Sudan approves new law ‘dismantling’ Omar al-Bashir’s regime

PM Abdalla Hamdok says new law is not an act of revenge, but al-Bashir’s party condemns the decision by ‘illegal gov’t’.

Al-Bashir is being held in a prison in Khartoum [File: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]
Khartoum [File: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Sudan‘s transitional authorities approved a law late on Thursday to “dismantle” the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, including the dissolution of his political party and confiscation of all its properties – in response to a key demand of protesters that helped overthrow his government in April.

The law was passed during a joint meeting of Sudan’s sovereign council and cabinet that lasted several hours, during which the body also scrapped a law regulating women’s dress and behaviour.

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The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, welcomed the law, saying it was “an important step on the path to building a democratic civilian state”.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Twitter that the law was not an act of revenge, but was rather aimed at preserving the “dignity of the Sudanese people”.

“We passed this law in a joint meeting to establish justice and respect the dignity of the people, and safeguard their gains, and so that the people’s looted wealth can be recovered,” he added.

But al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) condemned the decision by what it called new “illegal government”.

The party accused the authorities of trying to confiscate NCP properties to help tackle Sudan’s economic crisis, which it said the new government had failed to tackle.

“To rely on the assets of the party, if there are any, is nothing more than a moral scandal, an act of intellectual bankruptcy and a total failure on the part of the illegal government,” the NCP said on its Facebook page.

‘Significant reform’

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the new decree “embodies the demands of the Sudanese people”.

Sudan - Hamdok

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the new law was not an act of revenge but was rather aimed at preserving the ‘dignity of the Sudanese people’ [El Tayyieb Siddig/Reuters]

According to the new law, members of al-Bashir’s old party are barred from seeking an elective position in the next 10 years.

“This is significant, and to a certain degree it fulfils the demands of the people, who have been protesting for the past few months, demanding a change in governance,” our correspondent said.

Filmmaker and activist Hajooj Kuka told Al Jazeera from Khartoum that people were “really excited” about the rule.

“We were expecting it a month ago … This was the one thing that was uniting us all. For us, this is the end of the era,” he said.

Kuka also said that the ruling also marked the beginning of the struggle of taking the financial power from the former ruling elite.

“They own everything. This was an Islamic dictatorship that controlled the money. Can we actually take that away from them? It is very problematic,” he said.

Power-sharing

Hamdok’s government was formed in September after a power-sharing deal between anti-al-Bashir groups and the Transitional Military Council that ruled the country immediately after Bashir’s overthrow.

Implementation of the law will be a crucial test of how far transitional authorities are willing or able to go to overturn nearly three 30 years of rule by al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said the government has repealed a law used under al-Bashir to regulate women’s dress and behaviour and punish those found to contravene it with flogging.

The law was deployed to impose conservative Islamic social codes, restricting women’s freedom of dress, movement, association, work and study. It had been widely criticised by local and international human rights groups.

Al-Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) had ruled the northeast African country since June 30, 1989, before a nationwide protest movement resulted in him being deposed him earlier this year.

Protests erupted against al-Bashir’s government in December 2018 and quickly turned into a nationwide anti-regime movement that finally led to his removal.

The army deposed him on April 11 in a palace coup, and in August a joint civilian and military sovereign council was formed to oversee the country’s transition to civilian rule as demanded by protesters.

A civilian-led cabinet headed by Hamdok is charged with the day-to-day running of the country.

Al-Bashir is being held in a prison in Khartoum facing trial on charges of corruption. Several other officials of his government and senior party members are also in jail.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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Sudan cabinet scraps law abusing women’s rights: state media

Sudanese women march in Khartoum to mark International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women, in the first such rally held in the northeast African country in decades, on November 25, 2019. (AFP)
  • Thousands of women were flogged, fined and even jailed during Bashir’s ironfisted rule
  • The cabinet’s decision is still to be ratified by the ruling sovereign council

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s cabinet Tuesday scrapped a controversial law that severely curtailed women’s rights during the 30-year tenure of deposed autocrat Omar Al-Bashir, state media reported.

