August 2014 - Posts
August 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) director, Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula, said on Monday that the security apparatus is ready to protect the upcoming elections, as well as the national dialogue process.
“Elections will be held on time next year,” al-Moula said in remarks at a graduation ceremony in north Khartoum of 724 NISS officers tasked with combating riots in the presence of senior security and police officials.
Al-Moula went on to say that the NISS is ready to provide the appropriate atmosphere and bring stability and peace to citizens so that they can choose their next leadership, stressing that the elections process will not be subject to any manipulation whether conducted in Darfur or Khartoum or the Nuba Mountains.
The spy chief emphasised that they will not stand with their hands tied behind their backs in front of challenges facing the country and will deal firmly with any risks and will be in the frontlines “with their bare chest to protect the identity and resources of the country and the freedom of its citizens”.
Al-Moula also promised that the NISS will work hand in hand with the armed forces in conflict zones to protect the country from the “greedy and spiteful”.
He asserted that the summer campaign to obliterate rebellion by this year will continue as they promised president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, noting that rebel fighters ran away from the battlefield to South Sudan and are fighting there as “mercenaries”.
The Sudanese government has been fighting rebels for years in three fronts, including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. These groups formed a coalition under the name of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) two years ago.
NISS director of operations Major General Ali al-Naseeh said that this class of graduates underwent training on heavy weapons and its support, military tactics, lines of battle, different aspects of war, special operations for internal security and practical projects. He underscored that this class was marked by enthusiasm and represented all states of Sudan.
Aug 24, 2014 ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A member of an East African regional body monitoring a ceasefire in South Sudan died of a heart attack after some monitors were detained by rebels to the north of the country, further complicating a peace process.
Ethiopia's Seyoum Mesfin, the chief mediator at the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is trying to broker peace in South Sudan, said the rebels' action was a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the two warring parties earlier this year.
Seyoum said the incident happened early on Sunday in the oil-producing Unity state, but he did not disclose the total number of those being held or their nationalities.
At least 10,000 people have been killed since fierce fighting erupted in December, pitting President Salva Kiir's government forces against supporters of Riek Machar, his former deputy and longtime rival.
Another IGAD official told Reuters the one who died was a South Sudanese national representing the government side.
IGAD has eight groups of monitors in flashpoint areas. Each of the eight teams comprises of up to six monitors.
Both the government and the rebel side have one representative in each group, IGAD officials said.
The monitors have been deployed to the capital Juba, where fighting first erupted, Malakal and Bentiu, both northern oil-producing areas in Unity state and Bor, scene of some of the heaviest fighting about 200 km (120 miles) north of Juba.
Peace talks between the government and rebels brokered by IGAD in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa have so far not produced results.
East African heads of state were scheduled to meet in the city later on Sunday in the latest bid to ramp up the pressure on both sides to end the conflict.
August 15, 2014 (JUBA) – Heavy fighting erupted on Friday between South Sudan army (SPLA) and rebels in Unity state, with the latter accusing pro-government forces of attacking their positions in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
The rebel spokesperson, Peter Riek Gew told that fighting started at dawn in Guit, Kaljak and Kuergueyni areas of the oil-rich state.
"We surprised this morning when the SPLA attacked three of our position in Unity state. This is a very clear signal that the government was not committed to the peace talks," Gew said by satellite phone.
"The battle is now around the main capital, Bentiu pushing the SPLA troops away from three attacks on our position this morning to Maan Kuach, 3 km west of Bhar main military barrack in Rubkotna county and Thowmangor, [located] 4 km south of Bentiu town," he added.
The rebel spokesman accused government troops of mistreating innocent civilians in its controlled areas.
"We are ready to fight them if this is their plan to attack us. Meanwhile our leaders are currently engaged in peace," he stressed.
The rebel military spokesperson, Brig. Gen Lul Ruai Koang further claimed the “long awaited” government offensive operations against rebels had started east and south of Bentiu as well as around Ayod in Unity and Jonglei states respectively begun at dawn.
“This is totally unacceptable development and the blame squarely lies at the president Salva Kiir’s door steps,” he said in a statement issued Friday.
The two warring parties have repeatedly traded accusations of violating the ceasefire agreement signed on 23 January and re-committed to on 9 May in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The South Sudanese army spokesperson was not readily available for a comment.
NO MILITARY SOLUTION
On Tuesday, Samantha Power, the United States special envoy to the United Nations said the Security Council was concerned over reports that arms were being brought in to South Sudan, stressing that there was no military solution to the young nation’s conflict.
“The council has made it very clear that it is prepared to impose consequences if there continue to be spoilers, if there continue to be people carrying out gross violations of human rights, United states ambassador to the united nations,” said Samantha.
