Sudan lifts restrictions on NGOs.

February 26 – 2020 KHARTOUM / DARFUR

All obstacles, complications, and procedures, which the ousted Al Bashir regime put in place to obstruct the work of humanitarian organisations and United Nations agencies in Sudan, have been removed.

This was announced by El Hadi Dawelbeit, member of the Joint Committee on Opening Humanitarian Tracks, that was set up by the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance.

Humanitarian organisations and UN agencies no longer have to apply for authorisation of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) and the Military Intelligence via the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission. Notifying the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) is sufficient. There will no longer be inspections of operations of humanitarian organisations and UN agencies.

Dawelbeit told Radio Dabanga that the mission of the Joint Committee is to open humanitarian tracks, deliver aid to those affected, provide guarantees, protection, security, and safety to humanitarian organisations and UN agencies, and coordinate between state governments and these humanitarian organisations.

He pointed out that the committee formed sub-committees in Central and South Darfur so that complaints from humanitarian organisations can be filed. The Joint Committee will visit North, West, and East Darfur next week to form sub-committees there.

In October last year, the World Food Programma was granted access to the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan by the Sudanese government for the first time in eight years.

World Food Programme Excecutive Director David Beasley with SPLM-N leader Abdelaziz El Hilu after securing access to the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan in October 2019 (RD)

Surrendering the Dictator Is Sudan Coming in from the Cold?

Does Sudan’s pledge to hand over Omar Bashir to face genocide charges mark the beginning of a new era?

Jonathan Fenton-Harvey

26 February 2020

Sudan’s pledge on 11 February to hand over former dictator Omar Bashir to the International Criminal Court over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity indicates that its new transitional Government seeks to distance itself from Bashir’s brutal legacy. 

Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist after coming to power via a military coup in 1989. Among his gravest crimes was killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, along with torture and sexual abuses during the so-called Darfur Campaign from 2003. The regime worked with pro-government Arab militias known as the ‘Janjaweed’ forces to cleanse opposition factions that complained of race-based Government marginalisation.

Yet, after millions of civilians had protested against corruption and inequality since December 2018 – which led to a successful revolution in April 2019 – handing Bashir to the ICC would show that justice has finally been done.

ICC charges were first brought against him in 2009 and he has evaded prosecution in the Hague since then.

This latest move comes after the signing of a three-year transitional deal in August between civilian factions and the military, after fears that the military would crush the revolution after it had assumed power following Bashir’s departure. This agreement could lead to civilian rule if successfully implemented. 

Sudan has sought to reform its international image and consolidate positive ties with the West. Sudan was placed on a US 1993 list of “sponsors of terrorism”, which isolated the country and harshly impacted its economy. This designation has restricted Sudan from debt relief, along with IMF and World Bank financing. 

As post-revolution Sudan grapples with economic difficulties, Khartoum seeks to restore ties with the West. A senior US State Department official said in November that Washington was considering removing Sudan from this list. The following month the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the two states would begin exchanging ambassadors after a 23-year gap, showing a further development in their ties. 

Sudan has even pursued normalising ties with Israel, the United States’ closest regional partner, after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council lieutenant general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met on 3 February. This attracted criticism from Sudan’s revolutionary opposition parties, after perceptions that Sudan was unconstitutionally prioritising relations with Israel over resolving the Palestinian issue – which Khartoum had historically pledged to support. 

Along with handing Bashir to the ICC, Al-Burhan expressed that Sudan’s building of ties with Israel was essential for removing itself from the US blacklist.

Despite these surface-level reforms, Sudan’s democratic transition is uncertain and could be disrupted by reactionary elements that still hold sway within the government. 

Others culpable of past atrocities had seized the reins of power in Khartoum as the Transitional Military Council was formed after Bashir’s ousting. Particularly the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which had evolved out of the Janjaweed militia’s cleansing of civilians in Darfur. Some have even considered it the Janjaweed ‘repackaged’. 

Following the TMC’s takeover, the RSF in June had massacred dozens of protestors who staged sit-ins in Khartoum, calling called for the military to cede power to civilian factions. 

