March 2014 - Posts
March 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir held a meeting with the notorious tribal leader Musa Hilal to discuss his dispute with the North Darfur governor, Osman Kibir, in the Chadian border town of Um Jaras on Sunday.
Musa Hilal (L) talks to Hassan Al-Turabi
Hilal who was one of the main militia leaders that participated in the counterinsurgency campaign during the first years of Darfur crisis, turned recently his militiamen against le governor Kibir and accused him of feeding tribal conflicts in the state.
Kibir is accused of using his government position to reinforce his tribe, the Tama, and consolidate his personal influence in Darfur.
The leader of the Mahadeed, a clan of Rizaigat tribe, recently refused calls by Sudanese officials to meet with vice-president Hasabo Abdel-Rahman to discuss a solution for his disagreement with Kibir.
Different sources said that president Idris Deby who is Hilal’s son-in-law proposed earlier this month during a visit to Port Sudan to organise a meeting between Bashir and the adviser for the ministry of federal government.
During a meeting held on the margins of Um Jaras forum, Hilal expressed "his extreme dissatisfaction" from the North Darfur governor and insisted on the need to dismiss him by a presidential decree in order to end tribal fighting in the state, a source close to the meeting told.
The tribal leader stressed that such a decision would pave the way for security and peace in the state of North Darfur.
Al-Bashir "vowed to consider all that could restore security in Darfur", the source further said, adding that he expects "concrete results" during the coming days without elaborating.
The tribal leader also met with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), but nothing filtered from the meeting.
However, Turabi called in his speech before the forum for reconciliation between Darfurians saying that peace in the western Sudan region would allow to enhance relations with the neighbouring Chad and regional stability.
Turabi and Sadiq Al-Mahdi, chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP) were invited by the Chadian president to take part in the gathering of Darfur tribal leaders. However Mahdi was represented by his deputy Burma Nasir.
Nasir in his remarks welcomed the participation of Hilal in the meeting and called to end tribal clashes. He also urged the rebel groups to seek a negotiated settlement for the conflict to achieve a lasting peace in the region.
March 29, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will travel to Sudan on Wednesday in a one-day visit, it was announced here today.
The Sudanese ambassador in Doha Yasser Youssef told state media (SUNA) that al-Thani will be accompanied by a high level delegation which will hold talks with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.
He hailed the strong ties between the two countries specially in the fields of agriculture, mining, antiquities besides the coordination in most of international issues.
This would be the Emir’s first visit to Sudan since he assumed power last year after his father voluntarily relinquished power to him.
The trip comes amid diplomatic fallout between Qatar and other Gulf states including UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain after they accused Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.
The three Gulf states are believed to be angry at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement whose ideology challenges the principle of conservative dynastic rule long dominant in the Gulf.
A source close to Qatar’s government told Reuters this month the dispute had more to do with issues in the wider Middle East such as the crises in Egypt and Syria, than about matters affecting fellow Gulf states.
The Sudanese presidency this week said that the trip was pre-planned and not linked to the dispute between Qatar and other Gulf states.
Qatar is one of the main political and economic backers of Sudan’s Islamist government and has hosted Darfur peace talks which resulted in a peace accord signed in 2011 known as the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) between Khartoum and Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) headed by Tijani el-Sissi.
On Thursday, the US special envoy to Sudans Donald Booth met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud for discussions on Darfur.
Qatar news agency (QNA) said the two sides reviewed the latest developments of the Darfur peace process and efforts to include in it the non-signatory parties to the DDPD in order to join the document-based peace process and participate in the national dialogue.
The pact’s effectiveness have recently come scrutiny in lights of growing insecurity in Darfur.
El-Sissi, who is now the head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), warned against the rapidly deteriorating security situation in North and South Darfur states and criticized government for failing to restore security in the region, which has witnessed rebellion since 2003.
