Category Archives: North Africa

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.


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.


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.


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.


African states blast West over farm subsidies

Thomson-Reuters Foundation/allAfrica

Africa: Developing Countries Blast Rich-World Farm Subsidies At Rome Talks

Rome — Wealthy countries are still subsidising their farmers at the expense of developing nations, undermining market access for some of the world’s poorest producers, two farm ministers told a Food and Agriculture Organization meeting on Monday.

“Our cotton producers are constantly targeted by unfair subsidies from the North,” Burkina Faso Agriculture Minister Mahama Zoungrana told delegates at a meeting of the U.N. agency in Rome.

“The rules and standards of international trade are not favorable to SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) from Africa,” he said.

Georgian Agriculture Minister Otar Danelia echoed that concern. “I believe a global approach is needed to deal with farm subsidies,” he told delegates at the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Governance and International Commodity Markets. “They (subsidies) create imbalances.”

The United States, the world’s largest cotton producer, paid its cotton farmers $32.9 billion to grow their crops between 1995 and 2012, the Environmental Working Group, a research organisation, reported.

“U.S. farmers are subsidised so they produce more cotton than they would otherwise, lowering the global price and hurting farmers in Burkina Faso,” Gawain Kripke, Oxfam America’s director of research, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “This creates unfair global competition.”

European cotton producers, based mostly in Greece and Spain, receive smaller subsidies, but the EU accounts for only one percent of world production, EU figures show.

For other crops, the European Union spends around $58 billion annually on farm subsidies. Farmers from poorer countries say they cannot compete, given these levels of government support for their rivals.

Members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development spent a total of $258 billion subsidising agriculture in 2013, OECD data show.

Asked whether rich-world subsidies unbalance agricultural markets, David Hallam, director of the FAO trade and markets division, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation “there is still scope to improve” global rules governing subsidies. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has the task of arbitrating disputes on such issues, he said.

Brazil has tried to use the WTO in its dispute with the United States over cotton subsidies.

In 2004, Brazil won a challenge against U.S. cotton farmers when the WTO backed its complaint and allowed it to impose $830 million in sanctions on U.S. products. The two governments are still wrangling over the specifics of a payout, and South America’s largest economy has threatened to impose higher import tariffs on U.S. products if a deal isn’t reached.

Disputes between India and the United States over farm subsidies have been partly responsible for stalling global trade pacts.

Concerns over developed-world farm subsidies took a back seat for policy makers in recent years, as high prices for agricultural goods led to food riots and worries that a growing number of people in poor countries couldn’t afford to eat.

Today, plentiful harvests have pushed down prices, putting concerns over subsidies back on the table.

“Disfunction in commodity markets is a threat to security, worldwide,” said Burkina Faso’s Zoungrana.  allAfrica

Sudan’s Ghandour says government committed to African peace plan

Sudan Tribune

October 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s chief negotiator reiterated his government seriousness to reach peaceful settlement to the armed conflicts and to hold the national dialogue conference, calling on the rebels to avoid tactical positions and to work seriously to “eliminate tragedies of war”.

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Ibrahim Ghandour (Photo Suna)

Ibrahim Ghandour was commenting on statements made by the SPLM-N secretary general and its top negotiator Yasir Arman who accused the Sudanese government of derailing the efforts of the African Union to stop war and facilitate the dialogue process.

Arman said the Sudanese government had sought to push away talks scheduled for 14 October to reach a cessation of hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, ahead of an all-parties meeting on the national dialogue issues. The two events are facilitated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

He further accused the government army of massing troops in the Two Areas in preparation of new military campaign against their fighters, saying all these moves are in line with the negative statements by president Omer al-Bashir on the peace process on 27 September.

Speaking at a reception on the occasion of Eid al-Adha organised at the premises of the National Congress Party (NCP), Ghandour reaffirmed the government commitment to participate in the talks with the rebel groups by the end of the month. However, he did not mention a date saying “it will follow the convention of the ruling party”.

Further, in an interview with Ashorooq TV, the NCP deputy leader urged Arman to devote his efforts entirely to achieve peace in the upcoming round of talks.

“In any forthcoming round of talks, we hope that Arman be faithful to a peace process that relieves the country of the tragedies of war” he said.

Ghandour stressed the NCP keenness to dialogue with the other parties, saying they reached all the political forces. He went further to say they are “resolved to continue the dialogue, despite difficulties, obstacles and attempts to discredit it”.

The presidential assistant was alluding to the refusal of opposition parties to participate in the process demanding to select a neutral personality to chair it instead of president Bashir. They also demand to implement a number of confidence building measures and to postpone the elections.

Ghandour underscored that the NCP was not forced to call for a national dialogue process. But he added that it is a strategic choice not a tactical move because “no political party can build a nation alone whatever is its size and strength”.

He further expressed hopes that the next round of talks with the rebels be the last one. Nonetheless he added that “some do not want to reach peace before to achieve their political ambitions”.

Officials in Sudan’s ruling party several times accused opposition and rebel groups of seeking to use the national dialogue process to dismantle the rule of president Bashir.

The NCP also rejects calls by all the Sudanese political forces to postpone the general election scheduled for April 2015.

Speaking about the elections, he encouraged the other parties to participate in this “democratic exercise” adding the NCP does not seek to sweep elections.

