June 2014 - Posts
June 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A leading figure from Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has claimed that an electoral bill expected to be approved by the national assembly on Monday is flawed.
Press reports in Khartoum on Sunday quoted MP Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin as saying that the draft bill designed to introduce amendments to the country’s electoral law “contained several errors”.
Al-Amin noted that the law did not stipulate who would fill the position of the governor if the latter resigned, underscoring the need to introduce a new article in the law which authorises the president of the republic to appoint acting governor.
He also pointed that the draft bill contained articles relating to South Sudan although they were annulled by the constitution in addition to inconsistencies in the number of MPs which is determined at 426, saying it is not divisible and does not produce correct numbers when determining parliamentary quotas particularly the 30% which was allocated for women.
The NCP official further said that the electoral law did not take into consideration the increase in population.
The parliament on Monday is scheduled to hold a session to deliberate on the draft bill which would introduce amendments to the country’s 2008 electoral law. Major opposition parties have rejected an invitation to attend this session.
Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromises to end the civil war and allow public liberties.
In a speech before the members of the Shura (consultative) Council of the NCP on Thursday, president Omer Hassan al-Bashir underscored that next year’s elections will be held as scheduled without delay.
Many observers and opposition figures assert that NCP insistence on holding the election as planned will all but kill the national dialogue process called for by Bashir earlier this year.
ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON TIME
Meanwhile, the governor of Khartoum state and chairman of the NCP in the state, Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir, announced the formation of a committee to review the NCP election program, reiterating that elections will be held in 2015 as scheduled.
Al-Khidir, who addressed the NCP conference in East Nile locality, said they are serious about holding elections on time, underscoring that elections is the only means for achieving power.
He said the government would not allow the opposition to cross the “red line” and exploit the current atmosphere of openness to destabilise the country.
The governor urged political parties to be ready for the elections and highlighted the expansion of the NCP base in Khartoum state, saying that 70% of the party members participated in the grassroot conferences.
June 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – North Darfur governor Osman Youssef Kibir announced Saturday the death of the leader of Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice (SLMJ), Ali Karbino, following clashes with the government forces in the state.
Kibir said Karbino was killed with 12 other rebels on Friday, after he launched an attack on Alquba area north of Kutum. He stressed the Sudanese army repulsed the attack and seized 31 armed vehicles.
The governor pointed, in a statement released on Saturday that several SLMJ fighters were held captive.
A reporter in El-Fasher obtained pictures showing Karbino’s body since the midday but the state governor and the Sudanese army confirmed the death only in the evening.
Sources say Arab pastoralists from the area and elements of the Border Guards militia affiliated to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attacked the SLMJ fighters on Friday following the alleged looting of camels belonging to the herders.
10 nomads were killed and several others wounded.
In statements to Ashorooq TV, the commander of the Sudanese army force in Alquba, colonel Alnour Ahmed Adam, confirmed the death of Karbino and showed 30 vehicles and weapons captured from the rebels.
Adam also said they captured 15 rebels, adding that his force was monitoring the movements of the rebels and managed to attack them Friday in Alquba.
Karbino joined Minni Minnawi following the historical split of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in November 2005. However following the signing of May 2006 Darfur peace agreement, he joined a rebel coalition led by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
In 2011, the late rebel commander, joint the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) of Tijani al-Sissi. However he defected following the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in July 2011.
Last March and April, his group carried out joint military attacks with SLM-Minni Minnawi in South and North Darfur.
SAF spokesperson, al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad, on Thursday announced that SAF clashed with a group from the SLM-MM in Ed al-Zalat and al-Managim areas north east of Kutum in North Darfur state.
He said they inflicted heavy casualties in lives and equipment on the rebels and seized 22 armed vehicles, 2 rocket launchers, and 3 cannons besides small arms.
Clashes between Minnawi fighters and Sudanese army and government militia in March and April 2014 displaced over 81,000 people in South and North Darfur, according to the UN agencies.
June 26, 2014 (CAIRO)- President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi praised the hospitality and the warm welcome he received in Khartoum during his brief visit. He also complimented the “strategic depth” between Egypt and Sudan, MENA reported.
Sisi stated that the visit promoted bilateral relations in a way that would benefit both Egypt and Sudan.
“There are many fields in which we can work to serve our people,” Sisi said in a joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He added that in the near future there will be increased cooperation between both countries.
Sisi said that there are situations in the region that require coordination and cooperation between both countries. He added that this is his first official visit to Sudan and that he is waiting for Bashir to soon visit Egypt.