The Darfuri figure said that the insecurity in North and South Darfur hampers the implementation of development projects. "What happens there will not be a catalyst to start in any reconstruction effort in those areas," he added.
He urged the federal government to take the necessary measures to contain the attacks carried by the rebel groups emphasizing that the continuation of the current situation without decisive riposte or (political) solution will negatively impact the DDPD, peace in Darfur and the country in general.
This month the US ambassador at the UN Samantha Power, who addressed an African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) meeting reportedly called on council members to find an alternative forum to resolve the Darfur crisis, saying the DDPD has become outdated and cannot be relied on.
Sudan slammed Power’s remarks saying that Washington announced its support for the DDPD only after it became isolated following the large support which was offered by African nations, Arab world, Islamic world, and the United Nations, saying that support yielded approval of the DDPD by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and a call for non-signatories to immediately and unconditionally join it.
March 28, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – Sudan was among 11 countries at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that voted against a resolution declaring a referendum held this month in Crimea on the region splitting from Ukraine as invalid.
- United Nations headquarters on 27 March
Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Armenia, Belarus and Bolivia also voted against the non-binding vote. There were also 58 abstentions in the 193-nation UN body.
Following the vote, Moscow formally annexed Ukraine’s southern region after the results showed an overwhleming majority in favor of joining Russia.
The move drew strong condemnation specially from the US and European countries some of which moved to impose unilateral sanctions.
A Washington Post factbox states that about 2 million people live in Crimea of which around 60% see themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian.
The referendum in Crimea is somewhat similar to the one held in October 2013 in the disputed region of Abyei that lies between Sudan and South Sudan.
The outcome of the three day unilateral vote organized by Ngok Dinka pro-south tribe showed a near unanimous desire in favor of Abyei joining South Sudan.
Initially Juba appeared supportive of the referendum by giving Abyei residents time off to vote, but later distanced itself from it. There was also no international support for it from the start and was swiftly rejected by Khartoum.
Abyei was scheduled to hold a referendum with that of South Sudan in January 2011 but was suspended because of disagreements between the two countries over who was eligible to participate in the vote.
In a bid to resolve the impasse, the African Union mediation team proposed in 2012 holding a referendum in Abyei in October 2013, stipulating that only the Ngok Dinka permanently residing in the area would be allowed to take part in the plebiscite.
However, Sudan swiftly rejected the proposal, saying it ignored the eligibility of the nomadic Arab Misseriya tribesmen and argued that local government institutions must be established first before any vote can take place.
Just as Moscow insists that Crimea has historically been part of Russia, Khartoum has the same conviction on Abyei.
March 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of finance Badr al-Deen Mahmoud announced the exemption of businessmen and investors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the need to obtain entry visa and said they will be allowed to settle in the country for extended periods of time.
He said during a meeting with senior officials of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday that the move was intended to facilitate the work of UAE businessmen and contribute to the success of their projects and supporting them to ensure the continued progress of their projects.
Mahmoud briefed the delegation on the facilities and services offered by his country for investors and called on them to boost their investments especially in the fields of agriculture, mining and infrastructure.
He pointed out that the investment law in Sudan offers tariff exemptions for equipment imports and that lands for the establishment of projects are sold for a nominal fee.
The Sudanese minister praised the role played by the UAE companies in the process of economic development in the country through the establishment of projects and strengthening infrastructure.
The 1st VP of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khalfan Saeed al-Kaabi expressed the interest of UAE companies to promote investments in Sudan.
He said that the UAE’s economic relations with Sudan have greatly improved and that Sudan now occupies an advanced rank in the list of major Arab trading partners of the UAE.
Al-Kaabi also noted that the two countries have signed a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding that contribute to the strengthening of economic relations, including the Convention on the establishment of a free trade zone and an agreement to avoid double taxation on income and a memorandum of understanding on investment promotion and protection.