Among those responsible is Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo – nicknamed “Hemedti”, who also played a leading role in the so-called Darfur campaign, and is still considered the most powerful man in Sudan. Hemedti previously said he would step down “over his dead body”. Furthermore, the faction has driven Sudan’s participation in supporting the Saudi-Arabia-led war in Yemen since March 2015. 

Long after the Darfur campaign had commenced the RSF carried out ‘scorched earth’ attacks on villages and unlawful killings of civilians, according to an Amnesty International report last June. The RSF is also believed to be behind a coup attempt last July. Burhan claimed in a speech last December that the faction still has a crucial role in the military. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have supported multiple counterrevolutionary movements since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, had tried to secure TMC rule to ensure continued authoritarianism in the country. This would help shore up their own geopolitical influence and prevent a regionwide flourishing of democracy, which could then trigger calls for reforms within their own borders. 

Nevertheless, the vast pressure from protestors against military rule and external influence had curtailed such counterrevolutionary actions, as did widespread digital awareness of the massacres, prompting US pressure to successfully secure the transitional agreement within Sudan. 

Though Sudan may drift closer to the West, it is important that international powers combine adequate support to the country’s transition and remove crippling financial restrictions, while ensuring that the transition fully reflects civilians’ wishes.

S. Sudan govt agrees to reduce states to 10 to maintain peace.


South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. The government of South Sudan has resolved to reduce the number of states to 10. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

South Sudan’s warring parties have reached a tentative agreement to revert to ten states, paving the way for the creation of a transitional government of national unity.

In an overnight about-turn, President Salva Kiir stood down from his stance on 32 states, saying he was compromising for the sake of the country’s peace.

A document released by the Presidency in Juba on Saturday indicated Kiir, his First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Vice President James Wani Igga, who represented the incumbent government, agreed to go back to the original ten states South Sudan had at independence. They also added three administrative regions which they argued could be addressed during the transitional government expected to be formed with opposition leaders Riek Machar.

These regions include Abyei, whose border demarcation with Sudan is still a matter of discussion. They also included Ruweng and Greater Pibor Areas, usually seen as oil-rich.

Opposition groups welcomed President Kiir’s move to revert to 10 states.

However, James Oryema, who represents the SPLM-IO in Kenya, said there was no justification to add the two, saying all parties were comfortable with Abyei because of the issue with Sudan.

To get off sanctions list, Sudan cuts rights deals with global players!


Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. On February 13, 2020, Sudan announced it has signed a deal with the families of the victims of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, meeting a key condition for removing the country from Washington’s terrorism blacklist. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Sudan’s transitional authorities are cutting deals on human-rights with international players as part of a comprehensive plan to avoid economic isolation.

This past week, officials in Khartoum said they will be handing over all Sudanese indicted by the International Criminal Court for trial at The Hague, and that they were also reaching a deal to compensate families of US soldiers killed in terror attacks linked to Sudan, in particular the USS Cole incident in Yemen in October 2000. At the time, 17 American sailors were killed when terrorists allegedly exploded a small boat alongside the USS Cole which was refuelling in the port of Aden.

The revelations followed a meeting between the leader of the Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Entebbe a fortnight ago. The meeting sought to revive relations between them that have been dead for five decades.

This, and other giveaways could be Khartoum’s bid to show the world it is ready to play ball and have sanctions imposed on Sudan lifted.

Khalid al-Faki, a political analyst in Khartoum told The EastAfrican that the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is doing everything it can to get off the sanctions list. “I think the Sudanese government’s approval and the rebel movements acceptance to have ousted president Omar al-Bashir and 52 other indicted people handed over to the ICC for trial for crimes committed in Darfur is a popular demand,” he said.

JUBA – 19 Feb 2020 Locust swarms invade Eastern Equatoria!

A locust outbreak devastating parts of East Africa reached South Sudan, a government official announced Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Juba, Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo confirmed the arrival of locusts in Eastern Equatoria State, saying locusts have been spotted in Lobone, Panyikwara and Owiny-kibul areas of Magwi County, on the border with Uganda.