Sudan’s Bashir welcomed Sisi and said that his visit to Khartoum shows his belief in the importance of bilateral relations between Egypt and Sudan.
Bashir said that they discussed several matters that are significant for both countries, including the latest developments in regional issues. He emphasized that there is “absolute agreement” on the importance of cooperation to contain regional conflicts.
Anadolu news agency reported that Sisi sparked controversy among journalists when he stated that “Sudan is a part of Egypt,” right before he left. Some think that the statement has deliberate political significance, while others think it was misunderstood due to his speech being in colloquial Egyptian.
Bashir said he is proud of the visit and expected it to strengthen bilateral relations, which he described as “everlasting” Veto reported.
KHARTOUM, June 26 -- Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir on Thursday night ruled out the intension for postponing the general elections, due in March, 2015.
"We discussed this possibility in none of our meetings; we don't intend to discuss it either," he told reporters following a meeting by the Shura Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
President Al-Bashir reaffirmed the commitment of his government to provide all guarantees and create all conditions necessary for fair and transparent polls.
He also renewed commitment to the initiative, he launched in last January, for holding a national inclusive dialogue.
"The NCP call for other parties to engage in the dialogue did not stem from weakness; it rather aims to give all political parties a chance to resume their activities in a free and responsible way," he made clear.
The opposition parties call for postponing the elections, pending the conclusion of the national dialogue and breaking the current political standoff.
Meanwhile, Al-Bashir warned the political parties from conducting any contacts with the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) - an alliance of Darfurian rebel groups and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).
He condemned the SRF as a group of traitors and agents of foreign forces, and vowed to combat them relentlessly countrywide. (end)
June 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities this week ordered the closure of a women rights centre in Khartoum without any explanation, said a statement by the Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organisations (CSCSO) on Wednesday.
“On 24 June 2014 the director of Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, Ms Fahima Hashim, was presented with a decree signed and stamped by the Sudanese ministry of justice, issuing an order for the cancellation of the registration licence of the company and its immediate liquidation,” said the statement
The justice ministry also appointed a five-person committee to oversee the Salmmah centre’s dissolution process, but its decision did not explain the reason behind the closure.
The group was established in 1997 by a number of women’s rights activists as a non-profit civil society organisation to support women’s organisations and women’s issues, with special devotion to the combat of violence against women and to the acquisition of human rights.
It was registered as a non-profit company in accordance with the Sudanese Companies Act.
“Whilst the decision to revoke the licence of the company may be within the law and jurisdiction of the ministry of justice, nonetheless, the execution of the order has not followed the due legal process and procedures,” the statement added.
The CSCSO further condemned the government’s decision to close the centre, saying it comes as “a continuation of an undeclared policy, which seeks to harass and obstruct the work of (independent) civil society organisations”.
Civil society groups also underlined that the crackdown comes at a time when the government is calling to hold a national dialogue in the country and issued decisions to ensure a conducive environment for this comprehensive process which also includes rights groups.
In December 2012, Sudanese authorities closed three civil society groups: Sudanese Studies Centre (SSC), Al-Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), the Organisation for Human Rights and Development (ARRY). The Cultural Forum for Literary Criticism, a literary forum, was also closed.
Weeks before the closure of these groups, government officials had accused the organisations of being linked to the opposition and working to topple the regime.
Last March, Sudan’s security service banned for the first time a celebration of Women’s Day organised by the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre and other groups.
The Christian mom freed after being sentenced to death in Sudan is back in a Khartoum lockup for allegedly using phony documents in a bid to flee the Islamic nation.
By Perry Chiaramonte - Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth in prison after being sentenced to death in May for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity, was detained with her husband, Daniel Wani, at Khartoum airport Tuesday as she tried to leave the country. Although sources close to her legal team said she is being held at Khartoum police station, Seif Yasin, spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, told FoxNews.com that Ibrahim is "free to leave Sudan, she just has to do it legally."
"It is regrettable and disturbing that some elements attempted to bring Meriam to U.S by issuing her an entry visa on a fraudulent traveling document obtained from a foreign country (for a woman the whole world knows ... is Sudanese national )," Yasin said in a statement. "That is inexcusable and unnecessary violations for all laws and regulations, including U.S. ones. The same legal system that protects her right and secures her freedom is capable of guaranteeing her right to leave the country whenever the legal procedure comes to an end."
The U.S. State Department said Tuesday the detention was temporary and that American diplomats were working with their Sudanese counterparts to free Ibrahim, but a post on the Facebook page of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services' media department indicated the charges are considered serious in the Muslim nation.
