Tag Archives: sudan

Sudan economic crisis thickens.

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The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

Sudan announced Sunday it was ditching its fixed exchange rate and adopting a managed float, in line with an IMF programme but at the risk of fanning already-smouldering discontent.

The move aims to stem a flourishing black market that has seen the local pound recently trade at around 400 to the dollar, while the official rate was fixed at 55 pounds to the greenback.

It is expected to substantially devalue the official exchange rate towards black market levels, sending prices higher even as citizens grapple with an inflation rate that topped 300 percent last month.

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The transitional government has decided to undertake policies “aimed at reforming and unifying the exchange rate system by applying a managed flexible exchange rate system,” the central bank said in a statement.

Closing the yawning gap between the official and black market exchange rates is central to a reform programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund last year.

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The central bank said its policy shift, which follows the recent appointment of a new cabinet tasked with tackling the economic crisis, is “imperative” to help achieve stability.

It is one of several painful IMF mandated reforms, which also include reducing costly subsidies, aimed at securing debt relief and attracting investment following the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Newly-appointed finance minister Gibril Ibrahim urged citizens to tolerate the impact of the policy change, saying in a press conference on Sunday that it “will require a high patriotic spirit” and “cooperation”.

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Ominously for Sudan’s transitional authorities, protests have already flared in recent weeks in several areas over the skyrocketing prices, alongside bread and medicine shortages.

Sudan’s economy was decimated by decades of US sanctions under Bashir, mismanagement and civil war, as well as oil-rich South Sudan’s 2011 secession.

– Cushioning the blow –

The finance minister and the central bank governor, Mohamed al-Fatih, said the exchange rate policy shift will be cushioned by international donors financing a project aimed at supporting poor families from Monday.

The programme offers $5 dollars per month each to around 80 percent of the country’s 45 million population.

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In January, the IMF said it was “working very intensively” with Sudan to build the preconditions for debt relief.

The US recently removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism blacklist, another move Khartoum hopes will unlock debt relief and aid.

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The central bank governor said Sudan has begun applying a dual banking system, instead of solely Islamic banking, in a move allowing international banks to operate in the country.

The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

If the central bank is to be successful in drawing transactions away from the black market, then reserves need to stand at around $5 billion, Mohamed el-Nayer, a Sudanese economist, told AFP.

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Authorities have not lately disclosed the level of reserves.

Asked if the country had enough reserves, the Ibrahim replied that funds had lately been received, but did not specify the origin or amount.

But the recent bread shortages — and also of fuel — point to the possibility of “severely lacking” foreign reserves, the economist Nayer said.

Bashir’s fall nearly two years ago came after months of protests against his autocratic rule that were triggered by his cash strapped government effectively trebling bread prices.

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In October, Sudan signed a peace deal with rebel groups that observers hoped would end long-running conflicts in the country’s far-flung regions.

Last month, the government approved this year’s budget and it is aiming for inflation of 95 percent by end-2021.

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#Newsworthy

Inflation tops 300% as economic crisis deepens in Sudan.

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Protests have flared in recent weeks in several parts of Sudan over skyrocketing costs of living.

Sudan’s inflation rate has soared above 300 percent, officials said Monday, posing a major challenge for a newly-appointed government tasked with tackling an economic crisis that has triggered recent protests.

“The annual inflation rate reached 304.3 percent in January, compared to 269.3 percent in December,” the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, attributing the rise to price hikes including on food.

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Protests have flared in recent weeks in several parts of Sudan over skyrocketing costs of living.

Sudanese authorities have blamed the sometimes violent demonstrations on supporters of ousted president Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in April 2019 following mass youth-led protests triggered mainly by economic hardship.

Last week, Sudan swore in a new inclusive cabinet with the aim of rebuilding the country’s economy, which was decimated by decades of US sanctions, mismanagement and civil war under Bashir.

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The new government appointments included veteran rebel leader and economist Gibril Ibrahim as Sudan’s finance minister.

Sudan has been undergoing a rocky transition since Bashir’s ouster.

It has been struggling with a severe economic crisis characterised by a galloping inflation, chronic hard currency shortage, and a volatile black market.

The crisis has been exacerbated further by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The government hopes Sudan’s recent removal from the US blacklist as state sponsors of terrorism would allow for debt relief and bring in much-needed foreign investment.

