Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan becomes arms producer

Radio Dabanga/allAfrica

Abu Dhabi / Khartoum — A wide range of Sudanese weapons and military equipment are currently on display at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) in Abu Dhabi.

All the weapons are produced by the state-owned Military Industry Corporation (MIC). Since its establishment in 1993, MIC has strongly expanded its production, making Sudan the third largest weapons producer in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.

President Omar Al Bashir attended the Idex opening ceremony on Sunday. He arrived at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday, accompanied by a an 11-member delegation, comprised of Ministers of the Presidency, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Investments, Electricity, Minerals, Livestock and Fisheries, Labour, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and the head of police.

It is Al Bashir’s first official trip to the UAE since 2008. MIC spokesman, Ali Osman Mahmoud, said that the visit represents an effort on the part of the Sudanese government to improve ties with the UAE, Khaleeej Times reported on Monday.

Embargo

An international arms embargo was imposed on Sudan in the early 1990’s. “We ourselves had to meet the needs of our armed forces and reach self-sufficiency,” Mahmoud explained. “We have reached a level in which we are producing genuine, highly-efficient products. We now hope that we can compete with other countries.”

He said that all Sudanese weapons systems are battle-proven, and have been tested in the field. “Our army is already using these very same products.”

“We would like to pursue new technologies and get up to date, in the area of electro-optics, for example. We now have enough technologies that we are able to computerise, and upgrade all our systems,” the MIC spokesman added.

On display

The MIC presented the Khalifa-1, a self-propelled D-30 howitzer, capable of sending a 122-mm projectile to strike targets up to 20km away; the Khatim-2, which has been identified as the Sudanese version of the Iranian Boraq-2 IFV, which is similar to the Russian BMP-2; a mobile version of the Taka 107 mm multiple rocket launcher, as well as the Nimir long-range patrol vehicle; an unarmoured Tamal tactical vehicle, and the Sarsar-2 armoured reconnaissance vehicle, that is listed as being armoured to the Russian CEN level BR6.

A stabilised remote weapon station called the Ateed appeared to be identical to the ARIO-H762, which is made by an Iranian company.

Other new products on the main stand appeared to be of Chinese origin, among them the Sarib anti-tank guided missile, which strongly resembles the Chinese HJ-8 optically tracked, wire-guided system on the lightweight launcher. Another Chinese weapon, the 35 mm QLZ-87 automatic grenade launcher, of which the MIC says it produces under the name Ahmed was not on display.

Among the Sudanese-produced vehicles on display are self-propelled mortar and rocket-launching systems, and smaller vehicles for use on long-range patrols over rough terrain. Many of the MIC vehicles are designed to operate on long-distances in remote areas.

Sudan participated at the Idex for the first time in 2013.

(Sources: Khaleej Times, Sudan Tribune, Sudan Vision Daily)

Mali – ceasefire with MNLA and MAA to allow peacectalks

Reuters

(Reuters) – Mali’s government and an alliance of Tuareg-led northern rebels agreed to cease hostilities on Thursday to ease tensions during U.N.-sponsored peace negotiations aimed at ending decades of uprisings.

The talks hosted by Algiers, the fifth round of recent negotiations, must now turn to the tricky questions over identity, a form of limited self-rule and more rights for the northern desert region the rebels call Azawad.

Western governments are keen for a lasting peace in Mali, fearing Islamist militants will again profit from the unrest in the north to gain a foothold, two years after French troops intervened to drive them out.

U.N. Mali mission chief Mongi Hamdi has said he expects this to be the last step to a final peace agreement. But talks have been hampered by fighting on the ground and differences over how to devolve powers, and even the name of the north.

Thursday’s deal, which calls for an immediate halt to hostilities and provocations, was signed by the rebel coalition, including Tuareg MNLA and Arab MAA groups as well as the Mali government and a pro-Bamako alliance.

“This is an advance in building confidence and consolidating a ceasefire on the ground,” Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told reporters at the signing ceremony.

MNLA leader Bilal Ag Acherif said the document should facilitate talks in “good faith” between the parties.

Bamako and rebel groups agreed last year to a preliminary roadmap set out for talks. A U.N. initial document recognises Mali’s unity and territorial integrity, but also the need for more rights and development for the north.

Mali’s government says it will not discuss northern autonomy, but will talk about devolving more local authority.

Rebels are seeking a form of local government, including some form of federalism, with local parliament and security, saying Bamako neglected their region for decades.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is also under pressure over security and faces criticism from southerners unwilling to give concessions to rebels who they blame for a crisis when Islamist militants swept the north.

Sudan and China sign military cooperation agreement

Sudan Tribune

(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.

