Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan – foreign nationals arrested as police investigate Khartoum explosions

Sudan Tribune


A picture of a yellow building where foreign nationals fabricated a bomb in Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum on 12 February 2017 (ST Photo)
February 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese police on Sunday has arrested several foreigners from some Arab countries after an explosion at a residential building where it uncovered base ingredients for fabricating a bomb.

Police official spokesperson Lt. Gen. Omer al-Mukhtar earlier Sunday stated that “police investigations are underway to find out the details and motives of the crime”.

Also Sky News TV, reported the police apprehended foreign Arab nationals and seized quantity of weapons and explosives.

In a statement on Sunday night, Sudanese police confirmed the explosion, saying a police officer who was stationed near the incident’s site informed the rescue police that he “heard a small blast at Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum,”. The police underscored that it was later made certain that it came from one of the buildings in the area”.

The statement added that “police force backed by forensic and explosive specialists besides a dedicated team from the National Intelligence and Security Service was dispatched” to the incident’s scene, pointing the teams “stormed the apartment and found local materials used in making crude explosives and foreign passports”.

“The investigations revealed that a suspect began to make an explosive device but it detonated and caused him minor injury that forced him to seek treatment in a nearby hospital. [However] they refused to treat him without informing the police which made him leave without treatment,” read the statement.

The statement said that the police would resolve the case and captures the suspects within hours, stressing the seized materials are not highly explosive.

It is noteworthy that the police on Sunday morning has closed down a street in the 46th neighbourhood of Arkawit area and set up blocks 80 meters along the street and positioned its vehicles on both sides of the street.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that police found explosives in an apartment at the residential building; saying one of them exploded on Sunday morning and hit one of the residents, where traces of blood were seen at the scene.

According to the eyewitnesses, the police evacuated large number of yellow paper bags containing holdings that have been collected from the apartment.

They pointed out that they heard gunshots at 2:00 am (local time), saying the area was then cordoned off by police with sniffer dogs.

The same eyewitnesses added that the four-story building includes a number of apartments inhabited by Arab nationals.

Khartoum has remained a safe place for foreign diplomats and organisations also there was no terrorist attacks on the Sudanese government institutions despite the regional troubles, its collaboration in the war against Daesh and involvement in the Yemeni war.

The last terrorist attack in Khartoum was in 1993 when the Palestinian Black September Organization carried out

Sudan – SPLM-N may accept US humanitarian plan

Sudan Tribune


SPLM-N leader Malik Agar (2R) attends a graduation ceremony for SPLA-N fighters in Blue Nile State on 29 January 2017 - (ST photo)
February 6, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) leader Malik Agar reiterated their readiness to discuss the U.S. proposal to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the rebel-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, stressing what they refuse is the control of the whole operation by the government.

in a bid to break the deadlock in the peace talks between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N, the former U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth last November proposed that the USAID will deliver medical humanitarian aid to civilian in the rebel held areas by air directly after its inspection from the government.

The SPLM-N declined the proposal insisting on the need to transport 20% of the humanitarian aid directly from Ethiopian border town of Asosa to the rebel areas.

In an audio statement obtained by Sudan Tribune, Agar who was speaking last Saturday in the SPLM-Controlled areas in the Blue Nile said the SPLM-N didn’t reject the “Sudanese American proposal”, as he said.

The proposal provides that the USAID will deliver specific humanitarian assistance through an internal corridor to the United Nations workers in the SPLM areas, explained Agar in remarks delivered at a promotion ceremony for SPLA Second Division officers on Saturday.

“This gives the Sudanese government the upper hand in the (humanitarian) operation, and we should keep in mind the experience of UNAMID in Darfur,” he added.

The SPLM-N rejected the Sudanese government control of the humanitarian operation but didn’t decline the U.S. proposal or the proposal of the African Union mediation which provides to deliver the aid across Asosa town on the Ethiopian Sudanese border, he said.

The SPLM-N sticks to the direct delivery of 20% of humanitarian assistance through Ethiopia, pointing that the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) supports this idea.

Sources close to the file disclosed that the SPLM-N in its response to the U.S. proposal underscored that the safe humanitarian corridor through Asosa would enable the SPLM-N to transport its sick or wounded fighters for treatment from the land-locked controlled areas. Also this corridor enable the rebel leadership and delegates to reach the venue of peace talks and return to their bases for consultations, they said.

Sudanese government rejected Asosa corridor, saying it’s a violation of the state’s sovereignty and also allows the rebel to bring arms and ammunition from outside.

However, Agar called to not exclude Asosa corridor from the negotiating table stressing that there are “two proposals on the table, that one of the AUHIP and “the U.S. proposal with the proposed amendments’’.

“And we are ready to discuss the two proposals,” he said.

Recently it was reported that the AUHIP mediators filed new proposals for the negotiating parties, and it is expected to convene a meeting between the armed groups and a Sudanese committee tasked with the implementation of the national dialogue outcome.

