Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan – Darfur student shot by police during Khartoum protests

Radio Dabanga

Darfur student buried in Khartoum; Amnesty International demands prompt and impartial investigation

Ali Abakar Musa Idris, the student who died in the hospital after being shot by security forces during a protest march in Khartoum on Tuesday, was buried this morning in Khartoum after his body was released from the morgue.

Amnesty International (AI), in a statement released on Tuesday, condemned the use of violence against the students.

“The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop the use of excessive and unlawful force against protesters, stated after a student died of gunshot wounds sustained during a demonstration at the University of Khartoum on Tuesday. Another student has been severely injured, and a further 110 students were reportedly arrested at the protest, against the recent surge of violence in Darfur, that has left an estimated 50,000 people displaced,” the AI statement said.

“Credible accounts by eyewitnesses at the University of Khartoum protest point to police and National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) officers using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force in violation of international law and standards,” Netsanet Belay, AI Africa Director of Research and Advocacy stated.

“In particular, international standards are clear that firearms must not be used for dispersing protesters. They may be used only in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only when less extreme measures are insufficient to achieve this.”

“The authorities must launch a prompt and impartial investigation into the events at the University of Khartoum and must ensure that all those responsible for this and other unlawful use of force are held accountable in criminal and disciplinary proceedings,” Belay stressed. “Any members of the security forces responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted under criminal law without resort to the death penalty.”

Photo: The body of Ali Abakar Musa Idris being released from the morgue in Khartoum (alrakoba.net) Radio Dabanga

UN warns of upsurge of violence in Darfur

BBC
11 March 2014 Last updated at 11:10 Share this pageEmailPrint
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Darfur violence: UN warns of new Sudan clashes

Fatima Abdala is one of 50,000 people to have fled their homes in Darfur in recent weeks
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The UN has warned about an upsurge in violence in Sudan’s Darfur region, saying some 50,000 people had been displaced since the end of February.

Peacekeepers and aid agencies had been blocked from entering affected areas, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

Much of the violence is between rival Arab groups, although rebel and government forces are also involved, a BBC correspondent reports.

Darfur has been hit by conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms.

Two million people have already been displaced by the conflict.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of committing war crimes and genocide against black African communities in Darfur.

He denies the charge.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said was deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Darfur, and he urged all parties to immediately stop hostilities.

Ms Pillay said some 45 villages were reportedly targeted in the Um Gunya area, about 250km (155 miles) south of Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

“I urge the authorities to protect civilians and hold to account those who have committed grave breaches of human rights and humanitarian laws,” Ms Pillay said.

The joint UN and African Union (AU) peace force in Darfur, known as Unamid, and humanitarian agencies had been prevented from reaching areas affected by the attacks, she added.

“The Sudanese government must allow Unamid to fulfil its mandate to protect civilians, and grant access to populations in need,” Ms Pillay said.

In the past week, Unamid had also reported looting and destruction in Saraf Omra, near the border with Chad, says BBC Africa Security correspondent Moses Rono.

Thousands of people uprooted by the inter-communal fighting have sought refuge near a Unamid compound, he adds.

The leader of Arab militiamen accused of fuelling conflict in Darfur, Musa Hilal, recently quit the government and threatened war, adding a new dimension to the conflict, our correspondent says.

The black African rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the Arab dominated government in Khartoum of ignoring them.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26526808

African migrants as boat sinks off Yemen

BBC

Migrants die in Yemen boat sinking

Map

 

Forty-two African migrants have drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, according to officials.

The boat overturned off the coast of Beer Ali, in the southern Shabwa province, the ministry of defence said on its news website.

A Yemeni naval patrol saved at least 30 people who were taken to a refugee camp in the town of Mayfaa, it said.

Every year thousands of Africans make the perilous journey to Yemen in crowded boats. Hundreds have died. bbc

Niger extradites Gadaffi son to Libya

BBC

Niger extradites Gaddafi’s son Saadi to Libya

Saadi Gaddafi. Photo: 2010 Saadi Gaddafi was the head of Libya’s special forces

 

The Libyan government says former leader Col Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saadi, has been extradited from Niger and is now in custody in Tripoli.

Pictures posted on the internet showed him having his head and beard shaved.

Saadi Gaddafi, the former head of Libya’s football federation, fled after his father was killed in the 2011 revolution.

He is accused of shooting protesters and other crimes during his father’s rule.