 “On Monday, we received reports that desert locusts have entered South Sudan from Magwi County and thought it was the normal green grasshopper like it has been reported earlier, but we sent our team with those of FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and they confirmed the presence of locusts in Magwi County,” said Onyoti.

He added, “As you know, these desert locusts are like human beings, they send their reconnaissance ahead of time to make sure that whether there is food or not.”

The minister said that authorities will try to control the outbreak.”We are training people to be involved in spraying, so we need chemicals and sprayers. We will also need cars to move while spraying and if it becomes worse, we will need aircrafts,” he said.

Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in South Sudan, said about 2,000 locusts had been spotted so far, and if not controlled quickly, could have a devastating impact.

 “You can imagine currently we have about 2,000, then there is a high likelihood that they will produce and will invite more females to come, that is what we are dealing with,” Malo said.

He added, “These are deep yellow which means that they will be here mostly looking at areas in which they will lay eggs.”

Malo, however, said FAO was training locals and acquiring sprayers and chemicals to combat the locusts.

This is reportedly the first locust invasion in 70 years in the country.

During the 34th extra-ordinary submit of the regional bloc (IGAD) heads of state and government held in Ethiopia a week ago, IGAD called on its member states to cooperate with the neighboring countries and exert more efforts to fight the desert locust invasion.

The arrival of the locusts, experts say, could be catastrophic in South Sudan, where war followed by drought and floods has already left six million people or 60 percent of the population facing severe hunger.

Netanyahu: First Israeli Plane Flew Over Sudan, ‘Vast Changes Are Coming’

Prime Minister Netanyahu and General Abdel Fattah alBurhan in Uganda, February,2020

By Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency – 22 Shevat 5780 – February 17, 2020

The first Israeli airplane passed over the skies of Sudan, and Israel is developing ties with a long list of Arab and Muslims countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“I’ve been developing contacts with the Arab countries and Muslim countries, and I can tell you there’s scarcely one, two, three Muslim or Arab countries around the world that we don’t have deepened ties with,” Netanyahu told the Jewish leaders on Sunday evening in Jerusalem.

“Sometimes it comes out in the open. A year ago, Sara and I were on a very moving visit, an open visit to Oman, and two weeks ago, we had a very moving visit with the president of Sudan. That’s an Arab, or rather a Muslim country, speaking Arabic, that hosted the [1967] Khartoum Conference. And in Khartoum they have all the noes against Israel. Remember the noes? No recognition, no Israel basically. And now, we’re discussing rapid normalization,” he stated.

Netanyahu met at the beginning of the month in Uganda with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, a significant manifestation of the developing normalization between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries.

“The first Israeli airplane passed yesterday over the skies of Sudan. This is quite a change. The Israeli mochileros, the backpackers, fly to South America and start hiking. We just got down about three hours of their flight time. They don’t have to go to Spain and then around Africa. They can now fly directly over Sudan right to Brazil, Argentina, and they can stop on the way in another country, Chad, which also resumed relations with us recently,” he added.

Israel and Chad renewed their diplomatic ties in November 2018, 46 years after they were cut off, as Chad’s President Idriss Deby met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu underscored that he was “just telling you what is above the surface. How much is above the surface in an iceberg? It’s about 10%. What you’re seeing is about 10%.”

He explained that “vast changes are coming because Israel is now a power to contend with, and because collaboration with Israel helps you prepare, secure the future of your people and ensure a better future for your people. Securing the future, the safety of their people is obviously something on everyone’s mind, and the greatest threat to the security of the countries of the Middle East and countries in the world, is the attempt by Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”

Israel’s ties with several Arab countries have significantly advanced in recent years, openly and covertly, as shared strategic interests, and primarily confronting Iran’s advent in the region, have brought both sides to the same table.

In October, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz revealed that Israel is in the process of working on a non-aggression pact with several Arab states in the Middle East to face the common threat emanating from Iran.