Thousands of women were flogged, fined and even jailed during Bashir’s ironfisted rule under the archaic public order law for “indecent and immoral acts.”

“The council of ministers agreed in an extraordinary meeting today to cancel the public order law across all provinces,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

The cabinet’s decision is still to be ratified by the ruling sovereign council, which is an 11-member joint civilian-military body.

Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, severely restricting the role of women in Sudan for decades.

During his rule, authorities implemented a strict moral code that activists said primarily targeted women, through harsh interpretations of Islamic sharia law.

Bashir was deposed by the army on April 11 after months of protests against his rule.

Women were at the forefront of demonstrations.

Activists say the public order law was used as a weapon, with security forces regularly arresting women even for attending private parties or for wearing trousers.

The law also punished those who consumed or brewed alcohol, which is banned in the northeast African country.

Sudan’s new government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has assured citizens it will uphold women’s rights.

On Tuesday, the cabinet also decided to “restructure the country’s judicial system in order to prepare it for the new era,” SUNA reported without elaborating.

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US calls its ambassador to South Sudan back to Washington

November 25, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The United States has called its ambassador to South Sudan back to Washington for consultations as Washington reevaluates its relationship with the country after a delay in implementing a fragile peace deal.

The unusual public statement Monday by the State Department was echoed in a tweet by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the U.S. signaled its frustration with the failure of South Sudan’s rivals to meet this month’s deadline to form a coalition government.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to postpone that key step for 100 days until mid-February. They had faced a Nov. 12 deadline but said security and governance issues needed to be resolved.

The U.S., the top humanitarian donor to South Sudan, said the delay “calls into question their suitability to continue to lead the nation’s peace process.” Its reevaluation of the relationship with South Sudan could mean further sanctions.

South Sudan’s government has said it wanted to form the coalition government on time and blamed the opposition for the delay. Machar had asked for an extension and warned that the ceasefire would “erupt” without one.

The peace deal was signed in September 2018 after five years of civil war killed nearly 400,000 people.

The conflict began in late 2013, just two years after the country’s independence from Sudan, when supporters of Kiir and Machar, then his deputy, clashed. A previous peace deal under which Machar returned as Kiir’s deputy fell apart amid fresh fighting in 2016 and Machar fled the country on foot.

Under the current agreement Machar would again become Kiir’s deputy.

The Vatican earlier this month said Pope Francis and Anglican leader Justin Welby intend to visit South Sudan together if a coalition government can be formed in the next three months.

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PM Hamdok: need to restructure civil service and security apparatus

November 25 – 2019 KHARTOUM

Prime Minister Abdallah Abdallah Hamdok (SUNA)

Prime Minister Abdallah Abdallah Hamdok (SUNA)

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok reiterated once again that the challenge of achieving a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Sudan will remain a top priority for the transitional government.

Speaking at a workshop to discuss the programme of transitional priorities at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum yesterday, Hamdok stressed that the priorities of the transitional government are to fight corruption, recover the looted funds, spread and ensure public and private freedoms and human rights, and adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability.

Restructure the state

He stressed that his government is working to restructure the state, both the civil service and the security apparatus, to develop a balanced foreign policy that will remove Sudan from the US lists of states sponsoring terrorism, and to achieve debt relief.

Hamdok acknowledged the daily suffering faced by the people of Sudan because of high prices and the transport crisis, stressing the government is addressing that and wants to have a dialogue about this topic with all sectors of society.

High expectations

Hamdok said that the people have high expectations and that “these expectations need to be managed”.

State budget

Minister of Finance Ibrahim El Badawi said that the state budget aims to reach 54 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), while this is currently between 10 and 15 per cent.

The minister called on the international community to replete the budget deficit.

He explained that the government wants to address social issues and double wages in the public service.

He also wishes direct cash support for the 15 to 20 million of people in Sudan who live in poverty (65 per cent of the population).