The Libyan government made an announcement about Saadi Gaddafi’s extradition in a short statement early on Thursday.

“The Libyan government received today Saadi Gaddafi and he arrived in Tripoli,” it said.

The plane with Saadi, one of Col Gaddafi’s seven sons, landed at 02:50 local time (00:50 GMT).

Two security sources later confirmed to the BC’s Rana Jawad that Saadi Gaddafi had been returned and was now in the hands of the Libyan judicial authorities.

Niger had previously refused Libyan requests to extradite him, with the justice minister saying he was “certain to face the death penalty”.

In 2012, Interpol issued a “red notice”, obliging member countries to arrest him.

Saadi Gaddafi had reportedly resided in a state guesthouse in Niger’s capital, Niamey, after fleeing across the Sahara Desert.

He is best known for a brief career in top-flight Italian football which was cut short by a failed drugs test, as well as his playboy lifestyle.

Trial delays

Since the 2011 uprising, Libya’s new government has sought the extradition of several Gaddafi family members and ex-officials, with mixed success.

Niger extradited Abdallah Mansur, a former top intelligence official, to Libya on 14 February.

Mauritania also extradited Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi in January 2013.

Libya’s highest-profile prisoner, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, has been held in the mountain town of Zintan since his capture in November 2011.

While court proceedings against the prisoners have been initiated, trials have been set back by security concerns and procedural delays.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s cousin and ex-envoy to Egypt, Ahmad Gaddaf-el-Dam, remains in Egypt despite Tripoli’s attempts to secure his extradition. BBC

Sudan – 35 villages burned and mass rape in attacks by janjaweed RSF

Radio Dabanga
Thousands displaced in attack on more than 35 villages in South Darfur
NYALA / BIELEL

More than 35 villages burned to ashes, and dozens of civilians were killed in attacks by troops of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the area of Hijer Tunjo, southeast of Nyala, South Darfur, on Thursday and Friday. Thousands of villagers found refuge in camps near Nyala, thousands of others are still trapped in the desert.

A sheikh who fled Hijer Tunjo told Radio Dabanga, that he, together with about 5,000 “extremely exhausted” villagers, had arrived in Kalma camp for the displaced in Nyala locality on Friday.

“At least 4,000 “Hemeti militiamen” (RSF) in Land Cruisers approached the area of Hijer at about 1.30pm on Thursday. They started to shoot, killing about 31 villagers instantly, and wounding 23 others, as far as I could count them. The real death toll is unknown, because all the people fled, leaving Hijer Tunjo village completely deserted. So far 31 names are known of the people killed in Hijer on Thursday.”

“Those militiamen looted the houses and set fire to them. They seized more than 20 women and girls, and raped them. The women and girls are still missing. Also there are thousands of villagers still trapped and hunted down in the desert, after they had been robbed of all their belongings, and fled. Large numbers of people sought refuge in El Salam camp in Beilel locality. Others fled to Kalma camp in Nyala locality.”

“After those Rapid Support Janjaweed burned down 35 villages in the area of Hijer Tunjo on Thursday, they continued on Friday, and set fire to the villages of Um Gounja, Tani Deleiba, Tukumari, Himeida, Barka Tuli, Afouna, and other villages.”

Tora Bora

As for the reasons for the attacks, the burning of the villages, and the raping of women, the sheikh pointed to what the militiamen shouted at them when they arrived at Hijer Tunjo. “They called us Tora Bora, which means that we are supporting and sheltering the rebels.” He stressed that the people of Hijer, and the villages in the neighbourhood have nothing to do with the armed movements. “There are no rebels stationed in our area.”

The village sheikh urged the international community to “immediately intervene and save civilians from genocide, theft of their property, the burning of villages, and forcible displacement from their villages”.

In shock

The Secretary-General of Kalma camp, Dr Saleh Eisa Mohamed, told Radio Dabanga that about 5,000 people from the area of Hijer had arrived on Friday, including women and children “who are in a state of shock and in very bad health conditions”. The newly displaced reported to him that about 11,000 people who fled from the burned villages were trapped by the RSF in the desert, and denied access to Nyala locality.

Dr Mohamed appealed to the UN and the UN Security Council to “act as soon as possible, and start an urgent investigation into the attacks on civilians, and bring the perpetrators who committed these heinous crimes to trial”. He also urged humanitarian organisations to “help out and provide emergency relief for the newly displaced who arrived at Kalma camp after losing everything they had”.

