Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan – election extended for a day and people told to vote

Radio Dabenga

Sudan election extended with one day, police ordered to vote

April 16 – 2015 KHARTOUM
An empty polling centre in Khartoum, 13 April 2015 (RD)
An empty polling centre in Khartoum, 13 April 2015 (RD)

The National Election Commission (NEC) on Wednesday announced the extension of the official three-day voting process with one day. Two presidential candidates announced their withdrawal. The police in Khartoum was pressured to vote. 

Because of the very poor voters’ turnout throughout the country, the NEC on Tuesday had already extended the voting time for Wednesday, the third and officially the last day of the presidential and parliamentary election, from 6pm to 7pm.

“The extension of the voting period will enable the ruling party to rig the election dramatically.”

A number of presidential candidates rejected the extension of the election period. Mahmoud Abdeljabar toldSudan Tribune that the extension “will enable the ruling party to rig the election dramatically and solicit people who do not have any proof of identity, and give them residency affidavits to cast their votes.”

Two presidential candidates, Ahmed Radi and Omar Awadelkareem, announced their withdrawal, in protest against “serious violations” of the electoral law.

At a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, Awadelkareem pointed to the abuses he had witnessed at several polling stations in the capital, “called irregularities by the NEC”. He had noted that the serial numbers were missing on the ballots, and that voters were allowed to identify themselves with residency affidavits, instead of their voter registration cards.

‘No vote, no salary’

A policeman in Khartoum reported to Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that senior police officers ordered their personnel to participate in the elections by voting for the ruling party. If they would not cast their vote, the payment of their salaries would be delayed or cancelled.

“We were instructed to present our electoral registration number to the police administrative unit, to ensure our participation in the election.”

Sudan – African Union panel says no chance of credible elections 

Sudan Tribune

April 14, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – An African Union (AU) panel tasked with evaluating the pre-elections environment in Sudan concluded that it would not be possible to hold credible polls in the East African nation, recommending that the pan-African body not send a monitoring mission.

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A Sudanese woman casts her ballot on the first day of Sudan’s presidential and legislative elections in Izba, an impoverished neighbourhood on the outskirts of Khartoum, on 13 April 2015 (Photo: AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

“The overall political environment is restrictive, which impacted on political participation by other stakeholders, including opposition parties, civil society and the media. Media houses and civil society organisations were barred from discussing issues relating to the conflict in the country and certain political and social topics,” the pre-election assessment mission said in its report submitted to the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) last month.

“Those who ignored this ruling either have their licenses withdrawn or arrested and detained by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Thus, freedom of expression, association and assembly were generally not respected,” the report adds.

The committee noted that it held meetings with all stakeholders including officials in the Sudanese government and the National Elections Commission (NEC), political parties, civil society groups, media representatives, candidates, Political Party Affairs Council, the Human Rights Commission, parliament, the AU-UN hybrid operations in Darfur (UNAMID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), AU liaison office to Sudan, Arab League, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African ambassadors, European Union (EU) and the troika countries’ (US, UK and Norway) ambassadors in Khartoum.

It added that asidefrom the government, NEC, representatives of public institutions, the Arab League envoy and some African ambassadors, most stakeholders wanted the AU to “distance itself from observing the elections”.

The mission led by Idrissa Kamara said the elections will take place amid “intense political polarisation”, against the backdrop of ongoing armed conflict in several parts of the country and international sanctions.

It concluded that that “the necessary conditions and environment for the holding of transparent, competitive, free and fair elections as agreed in the AU principles governing democratic elections have not been satisfied”.

“The existing government’s security measures put substantial restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly and do not provide an environment for free participation in the electoral process,” the report found.

The committee recommended that the AU not send an observation mission, saying that doing so “under this circumstance would not be viable and effective and would not contribute to democracy building”.

It called for the polls to be postponed in favour of furthering the national dialogue process initiated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year on the basis that this would “allow more time for the creation of an enabling environment for credible, transparent and competitive elections”.

In a meeting held last week, the AUPSC brushed aside the findings and recommendations in the report and decided to send an observation mission headed by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to monitor the three-day presidential and parliamentary electios, which got underway on Monday.

The decision drew strong criticism from the country’s rebel group, which expressed anger at the AUPSC for ignoring the recommendations of the pre-elections committee.

The country’s main opposition forces are boycotting the elections in which 15 little known candidates are challenging the incumbent. The voter turnout was very low in the first two days of the polls.

The ruling party had rejected calls by Sudanese opposition to postpone the general elections until after the national dialogue and formation of a transitional government and insists that it is a constitutional requirement that must be met.

Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative more than a year ago in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.

But the initiative faced serious setbacks after rebel groups and leftist parties refused to join and after the National Umma Party (NUP) led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi withdrew from the process in protest of al-Mahdi’s brief arrest last May.

Earlier this year, several political parties including the Reform Now Movement (RNM) led by Ghazi Salah al-Din and the Just Peace Forum (JPF) led by al-Tayeb Mustafa and the Alliance of the Peoples’ Working Forces (APWF) announced they had decided to suspend participation in the national dialogue until the requirements of a conducive environment are met.

Last Thursday the EU announced that it will not send a mission to observe this elections.

“When dialogue is bypassed, some groups are excluded and civil and political rights are infringed, the upcoming elections cannot produce a credible result with legitimacy throughout the country,” said a statement by EU representative of foreign affairs and security affairs and vice-president of the commission, Federica Mogherini.

“The people of Sudan deserve better. We therefore chose not to engage in support of these elections,” she added.

Canadian foreign minister Rob Nicholson echoed the same sentiments.

“Canada is disappointed by the failure of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, to deliver on his promise to hold an inclusive national dialogue in the lead-up to the Sudanese general and presidential elections,” he said in a statement.

Over the past year, Sudanese authorities have been accused of repeatedly seizing newspaper print runs, ordering political arrests, including those of opposition leaders, and hindering election activities and targeting civilians in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“These actions have obstructed the emergence of a free and open democratic process and have led many opposition parties to boycott the elections. As a result, the outcome of the elections will not reflect the will of all Sudanese people,” said Nicholson.


Sudan – UN says 14 killed in air strikes in Darfur

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese army warplanes killed 14 civilians during an airstrike carried out in Central Darfur state a week ago, said the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“The Joint AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is able to confirm the dropping of 10 bombs which led to the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 18 others in Rowata, Central Darfur, on April 1st,”. Dujarric said at a press conference at the UN Headquarters on Tuesday.

The Sudanese army conducts regular aerial raids on the positions of rebel groups in the region since the start of this year. However, the government recently intensified the airstrikes in Darfur ahead of general elections which will take within a week.

The rebel groups vowed to disrupt the electoral process in solidarity with a campaign launched by the opposition forces calling to boycott the elections.

Dujarric said the army continue the attacks adding bombs dropped in the area failed to kill peacekeepers who were present in the area on Monday.

“Yesterday, a verification patrol was dispatched to Rowata; while it was in the village, the team witnessed another aerial bombardment, consisting of five bombs dropped close to where they were standing”.

The UN Mission strongly condemns such aerial bombings, which cause widespread death, destruction and displacement of populations, he further said.

UN agencies say there are 31,800 new displaced persons affected by the military campaign “Decisive Summer” on the rebel position in some parts of Jebel Marra area in Central and North Darfur states.


Sudan -opposition calls for boycott of next week’s elections

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Opposition Sudan Call forces called to boycott the presidential and legislative elections the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) prepare to organise on 13 April and exhorted to step up efforts to topple the regime.

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Sadiq al Mahdi, Farouk Abu Issa and Minni Minnawi join hands after the signing of the Sudan Call in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014 (ST)

In a statement issued on the 30th anniversary of 6 April 1985 popular uprising which ended the rule of general Jafar Numiri, the coalition of the political and armed opposition forces said the government obstructed the African Union brokered pre-dialogue meeting and aborted the German initiative to facilitate a negotiated settlement.

The statement further said by doing so, the NCP insists to move forward in the path of war and rejects a negotiated solution, leaving the choice of a peaceful uprising for the opposition forces.

“Thus the Sudan Call forces appeal on the masses of our people to escalate the resistance against the fraudulent elections and overlook its, results and to continue the resistance campaigns until the overthrow of the regime,” the opposition forces said.

National Umma Party (NUP) leader Sadiq al-Mahdi on Sunday accused the NCP of using all the means of the Sudanese state to ensure the reelection of its leader and the party candidates.

He further described the regime of president Bashir as “volatile” saying they sold their Islamist ideology and sought to reach agreements with rebel groups to ensure the continuation of their rule.

The Sudan Call forces said they agreed to develop their activities and intensify efforts to reunite the opposition forces.

The statement is signed by NUP chairman Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) chief Malik Agar, National Consensus Forces (NCF) representative Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khateib and civil society groups delegate , Babikir Ahmed al-Hassan.

Since last February , the opposition groups launched a political campaign “Leave” calling on the Sudanese to boycott the general elections and deprive the regime of legitimacy.