"The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese Embassy and carrying an American visa," read the post, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim family name. "The Sudanese authorities considered [the action] a criminal violation, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors."
The travel document Ibrahim produced at the airport, an image of which was obtained by FoxNews.com, appears to have been issued by South Sudan, the largely Christian nation that seceded from Sudan in 2011 and is now at sharp odds with Khartoum. Alan Goulty, the former UK ambassador to Sudan and a Global Fellow for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Wani, who holds U.S. citizenship, is from South Sudan, which could explain that nation's diplomatic involvement.
Al-Sharif Ali, a member of her legal team, told FoxNews.com Ibrahim was arrested in a show of force that included dozens of agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service. A source close to Ibrahim's family said she is still being held, contrary to reports that she was freed.
"As of this morning, she was still being held at the police station," he said. "Her lawyer was able to finally see her."
On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was again questioned about the case but declined to go into detail. She strongly denied that the U.S. played any role in providing improper paperwork to Ibrahim.
“I can't comment a lot more on the specifics of her travel documents,” Harf said. “Obviously we're working with her and her family and the government of Sudan to try and get everything in proper order so she can and her family departs swiftly.”
“It's very much our position that they need to be able to depart Sudan quickly. I don't have any more details on what their travel will look like,” She added during the briefing. “So, we clearly care about this very deeply...and are working very hard to resolve it.”
Supporters of Ibrahim say they won't feel she is safe until she is out of the war-torn nation.
"We're encouraged that the State Department is engaged and working to secure the freedom of Meriam and her family," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which gathered more than 300,000 signatures for an online petition demanding Ibrahim's freedom. "Whether Meriam and her family have been 'temporarily detained' or arrested, holding U.S. citizens against their will is extremely disturbing and unacceptable. It has always been our concern that the only way the Ibrahim family could be truly safe is to leave Sudan."
Ibrahim, 27, refused to renounce her Christian faith in court in May, prompting a judge to sentence her to hang for apostasy. The case became an international cause, with several U.S. lawmakers and the State Department blasting the decision as barbaric. Sudan's national news service SUNA said the Court of Cassation in Khartoum on Monday canceled the death sentence after defense lawyers presented their case, and that the court ordered her release.
Ibrahim and Wani were married in a formal ceremony in 2011 and operate several businesses, including a farm, south of Khartoum, the country’s capital.
Wani fled to the United States as a child to escape the civil war in southern Sudan, but later returned. He is not permitted to have custody of his son because the boy is considered Muslim and cannot be raised by a Christian man.
Ibrahim’s case first came to the attention of authorities in August, after members of her father’s family complained that she was born a Muslim but married a Christian man. The relatives claimed her birth name was “Afdal” before she changed it to Meriam and produced a document that indicated she was given a Muslim name at birth. Her attorney has alleged the document was a fake.
Ibrahim says her mother was an Ethiopian Christian and her father a Muslim who abandoned the family when she was a child. Ibrahim was initially charged with having illegitimate sex last year, but she remained free pending trial. She was later charged with apostasy and jailed in February after she declared in court that Christianity was the only religion she knew.
“I was never a Muslim,” she told the Sudanese high court. “I was raised a Christian from the start.”
Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death. Muslim women in Sudan are further prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, although Muslim men are permitted to marry outside their faith. Children, by law, must follow their father’s religion.
June 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A court of appeal in Khartoum cancelled a death sentence issued last month against Meriam Ibrahim for apostasy, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported on Monday.
“The Court of Appeal in Khartoum North overturned a judgment of the trial court of Haj Youssef and issued a decision to release the prisoner Abrar Hadi Mohammed Abdullah (alias Meriam Ibrahim), after the pleadings submitted by her defence,” SUNA said.
Her lawyer later said that authorities released her from jail.
Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy on May 15th and sentenced her to death by hanging after refusing to revert to Islam. The court also sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery as her marriage to a Christian man is considered invalid under Sudan’s Islamic Shar’ia law.
Ibrahim, who was reportedly born to a largely absent Sudanese Muslim father, was raised according to her Ethiopian mother’s Christian faith.
She has been imprisoned with her 20-month-old son, Martin, since her arrest in December of last year and gave birth to a baby girl in prison on 27 May.
The head of the women’s committee at Sudan’s National Commission for Human Rights (SNCHR), Meriam Takas, following the court’s decision that the Omdurman Women’s Prison authority received a judicial order to release Ibrahim if she was not convicted in other crimes, stressing that the order referred both the death and flogging sentences.
Ibrahim’s sentence drew widespread international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it "abhorrent." The US state department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.
