February 2015 - Posts
February 26, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The visiting United States deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, said he appealed the Sudanese government officials to release political detainees, to stop confiscation of news papers and restriction on freedom of expression.
Steven Feldstein was speaking to the media in a press conference held in Khartoum at the end of his five-day visit to the Sudanese capital Khartoum and Blue Nile state.
His visit comes after a series of talks on bilateral relations held by the Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour in Washington with the American officials at the White House and the State Department earlier this month .
I called on the Sudanese government to release political prisoners, and touched on the issues of confiscation of newspapers and freedom for journalists who face harassment, arrests or confiscation, said Feldstein, stressing that his talks focused on the situation of human rights and freedoms in Sudan.
He further expressed hope that the recent American decision to allow export of personal communications hardware and software will promote freedom of expression and help to reach understandings between the two governments and end Sudan’s internal crises.
Washington links the lift of sanctions and normalisation of bilateral relations with to the resolution of armed conflicts in the Two Area and Darfur.
Feldstein said that Washington’s position on Darfur conflict did not change, adding he was not able to visit the western Sudan region due to bad weather.
He said he visited Ed Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state where he saw people exhausted of war and suffering from the lack of health care.
The US diplomat called to stop war in Darfur and the Two Areas, pointing that it is important to reach a cease-fire between the warring parties.
He added that such truce will contribute to the delivery of assistance and relief to the affected displaced people and to protect them. He stressed his country condemns the targeting of civilians and denial of humanitarian access.
A group of Sudanese children handed a call for the lift of US sanctions on Sudan to the visiting diplomat at the American embassy.
The letter denounced the negative impact of the sanctions on the ordinary people who are directly affected by these economic measures which" deprive them of the enjoyment of rights, guaranteed by divine law and international conventions".
Their memorandum pointed to the lack of medications and medical tools as direct result of the long time sanctions.
Also, different civil society groups say they are directly hit by the sanctions as they can no longer receive any support from international foundations.
February 26, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir offered to release opposition figures detained by authorities since last December in return for them making a formal apology in which they acknowledge that they violated Sudan’s criminal law.
Farouk Abu-Essa who chairs the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) and Amin Mekki Medani who heads the alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organizations were arrested after being signatories to the “Sudan Call” accord with the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) in Addis Ababa last year.
Bashir, who spoke to reporters on the plane flying back from UAE, said that Abu-Essa has a history of apologizing to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) for standing by late president Ja’afar Nimeiri after his crackdown on communists in the early 70’s.
Several charges have been filed against Abu-Essa and Medani including undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state, crimes punishable by death.
The two men have swiftly refused a government offer a month ago to apologize in order to drop charges and set them free.
Bashir said that the same stipulation applies to NUP leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi who has remained abroad after signing the accord amid threats by the Sudanese leader to prosecute him once he returns.
The Sudanese president however, acknowledged the existence of channels of communication with al-Mahdi without giving details.
He underscored that al-Mahdi sought to give his blessing to SRF which is fighting the government which is unacceptable in any country.
The government’s relations with al-Mahdi turned sour after his withdrawal from the dialogue process initiated by Bashir last year. That was in retaliation for his one-month arrest last May by authorities for accusing government militias of committing violations in war zones.
Bashir stressed that he will not allow dialogue to lead to a state breakdown like Yemen.
He also defended the recent confiscation of 14 newspapers in one day saying that when media houses publish false information that creates mistrust between people and government, authorities must invoke the law.
In a separate issue, Bashir spoke that al-Mahdi withdrew from 2010 presidential elections after receiving reports from his bases that he will suffer a stunning defeat if he continues to run.
He said that the strongest challenger in the 2010 was Yasser Arman from then Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) since he had the backing of the south which is now an independent state.
February 25, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and his accompanying delegation concluded on Wednesday a four-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The 11-member delegation which accompanied Bashir was a clear sign of the importance attached by Khartoum to this trip but also puzzled some observers on the need for an entourage of this size. It included the ministers of presidency, defence, foreign affairs, finance, investments, electricity, minerals, livestock and fisheries, labour as well as the director of intelligence and head of police.
Even though this visit was labelled as an official one, there were signs of reservations on the part of Abu Dhabi as few high-level meetings took place between the delegation and UAE officials.
Bashir met with Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and UAE vice-president Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum only on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX), which is a biennial arms and defence technology sales exhibition.
Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti told reporters upon arrival at Khartoum airport that the visit covered several areas except political issues.
He denied that talks with UAE officials discussed the Libyan crisis, adding the issue had been addressed ahead of the visit.
In an interview with the Abu-Dhabi based al-Etihad newspaper on Sunday, Bashir disclosed that his country is coordinating with the UAE to contain the explosive situation in Libya and ensure that the conflict does not expand.
He warned of the seriousness of the Libya fighting on the region and its effects on security and stability, saying his government worked with all parties to contain the crisis in Libya and noted that a joint Sudanese-Libyan border force was established.
Karti said the Sudanese ministers accompanying Bashir didn’t hold joint talks with their UAE’s counterparts because the visit program was not planned this way and also to allow for mutual visits between the two sides.
He pointed the delegation held considerable discussion with the UAE officials about investment in Sudan, describing the meetings as “good”.
The Sudanese foreign minister said the visit opened a wide door for future bilateral talks, stressing it came after a period of strain relations due to differences in political stances which requires further dialogue.
Karti also pointed out that dialogue which took place in the two countries prior to the visit led to the convergence of views of the two sides in a number of regional and security issues and paved the way for the visit.
He added that the ministers of the economic sector and heads of economic corporations who accompanied the president had the opportunity to hold discussion with the UAE officials on investment and the shared economic interests.
“That means the visit went beyond [addressing] security issues to [discussing] common interests”, he added.
Karti also said the meeting of Bashir with the Sudanese community in the UAE offered clear answers to issues of concern to the Sudanese working abroad besides reflecting the political and economic conditions in the country.
Bashir’s visit is believed to be his first official trip to UAE since 2008.
The relationship between the two countries has evolved with ups and downs over the last two decades.
In 1992, Abu Dhabi expelled the Sudanese ambassador and six other diplomats. The UAE has refused subsequent requests to restore full diplomatic relationship until 1999.
But relations have quietly deteriorated as Khartoum’s links with Iran strengthened. UAE is in a long-standing territorial dispute with Iran over the three Gulf islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb.
Iran refuses international arbitration over the dispute and insists that its sovereignty over the islands is non-negotiable.
February 21, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Sudanese president Omar Hassen al Bashir has accused US and Israeli intelligence agencies of funding terror organisations ISIS and Nigeria’s boko haram.
In an interview with Euro News on Friday Bashir condemned the terror entities as “brutal”, saying they have no link to Islam and accusing the CIA and Mosad of being the driving force behind the organisations.
“Because aside from the US and Israel no other entity has anything to gain from funding such groups,” he said.
He said the US policy in the Arab world and the support it provides to Israel were among the main factors driving many young Muslims to join the ranks of terrorist organisations.
Bashir called on the international community to end its violent response to terror organisations, warning it could lead to further extremism.
“Taking at look at the policy of the US and its boundless support to Israel, as well as the Israeli policy against Palestine; these are the main reasons young Muslims are joining these organizations,” he said.
According to Bashir, Israeli aggression against holy sites such as al-aqusa mosque, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and ongoing hostilities in Gaza are only serving to fan resentment and anger young Muslims.
“We are against the Israeli policy in the region,” he said. “We fully support the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation,” he added.
When asked about his involvement in alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur, the Sudanese president dismissed the allegations as part of “anti-Sudan campaigns”.
“We are paying for [the] attitude toward US policy in the Arab region,” he told the European broadcaster, citing Sudan’s position against the war in Iraq and Iraqi occupation in Kuwait.
“I personally travelled to Iraqi and told Sadam Hussein that this was wrong and must be corrected,” Bashir said, arguing that Sudan’s position has created hostilities with world powers such as the US.
Bashir also denied accusations of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, describing the claims as “a mere allegation” and the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a “political court”.