Sudan – Darfur agreement between government and Minnawi group

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government and a number of Darfur rebel commanders led by Mohamedain Ismail Bashar, a former operation commander of the Sudan Liberation Movement -Minni Minnawi, signed a peace agreement in the Chadian capital Ndjamena on Friday.

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Head of Darfur peace office, Amin Hassan Omer (L) shakes hands with Mohamedain Bashar in Ndjamena on 27 March 2015 (SMC photo)

Bashar’s group is composed of several dissident rebel commanders who on 7 October 2014 accused their leader of nepotism, corruption and illegal detention of some leading members. Two weeks later, Minnawi sacked four commander and accused them of treason and communication with the enemy.

The peace agreement was signed by the head of Darfur peace office Amin Hassan Omer, and Bashar, in presence of the Chadian foreign minister Moussa al-Faki, representing president Idris Debi who facilitated the deal.

The parties didn’t release the text of the signed deal but Sudan Tribune learnt it is a security arrangements agreement negotiated on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

Omer welcomed the agreement and said that it was the first time that confidence building and cooperation between the two parties take place before the signing. He further called on the rebel groups to follow this example.

Bashar’s group strength is estimated at around 400 combatants with 30 vehicles.

Former SLM-MM military spokesperson Adam Saleh Abakar, the group logistics officer Abdalla Tijani and former humanitarian official Adam Buy-Dad are among Bashar’s group members.

Several sources told [Sudan Tribune that the signatories were is relation with JEM-Sudan leader Bakheit Abdallah Abdel-Karim (Dabajo) who encouraged them to negotiate with the government.

Dabajo himself before to join JEM was part of the SLM-MM.

The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) called Darfur rebel groups including SLM-MM and their political allies of the Sudan Call forces to meet with the government next Sunday to discuss procedures of the national dialogue process.


Africa and the world – rising but on the margins


As pressure mounts for Africa to take greater responsibility for development, peace and security on the continent, the question of regional leadership becomes pressing. A recent African Futures paper explores the changing power capabilities of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa (the so-called ‘Big Five’) over the next 25 years. These countries are all leaders in their respective regions and hold some of the greatest power potential in Africa.

Collectively, they represent 60% of the African economy, 40% of Africa’s population and 58% of the continent’s military spending. This is expected to remain the same over the next 25 years. The future of these countries will provide a fairly straightforward answer to the often-evoked question of whether or not Africa is rising. Indeed if these states fall or fail, Africa will not be able to rise.

The authors of the paper, published by the Institute for Security Studies and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, use the International Futures forecasting system to forecast future power trajectories. In an increasingly flat world where institutions matter, states that don’t network will have little influence on issues of regional and global governance.

The projections explored in the paper are based on a new index to measure national power, which includes diplomatic engagements in addition to traditional measures such as demographics, economics and technology.

If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say

Today, the combined power of Africa’s 55 countries accounts for close to 9% of global power. This is more than that of Japan, Russia or India, but less than the United States (US) or China, which represent about 18% and 13% of global power, respectively. By 2040, Africa’s total relative power is forecast to surpass that of the declining European Union (EU) and US – although only adding up to around 11% of global power. This is at odds with the world’s demographic evolution. By 2050, one in four people will be African. If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say.

In the next couple of decades, Africa is set to remain at the margins of global power. And this is an understatement, as Africa is clearly neither a country nor a union of states with any kind of supranational provisions. Even with significant advances in regional and continental integration, it is highly unlikely that Africa will speak with one voice in foreign policy matters, or be able to act in unison.

Only Nigeria has the potential to become a player with global significance. But this would require far-reaching changes in its current domestic stability, governance capacity and political leadership, which is an unlikely scenario. All other African countries are expected to remain so-called ‘minor powers,’ which affects Africa’s influence in issues of global governance.

For the Big Five, the data tells a story of two emerging powers and three whose potential is waning. The capabilities of Nigeria and Ethiopia are expected to grow considerably in the next 25 years. Those of Egypt, South Africa and Algeria, on the other hand, are forecast to remain stagnant or experience a slight decline.

Nigeria’s economy, already the largest in Africa, is expected to represent almost 3% of the global economy by 2040. Its military spending is set to increase significantly over the next 25 years, ready to overtake Africa’s current military heavyweight, Algeria, in more or less 10 years. By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power capabilities.

By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power

Ethiopia, the other rising power, is coming from a low base and the country will remain the poorest among the Big Five. Nevertheless, by 2040 it is expected to be the sixth largest African economy due to high average economic growth rates. Algeria, Egypt and South Africa are likely to grow below the African average growth rate of 6.3% per annum. The size of their populations will also stagnate – although this is due to higher general levels of development, which are associated with lower fertility rates.