UK prime minister David Cameron told The Times that he was “absolutely appalled” when he learnt of the death sentence against Ibrahim and called for lifting the "barbaric" verdict.
However, earlier this month Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Bonn that handling the case is governed by a legal appeal process to achieve justice to the satisfaction of all parties, stressing that the government does not interfere in judicial decisions.
Sudan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that the court’s decision came within the framework of the independence of judiciary and in fulfillment of the provisions of the law, constitution, and the bill of fundamental rights.
The statement pointed that Sudan faced unprecedented pressure campaign from governments, organisations, international figures, and the media, saying this campaign sought to push the government to interrupt the judicial process and ignore independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers.
It underscored that the government refused to intervene in the judicial process, noting they continued to remind the international community of the necessity to respect the judiciary and its rulings.
The foreign ministry considered the court decision an opportunity to remind the international community of the continued injustices against 35 million Sudanese people due to unilateral sanctions imposed on Sudan by the United States government since 1997.
It said those sanctions adversely impact importation of live-saving drugs, production inputs, and the development efforts in the country as a fundamental human right, adding that the sanctions also allows confiscation of assets belonging to Sudanese companies and individuals unlawfully which represents a gross violation for human rights and international law.
The statement called on the same governments, organisations, and individuals who expressed concern and demanded release of Ibrahim to express solidarity with the Sudanese people against the unjust unilateral sanctions.
Amnesty international in a statement on Monday described the court’s decision to release Ibrahim as “a step towards undoing the horrific injustice visited on her”.
“Today’s ruling is a small step to redressing the injustice done to Meriam,” said Sarah Jackson, deputy director at Amnesty International.
“However, she should never have been prosecuted. Meriam was sentenced to death when eight months pregnant for something which should not be a crime. Furthermore, her abhorrent treatment, including being shackled, violated international human rights law against ill-treatment.”
The rights group also said it will continue to urge the Sudanese authorities to repeal provisions that criminalise acts of apostasy and adultery so that nobody else in Sudan has to endure the same ordeal as Ibrahim.
The US state department said today it welcomes the release of Ibrahim and called on Sudan to "repeal its laws that are inconsistent with its 2005 interim constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".
"These actions would help demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. And as you know, this is a case we raised quite frequently with the government there and welcome today’s news," deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.
The Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Islamist figure Hassan Al-Turabi, previously described the death penalty against Ibrahim as "a scandal, extremism, and intellectual backwardness”, saying there is no punishment for apostasy in Islam.
Kamal Omar, PCP’s political secretary said at a press conference last week that freedom of belief is an asset of Islam, noting the death sentence against Ibrahim is a violation of the basic principles of Islam.
He emphasised that PCP leader and members are against the conviction of Ibrahim, describing the judge who issued the apostasy sentence as “ignorant”.
Meriam Ibrahim re-arrested at Khartoum airport while attempting to leave Sudan with her family: reports
June 23, 2014 (SYDNEY) – The Australia government has offered asylum seekers at immigration camps in Southeast Asia nearly $10,000 should they drop their refugee application status and allow to return home.
Australian authorities, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, were offering Iranians and Sudanese AU$7,000 if they dropped their bids for refugee status. Those from Afghanistan would reportedly get $4,000 while another AU$3,300 was for refugees from Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar.
The move has reportedly sparked off outrage from refugee campaigners who fear these asylum seekers could face persecution in their home countries.
However, under the previous labor administration, in office until last September, the payments were reportedly much lower, ranging from AU$1,500 to AU$2,000.
Meanwhile, the move by the Australian government has also been criticised by campaigners for refugee rights and the Australian Green party, whose leader Christine Milne called the payments "bribes", AFP reported.
Australia has toughened its policy on asylum-seekers in recent years, with those arriving on unauthorised boats now refused residency in Australia even if they are deemed refugees.
Since the policy was introduced, however, more asylum-seekers have reportedly chosen to voluntarily return to their country of origin while the number of people attempting to reach Australia by boat has dried up, with no boats arriving for six months.
In 2012, a study conducted by international policy research agency (STATT), found out that 90% of refugees from Sudan who arrived in Australia over the past decade wanted to return home.
Many of those surveyed said they experienced isolation and reported being discriminated against, particularly when it came to employment and housing.
June 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, has described president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s national dialogue initiative as a “false dawn” saying it failed the first test on freedom of expression.
- National Umma - (Friday prayer)
The last democratically elected Prime Minister said the fragility of the “dead” initiative was exposed when the regime did not tolerate genuine advice.