Last month, the government said it hopes to bring inflation down to 95 percent by the end of the year.

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#Newsworthy

‘We have a new Buhari from Sudan’ – Obasanjo’s revelation.

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He urged the president to wake up and fight banditry and other crimes especially in the northern part of the country.

Former Nigeria presient, Olusegun Obasanjo, has kicked against claims that there is “a new Buhari from Sudan” in Aso Rock.

Obasanjo, during a virtual interview with historian, Toyin Falola, on Sunday, however expressed his worry over insecurity in the North West of the country, where incidentally President Muhammadu Buhari is from.

Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and Present Leader (2021), President Muhammadu Buhari

Obasanjo said, “I thought I knew President Buhari because he worked with me. But I used to ask people, is it that I have not read him well or read him adequately or is it that he has changed from the Buhari that I used to know? I am not subscribing to the people who say we have a new Buhari from Sudan and all that nonsense.

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“I know what I believed was his limitations and I have written about it – he wasn’t strong in economics, not all of us are strong in anything but you need to have sufficient knowledge of it for you to direct the affairs. He wasn’t particularly too strong in foreign affairs but I thought he was strong enough in the military.

“But with what I have seen now, I believe that maybe he will be thinking of a legacy. Maybe he will also learn from what has happened in recent times. If you are the commander-in-chief and banditry is taking place in your backyard, then you have to wake up.”

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#Newsworthy

Sudanese seek justice two years after protest erupts

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But experts have said they fear far more of the government could be affected, including US intelligence bodies, given the ubiquitousness of the SolarWinds security software.

Hackers broke into systems used by top US Treasury officials during a massive cyberattack on government agencies and may have stolen essential encryption keys, a senior lawmaker said Monday.

Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Finance Committees, said after a closed-door briefing that the hack at the US Treasury Department “appears to be significant.”

Dozens of email accounts were compromised, he said in a statement.

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“Additionally the hackers broke into systems in the Departmental Offices division of Treasury, home to the department’s highest-ranking officials,” said Wyden.

“Treasury still does not know all of the actions taken by hackers, or precisely what information was stolen.”

The US government admitted last week that computer systems in multiple departments were penetrated by attackers who hacked in through widely used security software made by the US company SolarWinds.

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Members of Congress briefed by US intelligence, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr, have all said Russians were behind the hack.

So far officials have said the hackers broke into computers at the State Department, Commerce Department, Treasury, Homeland Security Department, and the National Institutes of Health.

Wyden said that the Internal Revenue Service had said there was no evidence that they had been compromised or data on taxpayers taken.

But he sharply criticized the government for not taking stronger measures to protect its systems.

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The government “has now suffered a breach that seems to involve skilled hackers stealing encryption keys from (government) servers,” he said.

That has happened despite “years of government officials advocating for encryption backdoors, and ignoring warnings from cybersecurity experts who said that encryption keys become irresistible targets for hackers.”

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#Newsworthy

Sudan PM welcomes Rebel leader back to Khartoum after peace deal.

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Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok welcomed rebel leaders to the capital Khartoum on Sunday, as crowds celebrated what they hoped was the end of war following a landmark peace deal.

“We have been looking forward to this day,” Hamdok said as he greeted the leaders, according to a broadcast by the official news agency SUNA.

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“Today we are taking the first steps to put an end to the suffering of our people.”

It was the first time the leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel and political groups, had come to the capital since the signing of an October 3 peace agreement in neighbouring South Sudan.

“We have come to put the peace agreement into effect on the ground,” said Minni Minawi, who leads a faction of the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement, according to SUNA.

“We must work to assume responsibility and abandon the political quarrels to move towards democracy.”

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The peace deal is hoped to end decades of fighting, including the war in the western Darfur region that erupted in 2003.

The United Nations estimates at least 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million were displaced in the Darfur conflict.

“This is the first time in Sudan’s history we reached a deal that truly addresses the roots of the Sudanese crisis,” said Hamdok.

Jubilant crowds packed a central square in Khartoum, chanting and carrying banners to celebrate.

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The SRF — founded in 2011 — is an alliance of armed rebel groups and political movements including from Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Sudan’s transitional government seized power after the April 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir, following unprecedented street protests against his rule.

Bashir has been jailed in Khartoum’s high security Kober prison and was found guilty last December of corruption.