He alleged that some of the witnesses in the case had since returned to Sudan and expressed regret over the evidence they provided, admitting that they had been coached.
The Sudanese president is the only sitting head of state facing a trial in the ICC.
Bashir also dismissed any concerns of an uprising in Sudan similar to that which occurred during the Arab spring.
He said while there had been some attempts in the past 25 years, support for the government remained strong.
He said Sudanese opposition groups have no capacity to mobilise the whole population as had been attempted in the past.
February 18, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – The United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Tuesday that is amending Sudan’s sanctions regime to allow exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops.
The move was first made this morning at a press call by the US special envoy to Sudans Donald Booth who emphasised that this move aims to help ordinary citizens by connecting them to the rest of the world and to further free speech.
"These changes are consistent with our commitment to promote freedom of expression through access to communications tools," Booth told reporters.
"These changes also support our aim to help Sudanese citizens integrate in the global digital community" he added.
He noted this week’s decision of Sudanese authorities to seize 14 newspapers saying that this is a prime example of the need to enable people to have access to communication tools.
OFAC said in its press release that the easing of sanctions is consistent with the US government’s “commitment to the advancement of the free flow of information and to facilitate communications by the Sudanese people, including during a national dialogue”.
This month, the Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour concluded a rare visit to Washington where he held talks with senior officials at the White House and State Department.
The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti also visited Washington separately this month to participate in the National Prayer Breakfast together with US president Barack Obama and international dignitaries.
It was also reported today that the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Steven Feldstein will visit Sudan next week.
Sudan is on the US list of countries supporting terrorism since 1993 and also subjected to economic sanctions since 1997.
Washington acknowledges Sudan’s cooperation in the fight against terrorism, but attached new conditions to normalizing ties related to the end of the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Sudanese officials however, insist that issues of bilateral relations should be discussed without interfering in Sudan internal affairs.
The lifting of US digital technology sanctions on personal communication items has been a focus of a campaign launched last year by Sudanese civil society groups named “The Sudanese initiative to lift US sanctions on Sudan”.
According to a report that appeared on Indexcensorship.org, an international organisation that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression, the campaign argued that these sanctions negatively impact Sudanese citizens’ access to information communication technologies (ICT) in a number of sectors, including educational institutions, pro-democracy civil society and humanitarian efforts that utilize geographic information system (GIS) technology.
Mohamed Hashim Kambal, the campaign’s coordinator was quoted as saying that “Through talking to Sudanese citizens belonging to a wide variety of sectors it is clear that US sanctions not only hampers access to independent information but also access to knowledge and to aspects of the internet related to crowd sourcing and crisis mapping”.
“We want to be clear that this is not an appeal to lift all sanctions from the Sudanese regime that continues to commit human rights atrocities. This is an appeal to empower Sudanese citizens through improved access to ICTs so that they can be more proactive on issues linked to democratic transformation, humanitarian assistance and technology education — an appeal to make the sanctions smarter,” Kambal added.
The Indexcensorship.org report noted that users inside the country cannot purchase original software online and that they along with universities, rely heavily on pirated software that cannot be updated online automatically and is often ridden with malware.
Sudanese pro-democracy NGO’s are unable to directly crowdfund from Sudanese Diaspora directly, the report noted because of US sanctions that don’t permit the transfer of funds to or from Sudan.
SPLM-N URGES PRESSURES
The SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Aman expressed hope that Feldstein’s visit to Sudan will help to focus on the “gross human rights violations” committed by the Sudanese government.
“The Sudanese people will expect the engagement between the Sudan government and the U.S. to improve the human rights situation and to restrain the Sudan government from continuing its ugly practices,” Arman said.
In a statement he released in English, he pointed to the denial of humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and Darfur region, the bombing of medical dispensaries, hospitals schools and water points.
He also mentioned the imprisonment of opposition leader and rights activists and the lack of fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and free press.
February 17, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Monday seized copies of fourteen newspapers from printing press without giving reasons.