Al-Mahdi, who agreed to participate in the national dialogue, was arrested on May 17th for criticizing alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) government militia in conflict zones.
He was released last Sunday and the state media said the move was done after al-Mahdi’s lawyers appealed to the justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa to use his powers under article (58) of Sudan’s penal code which allows him to stop criminal proceedings against any suspect at any point before being sentenced by a court.
It also carried a statement by NUP Central Commission stating that they support the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and said that what al-Mahdi mentioned regarding RSF is derived from complaints and claims "that are not necessarily all true".
However, al-Mahdi said in his Friday prayer sermon that the Central Commission’s statement was misinterpreted, adding that it was not an apology but “a clarification action”.
He called for allowing freedoms and releasing all political detainees particularly the leader of the Sudanese Congress Party, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, and University of Khartoum’s (UofK) students, Mohamed Salah, Tag al-Sir Ja’afar, and Muamar Musa.
The NUP leader underscored that the several initiatives he made convinced many parties to join the national dialogue and were accepted by some international circles, pointing to his proposal for forming a hybrid court to investigate right abuses committed in the Western region of Darfur instead of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He also mentioned his proposal for setting up a transitional justice mechanism which is based on truth and reconciliation similar to that of South Africa.
“In spite of all these achievements the regime didn’t tolerate freedom of expression and genuine advice which revealed weakness of the dead dialogue process”, he added
Al-Mahdi further said that when Bashir called for an open dialogue which is not dominated by one party and doesn’t exclude any political force, a wave of optimism swept the whole country that a new dawn is coming, noting that dawn was false because the dialogue process failed to pass the first test of freedom of expression.
The veteran leader added he will transcend the bitterness of injustice and focus on the deficiencies of the objective experience, pointing that dialogue process cannot proceed forward without undertaking major reviews which lead to the fulfillment of a more feasible scheme for political solution.
“There is a chance for reviewing the political solution scheme in order to get rid of the flaws which adversely impacted its feasibility”, he added.
He vowed to conduct extensive contacts with all political parties in order to agree on a unified vision for the formation of the aspired comprehensive mechanism.
Al-Mahdi said he will then propose a national mechanism for achieving the just and comprehensive peace and connects between the peace process and the national agreement.
He underscored the need for providing a new and feasible structure for the political scheme which seeks to establish a new regime that achieves just and comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation.
“These principles will only be achieved in a new regime that liberates states’ institutions from the one-party control, allows public freedoms, and drafts a consensual constitution through a democratic mechanism”, he said.
June 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A senior official in Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) revealed that the cabinet intends to discuss introducing amendments to the elections law in its weekly meeting on Thursday.
Mustafa Osman Ismail, the NCP political secretary, said that this step is necessary to avoid a constitutional vacuum which opposition parties have warned of.
Ismail, who addressed a meeting with the NCP women’s sector on Wednesday, said that they are seeking to avoid such a scenario in state institutions and the electoral commission once constitutional deadlines have passed.
“We say to those who are thinking about this, we will not allow a constitutional void therefore the council of ministers will look into making amendments in the election law” he said.
However, Ismail stressed that these amendments will not serve as a "veto" to postponing elections, noting that elections can be postponed a week before its date if agreed to by dialogue participants.
This week, Sudan’s presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour said that elections will most definitely take place as planned next year if opposition parties continue to refuse to engage in dialogue.
“When the elections commission announces election date, we will go ahead”, he said.
Sudanese officials in the past said 2015 general elections will proceed as planned irrespective of the national dialogue process.
Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromises to end the civil war and allow public freedoms.
The Sudanese president has launched a national dialogue process with opposition parties after tabling its framework last January. However, observers are skeptical that it will yield any agreement given boycott by many opposition parties.
The National Umma Party (NUP) and the Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation in the dialogue process to protest arrest of NUP leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.
June 17, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The opposition parties participating in the national dialogue process on Tuesday have urged president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to expeditiously determine the date for holding the meeting of the dialogue mechanism.
The call comes after a meeting they held a meeting on Tuesday in the absence of the NUP to discuss the recent developments in the dialogue process after a presidential decision to release the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi.
The opposition parties said they intend to submit several demands including allowing political and press freedoms, stopping political detention, and halting ongoing preparation for the 2015 elections.
Opposition parties which agreed to participate in the national dialogue including the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Just Peace Forum (JPF), Justice Party (JP), and the Alliance of the Peoples’ Working Forces (APWF) met on Monday with the NUP leadership to convince them to return to dialogue
Al-Mahdi was arrested on May 17th for criticising alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. He was accused of undermining the constitution among other charges that could have led to the death penalty if convicted.