He is currently on trial in Khartoum for his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power, and has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused of genocide in Darfur.


#Newsworthy…

Rebel group, Sudan sign ‘peace deal.’

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Sudan’s transitional authorities and a rebel alliance signed on Saturday a peace deal agreed in August that aims to put an end to the country’s decades-long civil wars, in a televised ceremony in Juba.

“The next biggest challenge is to work with all local and international partners to preach the agreement and its benefits,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok tweeted on Friday upon his arrival in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.


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Reaching a negotiated settlement with rebels in Sudan’s far-flung provinces has been a crucial goal for the transitional government, which assumed power after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

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Sudanese civilian leaders hope the deal will allow them to revive the country’s battered economy by slashing military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

Saturday’s official signing in Juba sealed the peace deal reached in late August between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of several armed groups.

The summit was attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war. The head of Sudan’s sovereign council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, also attended the ceremony. Dagalo, the commander of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, signed the agreement along with rebel leaders.

The deal would grant self-rule for the southern provinces of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and West Kordofan, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press. Rebel forces would be integrated into Sudan’s armed forces.

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The Sudan Revolutionary Front, centered in the western Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, is part of the pro-democracy movement that led to the uprising against al-Bashir, but the rebels didn’t fully support the military-civilian power-sharing deal. That deal includes a six-month deadline for achieving peace, which ran out in February.

Sudan’s largest single rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-North led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, was involved in the talks but has yet to reach a deal with the government.

Al-Hilu has called for a secular state with no role for religion in lawmaking, the disbanding of al-Bashir’s militias and the revamping of the country’s military. The group has said if its demands are not met, it would call for self-determination in areas it controls in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.

Al-Hilu attended Saturday’s ceremony and met with Hamdok and Kiir to discuss the ongoing talks between his movement and the government, according to Hamdok’s office.

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Another major rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Army, which is led by Abdel-Wahid Nour, rejects the transitional government and has not taken part in the talks.

Nour’s movement criticized the deal, saying in a statement it was “not different from” other previous deals that did not end the wars.

The Sudanese communist party, which is part of the protest movement that helped topple al-Bashir, also denounced the deal as a “true threat to Sudan’s integrity and future.”

The party said in a statement Thursday that the deal would “create tensions and new disputes” because other rebel groups and victims of the civil war did not join these talks.


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Ethiopia does not want to harm Sudan, Egypt – PM says.

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Ethiopia Prime minister Abiy Ahmed stated the country has “no intention to harm” neighouring Egypt and Sudan.

Comments that come after months of negociations over the Renaissance Dam, situated upstream of the two countries, have failed to produce any agreement.

Egypt has warned the Dam project could have devastating effects on its economy. As the Nile river’s flow would be diminished to fill up the dam’s reservoir, Egypt would lose on its main source of scarce fresh water ressources.

A situation Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he is willing to avoid.

“I want to assure that we are firm in our commitment to addressing the concerns of downstream countries and reaching a mutually beneficial outcome in the context of the ongoing African Union-led process”, Ethiopia ‘s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, stated in an recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

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Regional tensions and a local crisis
Abiy Ahmed, whose country is engaged in complicated talks in the region, also faces a major challenge in his country.

Deadly unrest shook Ethiopia as long-marginalized groups, who seek more say in the country’s politics have taken their anger to the streets for the past few months.

The long awaited first free elections, two years after Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister have been postponed to 2021.

Opposition members, such as Oromo Federalist Congress leaderJawar Mohammed, have stated the government was using COVID 19 pandemic fears as a tool to stay in power.


#Newsworthy

Just in: French Bank under investigation for ‘hand’ in Sudan war crimes.

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French authorities have began probing banking giant BNP Paribas which is accused of aiding war crimes allegedly committed in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The bank is accused of ignoring sanctions against Omar al Bashir, who was overthrown as Sudan’s leader last year.


#Newsworthy…

Nile Flood: Almost 100 Lose to Death in Sudan.

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On Sudan’s Tuti Island, where the Blue and White Nile meet, the highest river waters since records began have left locals trying to hold back the floods.

Residents are filling bags with sand and small stones to try and stop the waters, which has washed away thousands of homes.

“Three days ago the water invaded my house around midnight,” said Swakin Ahmad.