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Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) take part in a training session at a military base in Taiyuan, Shanxi province on 31 July 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

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 to 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.

(ST)

South Sudan – Bahr el-Ghazal says Sudan supporting rebels

Sudan Tribune

February 10, 2015 (JUBA) – A senior South Sudanese official has accused the army in neighbouring Sudan of allegedly entering the young nation in support of rebels loyal to former vice president, Riek Machar.

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Rizik Zachariah Hassan, Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal State (File photo)

Addressing reporters in Juba on Monday, South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state governor, Rizik Hassan Zachariah, said the rebel forces have lately intensified their military offensives in Raja area.

He claimed the rebels came from Sudan’s direction.

“There is no contradiction in what we have reported the attack in which commissioner survived narrowly. The information we have now shows that it was a coordinated attack,” said Hassan.

“The forces of Riek Machar came from Kafia Kingi, which is controlled by the government of Sudan. They are there. When they launched the attack, they crossed into our territory with heavy weapons provided by the government of Sudan,” he added.

Sudanese government officials were not immediately available to comment.

Hassan is part of a six-member delegation of governors headed to East Africa to brief the various heads of states on the ongoing peace talks aimed at ending the conflict.

“Our mission to East Africa is to go and meet with the regional leaders, especially those who are playing a strong role in the conflict, those who want peace to come to South Sudan,” disclosed Hassan.

“We are going to meet them so they hear from us the on the ground perspectives about peace process from our people,” he added.

South Sudan’s Central Equatoria governor, Clement Wani Konga leads the six-member delegation comprises of his counterparts from Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, Eastern Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Western Equatoria states.

(ST)

Sudan – 18,000 displaced by government and militia attacks in Jebel Marra

Sudan Tribune

January 21, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The number of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the capital of North Darfur state have reached 18,000 people said OCHA a UN body tasked with the coordination of humanitarian action on Wednesday.

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A child walks with her mother to their shelter at the Zam Zam camp for displaced people in North Darfur on 11 June 2014 (Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

“The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 18,000 people have been newly verified as displaced in El-Fasher, Shangil Tobaya, Tawila and Um Baru areas in North Darfur, according to humanitarian partners,” said Farhan Haq, UN chief deputy spokesperson.

Haq further said that more than 2,200 IDPs sought protection at the UNAMID site in Um Baru, adding that people continue to arrive too the base of the hybrid peacekeeping mission there.

He also pointed that 200 IDPs reached UNAMID camp in Sortony area which is not far from Jebel Marra “reportedly fearing attacks on villages in the area”.

Since the beginning of this year, the Sudanese army and the government militias carry out military attacks on the rebel positions in Jebel Marra in North Darfur.

The spokesperson of the army said they expulsed different factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) from the eastern part of Jebel Marra and captured strategic rebel positions.

Also the army and the rebels confirmed the death of the SLM-Minni Minnawi to operational commander Mohamed Hari on 13 January in an ambush near Orshi, North Darfur.

OCHA said aid groups on the ground provide civilians affected by the fighting in the area with humanitarian assistance including healthcare and household items.

However, the Un body says “that aid agencies aren’t able to access those displaced in the Jebel Marra area and assess their needs due to ongoing hostilities and access constraints.”

access to this isolated area continues to be a challenge for humanitarians but that efforts are underway to carry out a rapid assessment and deliver humanitarian assistance.

(ST)

Sudan – government says Justice and Equality split won’t affect Darfur peace

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Darfur former rebels Sunday admitted the split of their group, Justice and Equality Movement (LJM) into two factions as the national government says the schism with not affect a peace framework agreement they signed in July 2011.

More than three years after the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), the principal signatory of the framework agreement is now split into the Justice and Equality Movement (LJM) led by Bahar Idriss Abu Garda and the National Justice and Equality Movement (NLJM) led by Tijani al-Sissi.

The two groups admitted the split and are now officially registered as two political parties ahead of the general elections scheduled for April 2015. However despite the effectiveness of the schism, the two parties continue to exchange hostile statements through the media.

The head of the LJM-Revolutionary Council Bakheet Ismail Dahia who is known for his support to Abu Garda issued a statement Sunday saying that al-Sissi’s decision to relieve the secretary-general is “null and void”.

Dahia further accused Sissi of violating the group’s statutes and rules and decided to relieve him from the chairmanship of the movement, saying he worked “secretly and openly, to destroy consensus and compromise within the movement”.

In a press conference held on Sunday, Ahmed Fadel, the spokesperson of al-Sissi’s group said there were efforts by many Darfuri MPs to reconcile between the two factions but Abu Garda breached an agreement to stop hostile statements and public criticism.