‘Real chaos

In South Darfur’s capital of Nyala, multiple sources related to the opposition as well as to the government said that the attacked area is located “southeast of Nyala, starting from Hijer Tunjo in the east to Tani Deleiba in the west. It concerns a wide area belonging to Beilel locality and El Salam locality.”

The attacks were carried out by the RSF militias evicted from North Kordofan lately, according to the sources. “They were supported by Sudan Air Force’s fighter jets, and on the ground by government-backed militiamen on camels and horses recruited from the areas of Bulbul, Abu Ajoura, Tullus, Ed El Fursan, and Um Dawanban, as well as from places in North Darfur. Those government forces and militias already destroyed agricultural areas with vegetables and fruit at Wadi Beilel. Almost every donkey or horse cart, on its way with vegetables to Nyala, or returning from Nyala to the villages, was assaulted.”

The sources described the situation as “a real chaos”. “There is no protection at all. Anyone with a rifle has the power to rule over the place he is in.”

They confirmed that a large-scale wave of newly displaced from the villages southeast of Nyala moved towards South Darfur’s capital on Thursday and Friday.

File photo: Part of a destroyed village in Darfur (Radio Dabanga archive)

Related:

‘Sudan army, militias target areas in South Darfur’: displaced (27 February 2014)

‘SLM-MM destroys recon squad in South Darfur’: spokesman (26 February 2014)

‘Rapid Support Forces in Darfur to fight rebels’: General (26 February 2014)

Rapid Support Forces attack, loot South Darfur village
Abu Tira, police forces on the run killed in North Darfur
‘Investigate West Darfur prison violence’: rights organisation
Student tortured for 18 hours in Central Darfur

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https://www.radiodabanga.org/node/67800

Sudan – Saudi bank ban shows strain in relations

Sudan Tribune
(KHARTOUM) – A senior official in Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) admitted yesterday that his country’s ties with Saudi Arabia are strained in the wake of Riyadh’s decision to bar its banks from dealing with its Sudanese counterparts.

The NCP head of the external relations al-Dirdeeri Mohamed Ahmed who was asked on the Saudi move on Wednesday said that while tensions exist in their ties, efforts are underway to reverse this trend.

“There is so much that is being done now, both public and non-public to bring things back to their original state,” the NCP official was quoted as saying by al-Taghyeer online news portal.

Ahmed rejected using the term blockade to describe Saudi Arabia’s decision stating that the Arab Gulf nation “does not embargo Sudan”.

Over the few years there have been mounting signs of deteriorating relations between Khartoum and Riyadh.

Last August, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to the plane carrying Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on his way to Iran where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rouhani thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.

Observers speculated that Sudan’s growing ties with Iran could have irked the Saudis prompting them to block Bashir’s flight.

Sudan has allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan three times over the last year and a half, drawing concern by the United States and its allies in the Gulf.

The mostly Sunni Muslim Arab Gulf states are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, fearing the Shiite-led country is seeking regional dominance that will stir sectarian tensions.

The Syrian conflict has also increased the divide between the two sides, with Arab monarchies supporting the rebels and Iran backing the Al-Assad regime.

Bashir, who performed the Muslim Hajj (pilgrimage) last year, did not meet with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz during the visit, despite the Saudi monarch holding separate talks with the Turkish and Pakistani presidents who also performed Hajj this year.

On Saturday, the Sudanese finance minister, Badr al-Deen Mahmoud attributed a decision made by several foreign banks to stop dealings with their Sudanese counterparts to pressures exercised on them by the United States.

Saudi Arabia and some European banks have reportedly suspended their dealings with Sudan as of the February 28th. Sudanese officials initially refused to comment on the move which was widely circulated within the business community in Khartoum.

There was no comment from Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) and it is not clear if the latter issued the directive or if it was decision by individual banks.

Mahmoud said that two Saudi banks have suspended their financial transactions with Sudan, describing banking interactions particularly with the Arab countries as crucial because it links Khartoum to the international banking system.

He pointed to pressures exerted by the US on some banks dealing with Sudan and said those pressures have existed since 1997, disclosing ongoing arrangements to overcome negative effects of the decision.

US sanctions dating back to the Clinton administration in 1997 bars any financial dealings with Sudan or institutions owned by Khartoum which complicates Sudan’s access to international financial markets and US dollars.

But the minister’s comment contradicted a statement issued by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) on Thursday in which it attributed the move to what it termed routine banking procedures by the financial institutions.