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“We were knee-deep in it. My husband and I, with our five children, fled… carrying a few things in our hands.”

Every year during the rainy season the river floods, and the people of the island expect the waters to rise.

But this year has seen waters rising to record levels.

The level of the Blue Nile has risen to 17.57 metres (57 feet), the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said this week, breaking all records since measurements began over a century ago.

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Heavy rains forecast
Government civil defence officials say that seasonal floods have killed 94 people, injured 46 and destroyed or damaged over 60,000 homes across Sudan during the current season.

But many fear the worst is yet to come.

Heavy rains are forecast to continue through September, both in Sudan and upstream in neighbouring Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile.

“Young people tried to rescue things from my house,” Ahmad said. “But it was hopeless, because they had water up to their necks and could not see anything.”

Residents have set up homemade barrages to block the water, but their efforts have been engulfed by the rising river.

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The army has been sent in to help them.

Iqbal Mohamed Abbas, who welcomed many of those forced from their homes at her educational centre, described “the courage with which young people tried with simple means to slow down the flood.”

“I am proud of these young people who came to try to stop the Nile with their bodies,” Abbas said.

Sudan’s water ministry predicts that this year’s flood is larger than that of 1998, which destroyed tens of thousands of homes in several states and displaced more than a million people.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 380,000 people have already been affected across the country.


#Newsworthy…

Sudanese gov’t cannot afford to be confused on Israel – By Kholood Khair

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The government’s discombobulated stance on normalisation with Israel could be costly for Sudan.


On August 18, just a few days after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel declared their intention to normalise ties, Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman, Haidar Badawi, announced that his government too is “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel.” The move by Khartoum was seen by many as a major win for the UAE, which is known to be supporting Israel’s normalisation of ties. However, the Gulf state was not necessarily the intended audience for this unexpected announcement.

It is well-understood that the number-one foreign policy objective of the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is to convince the United States to rescind Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terror (SST) designation, which presents a significant obstacle to the country in accessing foreign aid and dealing with its enormous national debt. Regionally, this means supporting the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel – the Trump administration’s key allies.

It could well be that the limited push-back the UAE received from the international community for normalising its ties with Israel, and Washington’s vocal support for the move, motivated Sudan to follow suit. However, Sudan does not have a reasonably stable political leadership or a resilient economy like the UAE, and this gamble to secure support from the US and its regional allies could, very easily, not pay off.

Worryingly, it increasingly appears that the August 18 announcement on Sudan’s intention to normalise ties with Israel was not even part of a cohesive governmental strategy, but a unilateral move by senior military figures in the chimeric transitional government.

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Just a day after the announcement, Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din “dismissed Haidar Badawi from his position as spokesman and head of the media division” at the ministry for making “unauthorised” comments – a clear indication of divisions within the transitional government over relations with Israel.

And this was not even the first time that Sudan’s part-civilian, part-military transitional government struggled to hold a united front on Israel.

In February, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, a joint civilian-military transitional body that has been governing the country since August 2019, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda. The meeting was denounced by Prime Minister Hamdok as something that happened without his knowledge and, if he were in a position to give it, his consent. In reality, it is unlikely that he did not know of it, even if he was not in favour of it.

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If the civilian government’s denials on normalisation were aiming to gauge the public mood while a foreign policy position on Sudanese-Israeli relations is developed, then February’s confusion should have sufficed. This latest episode signals deeper fractions within the transitional government, which imperil Sudan’s transition.

Hamdok says his government “has no mandate” to normalise ties with Israel, and a decision can only be made after the end of the transitional period. Nevertheless, the ostensible end-goal of normalisation, rescission of the SST designation, still appears to be the leading foreign policy objective of his government. The current confusion has done little to instil public confidence that the transitional government can act as one, or indeed deliver SST rescission.

With ongoing protests calling for the transitional government to be reformed and, crucially, less power to be afforded to the military, this misstep on clarity about the relationship with Israel is one the civilian wing of the transitional government led by Hamdok could ill-afford.

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance, the civilian coalition backing the transitional government and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which led last year’s revolution, have both been vocal about their objection to normalisation with Israel. Badawi’s assertion that the Sudanese government, military and civilian, is gearing up to normalise relations with Israel, did not help Hamdok’s hand with these groups. Meanwhile, by denying that any formal attempts towards normalisation are being made, the civilian government also caused many in Sudan who view improving relations with US allies in the region as a path towards SST rescission to lose trust in its ability to do what is necessary to address Sudan’s acute economic woes.