Fadel further accused Abu Garda of seeking to take the control of the movement, adding he campaigned against Sissi and started to appoint his supporters at the different sections of the groups without consulting its leader. He further regretted that the former secretary-general sought to mobilise and draw supporters on ethnic and racial bases.

Al-Sissi is a Fur and Abu Garda is from the Zaghawa tribe.

Since this January, the DDPD is part of the Sudanese constitution, a measure that the Sudanese government was not enthusiastic to endorse, hoping to include the non-signatory groups.

The DDPD is also signed by a splinter faction of the Justice and Equality Movement led by Bakheet Dabajo.

LJM controls the executive and the legislative bodies of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), which is an interim body tasked with the implementation of peace in western Sudan in accordance with the DDPD.

IMPACT ON RDA

When reached by Sudan Tribune on Sunday Dahia said a decisive meeting will be held during the next two days to decide on the fate of al-Sissi as the RDA chairman, after consultation with their peace partner, the National Congress Party (NCP)-led government.

But a supporter of al-Sissi, LJM deputy secretary-general Hashim Hammad, who also serves as secretary-general of the Darfur Reconstruction Fund told reporters on Sunday that his group is entirely satisfied of its partnership with the National Congress Party saying, “Our partnership with the NCP is a sweet and we will continue this sweetness.”

The Sudanese government seems not worried by the dissidence or its impact on the peace process in Darfur.

The head of Darfur peace office and state minister Amin Hassan Omer told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the conflict within the “Liberation and Justice” will not affect the DDPA implementation.

“The current differences will not affect the Agreement because the movement itself will turn into two parties,” Omer said.

He stressed that the Abu Garda’s decision to dismiss the DRA chairman, from his position in the movement, will not affect the institutions of the regional authority or representation.

Since its inception, LJM which is a coalition of different small factions, witnessed several rifts during the peace talks and after the signing of the DDPD.

However this split is the most important one between within a group participating in the national government.

DRA chief Tijani al-Sissi and JEM Sudan leader Bakheit Abdallah Dabajo during the integration ceremony of 1350 JEM combatants in Al-Fasher on 25 August 2014 (Photo courtesy of JEM- Sudan)

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Sudan – NISS wants to dissolve Mahdi’s Umma Party

Sudan Tribune

January 13, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) filed a request with the registrar of political parties to dissolve the National Umma Party (NUP) and ban its activities, a party official said.

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President of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-mahdi (L) shake hands with the chairman of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) on 8 August 2014 (ST)

The official who spoke to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity said that NISS based its request on NUP chairman al-Sadiq al-Mahdi being a signatory to the ‘Paris Declaration’ and ‘Sudan Call’ accords with rebel groups.

The NUP is required to respond to NISS filing before the registrar makes a decision, the official added.

Last December, Sudanese political and armed opposition forces and civil society organizations signed the “Sudan Call” agreement in Addis Ababa which calls for ending the war, dismantling the one-party state, achieving a comprehensive peace and democratic transition in the country.

This was preceded by the signing of the “Paris Declaration” last August between the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the NUP which calls for a comprehensive solution involving all the political forces including rebel groups. It further stresses on the need to create a conducive environment in order to hold a genuine national dialogue.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir described the signatories as agents, traitors and mercenaries who sealed these deals with sponsorship of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli intelligence service (Mossad).

Bashir also vowed to try al-Mahdi, who has been based in Cairo since these accords, once he returns to Sudan for his alliance with SRF unless he disavows these agreements.

But al-Mahdi rejected these conditions and demanded a governmental apology for Bashir’s accusations.

This week Bashir’s assistant Ibrahim Ghandour said that al-Mahdi’s son Abdelrahman launched a new initiative to make amends between the president and the NUP chief.

“Abdelrahman is keen on cooperation between NUP and the National Congress Party (NCP),” Ghandour said.

Abdelrahman is also Bashir’s assistant since December 2011.

The NCP political secretary Hamid Mumtaz on Monday welcomed the initiative that would allow al-Mahdi to return home, expressing hope that all opposition leaders would work from inside Sudan to exercise their constitutional right.

But he stressed that al-Mahdi would first need distance himself from the two accords as Bashir demanded.

The NISS announced late last September that it intends to sue al-Mahdi for his activities that are deemed to be anti-Sudan.

At the time the NISS media department chief Mohammed Hamid Tabeedi said that this decision was made “after a thorough evaluation of the legal system and on the basis of information and documents available to the agency related to activities of al-Mahdi since the signing of the Paris Declaration.”

He asserted that the signing of the Paris Declaration and subsequent meetings subjects al-Mahdi to criminal proceedings, adding that they will file complaint against him within days.

(ST)