Among the Big Five, Egypt has traditionally dominated the category of global diplomatic engagement. This can be gauged according to the number of embassies abroad, the number of memberships to international organisations and the number of international treaties ratified by a country. Egypt’s strategic location, and its important role in both Arab and African nationalism, ensures that it is deeply connected internationally. Egypt is closely followed by South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria, while Ethiopia lags behind. Not surprisingly, South Africa made big strides after the end of apartheid in 1994 when the country reintegrated into the international community.

The way the Big Five project power is not necessarily in line with their capabilities. After all, power is as much about potential as it is about concrete projection. Some countries are able to influence more international actors, institutions or regimes than would be expected based on their capabilities, while others don’t live up to their potential.

It is questionable whether South Africa will continue punching above its weight

This is the case for Nigeria, which has been punching below its weight despite a strong set of capabilities. High levels of internal instability and corruption along with a political economy of violence compromise the country’s prospects. There is also a lack of strategic vision in the foreign-policy domain, which has recently been aggravated by the growing threat of Boko Haram.

Algeria’s role in Africa is also at odds with its relatively robust albeit declining capabilities. Faced with significant domestic and regional threats, Algeria remains focused on the need to maintain a large military capacity for internal purposes.

Egypt punches above its weight internationally, but below its weight in the African context. The country is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the Arab Spring as well as spill-over effects of the conflict in neighbouring Libya. Domestic challenges seem to detract from projecting power outside of the country, with external priorities evolving around the conflict in the Middle East and efforts to contain terrorism.

In contrast, both South Africa and Ethiopia have largely punched above their weight. Despite its limited capabilities, Ethiopia is Africa’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions and plays an important role in peace and security matters in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, regional security is a domestic priority for Ethiopia.

South Africa, for its part, has capitalised on the miracle of the transition to democracy; Nelson Mandela’s legacy; the international activism of his successor, Thabo Mbeki, as well as several years of healthy economic growth and a benign global environment. Yet it is questionable whether the current context of stagnant or even declining capabilities and a lack of credible leadership will allow South Africa to continue punching above its weight in the medium-term future.

What seems certain is that the distribution of relative power in Africa will remain multipolar, with various countries fulfilling the role of regional leaders.

Julia Schünemann, Senior Researcher and Project Leader, African Futures and Innovation Section, ISS Pretoria; Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director, ISS; Jonathan D. Moyer, Associate Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan sign Nile waters deal


Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sign deal to end Nile dispute

The leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopian in Khartoum on 23 March 2015
Egypt’s leader (l) signed the deal, despite expressing reservations

Three African leaders have signed an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the agreement in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Egypt has opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, saying it would worsen its water shortages.

Ethiopia says the dam will give it a fairer share of Nile waters.

In 2013, Ethiopia’s parliament ratified a controversial treaty to replace colonial-era agreements that gave Egypt and Sudan the biggest share of the Nile’s water.

Egypt’s then-President Mohamed Morsi said he did not want war but he would not allow Egypt’s water supply to be endangered by the dam.

Diversion ceremony at the Blue Nile in Guba, Ethiopia. 28 May 2013
Ethiopia has the support of many African states for building the dam

Mr Morsi’s successor, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi signed the deal with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Halemariam Desalegn and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

‘Veto power’

The three leaders welcomed the “declaration of principles” agreement in speeches in Khartoum’s Republican Palace, and watched a short film about the Grand Renaissance Dam that highlighted how it could benefit the region, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Mr Halemariam said he wanted to give an assurance that the dam would “not cause any harm to downstream countries”, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Sisi said the project remained a source of concern to Egypt.

“The Renaissance Dam project represents a source of development for the millions of Ethiopia’s citizens through producing green and sustainable energy, but for their brothers living on the banks of that very Nile in Egypt, and who approximately equal them in numbers, it represents a source of concern and worry,” he said.

“This is because the Nile is their only source of water, in fact their source of life.”

map of the river nile

Ethiopia wants to replace a 1929 treaty written by Britain that awarded Egypt veto power over any project involving the Nile by upstream countries.

Ethiopia says the $4.7bn (£3.1bn) dam will eventually provide 6,000 megawatts of power.

Egypt was apparently caught by surprise when Ethiopia started diverting the Blue Nile – a tributary of the Nile – in 2013.

Ethiopia says the river will be slightly diverted but will then be able to follow its natural course.

Egyptian politicians were inadvertently heard on live TV in 2013, proposing military action over the dam.

Ethiopia has received strong backing from five other Nile-basin countries – Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi.