Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan-South Sudan – Bashir fails to attend IGAD meeting

Sudan Tribune

October 23, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese authorities said on Thursday that a leadership meeting of Sudan’s ruling party (NCP) rendered president Omer Hassan al-Bashir incapable of attending Wednesday’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting in Juba.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L), Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (C) and South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (R) at the third Tanana Forum on Security in Africa held in Ethiopia’s Bahr Dar town on 27 April 2014 (SUNA)

“President Bashir was briefed by the chief mediator about the summit. He did not come because he had other commitments,” Ateny Wek Ateny, the presidency spokesperson said.

He however said the Sudanese leader had assured the mediators of his presence at the next summit on a date yet to be agreed upon.

“He [Bashir] told them [mediation team] to pick the date and let him know. He told them that he would in the next summit,” said Ateny.

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and his Ugandan counterpart, Ruhankana Rugunda attended the one-day IGAD consultative summit held in Juba.

During the meeting, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, said he would remove obstacles blocking progress in peace talks with the country’s rebel faction under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar.

“I said it in Arusha, Tanzania, that if the other people were committed and demonstrated [a] willingness to resolve this crisis, like we have done as the government, the people who are now in the [internally] displaced camps, would have returned to their homes and they would not have missed planting season. They would have cultivated,” Kiir told regional leaders at the meeting.

He said the government delegation had full powers to negotiate and resolve the current crisis.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict since mid-December last year after a political dispute in the ruling SPLM turned violent. The IGAD-led peace talks have so far failed to halt the violence amid repeated delays and disagreements over key issues.

(ST)

Sufi leader tries to unify Sudanese opposition leaders

Sudan Tribune

October 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the Sudanese Araki-Qadiri sufi sect, Abdalla Ahmed al-Rayah, has launched a new initiative aimed at unifying opposition forces.

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NCF chairman Farouk Abu Issa (L) pictured with NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (C) and PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (Photo: Reuters)

He invited opposition leaders to meet on Monday in his headquarters in Tayba area west of the Gazira state capital of Wad Medani.

Born in 1946, al-Rayah is considered the spiritual leader of the National Unionist Party (NUnP) founded by Sudan’s former president, Ismail al-Azhari. He is known for his solid opposition stances against military regimes.

The chairman of the NUnP, Youssef Mohamed Zain, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the invitation has been extended to all opposition leaders, saying some of them apologies for not being able to attend the meeting due to a prior commitments but vowed to send delegates to represent them in the meeting.

In October 2009, opposition leaders including the National Umma Party (NUP) leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Popular Congress Party (PCP) leader, Hassan al-Turabi, besides leading figures from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement attended a similar meeting in Tayba under the auspices of al-Rayah.

Zain said the invitation was extended to all opposition forces including the PCP, NUP, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), all Arab Ba’athist and Naserite parties, various unionists’ factions besides the civil society groups.

He said the meetings aims to unify opposition forces following the recent divisions, noting the meeting will issue a call for unifying opposition forces according to a common minimum program.

Zain acknowledged failure of the opposition forces to deal with their differences, saying it was improper that opposition leaders criticise each other in the media.

He underscored the call which will be issued at the end of the meeting will focus on the need for mutual respect and joint work to achieve a state that is founded on citizenship and developing a strategy to remove the totalitarian rule.

On Saturday, al-Mahdi and the leader of the opposition umbrella National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, met in the Egyptian capital, Cairo to discuss ways for unifying opposition forces.

They stressed in a joint statement on the need to expedite the unification process of opposition forces for “the liquidation of one-party regime, the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation” in Sudan.

The rare meeting was a serious move to contain differences between the NUP and the NCF following suspension of the former’s membership in the opposition alliance and recent accusations made by Abu Issa that the NUP seeks to establish a new opposition alliance.

Observers say the political opposition forces are damned to work together and to reunite their ranks despite repression and lack of means if they want to achieve true change in Sudan.

The rule of the successive military regime and the lack of democracy in the country largely contributed to these divisions and rifts as they are isolated from their supporters and deprived of money.

Zain further lashed at the government policies and the slow pace of the national dialogue, pointing to recent fierce arrest campaign carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) against opposition leaders.

The NUnP chairman also pointed the government and the NCP are preoccupied with selection of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as candidate for the 2015 election and ignoring the deep economic crisis.