“The NCP is not looking for scoring goals through the next election, but it is looking for a draw or victory if forced to it,” he said.

He also reiterated the government’s rejection of the Paris Declaration which the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) signed with the rebel alliance of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front last August.

“Only the state owns the rights to sign agreement with the holders of arms,” he said.


Sudan’s ruling NCP to choose presidential candidate this month

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese ruling National Congress Party (NCP) will select its presidential candidate during the general convention which will take place on October 20-25 with the participation of more than 100 foreign political parties.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (R), flanked by presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, gives a speech in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 27 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Abd Raouf)

President Omer Hassan al-Bashir repeated previously that he would not seek his re-election and urged the party to select a new candidate. However, several NCP officials objected his decision stressing that he is their sole candidate.

Bashir, who suffers from health problems, underwent two knee replacement surgeries and a throat surgery in the last two years. He also faces an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2009.

The state minister at the ministry of information, Yasser Youssef, said in statements to the official news agency (SUNA) that all NCP’s regional, sector and central conventions have been concluded adding that meetings of the leadership office and Shura (consultative) council will convene before the general convention.

He noted that the general convention will elect a new Shura council besides selecting the NCP presidential candidate for the April 2015 elections.

Youssef added that the convention will discuss several working papers including political reform, economy, foreign relations and NCP’s internal issues.

Meanwhile, the NCP deputy chairman and presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, said that he attended 18 NCP conventions in various states, stressing that the country is entering a new phase in light of the democratic way in which these conventions were held.

He noted that the main message communicated through these conventions is that the upcoming elections will be held on time.

Sudan’s general elections are set to be held next April but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromise to end the civil war and allow public liberties.

But the NCP insists on holding them, saying it is a constitutional requirement that must be met.

Ghandour said the nomination and selection of the states governors is an internal issue that will be decided after the NCP’s general convention, adding that the party leadership will meet the 5 nominees from each state to discuss the future plan for the party and the country.

The NCP official said that small committees will be set up to look into governors’ nominations, underscoring that the final selection will be decided by the NCP leadership office and some other experts.


Germany to help mediate between opposition and governmewnt in Sudan

Sudan Tribune

October 2, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Germany will work with the Sudanese parties to facilitate a process aiming to bring peace in the east African country and achieve democratic transformation, said a statement released in Berlin on Thursday after a meeting with the Sudanese rebels.

A German institution for mediation, Berghof Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Think Tank of the German Government, Stiftung Wissenschaftund Politik, (SWP) organised a workshop with the rebel alliance of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) to assess the state of the national dialogue process and explore ways to support it.

The two-day meeting was attended by the different SRF groups, except the Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW), which demands to implement security measures aiming to protect civilians in the war zones before to engage in peace negotiations with the government.

The workshop, which included officials from the German foreign ministry, took place after a series of meetings German officials recently conducted with the Sudanese government and the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

While the SRF leaders reaffirmed their commitment towards a process leading to achieve just peace and genuine democratic change in Sudan, The German tandem agreed to with them to work on ways to end the fighting and prepare the national constitutional conference.

“Berghof Foundation/ SWP committed to work with the SRF and other Sudanese parties as well as international partners towards helping create a credible national dialogue/constitutional process in Sudan,” said a statement extended by the German mediation body to Sudan Tribune at the end of the workshop.

The Berghof Foundation further said they will support efforts aiming to “find a mechanism for stopping the wars in Sudan and assisting the Sudanese parties in closing the gaps towards a comprehensive national dialogue”.

Further, the German facilitators agreed with the SRF alliance to consult on these ideas with “a variety of Sudanese stakeholders and key international partners, notably the African Union and United Nation”.

The German foreign ministry expressed its readiness to support these objectives through its backing of the Berghof Foundation/SWP initiative.

On Monday 30 September, the German embassy in Khartoum said the Sudanese authorities are aware of the meeting with the rebel groups.

Last August; Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour told Sudan Tribune they had asked Berlin to support their efforts to end war in Sudan and hold the national dialogue process inside the country with the participation of all the rebel groups.

He further expressed hopes that Germany play a role supporting Sudan’s efforts to improve its relations with the European Union countries.

The organisers of the workshop said the SRF expressed “its conviction that democratic, credible elections can occur only following a national dialogue/constitutional process”.

In early September, the SRF signed with AUHIP an agreement on the national dialogue and constitutional process providing that a comprehensive political agreement is the ideal option to end war and achieve democratic reforms.

The government and rebel delegations will meet in Addis Ababa on 12 and 15 October to discuss a cessation of hostilities in South Kordofan, Blue Nile states and Darfur region.

However, the SLM-AW did not participate in the meeting with the German facilitators.

Sudan Tribune failed to reach its leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur. However sources close to the rebel group said the workshop is perceived by the SLM-AW leadership as “pre-negotiation process”.

In an interview conducted with him in September after the SRF meeting with the AUHIP in Addis Ababa, al-Nur said they would not participate in the national dialogue process before improving the security conditions of civilians in the conflict areas.

“We reiterated our demand to protect civilians on the ground before any dialogue with the regime. Peace must begin with security and ends with a genuine democratic change,” al-Nur told Sudan Tribune on 7 September.

The rebel leader who considers that the cessation of hostilities is not enough says security measures should be unilaterally implemented by the government, adding they do not require any discussion or agreement.