Category Archives: North Africa

Sudanese opposition sign peace roadmap, say ready to engage in peace talks

Sudan Tribune

Sudan Call leader sign the Roadmap Agreement paving the way for talks with the government on cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access on 8 August 2016 (ST Photo)
(ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) – Four groups of the opposition umbrella Sudan Call on Monday in Addis Ababa have signed the Roadmap Agreement for peace and dialogue brokered by the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

Last March, four Sudan Call groups including the National Umma Party (NUP), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /North (SPLM-N), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi rejected the peace plan, saying it excludes other opposition groups, and omits important confidence building measures such as political freedoms and release of political detainees and prisoners.

However after five months, they agreed to ink it after receiving reassurance from the head of the AUHIP Thabo Mbeki.

Hours ahead of signing the roadmap agreement, the Sudan call group held a separate meeting at a different venue where the opposition factions organized issues of concern they wanted to raise to Mbeki.

The Sudan call meeting was then followed by a meeting with AUHIP and Mbeki where the groups reach agreement on how the Sudan call is going to sign the roadmap agreement and on how their concern should be addressed.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Yasir Arman, SPLM-N secretary general said he is optimistic that the parties will step towards achieving an inclusive process that will bring an end to the war.

“We are ready to sign the peace deal that addresses the humanitarian situation, which brings democracy and transformation, equal citizenship and that one that moves Sudan from dictatorship to democracy” Arman said.


Now that the Roadmap Agreement is signed, Negotiations are expected to resume tomorrow in two tracks: SPLM-N with the government and other track for Darfur.

Head of the NUP, al-Sadig al-Mahdi, told Sudan Tribune that following the signing of the roadmap, AUHIP will convene a meeting which he said the Sudan call group expects to discuss confidence building measures.

He said it will also lead to setting agendas for future discussions on democratization.
“We believe that after the signature we will arrange this meeting and this meeting will lead to further discussions between the two sides to come to terms about how to continue this Sudanese process inside Sudan after the confidence building process is fulfilled” al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, also the Former Sudanese Prime Minister told Sudan Tribune.

He said the national initiative inside has come to an end and it has its own recommendations.

“What we are talking about is an independent process of course we will discuss what was achieved”.


After signing the agreement, SPLM-N leader, Malik Agar, told reporters that his group was signing the agreement while still having reservations.

Although Malik didn’t detail the reservations he however hinted it is related to the humanitarian situation and on issues to do with political detainees.

He said his movement is committed to peace and the decision to sign the agreement was to give peace a chance further calling on the government side to demonstrate commitment.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) Minni Arko Minnawi has however expressed reservations further questioning the neutrality of Mbeki, but declined to give further details.


In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune ahead of the signing of Roadmap, Sudan Call said it told Mbeki that it was ready to sign the peace document on the basis of the understandings it brought to him in its letter on 22 July 2016.

It reiterated its call for holding a preparatory meeting to achieve a credible and inclusive national constitutional dialogue process, saying the meeting must “guarantee the Sudan Call the right to agree to its own delegation”.

The statement added that the agenda for the preparatory meeting “must determine the agenda, rules, procedures, regulations, mechanisms and guarantees that will shape an inclusive and credible national constitutional dialogue process”.

It added that the meeting must reach an agreement on the decisions and actions for a conducive environment needed for a credible dialogue including fundamental freedoms and release of political prisoners and detainees “as well as a matrix for their implementation”.


Meanwhile, the Sudanese government delegation for the peace talks on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile has arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday.

Presidential aide and head of the delegation Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that they are ready to engage in talks with the armed groups on the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian access according to the Roadmap.

He expressed hope that the armed groups exhibit a strong political will to achieve an agreement ending the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas.

For his part, member of the government delegation Bishara Guma’a Aror said the peace talks would start on Tuesday by discussing the preliminary arrangements stipulated on item (2-1) of the Roadmap pertaining to cessation of hostilities and permanent ceasefire besides the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

He pointed that the parties to the talks would then engage on discussions on the political and security arrangement.


Morocco applies to join African Union



Morocco has sent a special envoy to lobby African leaders to rejoin the African Union 32 years after it left in a row over Western Sahara.(KS – not correctbhere – it it left the Organization of African Unity, not the AU).
Taib Fassi Fihri met Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi and said Morocco wants to re-join the AU without any preconditions.
Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of its territory, much of which it has occupied since 1975.
But the AU recognises Western Sahara as an independent state.

South Sudan – Sudanese troops pull out of demilitarised zone

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on Sunday said it has completed the re-deployment of its troops along the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) with South Sudan.