(ST)

Sudan – Bashir selected by Shura as NPC candidate for presidency again

Sudan Tribune

October 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) Shura Council has selected president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, as party candidate for the 2015 election.

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Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir looks on during an interview with state television in Khartoum late February 3, 2012 (Reuters)

The incumbent president won 265 votes out of 495 which represent 73% of the total percentage. His official nomination will be approved at the NCP General Convention.

The NCP Leadership Council on Monday besides Bashir selected four other leading members and referred them to the Shura Council to pick one of them as the party’s nominee for 2015 presidential election.

The 70-year old president previously said he would not seek a new mandate saying the country needs “fresh bold”. The appointment of a military, Bakri Hassan Saleh, as first vice-president was also perceived as a step towards his departure.

During the past weeks, Bashir received different delegations from the NCP dignitaries requesting him to accept their nomination for the presidential race.

The other four nominees chosen by the Leadership Council and submitted to the Shura Council included the first vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh, former presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie, former first vice-president Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour.

Meanwhile, the former presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that he does not seek to run for the presidency despite being selected among the NCP’s five possible candidates.

“The party members will not select me [as presidential candidate] and I do not want it and it is better for them not to select me”, he said.

The NCP leading figure, Amin Hassan Omer, said in press statements that Bashir and his deputy Salih are not serving army officers, pointing they had retired and became members of the NCP.

The head of the NCP organisational sector, Hamid Siddiq, for his part, scoffed at reports that Bashir will easily won the upcoming election because he wouldn’t run against strong competitors, saying what is wrong if Bashir wins by consensus.

He downplayed voices saying that Sudan needs a president who could break the barrier of the the international isolation and build strong relation with the United States, saying the NCP needs someone who is close to Allah [God] not the US.

Siddiq pointed the NCP leaders were unwilling to accept party nomination for presidency, saying that 7 members withdrew their nomination and the technical committee conducted the nomination process twice for lack of a quorum.

NCP MISTAKES

Bashir, who addressed the Shura Council meeting on Tuesday, acknowledged that the NCP committed several mistakes and violations, announcing intention to form a committee to look into these violations in order to overcome the flaws.

He directed the NCP members to implement the recommendations of the Shura conferences, pointing to the political mobility his party made ahead of the General Convention.

The NCP chairman said his address in the opening session of the General Convention on Thursday will tackle NCP achievements during the past five years, pointing he will also deal with the failures.

(ST)

Sudan – Bashir accuses Mahdi of advancing rebel agenda

Sudan Tribune

October 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has accused the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), Sadiq al-Mahdi, of being used by the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF).

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir delivers a speech in the capital, Khartoum, on 27 January 2014 in which he appealed for a political and economic renaissance in the country (Photo: AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

Bashir, who was interviewed by several journalists en route to Khartoum from Egypt on Sunday, lashed out at al-Mahdi, stressing he refused to meet with him in Cairo according to his request.

However, al-Mahdi’s office issued a statement on Sunday denying press reports that Bashir rejected a request from the NUP leader to meet with him in Cairo.

Bashir said al-Mahdi made “a mistake” in the first time and we granted him a way out but he repeated the same mistake and he should bear the consequences.

The Sudanese president was alluding to remarks al-Mahd made accusing a government militia of committing serious abuses in conflict zones.

The opposition veteran was asked by the security service to stop his criticism against the Rapid Support Forces when he did for the first time. But he was detained on 17 May when he repeated it

The Sudanese president underscored the deal between al-Mahdi and the SRF was “brokered by a Zionist mediator”, saying the SRF leaders sought to find someone who can promote their project and help them implement it.

“We had information that the SRF was looking for a national figure to help them carry out their project and they found al-Sadiq al-Mahdi,” he added.

He pointed the SRF takes arms against the state in order to seize the whole country, emphasising the SRF program is based upon a Zionist project targeting Sudan.

On 8 August, the NUP and the SRF signed the Paris Declaration after the former suspended its participation in the government-led national dialogue initiative following the arrest of al-Mahdi, who was detained for one month.

NATIONAL DIALOGUE

Bashir reiterated commitment to the national dialogue initiative he launched in January, saying some have mistakenly understood the initiative as a sign of weakness and submission.

“We noted that some [political parties] seek to jump over the dialogue and demand the outcome even before the dialogue convenes,” he said.