He went on to say that Sudan has always been the favorite investment choice for UAE companies due their faith in the opportunities available in this market noting that there are 11 major UAE corporations and institutions in the Sudanese market including National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), al-Etihad Cement Company, Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, Rotana Hotels and Dubai Investments in addition to the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development
The two sides also discussed the organization of a joint UAE-Sudanese Forum to familiarize UAE businessmen on investment opportunities and facilities offered by the government.
March 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and south Sudan have agreed to speed up the implementation of security arrangements and to determine the line zero related to the establishment of a buffer zone between the two countries, a Sudanese official said on Saturday .
- South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang at Khartoum airport
The joint security committee rapporteur, Al-Moiz Farouq, told official news agency SUNA that the recent visit to Khartoum by the South Sudanese defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, aimed to operationalise the security mechanisms agreed by the two countries since 27 September 2012.
According to Farouq, the mechanisms agreed include the identification of line zero, and the determination of safe demilitarised border zone, with the two parties also committing to reactivate of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) and the joint security committee.
Juba decided to suspend JBVMM operations on 22 November 2013 and to withdraw its monitors until the resolution of the dispute over the buffer zone centreline.
“During a joint planning workshop held in Juba from 13 to 15 November 2013, the Government of South Sudan expressed concerns regarding the link between border crossing corridors and the determination of the border zone centreline coordinates, which in its view implied that the centreline would be considered as the border between the two countries,” said a report by UN chief UN Ban Ki-Moon to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 25 February.
The report disclosed that on 28 January Sudan deployed 34 monitors, while South Sudan deployed 33 monitors with 25 from UNISFA to the JBVMM in Kadugli. Two monitors from South Sudan and two from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) were also deployed in Gok Machar in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
The deployment took place in line with an agreement reached by the joint security committee in a meeting held in Khartoum from 26-27 November 2013
The Sudanese rapporteur said the two ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to implement a deal signed on 20 June 2011, aiming to establish a temporary administration, a legislative council and a joint force in the Abyei region.
Farouq said the meeting was convened to prevent any military presence in the disputed area, as per a statement from the UNSC on 17 March, which demanded both countries withdraw their troops and ensure Abyei remains a weapons free area.
According to Ban’s report to the UNSC, more than 600 South Sudanese soldiers and policemen remain in Abyei, while Sudan maintains a force of over 100 oil police at the Difra oilfields.
During his two-day visit to Khartoum Juuk met with Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and handed him a letter from his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, over the implementation of security arrangements agreed as part of the deal, which also includes demands to end support to rebel groups and prevent cross-border attacks.
March 19, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudanese defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk left for the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Tuesday with what he described as a "special message" from President Salva Kiir to his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Al-Bashir.
- South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang at Khartoum airport
Speaking to reporters at Juba airport before his departure, Juuk said he would hold talks with Sudanese officials, including the president and defence minister, Abdel-Rehim Mohamed Hussein mainly focusing on security issues and rebel presence along the two country’s borders.
"I am carrying with me special message from our president Salva Kiir Mayardit to his brother, president Omer Al-Bashir. My visit will focus on two issues: the border demarcation between the two countries and the presence of the rebels along the border areas," said Juuk.
"This is very important because rebels loyal to Riek Machar and Taban Deng Gai expect support from some neighbouring countries. We want to tell the Sudanese authorities not to help them,” he added.
The South Sudanese defence minister, however, downplayed possibilities of Sudan supporting the rebels, asserting that stability serves the interests of both countries.
Juuk was welcomed at Khartoum Airport by the Sudanese state minister for defence, Yahya Mohamed Khair, who told reporters that the visit comes in the framework of continued consultations towards the development of bilateral relations, hoping that South Sudan regains peace and stability.
The visit comes in the wake of continuous reports in the Sudanese press alleging the participation of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels in the fight against South Sudan rebels.
Last Tuesday, different Sudanese dailies reported that JEM recruits Sudanese from North and South Kordofan to fight in its ranks against the SPLM-In-Opposition in coordination with the South Sudanese authorities adding that the leader of the Sudanese rebel group, Gibril Ibrahim, closely works with military officials in the new nation.
Both the Juba government and the Darfur rebel group denied such accusations, which were also circulated by the South Sudanese rebels.
Violence erupted in the South Sudanese capital, Juba in mid-December last year killing at least 10,000 and displacing nearly a million. President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of instigating the violence, which the latter blatantly dismissed.
Before the start of the South Sudanese conflict, Juba and Khartoum agreed to normalise relations and to implement a cooperation agreement signed in 24 September 2012. The two countries have, however, failed to deploy a joint force to monitor the border because of their difference over the baseline for the demilitarized security zone called zero line.
President Bashir has maintained support for his South Sudanese counterpart since his visit to Juba on 6 January. However, the two countries denied they agreed on signing a security agreement to deploy a joint forces to protect South Sudan’s oil fields.
March 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the Egyptian border guard Major General Ahmed Ibrahim arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Monday in a visit lasting several days for discussions on the deployment of joint forces to the borders between the two countries.
The spokesman of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Colonel Khaled Saad al-Sawarmi said a joint committee comprised of the two sides was formed and began its work on Monday by holding its first formal meeting.
Al-Sawarmi said the results of the meetings will be disclosed at a later date .
The Sudanese Defense minister Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein said last month following a visit to Cairo where he met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, that the goal of deploying joint border units is to prevent smuggling and human trafficking.
The Egyptian-Sudanese border is known to be a smuggling hotspot, and was also recently highlighted in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as a human trafficking route.
Observers say that the inauguration of border crossings and setting up the joint force is held up by disagreements over the Halayeb region which both countries claim.
The Egyptian army seized control of the contested region, an area of land measuring 20,580 square km in the border areas of the Red Sea coast, after relations between the two neighbors plummeted due to the 1995’s failed attempt by Islamists allegedly backed by Sudan to assassinate the then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
The genesis of the disputes over Halayeb dates back to as early as 1958 after Sudan gained independence from being ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt. The wrangle is a result of a discrepancy in the demarcation of political boundaries set by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the ones set earlier by the British in 1902.
Cairo has routinely dismissed Khartoum’s demands that the issue be resolved through international arbitration.
Since the 1989 coup that brought president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to power, Sudanese officials have avoided raising the issue in public for fears of angering their Egyptian counterparts and to avoid alienating a key regional player.
In a related issue, the Sudanese minister of Transport Ahmed Babiker Nahar announced that all border crossings with Egypt will soon be opened to allow for the flow of traffic and trade facilitation.
Nahar who participated in the 18th session of the International Conference for Road Transport and Logistics in Cairo said he discussed with Egyptian officials all transport link issues between the two countries and agreed to remove all obstacles.
The two sides underscored the importance of developing and strengthening relations between the two peoples through trade and providing river and ground transportation.
March 17, 2014 (KAMPALA) – Uganda is ready to withdraw its troops from neighbouring South Sudan once the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) deploys the proposed regional stabilisation force in the troubled nation, its chief of defense forces said.
- General Katumba Wamala, of the UPDF, shakes hands with a soldier
Gen. Katumba Wamala, however, said the move will depend on how soon the Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF), which will comprise of forces from the IGAD member countries, comes into effect.
"The time frame will depend on how soon the forces which have been tasked land on the ground. I can’t put on dates, weeks. It will depend on how fast we get those troops on the ground,” the army reportedly said.
"What we shouldn’t do and will be regrettable, if we created a vacuum. If we leave without the boots on the ground, it will create a vacuum, that vacuum is very unwelcome," he added.
Uganda deployed a contingent of its army in South Sudan days after violence broke out in the capital, Juba between members of the presidential guard. The conflict later spread to other parts of the country, with three of its 10 states badly affected.
But East African regional heads of states meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa last week authorised the prompt deployment of a Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF) from the region to help restore peace and stability in South Sudan.