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Now Hamdok’s government is either being framed as a mendacious cabal that is trying to obfuscate the details of a deal that is in the making or an incompetent and powerless body that lacks a well-defined foreign policy.

The military components of the government, meanwhile, not only appear to have a well-developed foreign policy strategy, but are also flaunting their ability to ignore the rules. Just a few days after Badawi’s announcement, and swift dismissal, for example, the deputy head of Sudan’s sovereign council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen in the UAE to discuss security arrangements. According to media reports, during the meeting Dagalo told the Israeli official that “the Sudanese condition for reaching a normalisation agreement is that Israel starts working to remove Sudan’s name from the US list of the states that sponsor terror.”

The military, it seems, is neither concerned about “mandates” nor feeling under pressure to align its foreign policy with that of the civilian government. As the two key regional allies of the Sudanese military, Egypt and the UAE, have already normalised their ties with Israel, the military leaders likely believe the benefits of normalisation would outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, moving closer to Israel can also cause significant drawbacks for the military, which was once the cornerstone of Sudan’s anti-Israel stance. The military’s recent about-turn on the issue could cause its leaders to be perceived domestically as pawns of their powerful foreign backers, impeding any notion of sovereign policy-making.

The problems that the transitional government’s bifurcated stance towards normalisation with Israel can cause for the country became ever more obvious during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Khartoum. Though billed as an unprecedented show of US support for the transitional government, its timing and key focus on Israel frustrated many who had hoped that it would deliver some concrete pledge from the US before the November elections. That the prospect of rescission was floated with a presumptive price tag to the tune of $330m, for a country currently in economic freefall, did not surprise many who are familiar with Trump’s mercenary brand of foreign policy.

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Hamdok’s insistence that normalisation would not occur until further administrative and bureaucratic elements were in place for the transition showed new political courage not often seen before and proved that the prime minister had the mettle to stand up to the Trump administration and the UAE. This was a rare domestic coup for Hamdok, though it remains a perilous gamble.

Sudan’s discombobulated stance on normalisation sets up a hazard for both parts of the government, civilian and military. But the risks are higher for Hamdok’s government, which still insists that it is not seeking normalisation.

If normalisation happens de facto and without the prime minister’s input, it will most likely be a security arrangement. In such a scenario, SST rescission and economic gains may not follow normalisation and could give Islamists fodder to stoke anti-government sentiment. All this could delegitimise Hamdok’s government but leave the military unscathed and in the good books of its regional backers.

Sudan’s fledgeling civilian government is nowhere near stable enough to be able to weather the political turmoil that could arise from a confused and seemingly unintended, yet serious, rapprochement with Israel.

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Banking its political cache on either normalisation with Israel or standing up to the US and regional powers and yet still promising SST rescission could prove reckless. Not pushing through with normalisation, even though it remains on the table, and continuing to dig its heels in could prove more destabilising to the civilian government’s relationship with the military. Hamdok and his government find themselves in a catch-22 situation. If SST rescission does not follow this political risk after all, the civilian government could be plunged further into a political crisis that it, so far, seems to plan on fixing mostly through SST rescission itself.

And therein lies the true gamble for the civilian wing of the government, which has far more to lose, and is playing against a stronger opponent, both domestically and abroad. Its attempts to delay taking a decision on the issue risks strengthening the accusations of indecisiveness and inertia it is already facing.

By not learning from the public response to February’s meeting between Burhan and Netanyahu, which was followed by pushback less on the meeting itself and more on the confused messaging on the meeting from the prime minister, the civilian government may have missed an opportunity to consolidate its position domestically as well as soothe leaders in the UAE, a key supporter of Sudan’s military. Doing so would go some way in resolving the power imbalance within the government.

With all the government’s hopes pinned on SST rescission, there is no guarantee that the US would not follow through with a delisting with the military, rather than civilian, leadership. Despite the US Department of State’s repeated assertions that it supports the civilian government, the recently announced sanctions list for those who undermine Sudan’s transition is extremely opaque. The civilian government’s backtracking may have risked its position within an already confused American foreign policy: it would do well not to take this administration’s unwavering support for the civilian government for granted.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect NRM’s editorial stance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kholood Khair

Khair is a managing partner of Insight Strategy Partners (ISP), a policy think-and-do tank based in Khartoum, Sudan.


