

"But we are now encouraging registration to start now at the boma level because time is short", he added.

The ex-national assembly speaker could not, however, explain why the party’s NLC meeting, initially scheduled from 23-25 November, had to quietly be postponed.

Last week, the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, also claimed media reports indicating Kiir had dissolved structures of the ruling party were “misinterpreted” and taken “out of context”.

Despite the denials, the SPLM external relations secretary Susan Jambo issued a statement on 18 November confirming that Kiir’s remarks on the dissolution of the party’s structures were “factual”, largely contradicting Makuei’s words.

Sudan’s ruling party hints at possibility of reinstating fuel subsidies

November 24, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) suggested today that the government could reconsider a decision it implemented last September by which it scaled down fuel subsidies which raised gasoline and diesel prices by more than 60%.

Al-Mahi Khalafalla, member of the NCP economic sector, told the pro-government Ashorooq TV on Saturday that such a move is contingent upon the recommendations of Khartoum’s Second Economic Forum which is currently underway.

The two-day forum which brings together economic experts, politicians, business leaders and others seeks to find solutions to the economic troubles engulfing the east African nation.

He noted that the first forum has called for lifting subsidies as a way of addressing Sudan’s fiscal imbalances.

Sudanese officials have said that the country faces bankruptcy unless it slashes subsidies which is eating up a large chunk of the already shrinking budget.

After South Sudan’s independence in mid-2011, Khartoum lost access to more than three-quarters of the oil reserves that were the main driver of an economic boom that lasted for much of the last decade.

Since then the government has struggled with a shortage of hard currency and revenue as the pound sank in value on the widely used black market and inflation soared.

Inflation rate officially reached 40% last month.

On Saturday, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has called for a battle against inflation as part of efforts to reform the country’s economy.

Bashir, who addressed the opening session of the economic forum, urged the participants to offer radical solutions for the economic crisis which brought the country to an edge of a cliff.

The president called for conducting an evaluation of the banking system and the monetary policies besides making the necessary recommendations to mitigate the impact of the economic and fiscal reform on the lower classes of the society.

He also challenged the conferees to come up with proposals that would help raise the standard of living, tackle poverty, and fight causes of prices hikes.

"We must fight high market prices which affect the economy and the people," Bashir said

Bashir also called for narrowing the development gap between the centre and the peripheries, demanding an analysis of the true causes behind the low production and productivity.

He stressed the need to identify the obstacles and difficulties facing the expansion of the private sector’s role in the economy as well as setting priorities for the partnership between the public and the private sectors.

Bashir further called for evaluating Sudan’s foreign economic relations and determining the economic policy guidelines required for expanding and activating relations with the international community.

He asked the participants to make the necessary recommendations for increasing foreign currency reserves, bridging the resource gap, and resolving foreign debts problem.

The chairman of the preparatory committee of the economic forum, Tijani Al-Sissi, criticized the recent government decision to lift subsidies on fuel and other commodities and said that it wouldn’t resolve the economic crisis, stressing the need for a comprehensive economic program.

Last September, the Sudanese government launched a new austerity package which included lifting fuel subsidies which almost doubled prices of gasoline and diesel. The cabinet also raised the US dollar exchange rate for importing purposes to 5.7 pounds compared to an official rate of 4.4.

Later the government acknowledged that it devalued the official exchange rate and not just the one for importing purposes.

The Sudanese pound is now trading at 8 SDG to the dollar on the black market.

Al-Sissi implored upon the government to adopt the outcomes of the forum, pointing that it would be meaningless if its recommendations were not implemented.

The minister of finance, Ali Mahmoud Abdel-Rasool, for his part, stressed the need to overcome the obstacles facing the economy, pointing to the government’s will to achieve balanced economic development and the optimal use of resources.

The head of the Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation (SBEF), Saud Al-Birair, pointed that the large presence of the economists and politicians reflects the government’s belief in the views of the experts and specialists in order to overcome the current economic crisis.

He said that private sector played important role in achieving high economic success in the world’s top growing economies and stressed to the significant legislative and policy gains obtained by the private sector during the current regime, pointing to the need for implementing those policies and legislations in reality.