The confiscated newspapers included the social newspapers Hikayat and Al-Dar besides 11 political newspapers including Al-Sudani, Al-Rayaam, Al-Intibaha, Al-Tayar, Al-Saiha, Akhir Lahza, Awal Al-Nahar, Al-Migher Al-Siyasi, Al-Watan, Alwan, Al-Ahram Al-Youm and Akhbar Al-Youm.
The deputy chairman of the pro-government Sudan Journalists Union (SJU), Mohamed al-Fatih, told that most of the social and political newspapers were confiscated from the printing press today except Al-Ayaam, Al-Youm Al-Tali, Al-Mustaqilla, Al-Akhbar, Al-Wifaq, Al-Sahafa, Al-Taghyeer, Al-Jareeda and Al-Khartoum.
Al-Fatih said he called the SJU’s executive office for an emergency meeting to determine the circumstances of this rare incident and the number of confiscated copies, warning that the move places heavy financial burden on the already suffering newspapers.
Later on the day, the SJU issued a carefully worded statement denouncing the move and describing it as a “setback” in the course of press freedoms.
“This move is not commensurate with the constitutional developments and the prevailing atmosphere of freedoms and dialogue”, the statement read.
It expressed regret over applying special measures against newspapers away from the Press and Publishing Act which governs press practice in the country.
The statement said the SJU would initiate transparent dialogue among political leadership, NISS and the press institutions to stop applying extraordinary measures against newspapers.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s minister of information, Ahmed Bilal Osman, said the newspapers were seized according to the law, threatening that any attempt to compromise national security will be swiftly dealt with using the law.
Osman, who spoke at a forum held by the official news agency SUNA on Monday, added that NISS would carry out its duties if newspapers published any reports which threaten economic or social security or cause sedition or chaos.
Sudan’s Journalists’ Association for Human Rights (JAHR), for its part, described this development as a “qualitative precedent” in the record of confiscating newspaper after printing.
It said the growing phenomenon of seizing copies of all newspapers including those owned by NISS represents an unprecedented escalation against freedom of expression and publishing.
Several journalists told the move was more likely a reaction to reports published by those newspapers claiming that a journalist working for Al-Dar newspaper has vanished under suspicious circumstances but he was later found “wandering” in the River Nile state according to police statement on Sunday.
The police statement denied that journalist, Siraj al-Din al-Na’im, went missing in unclear circumstances, accusing the newspapers of lacking objectivity in dealing with the issue.
It added that Al-Na’im told the police during the investigation that he was “unconscious” since he left his home in Khartoum and unaware of his whereabouts.
The statement pointed that the incident was a private matter and there was no suspicion of criminal or hostile acts against the journalist.
However, several other journalists attributed NISS’s move to reports published on
Monday saying that presidential guards prevented the leader of the former rebel Justice and Liberation Movement Dabajo (JEM-Dabajo), Bakheit Abdallah Dabajo, from entering the Sudanese presidency on Sunday.
While another journalist said the move was caused by publishing news on the decision of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to extend polling in upcoming elections to three days compared to on day in 2010 elections.
Sudan’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression but laws subordinate to the constitution such as the National Security Forces Act of 2010 contains articles that can be potentially used to curtail press freedom and instigate legal proceedings against newspapers and individual journalists.
Sudanese journalists work under tight daily censorship controls exercised by the NISS.
Journalists say that confiscation and suspension of newspapers is a commonly used practice by the local authorities to overburden the newspapers with financial losses alongside other non-financial pressures.
NISS recently intensified its crackdown on press in the country accusing them of crossing the red lines through publishing reports which adversely impact the national security.
February 15, 2015 (DALLAS, TEXAS) – One of the dozen contenders in Sudan’s presidential elections pledged that he will work with the US administration to lift the decade-long economic sanctions imposed on the country and remove it from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.
“This can be done easily. You put laws that conform to international conventions on human rights that would achieve social justice and assert individual freedoms. All laws that restrict freedoms will be abolished,” said Mohamed El-Hassan who is running on the National Reform Party (NRP) ticket.
Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. In 2007 it strengthened the embargo, citing abuses in Darfur which it labeled as genocide.
Sudan is also on the US list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1993 even though the two countries have strengthened their counterterrorism cooperation since September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.
Washington acknowledges Sudan’s cooperation in the fight against terrorism, but attached new conditions to normalizing ties related to the end of the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Sudanese officials however, insist that issues of bilateral relations should be discussed without interfering in Sudan internal affairs.
El-Hassan told during an interview that he hopes to establish the rule of law in Sudan that would eventually lead the international community to view the country with respect contrary to its “pariah state status”.
“All countries today respect the United States because it is a nation of laws. Refugees come from all over the world seeking protection there,” said El-Hassan who holds dual US-Sudanese citizenship.
The presidential candidate also vowed to ratify all international treaties that deals with human rights.
El-Hassan expressed sympathy with rebels fighting Khartoum saying they resorted to arms after failing to get their rights in other means and because of a non-responsive military government.
“This is a military government led by a military man even if tried to appear as a democratic one. All laws and legislation are tailored to their needs which is why wars in Sudan have erupted,” he said.
“To stop the wars in Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile we need new laws that achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people,” El-Hassan added.
He also endorsed the call by the National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi to hold a constitutional conference attended by all actors that is to be preceded by a declaration of ceasefire in all fronts.
On terrorism, El-Hassan accused the government of encouraging fundamentalist groups which thrived under the military rule of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.
“We will have a moderate view of religion. Anyone who breaches [that view] and harms people will be swiftly dealt with by law,” he said.
He declined to spell out his view of Sudan’s relations with Iran which has irked Arab gulf states.
“When I hold office god willing, we will review the links [with Iran] in light of the sweeping reforms I will introduce across the government,” El-Hassan said.
On the apostasy law, El-Hassan said that it is no longer relevant and will repeal it stressing that no one can be forced to adopt a faith he does not believe in.
He also expressed willingness to appoint a female or a non-Muslim Vice President should he ascend to presidency.
El-Hassan’s first foreign visit if elected will be to the US seeking to lift “harmful economic sanctions” expressing optimism that he can start the process of having Washington undoing these sanctions during his first 100 days in office.
Most of Sudan’s major opposition parties have declared that they will boycott the elections scheduled for next April, citing government’s crackdown on political and press freedoms and insist on forming a transitional government that would draft a new constitution and prepare for fair and free elections.
Observers say it is all but certain that incumbent president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will comfortably win a new term and that the ruling National Congress Party will also sweep state and parliamentary elections.
February 13, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson on Thursday has expressed concern over mass rape allegations in Darfur and urged Khartoum to allow full investigation on the incident.
Last year report claimed that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers raped some 200 women and girls in Tabit, a village in North Darfur.
Following these allegations, Sudanese authorities initially prevented a verification team from the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) from probing the claim but allowed them to visit the area later.
After the visit, UNAMID said they found no evidence confirming the mass rape claims.
However, Sudanese officials were angered by the remarks of UN officials who stressed the need for further investigation mentioning the heavy presence of military and police during the first probe.
Since then, Sudan refused to authorise a second investigation and called publicly for an exit strategy for the joint mission from Darfur.
However, a report released by by Human Rights Watch this week reiterated that the Sudanese soldiers raped Tabit women.
Eliasson met with the Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour on Thursday in the presence of the UN peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous.
According to a statement by the UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, Eliasson “expressed concern over continued allegations of mass rape in the village of Tabit in Darfur”, urging the Sudanese government to allow UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) access to carry out a full investigation into the incident.
Sudan’s official news agency SUNA said on Friday that Ghandour dismissed the allegations, pointing to the probe conducted by the government besides the investigation carried out by UNAMID.
According to SUNA, Ghandour underscored the government has enough documents to prove that those claims didn’t take place.
A report released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stressed the Sudanese government troops carried out mass rape against women and girls in Tabit late last year.
The US-based watchdog said it interviewed 15 survivors and one female witness who provided first-hand information about 27 incidents of rape.