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SAF spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami (Photo Defence Ministry website)

In September 2012, the two Sudan’s signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking and border trade, among others.

On 14 October 2015, South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk and his Sudanese counterpart Awad Ibn Ouf signed an agreement to operationalize the buffer zone between the two countries.

But the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) meetings to decide the effective activation were adjourned several times due to the security situation in South Sudan.

Following the JSPC meetings in Khartoum on June 5th, the two countries signed a series of security agreements, including immediate re-deployment of joint military forces along the SDBZ, and approved a plan to stop supporting and harbouring rebels as well as open the crossings points.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, SAF spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami said the redeployment of the troops came in implementation of the JSPC’s decisions.

“Accordingly, Sudan declares the completion of the re-deployment of its troops outside the SDBZ and a report in this regard has been submitted to the African Union High Implementation Panel on 25 June 2016” read the statement.

The two sides agreed during the JSPC meeting to immediately start enforcing the agreed decision on the buffer zone and submit a report to the AUHIP within 21 days.

The SDBZ would be established along 2,100 km on the 1956 border line and at a distance of 10 kilometers on each side of the borders.

Al-Shami pointed that the completion of the re-deployment of the Sudanese troops underlines Khartoum’s keenness to promote relations with Juba and to move it to a new phase that would witness further military and security cooperation between the two nations.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern voters chose independence.

Observers say that strained relations between the two countries and the internal crises they are currently facing are direct consequence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which failed to adequately address several post-cessation issues.


Sudan sticks to demand for end to UNAMID mission

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government Thursday said it sticks to end the hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur region (UNAMID) and to speed up the tripartite discussions on its withdrawal.

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A UNAMID peacekeeper from from Burkina Fasso and based in Forobaranga, West Darfur, checks a map during a patrol to Tamar village. (Photo UNAMID/Albert González Farran)

Sudan, African Union and the United Nations since two years hold discussions on the UNAMID’s exit from western Sudan. Khartoum says the security situation is stable and its efforts to curb the tribal violence have been successful.

But the UN proposed a limited and gradual withdrawal from some sectors saying the full exit should intervene after the signing of peace agreement with all the rebel groups and to ensure the protection of displaced civilians.

A joint AU and UN team is currently inspecting the security situation in different areas in the region including the areas the army recently recaptured from the rebels in Jebel Marra and IDPs camps in North Darfur. The assessment report of the mission should serve to redefine the positions of the two sides during the upcoming meetings.

Sudanese foreign ministry Thursday said it would renew its demand to not extend the mandate of the UNAMID for another year during the upcoming discussion on the situation in Darfur next June at the UN Security Council.

“The position of the Sudanese government is very clear. Time has come for the UNAMID to leave Darfur,” said State Minister at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Kamal Ismail in a press conference held in Khartoum.

Ismail further said a number of countries funding the hybrid mission have officially expressed their concern over its indefinite continuation.

However, the minister said that the UN Security Council probably would extends Darfur mission for another year.

“Everything is possible and if the committee reached a specific agreement, a time frame will be developed for the exit strategy,” he said.

The state minister underscored that the ongoing discussions between the government, African Union and United Nations would take a time.

He added that the three parties are negotiating a gradual and smooth exit taking into account the logistical aspects of the operation. He said the tripartite mechanism will hand over its conclusions to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to include it to his trimesterial report.

Last week, , Chief of General Staff of Burkina Faso army, General Pingrenoma Zagre, disclosed that he asked the President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré to withdraw their 850 soldiers participating in Darfur peacekeeping mission.

Zagre pointed to the growing security threats posed by Jihadist groups in the Sahel and Western Africa region.

Since an attack on a hotel in the capital Ouagadougou last January, Burkina Faso is targeted by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb group. The West African country is closely monitoring its porous borders with Nigeria where Boko Haram militants are active.


Sudan boasts about Uganda visit by Bashir and weakness of ICC

Sudan Tribune


KHARTOUM) – The participation of President Omer al-Bashir at the inauguration of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was successful and proved the weak impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Africa, said a Sudanese diplomat after his return from Kampala.



Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir salutes his supporters as he disembarks from the plane, after attending an African Union conference in Johannesburg South Africa, at the airport in the capital Khartoum, Sudan June 15, 2015 (REUTERS)
On Thursday, Bashir participated in the fifth swearing in ceremony of the Ugandan president. His presence and Museveni’s disparaging comments that the ICC is “a bunch of useless people” forced the American and European diplomats to walk out of the ceremony in protest.