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Sudan revokes accreditation of organisations affiliated to former regime

November 24 – 2019 KHARTOUM

File photo

File photo

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has revoked the registration and will freeze or seize all assets of 28 legal entities affiliated with the deposed Al Bashir regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.

HAC announced on Thursday that in entities involved include organisations, union associations, and institutions. The decision is based on Article 14 of the Sudan Voluntary Work Regulation Act of 2006, the HAC statement explained.

According to the decision, the registration of the entities has been annulled, their property will be seized, and their assets and cash balances will be frozen.

They include “several organisations that are dominated by officials and affiliates of the former regime, such as the Sanad Charity chaired by Widad Babikr (wife of deposed president Al Bashir), the organisation of Charity and Communication (headed by the wife of former First Vice President Ali Osman Taha), El Zubeir Charity, Majzoub El Khalifa, I am Sudan, the National Youth Union, the General Union of Sudanese Students, the Women’s Union, and the Working Women’s Association.

Vestiges of the old regime

Removing vestiges of the old regime from positions of authority has been a priority theme for the transitional period.

On Thursday, during an extensive interview with Al Jazeera Mubasher, El Burhan assured that the former ruling National Congress Party is not allowed to operate during this transitional phase. He further revealed that the Public Prosecution is responsible for the fate of the former regime officials who have been arrested over the last months.

“The greatest achievement so far is the overthrow of Al Bashir’s regime; and thus it is unfair to judge the government within three months,” he stressed.

Assets frozen

As reported by Radio Dabanga in early November, the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) has frozen bank accounts of 40 prominent officials of the former regime including Nafi Ali Nafi and Abbas Al Bashir, the brother of the deposed former president.

The frozen accounts including companies and business names associated with prominent officials of the former regime, against whom reports of irregularities have been filed regarding land and real estate.

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Central Bank of Sudan freezes funds of 40 officials of Al Bashir regime

November 10 – 2019 KHARTOUM

Central Bank of Sudan (File photo: SBoS)

Central Bank of Sudan (File photo: SBoS)

The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) has frozen bank accounts of 40 prominent officials of the former regime including Nafi Ali Nafi and Abbas Al Bashir, the brother of the deposed former president.

The frozen accounts including companies and business names associated with prominent officials of the former regime, against whom reports of irregularities have been filed regarding land and real estate.

The CBoS has issued a circular to all banks and ATMs to freeze these accounts on the grounds of alleged violations concerning money laundry and corruption.

The CBoS formally informed the Land Violation Prosecution stating that the personal accounts, companies, and business names of the suspected people were frozen in accordance with the prosecutor’s decision regarding the freezing of assets related to the officials of the former regime.

The sources revealed that Al Bashir’s brother Abbas owned 22 companies that were frozen according to the bank’s decision.

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Sudan’s publishers enjoy freedom after 30 years

Afkar Abdullah/SharjahFiled on November 8, 2019 | Last updated on November 8, 2019 at 10.29 pm

sharjah, sudan

(KT file)

The number of participating publishing houses has increased from two to eight, displaying several books that used to be banned.

Sudanese participation in the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has increased this year as the country is enjoying their newfound freedom. Now, they are free from censorship.

The number of participating publishing houses has increased from two to eight, displaying several books that used to be banned.

According to them, they couldn’t participate in any international book fairs or cultural events, as the former regime allowed only publications that promoted its policies.

Hassan Saeed from University of Khartoum Publishing House said Sudanese participation in this year’s SIBF is the largest in the last 30 years.

“This is the result of the liberation of Sudanese people. Free from the thoughts of extremism and ignorance, Sudanese publishing houses are activating intellectual partnership through their participation in the SIBF.”

He pointed out that the Sudanese cultural participation in previous years were “sub-standard and intermittent”.

“Sudan is taking the right path to development, reconstruction and comprehensive renaissance,” he added.

Noor Al Huda, owner of Azza Publishing House, said that his stall has 25 distinct titles that are being displayed to the public for the first time.

These include an encyclopaedia on diversity by Dr Amr Mohamed Abbas and a series that examines the abilities and development of women.