“We will not tolerate violation of the cessation of hostilities and people who spoils peace agreement. We have delivered that message here and we will deliver it to Riek Machar,” she stressed.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry on Monday accused both sides of failing to commit to the peace process, a day after they failed to meet the 60-days ultimatum to form a transitional government.
August 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The governor of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), Abdel-Rahman Hassan Abdel-Rahman, disclosed that Sudan received $1.22 billion in credit guarantees from Qatar following the visit by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to Doha last month.
The Qatari newspaper al-Sharq on Tuesday quoted Abdel-Rahman as saying that the governor of the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), Abdullah Bin Saud, agreed to provide Sudan with $500 million in credit guarantees to import Qatari products, noting that the step would encourage Qatari companies and businesses to export their products to Sudan.
The agreement stated that Qatar National Bank would offer $750 million in credit lines to improve Sudan’s financial position and import basic and strategic goods besides stabilizing the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound against major international currencies.
The Sudanese finance minister Badr Al-Deen Mahmoud last April announced that Qatar deposited $1 billion in the CBoS as part of an aid package.
Sudan has been struggling with what was described as an economic shock following the loss of the oil-rich south in July 2011. Oil revenues constituted the majority of Sudan’s exports, national income and source of hard currency.
One US dollar is now trading at 9.4 Sudanese pounds (SDG) in the black market. The official exchange rate is around 5.7 pounds to the dollar.
Qatar has been one of the few countries where Sudan enjoys relatively warm relations with. For years the rich Arab Gulf state has hosted peace talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups which eventually resulted in the signing of a peace accord in 2011.
In 2012, Qatar announced that it will inject $2 billion of investments in Sudan including “the purchase of government bonds issued by the Sudanese government and investments in different sectors particularly mining, oil, agriculture and services”.
August 12, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese former vice-president, Riek Machar who leads the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition) has returned to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after talks with the Sudanese top leadership in Khartoum, a rebel official has said.
- Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) greets his South Sudanese counterpart Riek Machar upon the latter’s arrival at Khartoum ariport on June 30, 2013. (Getty)
The SPLM-In-Opposition leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, in a press release he issued on Monday evening said the visit was “productive.”
“Chairman Dr Riek Machar Teny has returned to the venue of the peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday evening after two days visit to Khartoum. He had productive meetings with the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and other senior officials of the government,” partly reads the statement.
“President Bashir pledged to continue to support the ongoing peace process in his capacity as a head of IGAD member state,” he added.
Dak added that the Sudanese president, who for 22 years ruled the whole Sudan before secession of South Sudan in July 2011, had more experience and role to play in resolving the crisis.
“President Bashir has a huge experience in the Sudanese conflicts which he can apply to help end the crisis in South Sudan,” he added.
Previously the rebel leader, Machar, in a separate interview called on Sudan and Kenya to impose sanctions on the South Sudanese government, citing denying South Sudan access to oil pipelines and sea ports as an effective tool to end the war.
It was not clear whether or not the two leaders in Khartoum discussed the possible imposition of sanctions on South Sudan.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson added Machar also met with representatives of various South Sudanese civil society organisations residing in the Sudanese capital.
The official Sudan news agency (SUNA) on Sunday reported that Bashir reiterated his support to the efforts exerted by the IGAD to reach a peaceful settlement to the South Sudanese conflict and encouraged the warring parties to resort to dialogue.
Speaking about the slow-moving peace process, he acknowledged that talks are facing significant obstacles but stressed the two sides have agreed on the negotiations agenda.
- Sudanese president Omer AL-Bashir receives South Sudanese voice-president Riek Machar on 30 June 2013
Machar expected that talks between his faction and the government would go beyond the 60-day ultimatum set by mediators from the East African regional bloc (IGAD), underscoring keenness to resolve the contentious issues and achieve peace in South Sudan.
The rebel negotiating team earlier this month demanded to limit the direct talks to the warring parties saying the political parties including the SPLM-detained leaders and civil society groups would participate in a consultative manner particularly when it comes to the negotiations on formation of a transitional government of national unity.
IGAD on Monday announced it had agreed to the proposal by the rebels after the government joined the proposal on bilateral talks. Instead of all the other stakeholders to participate in the direct previously proposed multi-lateral talks, they would now be only participating in a consultative manner when deemed necessary by the two parties as well as participate in general plenary presentations.
REBELS DOWNPLAY VP POSITION
Dak in a separate interview downplayed the recent remarks by president Salva Kiir in which he pledged to create a second vice-president position for the rebel leader, Machar, should he lay down his arms and rejoin the government.