#Newsworthy…

1989 Coup: Judge adjourn trial of ex-Sudan leader, Hassan al-Bashir.

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Sudan’s trial of ousted president Omar al-Bashir over the 1989 coup that brought him to power was adjourned Tuesday to September 15, the presiding judge said.

The session, which was broadcast on Sudan TV, was held amid tight security as Bashir, 76, and other co-accused regime figures stood behind bars in the courtroom.

After procedural questions and debate about coronavirus precautions in the courtroom, the presiding judge declared the hearing was “adjourned to September 15”.

Bashir came to power in 1989 on the back of an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

He stayed in power for 30 years before being overthrown on April 11, 2019 after several months of unprecedented, youth-led street demonstrations amid dire economic hardship.

If convicted, Bashir and others could face the death penalty.

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The trial comes as Sudan’s joint civilian-military transitional government is pushing a wave of political and social reforms and on Monday agreed a peace deal with most rebel groups.

Sudan’s former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir smiles as he is seen inside a cage at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges, in Khartoum, Sudan August 31, 2019. REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH

The new authorities in February also agreed that Bashir should stand trial before the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Bashir was indicted by the ICC over the Darfur conflict that erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing Khartoum of political and economic marginalisation of their region.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Sudan govt signs peace deal with Darfur Rebels.

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Agreement provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and integration of their fighters into the national army.


Sudan’s government and the main rebel alliance agreed on a peace deal on Monday to end 17 years of conflict.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, signed the peace agreement at a ceremony in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.

The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes because of war.

It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

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The deal is a significant step in the transitional leadership’s goal of resolving multiple, deep-rooted civil conflicts.

About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.

Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several ministers flew to Juba on Sunday, the official news agency SUNA reported, where he met South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

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Hamdok said finding a deal had taken longer than first hoped after an initial agreement in September 2019.

The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalisation by the government in Khartoum.

They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled strongman, Omar al-Bashir.

The rebel groups that signed the agreement include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), both of the western region of Darfur, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Agar, present in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Sudan rebels agree key peace deal.

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Sudan’s main rebel alliance has agreed a peace deal with the government aimed at ending 17 years of conflict, official news agency SUNA said Sunday.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, inked a peace agreement with the government late on Saturday.

A formal signing ceremony is planned for Monday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.

Senior government officials and rebel leaders “signed their initials on protocols on security arrangements” and other issues late Saturday, SUNA reported.

However, two key holdout rebel forces have refused to take part in the deal.

The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes due to war.

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It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several ministers flew to Juba on Sunday, the news agency said, where he met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

– ‘Start of peace-building’ –

Hamdok said that finding a deal had taken longer than first hoped after a initial agreement in September 2019.

“At the Juba declaration in September, everyone expected peace to be signed within two or three months, but …we realised that the questions were of one great complexity,” Hamdok said.

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“However, we were able to accomplish this great work, and this is the start of peace-building.”

The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalisation by the government in Khartoum.

They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.

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Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Forging peace with rebels has been a cornerstone of Sudan’s transitional government, which came to power in the months after Bashir’s overthrow in April 2019 on the back of mass protests against his rule.

Two movements rejected part of the deal — a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdelwahid Nour, and a wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), headed by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.

Previous peace accords in Sudan, including one signed in Nigeria in 2006 and another signed in Qatar in 2010, have fallen through over the years.


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South Sudan Cargo Plane Crash: Seven Casualties

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Four passengers and three crew were killed Saturday when a cargo plane belonging to a local operator crashed near South Sudan’s capital Juba, the transport minister said.

The aircraft crashed shortly after its early morning takeoff in the Kameru neighbourhood around seven kilometres west of the city’s international airport.

“There were eight people on board, three passengers and five crew. A single person from among the passengers survived and she is in good health,” Transport Minister Madut Biar Yol told AFP.

“The four other passengers and the three crew members are dead.”

According to the minister, the crew members were Russian while the passengers were all South Sudanese.

The plane owned by local company South West Aviation had been carrying cash to the Wau region in the country’s northwest for Juba-based Opportunity Bank.


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Just in: 87 Nigerians return from Sudan; arrive Abuja.