The proposed force, according to a communiqué issued during IGAD’s 25th extraordinary session, would operate with a clear mandate and operational guidelines as part of the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism in the new nation.
The summit, however, called upon the United Nations Security Council and the African Union to provide all the necessary support, calling on the parties to ensure the progressive withdrawal of all armed groups and all allied forces invited by either side from the theatre of operations as per the ceasefire agreement, in accordance with its 31 January communiqué.
Meanwhile, South Sudan has unconditionally accepted deployment of the regional force, despite protest and rejection by the rebel group which has been fighting government for almost three months since a split in ruling party (SPLM) and army (SPLA) plunged the young nation into the mid-December conflict.
"The summit had agreed to do two important things. One is the emphasis on the commitment of the parties to the resolve the conflict through peaceful dialogue, which the government of the republic of South Sudan had already accepted as a principle and formed negotiating team," said Nhial Deng Nhial, South Sudan’s lead negotiator at the Addis Ababa talks.
"We don’t think anyone can object to the regional initiative," he added.
The leader of the SPLM/A-in-Opposition, Riek Machar on Friday condemned the proposed deployments of such forces, warning that it will widen and regionalise the current conflict.
"We reject it and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is an attempt to regionalize the internal conflict," Machar told (ST) by phone from one of his bases in the oil-producing Upper Nile state.
The rebel leader described IGAD’s decision as "unfortunate" as it interfered in the "internal conflict" between factions of South Sudan’s ruling party and the army.
The rebels had already objected to Uganda’s decision to deploy troops in South Sudan to fight alongside the latter’s army (SPLA) against Machar’s rebels; a loose coalition of armed civilians mobilised mainly on the basis of ethnic affiliations and defectors from the army.
Despite beginning as an internal political argument between rival factions within the ruling SPLM, which was not divided along tribal lines, the conflict has killed around 10,000 people many of whom were targeted because of their ethnic identity.
Last month, the United States called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops involved in the South Sudanese conflict, saying their presence contravenes provisions of a ceasefire agreement its warring parties signed in Addis Ababa on 13 January.
Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia had previously opposed to the presence of Ugandan troops in the new nation with the latter saying their presence threatens regional peace and stability.
March 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir met on Friday evening with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) for the first time since the political falling out between the two men in 1999 which led to the split of the ruling party.
- Al-Bashir shakes hands with Al-Turabi
Bashir and the godfather of his regime during the first ten years agreed to accelerate the preparation for the holding of the national dialogue with the participation of all the political and social components of the country.
The meeting which took place with the presence of the former vice-president Ali Osman Taha and former presidential aide Nafei Ali Nafei discussed the presidential initiative of 27 January aiming to hold a national conference in the country to discuss constitutional reforms and ways to end armed conflict in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Speaking to the press following the meeting, the National Congress Party (NCP) political secretary Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters that the meeting comes within the framework of the consultations conducted by Bashir with the Sudanese political forces to activate the National Dialogue Initiative, launched last January.
"The meeting reaffirmed the need to begin the dialogue as soon as possible. It was also agreed to not exclude any political force from this dialogue", Ismail said.
Also the two delegations "reiterated that the dialogue should be owned by the political forces that will participate in it. Therefore they (participants) will determine its roof, they will determine its topics, they will determine its timetable and mechanisms", he further stressed.
President Bashir met on 12 February with the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq Al-Mahdi to discuss the presidential initiative and ways to organise the national dialogue process.
The president is expected to meet the leaders of the other political forces or at least those who accepted his initiative.
On 27 January Bashir, announced a plan to stop the war and bring peace, to reestablish political freedoms, fight against poverty and revitalize national identity. He called for political forces to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items.
The presidential speech which was broadcasted on the national radio and television stations, was attended by Al-Mahdi , Al-Turabi, Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Attabani leader of the Reform Now Party (RNP). The Democratic Unionist Party of Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani participates already in the current government.