Twenty-three other “credible sources” provided information about an additional 194 incidents of rape, HRW said in its 48-page report.
On Wednesday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on Khartoum to allow a UNAMID mission to investigate the rape claims and to allow “safe, unhindered access to the town”.
Meanwhile, SUNA said that Ghandour briefed Eliasson on the recent political developments in Sudan including his visit to Washington, national dialogue, situation in Darfur and talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North on the Two Areas.
It said that Eliasson praised the government-led national dialogue, expressing UN’s desire to cooperate with Sudan in various domains particularly development projects.
Ghandour for his part emphasised his government commitment to cooperate with the UN in all domains particularly on UNAMID’s exit strategy from Darfur.
MEETING WITH AFRICAN AMBASSADORS
Meanwhile, Ghandour met on Thursday with African ambassadors to the UN at the UN headquarters in New York.
He thanked them for their continuous support to Sudan, praising African Union’s recent decisions regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The presidential aide briefed the ambassadors on the previous rounds of talks with the SPLM-N on the Two Areas besides preparations for the coming round which is expected to take place within two weeks.
He pointed the two delegation were close to sign a framework agreement on the bases of the UN Security Council resolution 2046 but they disagreed on two issues including provision of the humanitarian assistance to the affected and the implementation of the ceasefire.
Ghanour pointed out the government seeks to achieve a comprehensive ceasefire while the SPLM-N wants a renewable cessation of hostilities.
The Blue Nile and South Kordofan’s conflict erupted months apart from each other in 2011 when Sudan attempted to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters it accuses of being backed by their brother-in-arms in the South Sudanese army.
The two sides failed to sign a peace deal following nine rounds of talks.
The presidential assistant also briefed the ambassadors on the situation in Sudan following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and how the international community repudiated commitments it made at the time of the signing of the deal.
February 11, 2015 (Khartoum) - The Sudanese army and its Chinese counterpart have signed a military cooperation agreement on Tuesday during a visit to Khartoum by a senior Chinese delegation.
- Military Cooperation Agreement
The agreement comes within the framework of implementing the outcome of the strategic dialogue between the two nations which was held in China last January.
The Chinese delegation also agreed that Beijing is to fund the educational programmes run by the Sudanese army.
According t Ashorooq TV, the signing ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Sudanese defence ministry in Khartoum on Tuesday.
The Chinese delegation, headed by the director of the Chinese army’s external relations discussed with the Sudanese defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein importance of joint cooperation between the two countries and ways for advancing issues of concern at various levels and areas.
Hussein said the two sides also signed a grant agreement provided by the Chinese army to fund the educational programmes run by the Sudanese army.
The Chinese military official, for his part, said his delegation came to Sudan to promote military ties between the two countries.
China is considered Sudan’s major commercial partner, and procures around 140,000 oil barrels from Sudan daily.
February 7, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The secretary-general of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi, has called for building major alliances among political parties and warned that Sudan could face the fate of Syria and Iraq.
- Al-Bashir shakes hands with Al-Turabi
Turabi, who addressed the third general convention of the Federal Umma Party (FUP) on Saturday, said that political parties were plagued by tribalism which created divisions and conflicts and prevented building of coalitions.
“We look forward to uniting [our countries] one day as Europe did, we want to expand to the east and west beyond the borders”, he said.
“If federation had taken root in our souls, South Sudan wouldn’t have seceded,” he added .
The Islamic leader, who spoke in the presence of the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, seemed tolerant towards the regime and said the country swang between military and democratic regimes because people usually seek to achieve stability in the military rule however they uprise against it after a while.
“This time we were all inflicted by the sedition and the authorities turned against us before it drew closer to us using [soft] language and [ as the Quran says] if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah,” he added.
Turabi split from the NCP in 1999 following a bitter power struggle with Bashir. He was subsequently ousted from his post as parliament speaker.
He later established PCP and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime for which he orchestrated the army-backed seizure of power in 1989.
However, he accepted to join the national dialogue initiative launched by Bashir last year and continued to adhere to it in spite of the withdrawal of major opposition parties from the process.