He added the national dialogue initiative did not mention postponement of the election or forming a national or transitional government, saying dialogue does not mean breaking the law.

In January, Bashir called on political parties and rebel groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss ways to bring peace in the country and to discuss constitutional reforms.

Several opposition parties, including the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi, the Reform Now Movement (RNM) led by Ghazi Salah al-Din Attabani and the National Umma Party (NUP), agreed to participate in the dialogue before the latter decided to suspend its participation after al-Mahdi was detained in May 2014.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), gathering mainly leftist parties and the rebel umbrella organisation of the Sudan Revolutionary Force (SRF) refuse to engage in the dialogue citing the need to end the war, create an environment conducive for dialogue and form a transitional government.

VISIT TO EGYPT

Meanwhile, Bashir refuted media reports that the Egyptian government deliberately hung a map showing the disputed Halaib and Shalateen triangle as part of Egypt’s territory during his meeting with president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He said the map has been put since the Ittihadiya presidential palace was built; underscoring that the triangle of Halaib is part of the Sudanese territory.

Bashir stressed they will not engage in war with Egypt, saying his visit to the latter was successful and achieved its objectives.

He said he felt psychological comfort in Egypt for the first time, stressing that he sensed al-Sisi’s keenness to promote ties between the two countries.

However, he acknowledged the existence of controversial issues with Cairo, saying he agreed with al-Sisi to postpone these issues and focus on what is being agreed upon which represent 90% of the issues.

He said the remaining 10% of the issues, including Halaib, could be resolved through dialogue and legal avenues.

The Sudanese president emphasised that he agreed with al-Sisi to utilise Sudan and Egypt relations to achieve peaceful solution for the Libyan crisis, reiterating Khartoum’s fixed position not to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.

“Determining the identity of who should rule Egypt falls in the heart of the Egyptian people responsibilities and we are not involved in that matter,” he said.

(ST)

Sudan – National Congress Party to choose presidential candidates with Bashir on the list

Sudan Tribune

October 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) Leadership Council will meet on Monday to select five figures as candidates for the presidency ahead of the scheduled General Convention on 23 October.

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A Sudanese woman stands in front of an electoral poster for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (File/The Guardian Website)

Informed sources told Sudan Tribune that the NCP Leadership Council meeting will be held in a secret place away for the media.

According to NCP bylaws, the Leadership Council selects five people and then refers it to the Shura (consultative) National Council which chooses and ranks three of the five in terms of preference.

Afterwards only one name is picked and tabled at the General Convention to endorse.

The leaked list of candidates includes the incumbent president, Omer al-Bashir, and his two deputies, Bakri Hassan Salih, and Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, besides the former vice-president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and the former presidential assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie.

However, some media reports put the current presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, among the possible nominees instead of the vice president, Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman.

The same sources underscored that the Islamic Movement’s (IM) Shura meeting which was held last Saturday has recommended four names for the list of candidates including Bashir, Salih, Ali Osman and Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, urging the NCP to continue to carry out party reforms.

According to the schedule of meetings seen by Sudan Tribune, Bashir will address the meeting of the Shura National Council on Tuesday to table the name of the presidential candidate at the General Convention which will be held on Thursday 23 october.

In recent years, Bashir has asserted that he will not run for a new term and went on to say that he spent enough time in power and that the country needs new faces.

But later he backtracked by saying it is up to the party’s institutions to decide on the 2015 presidential candidate and that he will respect their decision.

Bashir who ruled the country since staging a military coup in 1989, faces an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has restricted his international travels and his meetings with western officials.

His health has also came into question recently after undergoing two throat surgeries in 2012 to remove a tumour and two knee replacement surgeries this year.

(ST)

Sudan – Turabi’s PCP to launch political initiative

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – The opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi said it will launch a new initiative to combine views presented in initiatives of all political forces in order to reach a unified political charter.

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FILE PHOTO – NCF chairman Farouq Abu Essa (L), NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (M) and PCP leader Hassan Al-Turabi (R) – (Al-Jazeera)

The PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam told Sudan Tribune that the political scene is bustling with a large number of initiatives which seek to address the Sudanese crisis, saying his party embarked on contacting all political forces according to a specific action plan to merge these various initiatives.