Among the other previously banned books were Sex and Sexuality of the Sudanese Woman by Dr Fatima Babiker and My Heart on My Country by Dr Ali Abdel Kader.

Al Huda believed that the diversity of Sudan was brought about by African, Nubian and Arab civilisations coming together, producing distinctive literature.

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

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‘Emergency unfolding’ in flooded South Sudan

8 November 2019

A girl walks in water after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, in the town of Pibor, Boma state, South Sudan, November 6, 2019. Picture taken November 6, 2019

The UN is warning of an unfolding emergency in the aftermath of flooding in South Sudan.

More than 400,000 people are thought to have lost their homes following heavy seasonal rains that have hit much of the region.

Pibor, in the east of the country, is one of the places that has been worst hit. Many have been forced into flimsy shelters clinging to tiny bits of land that have not been submerged.

Tents surrounded by water are seen from an aerial view, after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes

Residents of Pibor described their area being overwhelmed by a flash flood with the water submerging schools, houses and cattle camps.

“This is the worst flood to ever hit this area… We are gathered here on this small bit of dry land which is caving in as well,” health worker Regina Marco told the Reuters news agency.

A structure is seen covered by water after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, in the town of Pibor, Boma state

People are having to wade through the floodwaters with their belongings, trying to keep firewood dry to cook what little remains of their food.

South Sudanese women walk in a flooded area that has been isolated for about a month and a half due to the heavy rain in Pibor Town
A South Sudanese woman cooks outside her shelter near a flooded area that has been isolated for about a month and a half due to the heavy rain in Pibor Town

“Some people managed to salvage some belongings, but others couldn’t,” resident Veronica Komor told Reuters.

“The effect is so severe that now we live with dead animals, waste and garbage all submerged under these waters. We fear catching diseases and getting injured, we need help.”

A South Sudanese woman walks in a flooded area that has been isolated for about a month and a half due to the heavy rain in Pibor Town, Boma state,

The government declared a state of emergency in the affected areas at the end of October and some aid is starting to reach those in need.

But the flood conditions have hampered the aid effort.

A WFP (World Food Program) helicopter is seen on the flooded airstrip, after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, in the town of Pibor, Boma state
UN peacekeepers walk through water, after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, in the town of Pibor

The UN has released $10m (£7.8m) for immediate relief efforts.

“There is a real emergency unfolding in Pibor and many other areas,” the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudéhou, said on Friday.

“[The people] have shown remarkable resilience and dignity, but are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the flooding.”

Displaced girls sit on a bed in a classroom, in a school now occupied by IDPs (Internally Displaced People) after heavy rains and floods

Pictures from Reuters and AFP

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South Sudan Rival Leaders Delay Forming Coalition Government

By The Associated Press

  • Nov. 7, 2019

KAMPALA, Uganda — South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to postpone the formation of a coalition government for 100 days.

The rival leaders were to have formed a unity government by Nov. 12, but after meeting in Uganda for six hours Thursday, they said that security and governance issues needed to be resolved before they could form a government together.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni mediated the Kampala meeting which was held to try to salvage the peace deal designed to prevent South Sudan from sliding back into civil war.

Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa made the announcement of the extension, attracting applause from Machar’s delegation who had been pressing for the deadline to delayed.

It was agreed that during the 100-day period, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan would work with the regional group, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to resolve all outstanding issues hampering the formation of a new South Sudanese government in which Kiir would be president and Machar one of the vice presidents.

South Sudan is slowly emerging from five years of fighting that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions. A fragile power-sharing agreement signed last September has been riddled with delays and a lack of funding. The formation of a unity government has already been delayed once due to outstanding issues including security arrangements and defining the number of states.

South Sudan experts warn that without a new approach, the uneasy situation may well be the same when the 100-day period ends in February.

“The key question is what will change during this 100 days? They’ve already had more than a year and achieved virtually nothing of substance,” said Klem Ryan former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s expert panel for South Sudan. This will potentially only increase international frustration and fatigue with Kiir and Machar, he said.