Analysts say Turabi believes that the opposition forces must stick to the dialogue process and seek to bring the regime to make the needed concessions in order to achieve democratic reforms.
“He believes that war and dismantlement of the country is the only alternative to the national dialogue,” they say.
Turabi expected the FUP to be the nucleus of the comprehensive unity of Sudanese parties, urging for upholding the spirit of collaboration for the sake of the home country.
He demanded the FUP members to seek to build coalitions, saying he wishes to see all political parties living in harmony and without divisions and infightings.
“I pray to Allah to reassure me of the [future] of this motherland before I die,” he added.
Turabi further described the bloody events in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Egypt as “wrath of Allah”, urging FUP members to become a model for unifying Sudanese people.
The chairman of the FUP, Ahmed Babikir Nahar, for his part, emphasised they will run in the upcoming elections at all levels except the presidency, pointing his party decided to support Bashir’s candidacy for another presidential term.
He said his party will nominate 800 candidates in all constituencies, noting that Sudan is going through a historic juncture which requires unity of all political forces in order to avoid the fate of Syria and Yemen.
Sudan’a general elections are scheduled for April.
The FUP is a splinter faction of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi
February 5, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The United States acknowledged on Thursday the visit by two Sudanese officials to Washington which drew criticism from activists and some congressmen.
Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti and presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour are believed to have arrived in a low-profile visit news of which was leaked this week.
Karti is supposed to have taken part in the annual National Prayer Breakfast which took place today with the presence of US president Barack Obama and other faith and political leaders.
The event is hosted by members of the United States Congress and is organized on their behalf by The Fellowship Foundation, a Christ-centered group.
Karti and Ghandour will also hold discussions with US officials next week, State department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters today.
“This visit and also the discussions with Foreign Minister Karti are a continuation of dialogue on a number of issues of longstanding concern to the U.S. Government, with the Government of Sudan. It’s part of the engagement process where we raise concerns, certainly, that you are well aware of. And we engage them in a frank and frequent manner to discuss this full range of issues: Harf said.
The spokesperson stressed that Washington engages with them “in their roles as government officials in a frank conversation about many issues, including human rights.
US Congressmen Jim McGovern and Tom Lantos, co-chairs of Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued a statement criticizing the invitations extended to the two officials.
“We are deeply alarmed by reports that two alleged perpetrators of genocide in Sudan, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti and Dr. Ibrahim Ghandour of the ruling National Congress Party, have been invited to the National Prayer Breakfast. Quite simply, these officials should not have been invited to attend an event held in the name of the U.S. Congress, which has passed legislation denouncing the Sudanese government for acts of genocide and crimes against humanity” the statement reads.
“This breakfast, an occasion where the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be recognized, should be a moment to ensure that the words ’Never Again!’ have genuine meaning. We call upon all participants at the National Prayer Breakfast, including the President of the United States, to publicly and forcefully denounce the continuing human rights crimes being carried out in Sudan by the government of Omar al-Bashir, especially the atrocities taking place on a near daily basis in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan”.
The Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) Secretary-General and chief negotiator Yasser Arman denounced the visit of the two officials saying they are invited to visit the US at the time they and their government are committing gross human rights violations and genocide.
“Ghandour is one of the architects of the one party election. We should mobilize against this visit,” he stressed.
Ghandour, who is the chief negotiator for talks with rebels on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, will seek to persuade Washington to support their efforts to convince the rebel groups to sign cessation of hostilities agreement and to join the national dialogue launched last year by president Bashir.
Sudan is on the list of terror sponsoring countries and subjected to harsh economic sanctions. Washington admits Sudan’s cooperation in the fight against terrorism, but attached new conditions to normalizing ties related to the end of the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Officials in Khartoum however, insist that issues of bilateral relations should be discussed without interfering in Sudan internal affairs.
The US special envoy to the Sudans Donald Booth visited Khartoum twice since his appointment in 2013 where he received a cold reception from Sudanese officials. Since, Khartoum reportedly refuses to receive him.