Sudan’s NCP reformists to form new political party

November 22, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - A reformist group of the National Congress Party (NCP) has indicated it will form a new political party, officially splitting from the ruling party over calls for reforms, transparency and democratic changes.

The reformists led by the former presidential adviser, Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani last week rejected an ultimatum issued by the NCP Shura council giving them 10 days to bull back from their public criticisms against the party and be more disciplined.

But the leader of the reformists group swiftly reacted to the offer saying the stance of the Shura body confirmed their point of view that it is no longer possible to reform the NCP.

"We assure the Sudanese people that our decision to form a party far from the National Congress Party is a decision-in-principle and we are working to achieve it" Attabani said last week.

In a short statement he published at his FaceBook page on Thursday, the reformist leader announced that they decided to name this new party "Reform and Renaissance Party".

"Today in a meeting held at the house of Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, attended by a wide range of supporters of the Reform Movement, we selected the Reform and Renaissance Party as the name of the new party", he said.

He further said the decision was taken after voting on three options : (Reformist Movement, Justice and Reform and Reform and Renaissance).

The splinter group considers that the NCP failed to implement the programme of the Islamic movement and to establish an Islamic state after 24 year of rule in Sudan. They also denounce corruption and lack of democratic freedoms in the country.

However, sources from the group said Attabani refused to add "Islamic" to the name of the new group stressing that it should remain open to all the Sudanese without religious discrimination.

The second dissidence takes place 14 years after a breakaway led by the former leader of the party Hassan Al-Turabi in 1999. At the time Al Attabani was one of the leading member who signed a motion against him.

The reformists are expected to register their new party and launch a political campaign preparing themselves for the general elections of 2015.

They may conclude an alliance with other opposition Islamist parties like the Popular Congress Party of Hassan Al-Turabi or the far right Just Peace Forum led by Al-Tayeb Mustafa who is also the uncle of the president Omer Al-Bashir.

The opposition coalition of the National Conesus Forces did not react to the internal struggle among the NCP factions, but Turabi met Ghazi two months ago after his open criticism to the bloody repression of September protests.

In an interview with Agence France Presse on Thursday Mustafa said the ruling party cannot be reformed.

He further criticised his nephew Omer Al-Bashir saying he sticks to power and refuses change.

Bashir "wants to stay in power" to protect himself from arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes committed in Darfur, he said.

Administrative glitch caused bred shortage in Khartoum, Sudanese minister

November 20, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has attributed the shortage of bread in the capital Khartoum in the past two days to an administrative glitch in the distribution of baking flour quotas and asserted that the problem has been resolved.

Sudan’s First Vice president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, directed the relevant authorities to improve coordination in order to secure the flow of wheat to flour mills and bakeries, pointing that each state would determine the price of bread according to the cost of production.

Taha chaired on Tuesday a joint meeting between Khartoum state authorities, ministry of finance, central bank, and the ministry of commerce to discuss the recent shortage in bread.

The state minister at the ministry of finance, Magdi Yassin, said in press statements following the meeting that an administrative glitch caused the shortage of bread over the past period and stressed that the problem was resolved, pointing that the government would continue subsidising wheat in order to ensure its availability.

He asserted that the strategic reserve of wheat amounts to 280.000 tonnes and pointed that the government imported 1.4 million tonnes of wheat since the beginning of the year.

Sudan currently imports more than 2 million tons of wheat annually at a cost of $900 million.

Sudanese government last September announced the second batch of cut on subsidies but however maintained its support to prices of the bread.

The lift of subsidies on basic commodities are part of an austerity plan aiming introduced in July 2012 to reduce the government spending by 1.23 billion billon dollar.

Over 200 Sudanese were killed during a series of protests last September against the austerity measures taken by the government after the loss of revenue caused by the South Sudan independence in July 2011.

The governor of Khartoum state, Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir, pointed that the meeting decided to form a joint mechanism including the federal ministries of finance and commerce, central bank, and the government of Khartoum state to develop the necessary measures to prevent a repeat of the problem.

He said that flour mills have cut production leading to a %50 cut in quantities of bread flour because of the lack of information and mis-coordination with other services.