But Agar denied being invited to resume talks with the government. Also, he said they are not concerned by the outcome of the government-led dialogue process but they call for an inclusive and comprehensive dialogue, and a preparatory meeting to discuss the creation of a conducive environment before this constitutional process, in line with the African Union Roadmap Agreement

He further said they expect that an invitation be extended by the AUHIP for a consolations-meeting.

He said the SPLM-N is ready for peace and war alike.

“The regime challenged us in the past and can challenge us again but we are ready to take up the challenge until the Sudanese get their full rights. We will not accept half-solutions and will not postpone the war for future generations,” he added.

(ST)

South Sudan rebels accuse Egypt of bombing raid

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

South Sudan rebels accused Egypt on Saturday of carrying out bombing raids against their positions, drawing an immediate denial from Cairo, and warned of the risk of a regional war.
It was the first time either side had alleged Egyptian involvement in South Sudan’s festering conflict, which pits President Salva Kiir’s military against forces loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar.
The Egyptian air force on Friday dropped “more than nine bombs and explosions on the gallant SPLA-IO positions” near the northern village of Kaka, a rebel statement said, using an acronym for the rebel force.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid denied the alleged air strikes, saying: “Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”
South Sudan presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny also denied Egypt had conducted any bombings in the country, describing the allegations as “nonsense.”
“Those small packets of rebels are … operating inside our population and we cannot bomb our own population,” he said.
War erupted in South Sudan in December 2013 after a political disagreement between Kiir and Machar exploded into military confrontation.
Under a peace deal, Machar returned to the capital Juba as vice president early last year. But tensions escalated between the two men, who hail from rival tribes, and fighting broke out again in Juba in July.
Intermittent clashes continue in several parts of the country. The conflict has often taken an ethnic hue, fuelling fears the world’s youngest nation could be plunged into a genocide on the scale of Rwanda’s in 1994.
In the statement, the rebels accused Kiir’s government of seeking to escalate the war. They said they repelled attacks by government forces in several places this week, including at three locations in Unity State, leaving “so many dead bodies”.
The statement said the rebels had captured nine soldiers after firefights, and destroyed four military vehicles.

“Egyptian participation in the ongoing war in South Sudan are clear indications to the people of South Sudan…that the Juba regime is provoking the region and tilting South Sudan for a regional war,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba; Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa and Lin Noueihed in Cairo; writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

African Union backs mass withdrawal from international court – despite opposition from Nigeria and Senegal

Impunity rules – is the African Unionh turning back into the bad old days of the OAU, when it was a trades union for autocrats and dictators? KS

BBC

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013GETTY IMAGES Africa has 34 signatories to the Rome Statute, the treaty that set up the court

The African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, the resolution is non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal.

South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans.

The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa.

The AU took the decision on Tuesday following a divisive debate at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa.

Part of the resolution also said the AU would hold talks with the UN Security Council to push for the ICC to be reformed.


Analysis by Emmanuel Igunza

After being discussed in several previous summits, this was a huge announcement showing how frustrated the AU was with the international court. But the debate itself showed how divisive the whole issue is.

The resolution isn’t as strong as many who are opposed to the court would have liked. It only calls on countries to consider how to implement the decision but does not bind them to it. It’s a victory for human rights activists who insist the court still has a very important role to play in the continent where many countries have weak judicial systems.

The resolution also calls for African countries to continue pushing for reforms of the court – another clear indication that ditching the court en masse isn’t such a popular decision. The likes of South Africa and Kenya, which have pushed for withdrawing, will be disappointed that the discussions about completely severing ties with the ICC will have to wait another six months for the next summit.


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was at the summit.

In 2015, a South African court criticised President Jacob Zuma’s government for failing to arrest Mr Bashir when he attended an AU meeting in the main city, Johannesburg.

The government later announced that it was withdrawing from the ICC because it did not want to execute arrest warrants which would lead to “regime change”.

A total of 34 African states are signatories to the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC.


The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • Only Africans prosecuted so far

Why the favourites lose race to become African Union head

Al Jazeera

How did Kenya’s Amina and Senegal’s Bathily lose the election for African Union Commission chairperson?

31 Jan 2017 12:04 GMT

In the last round of voting, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat beat Kenya's top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU [AP]
In the last round of voting, Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat beat Kenya’s top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU [AP]

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – It is the morning after the night before and the cold chill of the night have lifted.

At the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa it’s postmortem time and everyone is asking one question: How did the favourites – Amina Mohamed of Kenya and Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal – lose?

Their people had walked around the summit halls and hotel lobbies with a swagger – chests puffed, chins up and smiles from ear to ear.

Team Kenya put the champagne on ice and the invites to the celebration party at one of the five star hotels were extended to friends and allies. But this was before the heads of state voted.