According to the CBoS, the decision is related to internal procedures within the framework of institutional control at those banks.

“This is normal in the field of banking that experiences continuous changes”, it added.

QUICK DECISION NEEDED ON SUDAN EXTERNAL DEBT

The finance minister warned against failure of Sudan and South Sudan to agree on how to split foreign debt in the framework of the Tripartite Committee.

The Tripartite Committee between the African Union (AU), Khartoum and Juba on debt relief is a platform which is formed to strengthen relations between the two countries and coordinate outreach efforts towards creditors.

Khartoum inherited the entire external debt that existed prior to the secession of the south. The two countries have yet to agree on how to split up the debt.

Both sides decided to reach out to creditors to obtain debt relief and if that fails will sit down to see how it can be divided using the “zero option”.

Mahmoud, who spoke on Saturday in a workshop on assessment of the 2009 family basic data survey, said failure to reach an agreement on foreign debt issue within the specified period would lead to major complications that might threaten stability and ignite war between the two countries again.

He urged international financial institutions to cancel Sudan’s foreign debts away from political agendas, saying the workshop and the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework (APSF) are part of the requirements of debt cancellation.

The minister affirmed that Sudan has met the technical requirements for foreign debt cancellation through short-term programs with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying data shows that Sudan achieved more than required.

“We were unable to benefit from the international initiatives on debt relief due to political reasons”, he said.

He underscored cooperation of Khartoum with Juba to arrive at a decision on splitting foreign debt within two years and did not rule out possibility of deterioration of relations and return to war between the two countries if they failed to split foreign debt.

Around three quarters of Sudan’s $40 billion plus external debt are owed to the Paris Club of creditor nations and other non-member states. The remaining balance is equally divided between commercial banks as well as international and regional financial bodies.

In April of 2013, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan Edward Gemayel said that it will be near impossible for Sudan to secure debt relief even if it satisfied technical and economic requirements.

“I’m not saying this is impossible but it is difficult because it is linked to political issues which require a public relations effort with member countries”, he said.

Gemayel pointed out that any debt relief deal with Sudan would require the unanimous consent of all 55 countries in Paris Club which he suggested would be improbable.

(ST)

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Saudi King Abdullah (R) meets Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir in Riyadh March 9, 2012. (Reuters/Saudi Press Agency)

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50141

Sudan – SPLM-N plan to end humanitarian crisis

Sudan Tribune

SPLM-N to propose roadmap to end humanitarian and political crises in Sudan: Arman


February 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North-(SPLM-N) will present a road map to end the humanitarian crisis and achieve peace in Sudan, said the rebel chief negotiator Yasir Arman hours before the opening of talks on the conflict in the Two Areas brokered by the African Union.

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SPLM-N Secretary General, Yasir Arman (File photo/Purtizler Center)

Negotiating teams from the Sudanese government and SPLM-N meet Thursday to discuss a peaceful solution for the two and half year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In their last meeting of April 2013 the two parties failed even to agree on the agenda as the Khartoum denounced a framework agreement the two parties had signed on 28 June 2011.

“The SPLM-N will present a comprehensive roadmap to resolve the humanitarian and political situation in Sudan on the basis of 28 June agreement,” Arman told Sudan Tribune after his arrival in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

He further that these talks are coming at a very unique time where the government speaks about a leap to achieve peace and reconciliation in the country through national dialogue, after an initiative launched by president Omer Al-Bashir on 27 January.

These negotiations are the “biggest test for what the government is saying and claiming. Are they ready to open access for humanitarian assistance (..) are they ready to stop aerial and ground bombardment against civilians,” wondered Arman, alluding to the failure of the two parties to implement a tripartite humanitarian agreement signed on 4 August 2012.

Arman who is also the SPLM-N secretary general further questioned the readiness of the Khartoum to accept 28 June agreement and to open the way for a comprehensive constitutional process as it is provided in that the framework deal.

“The key for any change will start by ending the war in the Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and Darfur,” he stressed.

The 28 June agreement provides to establish a political partnership between the ruling National Congress Party and the SPLM-N to organise an inclusive national political process to review the constitution including principles on citizenship, democracy and recognition of diversity.

The process will also include, according to the framework agreement, the relationship between the centre and the states.

On 3 July 2011, president Omer Al-Bashir denounced the deal demanding that talks should be based on the implementation of a protocol relative to the Two Areas included in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005.

Recently Sudanese government officials say they are committed to the African Union decisions and UN resolution 2046 (2012) which call on the two warring parties to engage in talks aiming to end the conflict in the Two Areas based on 28 June framework agreement.

The SPLM-N released several days ago a list of 24 national experts to join negotiating team in a way to press the government to accept the organisation of a national process to discuss the armed conflicts and establishment of a democratic regime in the country.

Arman said they believe that the resolution of the Sudanese crisis comes through a restructuring of the state “based on a new project expressing the minimum national consensus and including forces of margin”.

Presidential assistant Ibrahim Gandour who is also the head of Sudanese government negotiating team recently said they are ready to engage in peace talks with the SPLM-N but only on Blue Nile and South Kordofan conflict.

(ST)

Sudan – Turabi willing to have dialogue with Bashir’s NCP

Sudan Tribune

February 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi has announced its acceptance to engage in dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

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Leading Sudanese opposition figure Hassan al-Turabi gestures during an interview in Khartoum October 3, 2012 (REUTERS)

The new move contradicts PCP’s previous stances in which it asserted that its main objective is to overthrow the regime of president Omer Al-Bashir.  But it comes in line with a decision endorsed earlier this week by the general secretariat of the opposition Islamist party to engage in dialogue with the ruling NCP.

Late last month, the Sudanese president delivered a speech in which he announced a four-point plan for reform “to stop the war and bring peace, free political society, fight against poverty and revitalize national identity”.

In a speech attended by Turabi and Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Bashir further called on political forces to engage in dialogue for the implementation items though he did not specify practical steps to do so.

The PCP political secretary, Kamal Omer, in a press conference on Tuesday unveiled his party’s decision to dialogue with the ruling party amid wide resentment among the opposition alliance forces.

Kamal Omer further criticized several forces within the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) for setting preconditions to engage in dialogue with the ruling party, adding “those conditions are illogical and unacceptable”, and called upon them to participate in the dialogue and then set their conditions.

Sudan’s opposition parties refuses NCP call for dialogue and instead propose forming a transitional government and holding a national conference with the participation of rebel groups to discuss a peaceful solution for the conflicts in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.

The interim government, in accordance with the opposition platform, would organise general elections once a political agreement on constitutional matters is reached, inaugurating a new democratic regime. But the NCP rejects this proposal saying opposition parties must simply prepare for the 2015 elections and that rebels should sign first peace accords.

Kamal Omer said his party accepted president Bashir’s recent initiative for holding a national dialogue without preconditions in order to urge the NCP to accept a transitional period with the participation of all political forces.

He further acknowledged the NCP’s previous history of betraying promises with political parties, but mentioned that there are now “objective changes within the regime” including the increasing calls for reform, last year coup attempt, and the recent cabinet shakeup which saw the departure of the leading figures who sparked differences with the PCP.

Leading figures with the opposition alliance NCF commented in statements to Sudan Tribune on conditions of anonymity on the political shift of Turabi party and dmitted  that PCP’s move would split the opposition considering it a blatant attempt to abandon its allies.

The same sources expressed surprise on Turabi’s move saying the Islamist leader was amongst those who mocked the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, for initiating dialogue with the ruling party on the same issues which the PCP intends to discuss with the government.

It further went to suggest validity of rumours about existence of secret understandings between Turabi and the Sudanese president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, pointing Turabi has been warning for a long time against dangers of toppling the regime by force.

During his press conference, Kamal Omer, told reporters that their differences with the NCP were not personal and that they don’t hold personal grudges against NCP leaders.

He was alluding to a paper circulating within the party prepared by some of its members calling to reform the PCP and accusing Turabi of freezing the positions of the Islamist party form the ruling NCP because of his personal bitterness against former vice-president Ali Osman Taha and president Al-Bashir.

The PCP split from the NCP following 1999’s bitter power struggle between Bashir and Turabi, with the latter was ousted from his post as parliamentary speaker and the chairmanship of the ruling party alike.

Turabi later established the PCP and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime whose army-backed seizure of power in 1989 he orchestrated.

Omer said the upcoming dialogue will test the credibility of the ruling party and would not last indefinitely and pointed that PCP saw “the present time is the right time for engaging in dialogue with the government” while the NUP initiated dialogue with it ahead of all political parties, adding each party has its own assessment.

Informed sources within the PCP told Sudan Tribune that failure of the opposition forces to agree on drafting the new constitution during the transitional period has encouraged the PCP’s move, pointing that it received positive signals that NCP could change many of its previous stances.