“Well, first of all to our leadership Salva Kiir is no longer a legitimate president. He in December last year in Juba started this unnecessary crisis in defense of his dictatorship. He also administered the cold blood massacres of thousands of innocent citizens who elected him into office,” the rebel leader’s spokesperson told on Monday when asked to comment on the offer.
“The question of who will lead the transitional government or appoint officials to various capacities until elections are held shall be tackled in a peace agreement between us and the government. It is therefore premature to concentrate on positions,” he added.
Dak said what the rebels saw as priority and important was to address the root causes of the conflict and resolve it.
The SPLM-in-Opposition, he said, had proposed the restructuring of the state in a constitutional federal system and to introduce reforms in all the public sectors, adding that the question of who would be entrusted to lead the implementation of such reform programs would finally come as a byproduct of the peace agreement.
President Kiir in May vowed to defend his position as president and those of the lawmakers during his address to the national parliament, arguing that they were elected by the people.
August 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese security service arrested the deputy president of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Merriam Sadiq al-Mahdi, on Monday evening as she returned from Paris after meetings with the rebel Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).
NUP sources said Merriam was arrested at 11:30 pm when the Qatar Airways plane landed at Khartoum airport and was taken to unknown place.
She was in Europe for more than three weeks where she participated in a hearing with the European Parliament about ways to bring peace in Sudan together with a SRF delegation and some opposition figures.
Also, she participated in a meeting between the NUP and SRF in Paris last week where the two forces signed Paris Declaration calling to unify the opposition forces before to engage in a national process for peace and democratic reforms in the country.
The NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi who signed the declaration with the SRF chairman Malik Agar, travelled to Cairo from where he would brief the regional and international community about this political agreement.
The largest opposition party suspended its participation in the national dialogue process since May after the arrest of Sadiq al-Mahdi for one month. Since, the latter demands to review the process mechanism and to include the rebels.
August 8, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese court of appeal on Thursday upheld death sentences issued previously in absentia against leaders of the rebel Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in connection with the outbreak of the conflict with Khartoum in the Blue Nile state in September 2011.
SPLM-N chairman Malik Agar and secretary-general Yasser Aman were handed the capital punishment last March along with 17 others. The same court sentenced 47 others to life in prison which was also upheld by the appeals court today.
The counts include terrorist crimes; crimes against the state; participation, aiding and abetting of crimes; crimes against humanity; the use of arms .
The court ordered the circulation of notices containing the sentences at all ports of entry and internationally for apprehension.
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 Agar, then the state’s governor, and later shut down SPLM-N’s offices in the country.
The African Union (AU) has sought to broker a peace deal between Khartoum and SPLM-N in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states but has yet to achieve any success.
August 6, 2014 (PARIS) -The leader of Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadig al-Mahdi, arrived in Paris on Wednesday to meet with leaders of the rebel alliance Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) to discuss national dialogue and ways for achieving peace and democratic change in the country.
Al-Mahdi was received at Charles de Gaulle by SPLM-N secretary and SRF external relations secretary Yasir Arman, deputy chairmen of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Ahmed Adam Bakheit, who is also tasked with opposition relations, and SRF secretary for humanitarian affairs and a leading member of the Sudan Liberation Movement- Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) Trayo Ahmed Ali.
The NUP deputy chairman, Meriam al-Mahdi, told from Paris that al-Mahdi’s visit to France is part of a European tour that would include several countries.
She said that the NUP deputy chairman for communications, Mohamed Abdallah al-Douma, led contacts with the SRF rebel groups, adding he will be part of the opposition party’s delegation which would meet with the latter on Thursday.
The two sides are expected to meet on Thursday in Paris. The NUP delegation will be led by Sadiq al-Mahdi while Malik Agar will lead the SRF delegation.
Meriam expressed hope that the meeting, which is first of its kind between the two sides since the SRF was founded, would lead to signing a joint declaration on national dialogue and its requirements besides working together to achieve a genuine dialogue which leads to comprehensive change in Sudan.
“We hope the meeting will be the first step towards unifying positions of the national forces on the national dialogue,” she added.
Meriam al-Mahdi took part in a hearing on peace in Sudan held at the EU parliament in Strasbourg last month with other Sudanese rebel and opposition groups.
Last July, the SRF said it approved a plan to “unify forces of change through coordination, joint work, and continuous contacts with all forces interested in the unity of opposition”, vowing to make its utmost efforts to achieve “this vital mission within two months in order to allow Sudanese people make the necessary change”.
Arman told that any genuine national dialogue in Sudan needs to unite the opposition and civil society forces.
He further said the SRF meeting with the NUP leader “is the beginning of a series of meetings between political and civil forces to develop a unified vision about the change and the national dialogue”.
The rebel leader pointed out that this meeting has nothing with SRF’s agenda of military action, but aims to achieve a peaceful solution and a comprehensive democratic transformation in Sudan.
The SPLM-N general secretary said they are also in contact with the opposition umbrella of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) led by Farouk Abu Eissa, women and youth groups in order to finalise a national platform for democratic change in Sudan.
“We will soon present a unified vision to the Sudanese people, the regional and international communities,” he said.
In a meeting held in Paris between 20 and 25 July, the SRF leadership council called upon national forces which call for a comprehensive peaceful solution to continue their struggle against the regime and work towards unifying forces of change according to a joint vision for the comprehensive solution.
The rebel leadership urged these forces to continue their work to overthrow the regime, saying the two methods [armed struggle and peaceful solution] do not contradict and would lead to the desired change.
In October 2013, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi cancelled a trip the Ugandan capital, Kampala where he was scheduled to hold meetings with the SRF after the Ugandan authorities denied him a visa.
The largest opposition party decided last May to suspend its participation in the national dialogue process to protest the arrest of its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi as he had accused the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia of committing atrocities against civilians in Darfur.
After al-Mahdi release in June, the NUP stressed on the need to review the dialogue process and associate the “historical” political parties in an African Union-led process to achieve peace in the Two Areas and Darfur.
Al-Mahdi also called to include the rebel groups in the political dialogue stressing that no democratic change can be achieved without peace..
August 4, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government announced today that the central bank received $183 million from oil companies in transit fees per previous agreements.
On June 28th, Khartoum and oil companies operating in South Sudan’s oilfields (blocks number 3 and 7) signed a framework agreement which entitles Sudan to receive $366 million annually.
These oil companies agreed to pay $4 as transit fees instead of $1 besides agreeing to raise the barrel’s tariff from $5.5 to $19.8 for three years beginning June 2013.
Sudan’s oil minister, Makkawi Mohamed Awad was quoted by state news agency (SUNA) today as saying that China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Malaysian oil and gas company (Petronas) were the two companies that disbursed the money in accordance with production shares.
He praised their commitment to the agreement and timeframe stipulated saying it will help boost Sudan’s Forex reserves.
The deal lasts until the end of 2017, with Sudanese officials saying the government will own 95% of the pipeline after that.
Oil used to be the main source for Sudan’s budget until southern secession in July 2011, when Khartoum lost 75 percent of its oil production and its status as oil exporter overnight.
August 2, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Fourteen people were killed in various Sudanese states, mostly in the capital Khartoum, due to heavy rains and floods, which hit the country during the past two weeks.
Ahmed Qassim, Khartoum state’s minister of Infrastructures and Transportation, said that 11 people were killed during rains and floods which hit the state particularly the western parts of Um Badda neighbourhood in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.
He said on a talk show broadcasted by the state-run Radio Omdurman on Friday that Khartoum north saw 103mm of rainfall last Friday, saying this huge amount of water hit public squares, homes, and lowlands.
The minister further added that Khartoum was hit again by rain ranging from 35 to 55mm on Wednesday morning, which led to heavy floods west of Omdurman.
Weather forecast expert, Mohamed Shareef, predicted that Khartoum state will witness light rain during the week, saying the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is currently passing north of the city of Wadi Halfa in the Northern state which indicates rainfall in all Sudanese states.
One person was killed and 200 homes destroyed besides hospitals, schools, and mosques due to rain and flood which hit Al-Dabba locality in the Northern state. Heavy rains and floods had also uprooted more than 1,000 palm, mangoes, and oranges trees in the area.
Strong torrents also destroyed more than 700 homes and killed large numbers of cattle in Hamrat Alwiz area in Jabrat al-Shiekh locality in North Kordofan state. Residents had evacuated homes which are located near the riverbed.
The governor of Gazira state, Mohamed Youssef, stressed that three localities including Al-Qurashi, Al-Managil, and south Gazira were affected by the rain which hit the state during the last two weeks.
He acknowledged that his state is facing water discharge problems, saying that 30 villages in south Gazira besides Al-Quorashi area have been largely affected by the rainfall.
On Friday, journalist, Mohamed Siddiq, who worked for the Al-Sahafa daily newspaper, was killed by an electrocution in his native village in Gazira state.
The Sudanese Company for Electricity Distribution (SCED) acknowledged that 33 people were killed by electrocution during the 2013 fall season.
Heavy floods have been common in the past few years in Sudan’s east along the Blue Nile but happen more rarely in the capital and the north where much of Sudan’s population live.
Floods and rains that hit different areas in Sudan last year lead to the death of at least 38 people and injured dozens.
Rains which fell during the last week have turned Khartoum into a pond of water amid widespread anger over what is perceived as an inadequate government response.