Kenya ran the best PR at the summit. President Kenyatta was one of the first heads of state to land and lobby in Ethiopia. It looked like a done deal. Or so the press corp gathered at the summit were made to believe.


WATCH: Kenya’s Amina Mohamed talks to Al Jazeera’s UpFront


In the end, Kenya was beaten to the AU’s top seat by a candidate from one of the less glamorous countries on the continent, and the defeat left egos pricked and confidence crushed.

But why did Kenya’s top diplomat lose the closely-fought contest? Many theories, some true and others not so true, have been put forward.

Contrary to some rumours flying around the corridors of the summit building, Amina did not lose because some leaders preferred a male chairperson, a senior AU official who was present when the leaders cast their ballot told Al Jazeera.

“Gender did not play a part. Many leaders were in favour of having a female leader at the top because the AU chairperson and deputy AU commissioner are both male”,  the senior official, who did not want to be named, said. “Amina winning would have brought some balance to the AU top table.”

One more likely reason, officials said, was that Kenya did not make its stand on the disputed territory of Western Sahara clear.

When lobbying the pro-Morocco camp Kenya, sources told us, said it was in favour of Morocco’s readmission to the AU. But when Kenyan officials met the pro-Polisario camp they said they were not.

This got Amina some votes but backfired in other cases, a diplomat from a neighbouring country told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: Leaders gather to elect AU chair, re-examine key issues

The Kenyan candidate has also been a fierce critic of the International Criminal Court and this did not sit well with the countries who are in favour of the Hague-based court, which has been often accused of a bias against African nations.

Amina, who is not a career politician unlike her opponents, is a first term foreign minister and lacks the weight and experience of dealing with major security matters, some analysts said.

The winner, Moussa Faki, is a former Chadian prime minister and is currently the foreign affairs minister in his country at a time when N’Djamena is leading the regional fight against the armed group Boko Haram.

Amina’s opponents hammered this point home when seeking the backing of undecided leaders.

Faki also had the advantage of previously holding a senior position at the AU. The Chadian was a former chair of AU’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council and knew better than any other candidate how to sell himself.

Idris Deby, the President of Chad and Faki’s boss, was until yesterday the chairperson of the continental body and this also could have only helped.

READ MORE: Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat named AU Commission chair

Some heads of state saw Amina as too close to President Kenyatta and questioned whether she could be truly neutral. Would she be able to stand up to Uhuru if elected, many asked?

In Bathily’s case, many saw him as France’s man and, discomfited with that, took their votes elsewhere.

Here in Addis Ababa, Senegal is also seen as the main supporter of Morocco’s now successful bid to rejoin the AU. So pro-Polisario votes went to other candidates despite the tough-talking academic being a long-term Polisario supporter.

The other candidates – Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a veteran minister from Botswana and Mba Mokuy from Equatorial Guinea – were never favoured.

Many heads of state, it seems, saw Faki as a safe pair of hands at a time when the organisation is going through major reforms. His performance will be watched closely by those he beat to the job.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera News

Sudan extends ceasefire with rebels for six months

Sudan Tribune

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir speaks, during a meeting of the NCP Shura Council in Khartoum on October 21, 2016 (ST Photo)
January 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Council of Ministers on Sunday has decided to extend the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones for six months.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as “Two Areas” since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

In June 2016, President Omer al-Bashir declared a unilateral four-month cessation of hostilities. In December, he extended the ceasefire for one month following a two-month extension declared in October.

According to the official news agency SUNA, the Sudanese cabinet held an extraordinary session on Sunday headed by al-Bashir and decided to extend the ceasefire for six months.

The government decision appears to be part of a roadmap agreement between Khartoum and Washington that prompted the latter to ease the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan since 1997.

On Friday, the outgoing US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to ease sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the east African nation.

He said the move intends to acknowledge Sudan’s efforts to reduce internal conflicts, improve humanitarian access to people in need and curtail terrorism.

It is noteworthy that the SPLM-N, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in October extended for six months the unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and south Kordofan they declared in October 2015 and April of this year.

Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa last August, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the African Union mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely.

(ST)

Mapping Africa’s Natural Resources

Al Jazeera

Mapping Africa’s natural resources

An overview of the continent’s main natural resources.

28 Oct 2016 07:34 GMT |

Africa remains a key territory on the global map. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position.

It is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment, and it has approximately 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.

It’s home to more than 40 different nations, and around 2,000 languages. Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits; the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore; and resources such as coltan, gold, and copper, among many others, are abundant on the continent.

The region is full of promise and untapped riches – from oil and minerals and land to vast amounts of people capital – yet, it has struggled since colonial times to truly realise its potential.

For more: Shadow War in the Sahara

Correction, 24/10/2016: An earlier version of this graphic used a basemap which did not accurately show disputed Western Sahara. The map has been corrected.

Source: Al Jazeera