February 4, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The defence team of the detained opposition leader Farouk Abu Issa said he was rushed to the hospital for the second time on Tuesday due to sharp drop in blood pressure.
Abu Essa who chairs the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) and Amin Mekki Medani who heads the alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organisations have been detained since December after being signatories to the “Sudan Call” accord with the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) in Addis Ababa.
The speaker of the defence team, al-Muiz Hadra, told on Wednesday that Abu Issa and Madani suffer from extremely complex health issues but they strongly rejected any attempts to transfer them to the hospital.
He pointed that Kober prison administration transferred Abu Issa to the police hospital Sahiroun on Tuesday evening despite his reluctance, saying the hospital decided to keep him until his health stabilises.
Hadra revealed the defence team will submit a request to the justice minister on Thursday to ask him to allow for Abu Issa’s stay in the hospital, saying their request will also include Madani.
“We will submit the request in spite of the refusal [of our clients] because it is their legal right”, he added.
The two leaders are both in their 80s and suffering from several diseases.
Abu Issa and Madani, who appeared before the court two days ago, seemed extremely fatigued and lost much of their weight following two months of detention.
The opposition leader had been rushed to hospital on December 23 following deterioration of his health condition.
His daughter, Nahla at the time said that her father suffered from cardiac arrhythmia in addition to other health problems which requires him being brought under special medical care.
Several charges have been filed against Abu Issa and Madani including undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state, crimes punishable by death.
February 2, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – A spokesman of the rebel leader Riek Machar said the document his group signed on Sunday night in Addis Ababa with president Salva Kiir’s government did not carry an agreement on power-sharing arrangements as reported in the media.
Media reports suggested that the two principal leaders struck a deal which maintained president Kiir with rebel leader Machar as the vice president.
A power-sharing ratio of 53%, 33% and 14% for government, rebels and former detainees and political parties, respectively, was alleged to have been agreed.
However, rebel sources said the agreement was mainly on mandate of a transitional government of national unity which the parties agreed to form.
“The agreement has only outlined the mandate of the would-be transitional government of national unity. The document does not carry any agreement on leadership structure and power-sharing ratios as reported in the media,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told on Monday.
“This transitional government would be formed by 9 July 2015 if a final peace agreement is signed. There are however many issues pending for further negotiations before a final peace agreement,” he said.
The rebel leader’s spokesman explained that the mandate of the transitional government of national unity will be to implement a final peace agreement, which he said was yet to be negotiated and signed by 5 March dateline.
He said power-sharing ratios between the parties were not agreed and will further be negotiated and agreed upon, adding no particular personalities to the executive leadership were also fixed.
The deal has agreed on 29 national ministers and 8 deputy ministers as the size of the would-be cabinet.
The ministerial portfolios will however be allocated by an ad-hoc committee from representatives of the parties in accordance with a power-sharing agreement which will have been agreed on.
Dak also said the two parties have agreed on a 30-month period of the transitional government that will be proceeded by a 3-month pre-transitional period, adding that this will only commence after a final peace agreement is signed.
The transitional government, according to its agreed mandate and functions, he added, will also conduct a population census prior to elections and organize elections at the end of 30 months period.
The deal also stipulated that a new electoral commission shall be established in accordance with the agreement.
The new deal has also “accepted the need for profound structural, institutional and political reforms in South Sudan.”
On security sector, the agreement recommitted the two parties to respecting the 23 January 2014 cessation of hostilities accord and to further negotiate on security arrangements with a permanent ceasefire that will be in effect 72 hours after the signing of final peace agreement.
“The parties are yet to negotiate terms of the security arrangements,” he said.
In addressing accountability and reconciliation, the two parties agreed to establish an independent commission of truth, reconciliation and healing to “address the legacy of conflict” with participation of eminent African personalities and others, adding an independent hybrid judicial body shall also be established to prosecute those responsible for gross crimes.
The deal which president Kiir and his rival Machar inked was also witnessed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who chairs the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, IGAD’s rapporteur.
The parties are expected to return to Addis Ababa on 19 February and resume with the negotiations on all the outstanding issues.