An opposition official who attended the meeting told that the NUP agreed to return to the dialogue but the move has not yet been officially announced.
Meanwhile the political secretary of the Reform Now Party (RNP), Hassan Osman Rizq, said his party agreed to return to the dialogue. But the party’s dialogue secretary Fadallah Ahmed Abdallah on Tuesday evening said still they did not decide to resume their participation in the process citing government’s arbitrary decisions against freedoms.
The RNP politburo formed mainly by dissidents from the ruling party will meet on Wednesday to decide on their participation in the national dialogue.
The NUP and the RNP suspended participation in the dialogue process to protest al-Mahdi’s arrest and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.
The dialogue mechanism, which is headed by president Bahsir, includes seven members from the government side and an equal number from the opposition. The mechanism work was suspended following arrest of al-Mahdi on May 17.
The RNP political secretary, Hassan Rizq, told reporters following the meeting that release of al-Mahdi does not suffice for the beginning of the dialogue, pointing to the need for releasing the leader of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), Ibrahim al-Shiekh, and all political detainees in the capital and the states including prisoners of rebel groups.
He demanded the government to lift restrictions on political and press liberties, pointing to the continuous crackdown on newspapers.
Rizq also urged the government to stop all procedures relating to the upcoming elections, saying the NCP does not have the right to unilaterally decide on the elections without participation of all political forces.
He said the NCP control over elections besides the security apparatus and other government institutions means that it will win the election by % 99.9.
The RNP official further refused to describe the opposition demands as preconditions, saying those demands will be presented from within the dialogue mechanism.
He noted that president Bashir vowed to secure all those demands in the speech he delivered last April, adding “we only ask him to meet his pledges”.
“If there are bodies within the government that oppose the president’s directive, dialogue will not succeed”, he stressed.
He underscored the need for offering internal guarantees besides international monitoring in order to secure success of the dialogue, pointing that the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) expressed interest in the dialogue process and continue to follow its development.
The secretary general of the Arab Nasserite Party (ANP), Mustafa Mahmoud, for his part, said the opposition parties are ready to start the work of the dialogue mechanism, urging president Bashir to expedite the call for holding its meeting.
He also called upon the president to create an atmosphere conducive for the dialogue and build confidence among political parties particularly after the arrest of the NUP leader which negatively impacted the dialogue environment.
AU WELCOMES AL-MAHDI’S RELEASE
The chairperson of the commission of the African Union (AU), Dlamini-Zuma, has welcomed the release of al-Mahdi, saying it “is a step in the right direction that will contribute to the creation of conditions conducive to the successful conduct of the National Dialogue Initiative (…)”.
She reiterated, in a statement issued on Tuesday, AU’s support to Bashir’s initiative, appealing to the government to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Sudan are protected.
Zuma also called on all concerned parties to desist from actions that would threaten the proposed national dialogue and to recommit to a transparent, inclusive and holistic process that will ensure stability, democracy and development in the country.
She renewed AU’s continued commitment, through the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), to assist the government and the Sudanese people, in their efforts to address the challenges facing their country through dialogue.
June 17, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir will soon unveil a strategic reform plan that seeks to examine performances of specific public institutions, identifying areas that require improvements and recommendations.
The initiative is seen as an attempt to solicit the dwindling public support and confidence in the current administration as its leaders grapple with the country’s raging ongoing.
A draft reform plan, identifies six priority areas, including the immediate stoppage of war to bring peace; honouring the ceasefire agreement signed with the rebels under former vice president, Riek Machar; promote national dialogue; carry out nationwide reconciliation and healing; adopt simple and measurable plans and mechanisms to fight against poverty; strengthen capacity of independent institutions; diversify the economy and enhance transparency and accountability.
“The six point plan which is being worked upon by the presidential team is a very appropriate solution to the current crisis because it has been prepared based on the realities", a presidential aide not allowed to speak to the media on policy matter.
"The most important part of it is that it calls for an immediate end to the armed conflict and stresses commitment of the government to honour ceasefire and accept to engage in the negotiation with rebels and other stakeholders in the conflict", he added.
What, however, remains unclear is how the presidency plans to implement these key priority areas and its intention, with observers already doubting its tangible outcomes.
Meanwhile speaker of the national legislative assembly pledged support of the law-making institution to back up efforts by the government to combat corruption that still exists within the system, particularly in public service and security sectors.
The assembly, Magok Rundial said, will adopt more stringent legislation against bad tendencies in governance.
“We have to change attitude, a typical example of how horribly things can go wrong is public service. We have spent so many millions of dollars into security and public service reform projects since we became an independent state; one project after the other and you can see how people can cripple a lofty ideal and scuffle a dream that would have lifted this country out of a lot of things,” he observed.
Government’s ultimate objective, Rundial stressed, was to transform the new nation into an "ultra-modern city-state" that will shun corruption in all forms.
"The ultimate objective of the government is to make sure that even if you drop one million on the way; somebody would pick it and drop it at the police station. Honesty and the fear of God would be inculcated in the minds of our people and would be enforced by legislation,” he stressed.
June 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities on Sunday released the National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi after being in detention for almost a month, official news agency (SUNA) reported.
- National Umma Party June 29, 2013
SUNA said the move was done after al-Mahdi’s lawyers appealed to the justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa agreed to use his powers under article (58) of Sudan’s penal code to stop criminal proceedings against any suspect at any point before being sentenced by a court.
The minister also consulted with the plaintiff, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), which approved of his decision in line with public interests being superior to private interests.
According to SUNA’s report, Dousa also cited the spirit of national reconciliation in the country for releasing the former Prime Minister.
SUNA carried a statement by NUP Central Commission stating that they support the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and that what al-Mahdi mentioned regarding RSF is derived from complaints and claims "that are not necessarily all true".
There was no mention in the state media of a pardon by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as was reported earlier following a mediation led by a committee of national personalities.
Sudan’s state minister of information Yasser Youssef told Reuters that the release of al-Mahdi occurred within a "legal framework" but did not give further details.
Al-Mahdi was arrested on May 17th for criticizing alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. He was accused of undermining the constitution among other charges that could have led to the death penalty if convicted.
Kamal Idriss, a member of the national personalities committee was quoted at a press conference on Sunday as saying that al-Mahdi will turn the plight of the prison into a point of convergence to achieve national agreement and social peace.
He said al-Mahdi met with the mediation committee which included figures from various political parties and entities including the veteran Islamist , Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, father Falt?’us Faraj, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) leading figure, Taha Ali al-Bashir, former prime minister, al-Gizouli Dafa’alla, and former chief justice, Dafa’alla Al-Hag Youssef.
According to Idriss, the committee members felt that the country was facing a real danger following arrest of al-Mahdi and therefore decided to intervene to salvage the national dialogue, stressing that the latter’s detention represented a significant impediment in the face of national agreement.
He said the committee held a series of meetings with government officials on one side and al-Mahdi on the other besides some opposition forces, noting that those efforts yielded the agreement of president Bashir to secure al-Mahdi’s immediate release.
The veteran Islamist, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, for his part, praised president Bashir’s and the First Vice president Bakri Hassan Salih for swiftly responding to the mediators request, noting that foreign personalities have also urged the president to release al-Mahdi.
45 Islamic thinkers and scholars worldwide signed a petition on Thursday urging Bashir to release al-Mahdi.
Idriss said the decision to release al-Mahdi was issued by president Bashir as he is the country’s top official, declining to give legal details on whether the charges were dropped or not.
He underscored the committee’s efforts will continue until securing release of the chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh and all other political detainees.
Al-Sheikh was arrested last week for criticizing the RSF. He is facing the same charges of defamation against the government troops, breach of public peace, and undermining the constitution.
June 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s oil ministry acknowledged on Sunday reports that foreign workers have been exposed to radiation at an oil facility in West Kordofan state attributing the incident to a common technical error.
The state minister at the Ministry of Oil, Hatim Abu al-Gasim, said that oil facilities in Sudan are subject to high security and safety procedures according to international standards which allows it to avoid oil incidents that occur in similar facilities worldwide, pointing that errors like that which took place at Baleela oilfield last week are common despite the precautionary measures.
He pointed in a press release on Sunday that a radioactive device which is used for reading oil wells’ properties was left outside its designated area for three days, adding that prompt action was taken when the error was discovered.
Al-Taghyeer daily published in Khartoum reported yesterday that 70 workers were directly exposed for three consecutive days to the radiation emitted by a device called "Source."
One of the engineers reportedly left the device used in oil exploration inside the workshop without properly securing it at its underground location which is 200 kilometers away from the workers.
The Chinese oil company urgently evacuated the workers to Khartoum in order to undergo medical tests.
One of the workers, who requested anonymity, told the newspaper that the first batch sent to Khartoum comprised of 21 workers including 13 Sudanese, 2 Pakistani and 6 Chinese.