It also said the PCP received information about foreign influences but declined to go into details.

President Al-Bashir on Wednesday will meet with the leader of the Umma party Sadiq Al-Mahdi to discuss the position paper the latter prepared about the presidential initiative for national dialogue.

(ST)

Sudan orders Red Cross to cease humanitarian work

BBC

Sudan orders Red Cross to suspend work

Sudan has ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to suspend its activities in the country.

The ICRC said it had received a letter from the Sudanese authorities citing “technical issues relating to its humanitarian plans for this year”, but giving no further details.

Sudan has in the past suspended or expelled humanitarian organisations.

The Red Cross supplies food, water, health care, and other forms of aid, mainly in the western region of Darfur.

Last year it helped more than 1.5 million people affected by conflict in Sudan.

The ICRC said it had halted its work in response to the letter but hoped “to resume our activities as soon as possible”.

The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur since rebels took up arms in 2003.

Although the violence has come down from its peak, clashes between government forces, rebels and Darfur’s rival ethnic groups have continued.

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The Darfur conflict has filled 300,000 people and displaced many more

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/africa/

Sudan’s ruling NCP in damage control mode after limp Bashir reform speech

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s ruling party in damage control after Bashir speech


January 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM)  – Officials from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday scrambled to contain negative reactions arising from president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s address to the nation yesterday which created a wave of disappointment within the political class and ordinary citizens alike.

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In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 photo, Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, right, flanked by presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, gives a speech in Khartoum, Sudan (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Prior to the speech, senior NCP figures gave multitude of suggestions that Bashir will unveil a major and comprehensive reform proposal that would be inclusive of all political forces to tackle Sudan’s growing crises.

Hours before Bashir made his speech, Rabie Abdel-Aati a senior NCP figure told Reuters that the president would use the live television address to call for opposition groups to help redraw the constitution and join the government.

But the speech offered no concrete initiatives and gave no timeframe for achieving what Bashir described as a plan to launch a “Sudanese renaissance” and while he did say political parties should join dialogue on the constitution, he did not go further.

Many Sudanese who watched Bashir speak were stunned by the complicated language of the speech which used overly-sophisticated phrases and appeared unusual from a president known for making plain-language fiery speeches.

In a rare scene, opposition figures including former prime minister and head of the National Umma Party al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi and recently defected NCP figure who formed the Reform Now Party (RNP) Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani sat in the front rows at the event which was held at the Chinese-built Friendship hall in Khartoum.

All three made statements either personally or through their parties criticizing the lack of specifics and excessive generalities that gave no real signs of concessions on the part of the ruling party.

Immediately afterwards, the NCP’s political secretary and the country’s investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail sought to temper the disappointment by saying that Bashir initially sought to make the speech after first meeting with leaders of political parties.

But as a result of intense speculations, Ismail said that Bashir was forced to address the nation earlier than he wanted to.

Today, Bashir’s assistant and NCP’s deputy chairman for party affairs Ibrahim Ghandour announced that the president will make a follow-up speech after his return from the African Union (AU) summit taking place in Addis Ababa.

Ghandour said the new address will explain in more details the first one.

He also defended the language of the speech saying it was not meant for the general public but to lay down a party document so it was carefully worded so as not to depart from the context.

The Sudanese official said that the submission of the document in the name of the government is not fair because non-NCP parties did not participate in drafting it.

He noted that the NCP did not provide mechanisms for resolving Sudan’s problems to give political parties the opportunity to make their own suggestions.

The parliament speaker al-Fatih Izz al-Deen on the other hand said that the speech’s articulate language and its need for further clarification does not discredit it as they are simply general guidelines.

He further said that the address is unique in that it made national issues a shared responsibility and not exclusive to the NCP.

“It is not necessary for people to be within the government so they can express their views on national issues…what is needed is institutionalizing mechanisms that we could agree on whether they are committees or bodies or boards,” Izz al-Deen said.

He denied the existence of frustration among Sudanese people over the speech and asserted that a quick survey revealed general satisfaction with it.

The chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee in parliament Mohamed Yusuf Abdullah acknowledged the existence of a faction within the ruling party which insists that it should not make any concessions before opposition does so first.

A leading figure at the PCP told Sudan Tribune today that an influential group within the NCP amended Bashir’s speech at the last minute to prevent the president from making any grand bargain.

(ST)