Sudan’s PM Hamdok: ‘Anyone who committed atrocities must be tried’!

Berlin, 16 February, 2020

Prime Minister Hamdok and German Chancellor Angela . Photo : SUNA

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok sat down with DW’s Aya Ibrahim to discuss the country’s transitional period, issues of inner peace and justice and how countries like Germany can help Sudan during this phase.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok termed the Sudan uprising as a “very rare moment of change” in the history of the northeastern African nation.

Speaking to DW at the Munich Security Conference, Hamdok stated that: “That momentous change created the environment for me and many others to come, to help build a new nation.”

The prime minster talked about the unique cooperation in Sudan between civilians and the military: “We are proudly propagating this across the world and calling it the Sudanese model which is a partnership […] to build democracy.”

He acknowledged that the partnership was not free from challenges, and that it was “working” in spite of them.

Hamdok told DW: “I think there is a determination on both sides to make it work and we are doing that precisely. If you look at the region around us, there are failures in many places, because I think they were not able to establish an accord that would allow such a partnership to move the country forward.”

Justice for victims

Hamdok — whose country has embarked on a path to democratization — said justice would be served, “to the maximum satisfaction” of the victims, but stopped short of promising to deliver former President Omar al-Bashir to the International Crime Court (ICC).

Hamdok told DW’s Aya Ibrahim there that there were a variety of ways justice for people in Sudan could be upheld and that the final decision would be announced as part of peace negotiations, which are currently in process.

“It could be an ICC in the Hague,” Hamdok said. “It could be an ICC-compliant court in Sudan or in the region.”

Bashir is accused of genocide and war crimes in the conflict that broke out in the Darfur region in 2003 and led to the death of 300,000 people.

ICC hybrid court in Sudan?

The former president has been in jail in Khartoum since he was toppled by after mass protests last year. The decision to hand al-Bashir over to the ICC came at peace talks between Sudan’s transitional government and Darfur rebels.

But there is no guarantee that he’ll be sent to the ICC if Sudan’s generals renege on their agreement. Any decision would need approval from military and civilian rulers, Sudan’s information minister said on Monday.

“One possibility is that the ICC will come here so they will be appearing before the ICC in Khartoum, or there will be a hybrid court maybe, or maybe they are going to transfer them to The Hague … That will be discussed with the ICC,” Information Minister Faisal Salih told the Reuters news agency.

Al-Bashir’s lawyer has said the ex-president refused any dealings with the ICC because it was a “political court.”

Merkel pledges aid 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile pledged German assistance to Sudan on Friday, following a meeting with Hamdok in Berlin. 

“Your country’s fate lies close to our hearts,” Merkel said, noting that Sudan faced huge challenges after three decades of dictatorship. “You need partners, and Germany would like to be such a partner.” 

Rights for the marginalized

Hamdok’s government in December announced a list of 10 priorities that include addressing the country’s economic crisis, fighting corruption and ending multiple long-running conflicts around the country.

He also kept the demands made during the sit-ins and demonstrations which risked retaliation from al-Bashir’s security forces firmly in mind, including those from the women who were often at the vanguard of the protests.

In November, the transitional government repealed the public-order laws imposed by al-Bashir’s Islamist regime that controlled how women had to dress and act in public. 

Hamdok tweeted a tribute to those who had “endured the atrocities” of a law that was used as a “tool of exploitation, humiliation and violation of rights.”

South Sudan leaders asked to agree ‘in these final days’

JUBA – 12 Feb 2020

South Sudan’s exiled opposition leader Riek Machar meets with President Salva Kiir at the presidential palace in Juba on September 9, 2019.PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL

The United States, Britain and Norway on Wednesday called on South Sudan’s parties to reach consensus on a way forward on the number of states and their boundaries.

With a February 22 deadline fast approaching for South Sudan’s rival leaders to form a unity government, there is still no deal on how many states the country should have or their internal boundaries.

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have been holding a series of meetings without a deal on the key pending tasks of the peace agreement.