He explained that the device remained at the workshop frequented by workers and engineers without any protection since six o’clock Friday evening until Monday evening. It was only discovered as missing by pure coincidence by a Chinese engineer after some other machines stopped working as a result from the device’s radiation.
Another worker disclosed that the impacted group consisting of technicians, engineers and guard are currently staying at a hotel in Khartoum at the expense of the company in the neighborhood of Riyadh while being tested. They are allowed to move but with restrictions to ensure that news of the incident does not get leaked before final results are released.
He said the manager of the private hospital, which is conducting the tests refused to write a report specifying the quantities the workers were exposed to under the pretext that this type of testing is not available noting that anything over 20 millisievert (mSv) a year can heighten risks of cancer.
But the Sudanese official said that only 28 workers including foreigners were immediately evacuated to Khartoum by a private jet.
He stressed that they underwent medical tests at two hospitals, adding that results showed that their health conditions are compromised by the radiation exposure.
Abu Al-Gasim revealed that the ministry formed a technical team comprised of three oil companies besides the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), saying the team managed to place the device back in its designated area.
He said the ministry also formed a joint team in coordination with scientific institutions to conduct a field survey to measure the radiation, stressing the reading was less than 60% of the acceptable radiation level.
The minister added that impact of the leak source did not exceed one meter, affirming that administrative procedures are underway and oil companies have resumed their work.
He underscored his ministry’s keenness to ensure workers’ safety through applying accurate and rigorous measures.
According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), 20 mSv per year averaged over 5 years is the limit for radiological personnel such as employees in the nuclear industry, uranium or mineral sands miners and hospital workers.
But WNA says that 50 mSv is the lowest dose at which there is any evidence of cancer being caused in adults. It is also the highest dose which is allowed by regulation in any one year of occupational exposure.
June 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A senior Sudanese official today has harshly criticized opposition parties accusing them of being unable to offer alternative political and economic programs and threatened to hold the general elections as planned next year on time if the opposition refuses to engage in the national dialogue.
Presidential assistant and deputy chairman of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Ibrahim Ghandour, scoffed at those who claim that his party suffers from internal divisions, swearing to god that his party has never been more unified and stronger in its history than it is today.
He added that wishful thinking about an NCP split and weakening is an impossible one, advising his party members not to listen to those who speak about divisions within the NCP.
Ghandour, who addressed the NCP grassroots conference at Um-Badda neighborhood in Omdurman on Saturday, blasted the opposition alliance, saying its parties don’t have an alternative political and economic reform program.
“The opposition offers nothing but criticism and offenses”, he said.
The presidential assistant slammed opposition’s mocking and questioning of the NCP members, pointing that 6 million out of 10 million members took part in more than 26,000 grassroots conferences.
He described those parties as “one-man and one-family” parties, claiming the NCP is the only governing party in Sudan’s history to table a reform document.
The NCP official said that reform means further improvement in performance, noting the reform document would not ignore internal reform within the party.
Ghandour underscored that they will continue to open the doors for dialogue, saying they will be prepared to partake in the general elections if opposition parties continue to refuse to engage in dialogue.
“When the elections commission announces election date, we will go ahead”, he said.
Sudanese officials in the past said 2015 general elections will proceed as planned irrespective of the national dialogue process.
He called upon rebel groups to join the national dialogue, saying the government sought to negotiate with the arms bearers everywhere.
Ghandour urged armed groups to resort to comprehensive dialogue, stressing that armed conflict will eventually be brought to an end.
“The government is ready to declare a comprehensive ceasefire in spite of its victories on the battlefield”, he added.
Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.
The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.
Last week, the Reform Now Party (RNP) led by former presidential adviser Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani announced its intention to suspend its participation in the ongoing national dialogue process in response to what it described as a series of setbacks to political freedoms in the country.
It also cited the arrest of the National Umma Party (NUP) chief al-Sadiq al-Mahdi last month as a reason for its decision along with government crackdown on media and political freedoms.
The governor of Khartoum state and chairman of the NCP in the state, Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir, for his part, said the number of the NCP members who attended the basic conference in Um Badda is more than those who attended the political meeting of the “old” party, noting that party failed to bring more than 2,500 of its members to attend the meeting.
He was alluding to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) which recently held a political meeting in Omdurman.
Al-Khidir said opposition parties realized its inability to compete with the NCP and that is why they began attacking NCP leadership through the social media.
“Show me if there is a political party with a strong base like that of the NCP”, he added.
The governor pointed to failure of all attempts to stop president Omer Hassan al-Bashir from travelling abroad; stressing that NCP membership is growing remarkably.
“The NCP is not the party of government but it is the party which forms the government”, he said.
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