Al-Khidir further said that as of Monday, flour mills have delivered the full quota of flour to bakeries, demanding those who haven’t received their quotas to contact their distribution agents or state’s ministry of finance or the bakeries union.

He added that the joint mechanism made 14 recommendations to the Khartoum state regarding bread production, saying that those recommendations included weight, quality, price, and ways for developing baking industry.

Al-Khidir pointed that his state is responsible for wheat provision and distribution, saying that Khartoum state consumes 36.000 bags of wheat daily.

He said that bread price would be determined according to the recommendations of the recent workshop on bread and pointed that ministry of finance is currently studying those recommendations in order to determine the price within the coming few days.

Al-Khidir further stressed that Consumer Protection Society (CPS) which is the body responsible for monitoring prices was involved in all meetings in this regard.

The bakeries union secretary general, Adel Merghani, for his part, affirmed that bakeries received its full quotas on Tuesday and called upon all bakeries to work at full capacity, pointing that a mechanism was established to monitor bakeries.

He demanded the authorities of Khartoum state to implement the recommendations of the workshop, saying that it is the best way for the provision of bread.

Sudan Says It Killed Deputy Darfur Rebel Leader

November 18, 2013, (KHARTOUM) -  Sudan's army says it has repulsed an attack by Darfur rebels on a strategic town near the border with South Sudan and killed the group's deputy leader.

Darfur's Justice and Equality rebel group confirmed Sunday on its website that the group's deputy leader Fidail Rahooma was killed in clashes with government forces in Abu Zabad town in the Kordofan region, which falls along the borders of South Sudan and Sudan's troubled Darfur region. Clashes hit Abu Zabad in recent days, and rebels claimed they had taken it under control.

On Sunday, Sudan's army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled said his forces have inflicted heavy losses on the rebels and chased them out of the area. Sudan's government vowed to crush rebels in Darfur and its borders with South Sudan.

Bashir, Dessalines, Kiir and Museveni to meet in Kuwait

November 17, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese presidency has announced that a four-way summit is due to be held between the president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and the Ethiopian prime minister Haile Miriam Dessalines in Kuwait from November 18 to 19.

In a statement released on Saturday, the press secretary at the Sudanese presidency, Imad Sid Ahmed, said that the meeting, which would convene on the sidelines of the Third Arab-African Summit, would discuss ways for achieving peace and stability in the region.

Ahmed pointed that the Kuwaiti ambassador to Khartoum, Suleiman Al-Harbi, handed Bashir an invitation from Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Gaber, to attend the summit.

The announcement of the four-way summit comes after reports published in Khartoum and Juba on Friday speaking about a bilateral summit between the presidents Bashir and Kiir over bilateral relations.

Kuwait’s official news agency KUNA said that preparations for the African-Arab Summit held for the first time outside Africa are going smoothly as the Kuwaiti government has so far provided several activities on the cultural and economic spectrums and has already hosted talks at the senior-level.

Last October Bashir and Museveni in a meeting held on the sidelines of an extraordinary African union summit, discussed bilateral relations and the presence of Sudanese rebel groups in Kampala.

According to the Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti, the Ugandan president who accused Khartoum in the past of supporting LRA rebels, seemed more responsive to the strong information provided by his Sudanese counterpart.

The Ethiopian prime minister who chairs the IGAD, is also involved in the ongoing efforts to bring Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North to join the negotiating table and to discuss a peaceful settlement for the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Bashir pledges major changes in Sudan’s government

November 17, 2013, (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, has announced that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) would carry out structural changes in the government’s legislative, executive, and political bodies at federal and state levels in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

Those changes aim to enhance rotation in government positions, expand opportunities for participation, and enhance communication between generations to make use of expertise and experiences.

Bashir, who was addressing the opening session of the NCP’s Shura (consultative) council on Saturday, wished success in choosing the powerful, efficient, honest persons who respect teamwork and institutions.

There have been mounting signs of divisions within the NCP and frustration particularly within the younger generations in the party about the lack of change in the leadership. Many traditional figures in the ruling party retained their positions for more than two decades.

Despite numerous pledges by Bashir and other senior NCP officials of major overhaul, the ruling party has yet to satisfy its disgruntled members with a structural change in government and faces that could counter economic and political challenges in the country.

The NCP leader pointed that the priorities of the new government are achieving peace and security, imposing government authority, and enforcing the rule of law, saying that they are open to listen to observations and criticisms of party members as long as it stems from good intentions and for Allah (God) sake.

"Reform doesn’t come from those who seek to fragment the party in times of distress", he said alluding to a recent rift in the party led by Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani.

Bashir called upon his party members not to lose confidence in themselves in the face of failure, saying that they made significant achievements despite the great challenges.

He considered the NCP’s experience a human experience governed by Islamic values, describing it as a "luminous candle" which must be nurtured through impartiality and self-denial among party members in order to turn into a "bright sun".

Bashir urged members of the Shura council to detect the shortcomings and correct the mistakes and stressed that it is high time for ending the suffering of the people in Darfur and South Kordofan, saying that their displacement is caused by the rebel armed groups.

He addressed the rebels and those whom he described as "saboteurs" saying that dialogue is the only way for achieving political change.

The Sudanese president further warned Sudanese people particularly the youths against cultural alienation, stressing the need to stand up to satellite channels which serve as tools for cultural and moral invasion.

He pointed to some radical religious ideas which drive youths to violence and Takfeer (excommunication), saying that those ideas are alien to the Sudanese society.

Bashir directed NCP members to activate the party and turn it into a centre for intellectual and cultural radiation which disseminates enlightened thinking and constructive values.

He asserted the NCP need to make use of all means of publishing, media outlets, research centres, and publications to refute the destructive ideas, calling upon universities and research centres to play their part in facing the cultural alienation campaigns.

10 DAYS FOR REFORMISTS

In the same context, the Shura council gave the reformists leaders including the former presidential advisor Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani, Hassan Osman Rizg, and Fadlallah Ahmed Abdallah, a 10-day ultimatum to review their stances with regard to the recent memorandum they presented to president Bashir.

According to Sudan’s official news agency SUNA, the Shura council decided to apply the party’s rules and dismiss the mentioned members if they refused to back away from their positions within 10 days.

Last September, 31 NCP members presented a memo to president Bashir criticizing the government’s decision to remove subsidies on fuel and other basic commodities, saying it "harshly" impacted Sudanese citizens.

The signatories, that included former presidential adviser Al-Attabani along with several lawmakers and retired military officers, said parliament had not been consulted over the latest economic measures, which were opposed by sections of the NCP.

They also chided the government for the excessive violence used against protestors who took the streets against the subsidies cut and called for deep political and economic reforms.

They also urged Bashir to form a mechanism for national reconciliation comprised of various political forces and assign the economic dossier to a professional national economic team.

"The legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today" they said in their letter to Bashir which was seen as a direct challenge to the president who is now the country’s longest serving leader.

Bashir formed a committee headed by national assembly speaker Ibrahim Al-Tahir to query those whose names appeared in the petition that was circulated publicly.

The commission of inquiry recommended the dismissal of Al-Attabani along with two other members and suspending nine others.

Al-Attabani later declared his intention to leave the party and form a new one that would "bring new hope to Sudan".

The first split within the NCP took place in 1999 following a bitter power struggle between Bashir and Islamist leader Hassan Al-Turabi, with the latter subsequently ousted from his post as parliament speaker.

Al-Turabi later established the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime for which he orchestrated the army-backed seizure of power in 1989.

The NCP has been facing growing difficulties particularly as its coffers dried up after the oil-rich south became an independent nation in July 2011.

South Sudan’s Kiir dissolves all SPLM structures

November 15, 2013 (JUBA) – In a move that surprised many among the senior leaders of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party, South Sudan’s president and SPLM chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on Friday revealed he had dissolved all the structures of the party and declared to appoint an interim body to prepare for a national convention.

These include the highest executive organ, the Political Bureau (PB) and the National Liberation Council (NLC).

Kiir, who communicated the verbal decision while opening a new office for the party leadership, said his action was prompted by the fact that the party national convention, which was supposed to elect new leaderships since May this year had delayed; thus elapsing the lifespan of the existing structures.

He said only the office of the chairman and the secretariat will function until he reappoints a new secretariat, adding that he will instead form a special committee that will organise for formation of congresses in the various states.