“Refusing to compromise and move forward undermines the agreement, risks the ceasefire, and erodes the trust of the public and the confidence of partners,” the three countries known as the Troika said in a statement.

The Troika further said with few days remaining until a power-sharing government is due to form, time has almost run out.  The three countries encouraged all parties to exercise the spirit of political compromise at the heart of the peace deal in these final days.

The Troika group, which backs peace efforts in South Sudan, underscored that a credible unity government needs to be inclusive as specified in the peace agreement and cannot be formed on the basis of unilateral action.

“During this critical time, we urge all parties to continue to uphold and publicly commit to the permanent ceasefire, to instruct their forces to exercise restraint, and to avoid inflammatory statements,” the Troika said. 

“It is of fundamental importance to avoid a return to armed conflict with devastating consequences for the people of South Sudan and for the region as a whole,” it added.

In 2018, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that at least 382,900 South Sudanese died as a result of the country’s five-year civil war.

Sudan dismantles criminal cell manufacturing explosive devices!

Chemical materials used to manufacture explosive devices seized by the Sudanese police on 11 Feb 2020 (ST photo)

February 11, 2020 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese police on Tuesday arrested a criminal network manufacturing explosive devices in the Eastern Nile district of Khartoum state, amid reports that the detainees are members of a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks.

The Police Press Office in a statement issued in the evening said that the Eastern Nile police had made a “great achievement and arrested a criminal network, including foreigners, manufacturing explosive devices.”

“The operation carried out by the State Investigation Police led to the arrest of one of the suspects and the seizure of large quantities of raw chemicals and tools used in the initial operations of making explosives,” the statement quoted police chief General Lieutenant Adel Bashayer as saying.

The statement further said that the seized material and devices have been examined by the General Department of Criminal Evidence, while the investigation will be carried out by specialized teams to reveal the dimensions of the activity, which he described as “criminal”.

In the past, the Eastern Nile police had arrested two terrorist groups in the Salmah area in 2007 and Almamoura area in 2017.

The two networks had been arrested for manufacturing explosive devices, explosive belts and chemical preparations using highly flammable materials.

Al-Hadi Mohamed al-Amin, a Sudanese expert on Islamic groups suggested that the seized network would be a “terrorist cell” similar to the previous groups.

“The police confirmation of the presence of foreigners among the accused reinforces the hypothesis of the terrorist cell,” al-Amid told Sudan Tribune pointing that the “East Nile area is one of the known places to host the activities of these groups”.

“The current situation in the country represents a fertile environment and opens the appetite of extremist groups to implement their plans, especially in light of the fragile security situation and economic constraints,” he added.

Sudan agrees ex-president Bashir should appear before ICC over Darfur.

Khalid Abdelaziz, Denis Dumo

KHARTOUM/JUBA (Reuters) – Sudan’s government and rebel groups in Darfur agreed on Tuesday that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court should appear before the tribunal, a list that includes ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

Ousted President, Omar al- Bashir.

Bashir, who has been jailed in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Information Minister Faisal Saleh did not specifically name him when announcing the move, but said the decision applied to all five Sudanese suspects wanted by the ICC over Darfur.

Bashir is one of the five suspects.

The government and the rebel groups reached an agreement during a meeting in South Sudan’s capital Juba that included “the appearance of those who face arrest warrants before the International Criminal Court”, said Mohamed al-Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council.

Taishi also said that the two sides agreed to create a Darfur special court to investigate and hear cases including those investigated by the ICC.

That court would try Darfur suspects not indicted by the ICC, said Nimri Mohamed Abd, chief negotiator of the Darfur people in Juba. He said Darfur groups and Sudan’s government had agreed to “fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court”, and that the timing of the handover would be decided in final negotiations.

Bashir’s lawyer said the ex-president refused to have any dealings with the ICC because it was a “political court”.

Bashir has said the allegations made by the ICC, the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, are part of a Western conspiracy.

A spokesman for the ICC declined to comment. The Hague-based court issued its first arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009 – its first for a sitting head of state – and a year later issued a second one.