Senior analyst for the International Crisis Group Alan Boswell said while “this veers us away from the cliff edge by avoiding the worst,” regional heads of state must use the extension to mediate a path forward.

At least one aid group is urging South Sudan’s government to use the extension to focus on the country’s dire humanitarian situation. Almost 1 million people have been affected by flooding across the country, last week the government declared a state of emergency in 27 counties.

“The South Sudan government must prioritize meeting humanitarian needs now, not in 100 days. Many will not survive another 100 days if nothing changes,” said Martin Omukuba, South Sudan country director at the International Rescue Committee.

___

Mednick contributed from Nairobi, Kenya.

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Exclusive: Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to prevent collapse

Khaled AbdelazizUlf LaessingMichael Georgy

4 MIN READ

FILE – Then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses the National Dialogue Committee meeting at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, Sudan, April 5, 2019.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to avert economic collapse and launch reforms after the ouster of veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir, its finance minister told Reuters.Sudan’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum, Sudan November 7, 2019. Picture taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Sudan’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum, Sudan November 7, 2019. Picture taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

The country, in crisis since losing most of its oil wealth with South Sudan’s secession in 2011, has only enough foreign currency reserves to fund imports for a few weeks, said Ibrahim Elbadawi, part of a transitional government formed in August.

Sudan has had some support for fuel and wheat imports but about 65 percent of its 44 million people live in poverty and it needs up to $2 billion in development funding along with a hoped-for $2 billion from Arab development funds, he said.

Outlining reform plans in detail for the first time, Elbadawi said public salaries would need to be increased and a social support network established to prepare for the painful removal of fuel and food subsidies.

Months of demonstrations over price hikes for fuel and bread and cash shortages triggered the uprising against Bashir, who was toppled in April by the military. Protests have continued since, with people killed in clashes with security forces.

“We have started the process (of reforms),” Elbadawi said in an interview on Thursday. “The people of Sudan deserve to be seen in a radically different prism than the international community used to see Sudan, as a country ruled by a pariah state.”

“Now we have a revolution,” he said. Asked how much budget support was needed for 2020 he said: “Some estimates say between three to four billion (US dollars), maybe even five billion.”

The civilian government Elbadawi is part of has taken over for three years under a power-sharing deal with the military. It has drawn slightly more than half of $3 billion in support for imports of wheat and fuel offered by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in April, he said.

A “friends of Sudan” donor meeting is planned for December and the government had agreed with the United States it could start engaging with international institutions while still on a list of countries deemed sponsors of terrorism, Elbadawi said.

The designation, which dates from allegations in 1993 that Bashir’s Islamist government supported terrorism, makes it technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank. Congress needs to approve a removal.

CURRENCY

The first experts from international institutions had arrived in Khartoum to help with reforms and a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would come this month for Chapter IV discussions, Elbadawi said. There was no immediate comment from the IMF, World Bank or U.S. State Department.

Part of a roadmap agreed with the IMF and World Bank was that Sudan did not have to pay back $3 billion in arrears from international institutions.

“We don’t need to pay anything. What we need to … deliver really is policy,” he said. Sudan is one of the most indebted countries, owing $60 billion, which needs to be settled separately.

Sudan would start to increase its tax base and overhaul the civil sector, Elbadawi said. Salaries — eroded by double digit inflation rates — could be raised as much as 100 percent by April.

In the second half of next year a social support network would be set up to allow the lifting of subsidies by June or later. Some donor funding would be used to collect data to allow cash transfers for the needy.Sudan’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum, Sudan November 7, 2019. Picture taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Sudan also wanted to produce bread based on sorghum, a local cereal, to import less wheat. He said he hoped a spread between official and black market would be ended by June. But this week the local pound dropped to 80 for a dollar on the black market versus the official rate at 45.

He said the 2020 budget would have sustainable development targets for education, health care and social spending, suggesting Sudan might move away from the dominant military spending choking development.

Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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