Last Wednesday, the rebel umbrella organisation of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) said it seeks to form a broad strategic alliance including the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the National Umma Party (NUP), and other forces .

Abdel-Salam added their initiative does not only target the NUP led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani but all Sudanese political forces, noting they contacted both al-Mirghani and al-Mahdi.

He pointed that all political forces have proposed political initiatives to resolve the Sudanese crisis such as al-Mirghani’s Initiative for National Consensus and other initiatives, stressing the PCP seeks to identify commonalities among these initiatives in order to develop a charter which includes all parties and alliances.

The opposition forces are divided between those who accepted to participate in the national dialogue and others refusing to join the process before a number of confidence building measures.

However recently a new rift appeared within the second group as the NUP is accused of seeking to form a third block based on the Paris Declaration in a bid to gather all center and right political parties.

The NUP, which had been participating in the dialogue process, signed last August an agreement with the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) on the need to unify the opposition groups before to hold a genuine dialogue aiming to end war and restore democracy in Sudan.

On Saturday, the party of Sadiq al-Mahdi, which suspended its membership in the NCF, urged opposition forces to review and evaluate political alliances, demanding them to establish a new political coalition on the basis of Paris Declaration.

Earlier this month, the NCF chairman, Farouk Abu Issa, accused the NUP of seeking to form a new alliance under the name of the “National Front for Change”, describing the move as an attempt to weaken the major opposition alliance, the NCF.

SPLM-N secretary general Yasir Arman last week reiterated the SRF keenness to unify the opposition ranks and reiterated their commitment to the specific relation they have with the NCF forces.

(ST)

Sudan – army prepares offensive in South Kordofan

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – A senior military commander in the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Friday said preparations are being made to launch offensive operations on the rebels’ position in South Kordofan state within a few days.

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Sudanese army soldiers and RSF militiamen ride on a tank after recapturing the Daldako area, outside the military headquarters in Kadogli, South Kordofan May 20, 2014. (Photo Reuters Nureldine Abdallah)

The commander of the 14th infantry division in capital of South Kordofan, Kadugli, Major-General Abdel-Hadi Abdallah told Ashorooq TV on Friday that the army extended control over all areas which fall under its responsibility in the state.

Our troops are ready to carry out “strong and fierce attack against those who reject peace” he underscored.

Last week, the official news agency SUNA quoted the same general as saying during the graduation ceremony of 500 soldiers that the second phase of the decisive military summer campaign will be launched within a few days.

Osman, who visited the battle fronts, said the troops enjoy high morale in all areas which fall under SAF responsibility in South Kordofan state including Rashad, Tugmola and Morring.

“The army personnel in the front lines are enjoying high morale. We found them steadyfirm and ready to end the rebellion in the state within the coming few days,” he added.

He said the visit was intended to assess the conditions of the combatants, saying SAF is committed to its constitutional and national responsibility to secure the area and protect residents against rebels attacks.

Last week, the SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman accused Khartoum of conducting preparations for offensive operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states against their positions, adding they received reports saying that SAF troops are in a high state of readiness there.
Arman further told Sudan Tribune that government militias are currently heading towards the Blue Nile state and that 10.000 militiamen were called up in South Kordofan state.

South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile state has been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and SAF since 2011.

BLUE NILE

The interview of the Sudanese general coincided with a statement released by a local group, called Blue Nile Centre for Human Rights and Peace (BNCHRP), warning that SAF is massing troops in the Blue Nile state.

“The center monitored movements and intensive preparations from the Sudanese government to launch a new wave of violence against civilians in new attempts to invade the areas controlled by the SPLM-N,” said the pro rebel humanitarian group.

The BNCHRP further said SAF massed troops in Dandro, about 65 kilometers from the state capital Damazin, and now heading towards Kurmuk. It further said another forces moved to Kurmuk from Bot area near the South Sudanese border.

The group also expressed concerns about the security of “130,000 refugees from the Blue Nile” in the Upper Nile state which have witnessed the resumption of hostilities between the South Sudanese government and rebels there.

Last September, the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, said the Sudanese government delegations will hold parallel meetings with the SPLM-N on 12 October and another one with Darfur rebel groups on 15 October to discuss a cessation of hostilities agreement.

But the government chief negotiator, Ibrahim Ghandour announced that Mbeki agreed to postpone talks with the SPLM-N on the Two Areas until after 25 October.

(ST)