In statements to the official news agency, SUNA, after his return from Uganda, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal al-Din Ismail said the visit was “successful” and “produced the desired results”.

Ismail further asserted it has showed the weakness of the ICC in Africa, adding that Bashir had been accorded warn official and popular reception.

He said the two presidents held a short meeting on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony, adding that Museveni invited Bashir to visit Kampala again within the framework of bilateral relations.

Last Sunday 8 May, Bashir attended the fourth inauguration ceremony of Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh was sworn.

Several African governments and the African Union have voiced concerns over the ICC’s fairness, and accused it of targeting African leaders.

They further to say that war crimes court has violated its founding treaty the Rome Statute, when it prosecutes cases investigate by the national jurisdiction.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants against Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur.

Bashir is the first sitting head of state charged by the Hague based court since its inception in 2002.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has referred the Darfur case to the ICC under a Chapter VII resolution in 2005 since Sudan is not a state party to the court.

Amnesty International on Thursday urged Uganda to immediately arrest Al-Bashir and hand him over to the ICC. Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, was in Kampala to attend the inauguration of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

“Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes in a statement.

“As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC. Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict,” she added.

In March 2010, according to Amnesty International, the Ugandan parliament passed the International Criminal Court Bill which fully incorporated the law of the ICC into Ugandan law. However, Uganda has also at times been critical of the ICC.

“President Al-Bashir cannot be allowed to evade justice any longer,” stressed Wanyeki.


How to steal billions from Africa, all perfectly legally

African Arguments

When UK PM David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens is all perfectly legal.

The City of London, arguably the heart and headquarters of a network of international tax havens. Credit: Michael Garnett.

Africa loses at least $50 billion a year — and probably much, much more than that — perfectly lawfully. About 60% of this loss is from aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which organise their accounts so that they make their profits in tax havens, where they pay little or no tax. Much of the remainder is from organised crime with a smaller amount from corruption. This was the headline finding of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, a year ago.

This amount is the same or smaller than international development assistance ($52 billion per year) or remittances ($62 billion). If we take the accumulated stock of these illicit financial flows since 1970 and factor in the returns on this capital, Africa has provided the rest of the world with $1.7 trillion, at a conservative estimate. Africa is a capital exporter.

The rest of the world didn’t take much notice of the Mbeki Panel’s findings until the Panama Papers revealed the extent to which this is just part of a global phenomenon. The rich aren’t being taxed. The rest of us pay for everything.

The OECD calls the phenomenon ‘base erosion’ (referring to the emasculation of the tax base of the affected countries) and ‘profit shifting’. The beneficiaries are a small fraction of the world’s wealthiest 1%, and the secrecy jurisdictions (aka tax havens) where they sequester their money. These locations include the City of London, numerous British overseas territories, Switzerland, and new entrants to the global business of looking after the monies of the hyper-wealthy and ordinarily wealthy, who would prefer not to pay tax. Countries including Mauritius, the Seychelles, Botswana and Ghana are seeking to enter this competition.

And the vast majority of this is perfectly legal.

Accountants’ alchemy

Two hundred years ago, the slave trade was legal. One hundred years ago, colonial occupation and exploitation were legal. This time the legal immiseration is done by accountants.

This dimension of unethical financial activity isn’t captured by Transparency International (TI) and its Corruption Perceptions Index. That index is, as it says, a measurement ofperceptions. But of what andby whom? As the UN Economic Commission for Africa recently observed, it relies on asking key power players in a nation’s economy what they think of the level of corruption. Many of those are foreign investors. Using this approach a country like Zambia will unsurprisingly tend to rank high on corruption – 76 worst out of 168. Meanwhile, Switzerland will rank low – 7th.

But the perfectly legal transfer of the wealth of Africa to Europe isn’t captured by this index. As TI notes, “Many ‘clean’ countries have dodgy overseas records”. Consider this: the number one destination for Zambian copper exports is Switzerland, which in 2014 accounted for 59.5% of the country’s copper exports. Yet Switzerland’s own imports that year scarcely contained any mention of copper at all. Had the African country’s main exports just vanished into thin air? The 2015 figures suggest that in fact much of these exports were destined for China (31%), though Switzerland remained the number one destination (34%).

The answer to where the money goes lies in accountants’ alchemy. International corporations present their books in such a way that they pay as little tax as possible in either Zambia or China. And they don’t pay much in Switzerland either – because the Swiss don’t demand it.

Suddenly the ranking of Switzerland, 69 places ahead of Zambia in the honesty league, looks a bit suspect. But of course it’s all perfectly legal.