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Eighty-seven Nigerians have arrived in Abuja, the nation’s capital from Sudan.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this on Saturday, adding that the Air Sudan flight conveyed the returnees.

According to the agency, the flight landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 09:15 am.

“87 Stranded Nigerians arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja at about 0915HRS via Air Sudan today, Saturday 8th, 2020,” NIDCOM said.

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The returnees are to undergo mandatory self-isolation in line with guidelines from the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

This comes a day after 331 Nigerians were repatriated from the United Arab Emirates.

The Air Sudan passenger plane conveying the Nigerian returnees arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on August 8, 2020. Credit: NIDCOM

Although the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19, NIDCOM said they will be undergoing mandatory self-isolation in line with PTF and NCDC guidelines.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travels across the world, thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home.


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Just in: Sudan to send troops into Darfur amid fresh killings

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United Nations officials reported a fresh massacre of more than 60 people in Sudan’s West Darfur, as the country’s prime minister promised fresh troops for the conflict-stricken region.

Attackers targeted members of the local Masalit community, looting and burning houses and part of the local market, a statement said.

Around 500 armed men attacked Masteri Town, north of Beida, in Darfur on Saturday afternoon, said the Sunday statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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“This was one of the latest of a series of security incidents reported over the last week that left several villages and houses burned, markets and shops looted, and infrastructure damaged,” said the statement, from the OCHA’s Khartoum office.

Following Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged a protest demanding more protection from the authorities.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the government would send security forces to conflict-stricken Darfur to “protect citizens and the farming season.”

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The force will include army and police, he said in a statement after he met a delegation of women from the region.

Land conflict
On Friday, armed men drove into a village and killed 20 civilians returning to their fields for the first time in years, an eyewitness and a tribal chief told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

Darfur has been devastated since 2003 by a conflict between ethnic minority rebels and forces loyal to now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, including the feared Janjaweed militia, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes.

West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.
West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.

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A government scorched-earth campaign to crush the rebels left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million.

Violence in Darfur has eased since Bashir’s ouster by the army amid mass protests against his rule last year.

File photo of Sudanese members of the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force backed by the Sudanese government to fight rebels in 2017. AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY

The government and a coalition of nine rebel groups, including factions from the region, signed a preliminary peace deal in January.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the conflict.

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Farmers displaced by the fighting had since started to return to their land under a government-sponsored deal reached two months ago, in time for the July-November planting season.

But the bloodshed has continued, particularly over land rights, according to expert Adam Mohammad.

“The question of land is one cause of the conflict,” he said.

“During the war, peasants fled their lands and villages to camps, and nomads replaced them and settled there.”

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Harvests threatened
The recent killings have targeted the African farming communities in conflict with the nomadic Arab tribes over the land.

In late June and early July, hundreds of protesters camped for days outside a government building in the Central Darfur town of Nertiti to demand that the government beef up security after multiple killings and looting incidents on farmland and properties.

After Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged their own protest demanding more protection.

“The escalation of violence in different parts of Darfur region is leading to increased displacement, compromising the agricultural season, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and driving growing humanitarian needs,” said the OCHA statement.


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134 stranded Nigerians in Sudan returns

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One Hundred and Thirty Four Nigerians who had been stranded in Sudan have returned to the country.

They arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 10:00 am on Sunday via Air Sudan.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this in a tweet, noting that all 134 evacuees had tested Negative to the coronavirus before they departed Khartoum today.

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According to NIDCOM, they will, however, proceed on 14 day- self-isolation as mandated by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, more Nigerians stranded in France and some European countries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected back home today.

The evacuees will depart Paris with Air France flight to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

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The exercise was coordinated by the Nigerian mission in France and monitored by NIDCOM.

Thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home from across the world since the pandemic disrupted world travel.

In early June, the Federal Government said it has spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians returning from overseas.

Since then, hundreds more have been returned to the country.


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Insecurities: protesters full Sudan

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Hundreds of Sudanese held a protest Friday in the Central Darfur state calling on the government to secure their properties following recent incidents of killings and looting, witnesses said.

Last week, unidentified armed men killed three farmers near the town of Nertiti in Central Darfur, triggering the ire of residents who long complained of lack of security in the area.

“We have been here for four days and we will continue our protest until our demands are met,” protester Adam Haroun told AFP on Friday at a sit-in outside a government office in Nertiti.