PCP leading member, Bashir Adam Rahamah who was among the delegation that accompanied Turabi to the meeting, confirmed that the two Islamist parties discussed the mechanism of dialogue which should be defined in a joint meeting. He added that all the political forces, rebel groups, civil society groups can take part in this national forum.
He said they, as opponents, attended the presidential speech last January and met with the president on Friday because of the PCP "reading of regional and international situation and the dangers the country is facing".
Rahamah said the solution of Sudan’s problems is only possible through dialogue, adding that the failure of this dialogue would be a crime against Sudan and its future generations.
He further stressed they believe that Sudan’s problems should be resolved without any intervention from any third party.
Al-Mahdi also said they want the national dialogue be an inter-Sudanese process without foreign inference.
March 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese court on Thursday sentenced the chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army - North (SPLM-N) Malik Agar and its Secretary General Yasser Arman and others to death by hanging in absentia for their involvement in events that occurred during the conflict that broke out in the Blue Nile state in 2011.
- Arman & Agar during a news conference July 3, 2011
Al-Tijani Hassan, lawyer for the defendants, who attended the court hearing in the capital town of Sennar state of Singa told Agence France Presse (AFP) that a total of 17 people were handed the death penalty in today’s session.
Only 86 defendants appeared before the court while the trial has (23) was conducted in absentia .
The prosecutors had deposited their final arguments with the Special Criminal Court in Singa headed by Judge Abdel-Moneim Younis.
Younis pointed out that the defendants led by Agar and Arman face the death penalty or life imprisonment and confiscation of property according to the charges brought against them under criminal law, terrorism law as well as weapons and ammunition law.
The counts include terrorist crimes; crimes against the state; participation, aiding and abetting of crimes; crimes against humanity; the use of arms .
"It is a drama, baseless drama," SPLM-N spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told AFP after the verdict. "Nobody will recognize this."
Battles between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLM-N forces in Blue Nile erupted in September 2011 with each side accusing the other of starting the fighting.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir immediately declared a state of emergency in the state which allowed him to sack the then state’s governor Malik Agar and later shut down SPLM-N’s offices in the country.
Last month the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) suspended first round of talks since 2013 on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states between Khartoum and SPLM-N and referred the matter to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).
The AUPSC asked AUHIP to reach an agreement by the end of April.
The SPLM-N proposed a draft framework providing to negotiate a new humanitarian deal and to extend it to the rebel held areas in Darfur.
The rebel group also renewed its demand for an inclusive and comprehensive based on the 18 June framework agreement and demanded that Khartoum immediately lift the ban on its activities and associate it in the preparation of a national conference to discuss the different conflicts in Sudan and constitutional reforms.
March 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – One student was killed and several others injured when Sudanese authorities used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse a demonstration which took place at the University of Khartoum on Tuesday.
- students run during a demonstration
The protest was organised by students from Darfur following a public rally denouncing the deteriorating security situation in the region.
Reliable sources told that Ali Abakr Moussa Idris, a third-year economics student, died in hospital of gunshot wounds sustained during the demonstration.
The University of Khartoum, Sudan’s oldest and probably best-performing academic institution, has a long history of youth activism, with authorities previously conducting raids and crackdowns at the campus
It issued a decision following the latest incident suspending classes until further notice.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Amnesty International condemned the “use of excessive and unlawful force” against protesters.
“Credible accounts by eyewitnesses at the University of Khartoum protest point to police and Sudanese intelligence (NISS) officers using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force,” said Netsanet Belay, AI’s Africa director of research and advocacy.
It has demanded an immediate investigation into the events at the University of Khartoum to ensure that those responsible for the killing and other unlawful use of force are accountable, saying international standards are clear that firearms must not be used for dispersing protesters.
Sudanese police have denied using live ammunition to disperse the students and have instead held the armed rebel groups responsible for the incident.
In a statement on Tuesday, police said only used tear gas to disperse students and force them to retreat to the campus, adding that officers had followed all necessary legal procedures, and that police would exert all efforts to uncover the circumstances of the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Conflict has been raging in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting the government forces of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, since 2003.
The protest comes as UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern about the escalation of violence and its impact on civilians, calling for an immediate halt to hostilities.
According to Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA), a security source at Khartoum state’s security coordination committee said students belonging to armed rebel groups are banned from engaging in political activities related to conflicts in military operation zones
The same source warned that security forces would firmly and forcefully investigate the activities of students belonging to armed groups, saying political activities are only allowed inside the headquarters of political parties, and any outside activities require the prior approval of concerned authorities.
STUDENTS PETITION PARLIAMENT
Several students from North Darfur state have delivered a memo, calling on parliament to intervene to end the war in the state, particularly in Saraf Omra area.
The students held banners in front of the parliament building, which was cordoned by riot police, denouncing the war in Darfur and the conflict between the governor of North Darfur state, Osman Youssef Kibir, and tribal leader Musa Hilal.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Gibril Adam Bilal, said the incident is a continuation of the crimes committed by the regime in Sudan’s peripheries, holding government authorities responsible for killing, injuring, and arresting student protestors.
Bilal said the crimes underscore that the president’s proposal for national dialogue is worthless, saying it is inconceivable that anybody could respond to such an initiative while the regime continues to commit serious human rights abuses against the Sudanese people.
Bilal further demanded all political forces and Sudanese people to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime’s policies, calling upon the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to release the detained students and stop targeting Darfuri students inside the university campus.
Last Thursday, the head of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Tijani El-Sissi, warned against the rapidly deteriorating security situation in South and North Darfur states, criticising the government for failing to restore security in the troubled region.
March 11, 2014 (JUBA) - A court hearing for four political detainees accused of treason by the South Sudan government in connection to an alleged coup plot to depose president Salva Kiir got under way in the capital, Juba, on Tuesday.
The hearing started at 10:00am (local time) following repeated adjournments and delays, allegedly to allow investigators assemble more evidence.
Pagan Amum, former secretary-general of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Majak D’ Agoot, former deputy defence minister, Oyai Deng Ajak, former national security minister in the office of the president and Ambassador Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lol, appeared before a panel of judges.
Charges read out related to evidence of their role in the alleged failed coup attempt in mid-December, which sparked violence across the country, and their participation in a 6 December press conference, in which they criticised Kiir’s leadership as being marked by corruption and tribal divisions.
Telephone records were also presented allegedly showing individual discussions on strategies to depose president Kiir from power.
Other evidence tendered to the court includes documents seized after the arrest of some of the officials.
Government witnesses brought to testify include interior minister Aleu Ayieny Aleu, as well as the director generals for internal and external security, Akol Koor Kuc and Thomas Duoth respectively. Major General Mac Paul from military intelligence was one of the witnesses testifying on behalf of the government.
Seven other political detainees were released in January and immediately left South Sudan for Kenya. The remaining four detainees have since remained in custody despite mounting international pressure for their release.
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed and almost one million displaced since violence erupted between forces loyal to the Kiir-led government and rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
More details to follow.
March 6, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A senior official at Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs said his country had nothing to do with an arms shipment that Israel claimed to have seized in the Red Sea off the Sudanese coast.
- Panamanian cargo ship
The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied the Sudanese government had any knowledge of the matter, accusing Israel of spreading “lies” in order to pre-empt action it secretly plans to carry out.
Israel said on Wednesday that it had seized a vessel carrying advanced Iranian weapons made in Syria that was heading towards Gaza.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the Panamanian-flagged vessel was boarded by Israeli naval commandos in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan.
IDF spokesperson Afikhai Adrei said a military operation personally overseen by army chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz had tracked the weapons for several months as they were flown from Damascus to Tehran before being taken to a port in southern Iran, where the weapons were loaded.
He said M-302 surface-to-surface missiles were later found aboard the ship, which had sailed out of Iran’s Bandar Abas sea port through Iraq and was heading to Port Sudan before being intercepted by an Israeli special unit of navy commandos in the regional waters between Sudan and Eritrea.
Adrei added that the vessel was being towed to the Israeli port of Eilat, a journey which would take several days, where the 17-member crew will be questioned and the weapons unloaded.
The United States also announced that the interception of this ship was a product of joint cooperation between Washington and Tel Aviv.
“Throughout this time our intelligence and military activities were closely coordinated with our Israeli counterparts, who ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting this shipment of illicit arms,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday.
“We will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilising activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies,” he added.
It is widely believed that Israel carried out at least two airstrikes in eastern Sudan in 2009 and 2011 against targets involved in arms smuggling.
In October 2012, Sudan accused Israel of being behind air strikes that targeted the Al-Yarmouk arms factory in Khartoum.
March 02, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, has renewed call for establishing a national council for peace to administer dialogue with the rebel groups.
While the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi expressed readiness to convince rebel groups to engage in the comprehensive national dialogue.
Al-Mahdi told reporters following his meeting with the joint special envoy to Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on Thursday that success of the national dialogue is contingent upon comprehensive discussion of all national issues, pointing to the importance of recognising the armed rebel groups and engaging them in the national dialogue in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Chambas for his part shared Al-Mahdi’s vision with the regard to the participation of the rebel groups in the national dialogue, saying there is a good opportunity for achieving peace particularly with all political components agreeing to take part in the national dialogue.
Late last January, president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced a four-point plan for reform "to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalize national identity". He further called for political forces to engage in dialogue to agree on the implementation items though he did not specify practical steps to do so.
Meanwhile, the PCP secretary general, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam, said his party agreed to engage in an unconditional dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in order to reach national accommodation which enhances opportunities for ending civil wars and achieving peace.
Abdel-Salam, who spoke in a seminar organised by the pro-government Sudan Media Center (SMC) and attended by several political leaders on Wednesday, renewed his party’s demands for forming a transitional government and delaying the 2015 elections in order to allow all political forces take part in drafting the new constitution and freely participate in the elections.
The PCP official further dismissed existence of a hidden relationship between his party and the NCP, denying they were subjected to pressures from the United States and Qatar in order to accept dialogue with the ruling party.
"We entered the dialogue holding a white card and we are ready to convince the political forces even the armed groups to engage in the national dialogue," he added
The PCP split from the NCP following 1999’s bitter power struggle between Bashir and Turabi, with the latter was ousted from his post as parliamentary speaker and the chairmanship of the ruling party alike.
Turabi later established the PCP and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime whose army-backed seizure of power in 1989 he orchestrated.
He didn’t rule out the possibility of reuniting the Islamic Movement (IM), saying Islamist should organize themselves in order to face campaigns which seek to distort the image of Islam.
Abdel-Salam also said "if we want to draft a genuine national constitution, we have to end the ongoing fighting in various parts of the country and engage arms bearers in its making".
He warned against exploiting state’s resources by any political party, calling for the neutrality of the regular forces including the army, police, and security forces.
Abdel-Salam also affirmed the need for strengthening Sudanese identity and national loyalty besides building trust among all components of the society.
The NUP and the PCP are the only opposition parties who so far announced their acceptance to Bashir’s call for national dialogue.
Sudan’s opposition parties refuses NCP call for dialogue and instead propose forming a transitional government and holding a national conference with the participation of rebel groups to discuss a peaceful solution for the conflicts in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.
The interim government, in accordance with the opposition platform, would organise general elections once a political agreement on constitutional matters is reached, inaugurating a new democratic regime. But the NCP rejects this proposal saying opposition parties must simply prepare for the 2015 elections and that rebels should sign first peace accords.