From Zambia’s point of view, what counts as corruption is defined by the rich and powerful. When their country is robbed blind by clever accounting tricks, against which their government and people have no recourse, it is just the operation of a free market controlled – as free markets so often are – by corporations that have enough power to set the rules.

Political money in a political marketplace

Another little noticed but significant feature of illicit financial flows from Africa is that there are occasional reverse flows. The movements back into African countries aren’t as big as the outflows, but they are important. What is happening here is “round-tripping”: spiriting funds away to a safe place so they can be brought back, with their origins unexplained, and no questions needing to be asked.

The same multinational corporation that is defrauding an African country can pay money into the offshore account of one of its political leaders. Or that leader can whisk funds away by other means. Our main concern here isn’t the money invested in real estate in France, yachts, fast cars, or foreign business ventures. These are personal insurance policies in case things go wrong at home, or tickets to the global elite club. Rather, our concern is the cash kept liquid, to be brought back home when needed – the money brought back to fix elections, buy loyalties and, in sundry other ways, secure leaders in power. These are political budgets par excellence: the funds used for discretionary political purposes by political business operators.

In the United States, almost any kind of political funding you can think of can be done in a perfectly legal manner, given a smart enough accountant and lawyer. Political Action Committees can spend as much money as they like in support of a candidate. Campaign finance is essentially without a ceiling.

In Africa, political finance laws range from lax to non-existent. Spending vast amounts of money on winning political office – or staying in office – offends no law. The monetisation of politics is one of the biggest transformations in African political life of the last 30 years. It is generating vast inequalities, consolidating a political-commercial elite which has a near-monopoly on government office, fusing corporate business with state authority, and making public life subject to the laws of supply and demand. Political markets are putting state-building into reverse gear, transforming peace-making into a continual struggle against a tide of mercenarised violence, and – most perniciously – turning elections into an auction of loyalties.

Political money is discrediting democracy. Some of the transactions that constitute Africa’s political markets are blatantly corrupt, but many are simply the routine functioning of political systems based on the exchange of political services for material reward.

Yes, there is corruption in Africa, just as there is corruption in international trade and finance. But when Prime Minister David Cameron opens the Anti-Corruption Summit next week on 12 May, we should be aware that the greatest fraud perpetrated on the majority of the world’s citizens – notably those living in Africa – is all perfectly legal.

Alex de Waal is the Director of the World Peace Foundation. 

Sudan – Sudanese army claims capture of last rebel stronghold in Jebel Marra

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Tuesday said its forces captured the last rebel stronghold area in Darfur located north-west of the Jebel Marra, three months after a large-scale attack launched in mid-January,

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SLM-AW rebels look on during a visit by former joint special representative Ibrahim Gambari to West Darfur’s Fanga Suk village in East Jebel Marra on 18 March 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The valiant armed forces (….) managed to fully clear Jebel Marra area of insurgency and was able to establish full control of Srounq area, the last strongholds of the rebel (Sudan Liberation Army) Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW), said a statement issued by SAF spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami.

Last Friday, Central Darfur state announced that the Sudanese army had defeated the SLM-AW fighters in Srounq, stressing that before to retake the last rebel stronghold, the army managed to capture Tekno and Keiwi.

Since, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) released on the internet pictures of dead bodies and prisoners of war claiming they were killed or captured during the recent attacks on the rebel positions in Jebel Marra.

Also, several obituaries published with his picture announced the death of commander of SAF force that attacked Sroung Colonel Ibrahim al-Sharif.

However on Monday, SLM-AW military spokesperson Shihab al-Din Ahmed Hagar said they repulsed the attack on Sroung, adding that they forced the Sudanese troops to flee into Golo.

Hagar further told Radio Dabanga they killed 1070 government soldiers and militiamen and destroyed some 83 vehicles .

In a briefing to the Security Council, U.N. Security Council, Wednesday 6 April UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said UNAMID reported that clashes and air strikes continue, in Jebel Marra.

“UNAMID also continues to receive reports of government troops reinforcements to Golo and Guldo in central Darfur, the epicenter of the fighting,” he added.

In a separate development, the Central Darfur Governor, Jaafar Abdel-Hakam, has directed Golo Commissioner directed Golo commissioner and the staff members of his administration to return to the area and resume their activities in order to prepare for the return of displaced persons and to provide them with the needed facilities.

After a meeting with the central humanitarian affairs officials in Zalingei on Tuesday Abdel-Hakam, said his administration anticipated the move and formed a a committee to follow up the return of IDPs, aid a statement released by the state information center.

UN agencies estimate that over 120,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Jebel Marra area since last January.