Mohamed Eissa, another protester, slammed the inaction of security forces saying “they are not carrying out their role to protect the area from gangs”.

Later on Friday, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said a government delegation from Khartoum will visit the region to address the demands of the protesters.

Sudanese demonstrators gesture as they chant during a protest on Sixty street in the east of the capital Khartoum, on June 30, 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

“The demands of our people in Nertiti in Central Darfur are fair and well deserved,” the premier wrote on Twitter.

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Darfur was the scene of a bitter conflict that broke out in 2003 between African minority rebels, complaining of marginalisation, and government forces under ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

The fighting killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million others, according to the United Nations.

Bashir was ousted in April 2019 by the military following months of mass protests against his rule, triggered mainly by economic hardship.

He is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.


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COVID-19: 86 Returnees arrive Nnamdi Azikwe Airport from Sudan

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Eighty six Nigerians on Friday arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, from Sudan.

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this in a tweet where she said they arrived the country via Air Sudan.

According to the NIDCOM boss, the returnees will go on a 14-day isolation, in line with the guidelines set by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Also, NIDCOM tweeted on its handle that the returnees had tested negative to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, 172 Nigerians citizens arrived Abuja from Uganda and Kenya at around 10:20 am via Air Peace flight from Nairobi.

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While some of the evacuees disembarked in the nation’s capital, others proceeded to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

Evacuees wait on a queue at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja following their arrival from the U.S. on May 10, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

All the evacuees who tested negative for COVID-19 are to undergo a 14-day self-isolation as mandated by the NCDC, the federal ministry of health and PTF on COVID-19.

The latest evacuation was put together by Nigeria’s missions in Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda.

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has explained how the ministry is working to ensure the safety of passengers as airports set to reopen for domestic flights.


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145 stranded Nigerians return from Sudan

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145 Nigerians who were stranded in Sudan have returned to the country.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission announced this via its Twitter handle on Friday.

According to NIDCOM, the returnees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 12:45 pm, via Air Sudan.

All evacuees will now proceed on 14 days self-isolation as mandated by the Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Their return comes just hours after another set of 167 Nigerians returned home from South Africa.


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COVID-19 confirmed cases in Sudan reach 33.


Sudanese government has reported one new COVID-19 case and one more death from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases to 33, including seven deaths.

“One new coronavirus infection has been recorded together with one death case,” Sudan’s Health Minister Akram Ali Al-Tom said in a statement on Friday.

He noted that the suspected cases with the coronavirus in the country increased to 300 at all the quarantine centres.

On Monday, the Sudanese government decided to impose a full curfew in the Khartoum State starting on April 18, in a bid to prevent the virus spread.

On March 23, Sudan declared a partial curfew nationwide to stem the virus.

Last Sunday, it banned travel of passenger vehicles between the cities and states, in accordance with the emergency law.


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End of war: Sudan signs ceasefire


South Sudan has agreed to a ceasefire after peace talks in Rome with various opposition groups signing the 2018 revitalised peace deal with the government.

The government inked the deal with the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), a coalition of opposition groups that did not sign the 2018 peace agreement.

The revitalised peace agreement was inked in Ethiopia in September 2018 between the government and the main opposition, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by Riek Machar.


Under the ten-point statement dubbed the Rome declaration, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to cease hostilities and continue to dialogue under auspices of the Saint Egidio Catholic community which mediated the talks in Italy.

“We have reaffirmed our will to foster dialogue in order to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilisation by addressing the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan,” said a joint statement issued in Juba.


Barnaba Marial Benjamin, presidential political advisor who led the government delegation, noted that the parties are aware of the suffering of the people caused by the devastating five years of conflict and the urgent need to cease hostilities.The parties also agreed on the comprehensive political engagement and further dialogue to continue under the mediation of Saint Egidio.

“We vow to continue with further dialogue under auspices of Saint Egidio,” it said.


The opposition groups also requested the Catholic organisation to reach out to the regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which mediated the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar of the SPLM-IO.

The parties agreed to allow unhindered humanitarian access in their controlled areas.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar leading soldiers loyal to the respective leader to fight.

Under the 2018 peace deal, Machar will return to take up one of the five vice presidency positions in the transitional unity government expected to be formed in February.


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