Present during the occasion included the country’s new vice president and SPLM second deputy chairman, James Wani Igga and three other members of the political bureau including the acting secretary general, Ann Itto, Daniel Awet Akot and Kuol Manyang Juuk.

However, Kiir reportedly denied having dissolved the structures of the party after the publication of his statements, despite the fact that his speech was recorded by a number of media houses as well as confirmed by a number of eyewitnesses present at the occasion.

It is not yet clear whether or not the party chairman will put in writing his verbal order to dissolve the structures.

Senior members of the political bureau were not invited to the occasion included the SPLM’s first deputy chairman, Riek Machar Teny, Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech and Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, among others.

The move prompted reactions from party leaders including the former vice-president, Machar, who condemned the action, saying the party chairman had violated the constitution and party regulations.

He described the move as a conspiracy, saying Kiir "should resign from the party chairmanship if he disliked the SPLM, instead of dismantling it".

The former vice president in a statement extended to the (ST) argued that there was no provision in the current party constitution which gave the chairman the power to dissolve the structures.

He further said that in the absence of the national convention, the national liberation council should continue to operate until a convention is held.

The national convention was supposed to be held since last May, five years after the May 2008 convention. However, a delay to conduct a series of PB and NLC meetings to pass the party’s basic documents was to blame.

The party was required to pass the basic documents such as the constitution, manifesto, code of conduct and rules and regulations before it could hold the convention.

Pagan Amum had however reportedly submitted eight requests to Kiir to call for such meetings but there was no green light given.

The latest 22 October schedule per request of the acting SG, Ann Itto, also failed.

Last week the national secretariat announced that the NLC meeting would take place on 23 November next week. However, the latest decision by the chairman puts the scheduled meeting in limbo since the NLC structure is no longer recognised.

Sudan launches military operations against rebels in multiple states

November 13, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese defense minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, announced the beginning of military operations which aims to end rebellion in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

Hussein said that troops are heading towards the military operations zones, asserting that this offensive shall witness the end of rebellion.

He affirmed the completion of preparations, plans and the simultaneous mechanical movement in the various battlefronts.

“We made huge and excellent preparations and our troops are moving to end the rebellion once and for good”, Hussein said.

The country’s top military official, who testified before the parliament on Tuesday, acknowledged that performance of the armed forces in Darfur was negatively affected by the lack of capacity of the police, saying that the armed forces directed its efforts to control the tribal clashes instead of carrying out its military tasks.

He claimed that the rebel coalition known as Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) that consists of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) and several Darfur rebel groups plan to carry out assassination and kidnapping operations against government officials as well as attacking major cities.

Hussein acknowledged that wars in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile along with the tribal conflicts and armed robbery in Darfur represent a real security threat.

He said that the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Sudan Liberation Movement Abdul Wahid (SLM-AW) are currently active in Darfur states in cooperation with some tribal groups.

The defense minister added that SLM-MM is the largest rebel group in Darfur, affirming that it plays the most significant role in the lack of security and stability in the region.

He predicted that rebel groups would attack the army’s small stations in Jebel Marra besides targeting major cities, the United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) forces, and oil exploration sites.

Hussein added that the SRF forces in South Kordofan are estimated to consist of 1,000 troops and more than 130 vehicles while the SPLM-N alone has 18 battalions including approximately 8,000 troops.

He revealed that the government reached an agreement with two armed factions that are active in west and central Darfur states, pointing that this pact would enhance stability of the two states.

The Sudanese presidential assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie, had announced previously that troops are heading to Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, saying that the government troops would carry out a major military campaign to eliminate the armed rebellion.

The minister of interior, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, also said that the military campaign is carried out under the direct supervision of president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

Darfur has been a flashpoint for lawlessness and violence since rebel movements took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2003.

Since 2011 the SPLM-N have fought the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and their aligned militia the Popular Defence Forces (PDF).

The conflict began in South Kordofan State in June 2011 and in Blue Nile State in September the same year.

On a separate issue, Hussein said that a joint Sudanese and Egyptian force similar to those which were set up with other neighboring countries would be formed to fight against smuggling and human trafficking.

He pointed that borders crossings’ committees between Sudan and Egypt would convene soon to decide on the dates for opening these crossings.

The Sudanese official said that they are discussing with the Libyan side the possibility of increasing the size of the joint force between the two countries in order to fight arms smuggling, rebels, mercenaries, and bandits.

Sudanese foreign minister hails US & China stances

November 12, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti, has lambasted the United Kingdom (UK) and accused it of standing behind all negative resolutions issued by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against his country.

Karti, who was testifying before the parliament on Monday, said that UK has demonstrated hostility towards Sudan in all forums and backed all negative decisions and sanctions committees.

He stressed that the UK arranged for the UNSC resolution 1706 which sought to put Darfur under the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping forces, and also the UNSC resolution 1593 which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Karti affirmed that the Sudanese government supports the improvement of relations with London but said that Khartoum has not seen signs for rapprochement coming from the UK’s official policies, legislations or organizations.

The Sudanese top diplomat added that a state’s minister at the UK foreign ministry proclaimed himself a speaker on behalf of the ICC even if president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir visited Mecca for pilgrimage.

Bashir is sought by the ICC for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes he allegedly masterminded in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

The Sudanese official also offered a rare praise of the United States (US) and disclosed that the latter played a significant role in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recent resolution which kept Sudan under the agenda item 10 of technical assistance for another year despite attempts by some parties to move Sudan back to agenda item 4 of monitoring.

“If the US hasn’t cooperated rigorously and clearly with Sudan, we wouldn’t have been able to move from item 4 to item 10”, he said

He thanked the US for its support, saying that Sudan must acknowledge the US position on this issue irrespective of the nature of relations between the two countries.

Karti further said that human rights issues in Sudan are being used by hostile countries to put pressure on the independent expert to move Sudan to item 4; pointing that Sudan faces more difficulty in the UNHRC than in UNSC.

He said that the US role should help improving relations between Sudan and South Sudan rather than complicating the situation, pointing that the priority in the US dialogue with Sudan should be given to removing Sudan’s name from the list of the states sponsoring terrorism and lifting the economic sanctions.

Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. In 2007 it strengthened the embargo, citing abuses in Darfur which it labeled as genocide.

In 2010 however, the US announced it was easing sanctions on agriculture equipment and services which allowed half a dozen companies to obtain export licenses.

Sudan is also on the US list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1993 even though the two countries have strengthened their counterterrorism cooperation since September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.

Karti pointed that he informed the US administration that managing relations between the two countries requires a clear vision on the future prospects of relations, stressing their continued efforts to achieve a common understanding to improve and normalize relations despite the US decision to renew the economic sanctions for one more year.

Last month, the US president, Barack Obama, issued a decision to continue the application of the trade and economic sanctions for another year.

The Sudanese official disclosed that they adopted a new approach which aims to mitigate the impact of the sanctions through obtaining licenses for US companies to work in Sudan in areas of health, agriculture, education, and technology.

But the deputy speaker of the parliament, Samia Ahmed Mohamed, called for reciprocal treatment with the US, demanding the government to prevent the export of the Gum Arabic to US companies.

The foreign minister also noted that China and Russia blocked several UNSC draft resolutions which included sanctions against Sudan.

“We managed to abort several draft resolutions presented to the UNSC through a Russian or Chinese veto or a joint Russian and Chinese veto”, he added

He said that China never backed down from defending Sudan even if it wasn’t asked to do so, citing the attempt made by the US representative at the UNSC to issue a resolution condemning Sudan’s stance on Abyei which was jointly thwarted by China and Russia.

Karti responded to MPs who criticized the Chinese stances towards Sudan by saying that we mustn’t ask other countries to give us more than we provide to them, pointing that China’s investments in the US surpass $110 billion compared to $9 billion in Sudan.

“International politics isn’t based on emotions but the ability to influence stances”, he added

He denied that Sudan asked China to veto the decision to refer the Darfur issue from the UNSC to the ICC.

In a separate issue, the Sudanese official accused the media of damaging Sudan’s relations with Egypt and revealed Cairo’s suspicions about the size of the proposed border crossing between the two countries, saying that a technical committee is investigating those concerns.

He said that if the committee convened, there would be an opportunity to open the border crossing, stressing that if the Sudanese government wants Egyptians not to write on newspapers and express their views on Sudan’s affairs, it should also ban Sudanese from writing on Egypt’s affairs.

The deputy speaker of the parliament, Samia Ahmed Mohamed, for her part launched a fierce attack on Egypt for hosting the opposition leaders and allowing them to distort Sudan’s image through media outlets and newspapers.

She demanded the Sudanese government to take firm actions towards Egypt, stressing that the only era Egypt refrained from hosting Sudan’s opposition was during the rule of the former president Mohamed Morsi.

The foreign minister pointed that relations with Juba is still facing challenges and risks emanating from unnamed elements within the South Sudan government as well as external elements which don’t want the two countries to live in peace.

In a separate context, Karti acknowledged lack of coordination with other ministries and government bodies on their external activities, saying that external activities of other ministries are not governed by the foreign ministry.

Leader of NCP reformists warns his peers against "personal appeasement" attempts

November 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the reformists group which recently split from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani, has warned against attempts to appeal to some of the reformists through personal appeasement.

Al-Attabani, who was also the former NCP majority leader, asserted in is Facebook page on Sunday that the government must courageously face the problems which it has created by offering a political initiative to tackle those problems including the wars in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, the economic crisis and the foreign policy.

He added that the initiative must further include reform of the state institutions such as the parliament, fighting corruption, reviewing federal system, slashing government spending, reviewing laws restricting freedoms and arriving at a national consensus on conducting free and fair elections.

“Any move which ignores those issues and resorts to the famous approach of appealing to individuals through personal appeasements would only exacerbate the crisis”, the formal presidential adviser said.

The Islamic Movement (IM) which is considered the ideological arm of the NCP, has reportedly formed a quintet committee earlier this month headed by the IM secretary general, Al-Zubair Ahmed Al-Hassan, mandating it to negotiate with the reformist group to return to the NCP.

The reformist leader pointed that their differences with the NCP revolved around issues of principle including the recent economic measures and the killing of innocent civilians.

Last September, one of the deadliest wave of protests in Sudan’s history erupted against the government decision to cut fuel subsidies and hike prices of gasoline and diesel

Authorities said that 84 people were killed in the demonstrations but opposition, human rights organizations, and activists put the death toll at more than 200.

Al-Attabani further added that their differences with the NCP were not on “personal issues”, saying that any attempt to resolve them on this basis is doomed to fail.

Meanwhile, the NCP spokesperson, Yasser Youssef, stressed in statements on Sunday that reform efforts within his party are continuing, adding that there is no “ready recipe” which could be applied in order to arrive at the desired reform.

Last month, an NCP commission of inquiry established by Sudan’s president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is also the president of the NCP recommended the dismissal of Al-Attabani along with two other members and suspending nine others.

The punished members were among a larger group that included more than 30 NCP figures which signed on an open petition to president Bashir last September following the government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies.

The signatories including lawmakers and retired army officers called for reinstating the subsidies due to its "harsh" impact on ordinary Sudanese and demanded that the government prosecute those behind the use excessive violence against protestors.

They also urged Bashir to form a mechanism for national reconciliation comprised of various political forces and assign the economic dossier to a professional national economic team.

"The legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today" they said in their letter to Bashir which was seen as a direct challenge to the president who is now the country’s longest serving leader.

Al-Attabani declared his intention to leave the party and form a new one that would "bring new hope to Sudan".

The first split within the NCP took place in 1999 following a bitter power struggle between Bashir and Islamist leader Hassan Al-Turabi, with the latter subsequently ousted from his post as parliament speaker.

Al-Turabi later established the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime for which he orchestrated the army-backed seizure of power in 1989.

The NCP has been facing growing difficulties particularly as its coffers dried up after the oil-rich south became an independent nation in July 2011.

Last November the Sudanese government said that it uncovered a "sabotage" attempt that was later upgraded and labeled as a coup. Authorities arrested dozens of suspects in the army and security apparatus including ex-spy chief Salah Gosh and Brigadier General Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil who served in Bashir’s security detail at one point.

More Posts Next page »