Sudan will not proceed with normalizing relations with Israel until the US Congress passes legislation giving Khartoum immunity from future lawsuits from terror victims, Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reportedly told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Burhan set a deadline of the end of this year for Congress to pass the “legal peace” bill, in a conversation first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by diplomatic sources.
Pompeo responded that the immunity would be finalized in the coming weeks.
In late October, Sudan pledged to become the third Arab state, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to join the Abraham Accords and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. That commitment was deeply controversial in Sudan, and came amid heavy pressure from the US, during negotiations for Sudan to be removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list and receive economic aid. Sudan’s current, transitional government came after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year, and it seeks to shift the country towards democracy.
The final agreement between Sudan and the US required the former to pay $335 million in compensation to victims of the 1998 terrorist attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 224 people were killed and thousands injured. Al Qaeda carried out the attacks, and Sudan harbored the terrorist group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, in 1991-1996.The bill the Trump administration seeks to have Congress approve would shield Sudan from further lawsuits from US victims of terror. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have sought an exception to be carved out in the bill for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In addition, Menendez has spoken out against a disparity in the compensation received by those who were US citizens during the embassy attacks and those who have since become naturalized citizens. At the same time, Menendez has said he recognizes that Sudan has an opportunity to establish a democratic government, and that it is in the American interest to encourage that transition. As such, he would support granting Sudan immunity, once his concerns are addressed. Sudan, however, would be unlikely to accept an agreement that would require them to pay more to compensate victims of terror. Khartoum regards the immunity bill as an important step in pulling itself out of a years-long economic crisis, without which investors may be reluctant to put money into Sudan’s shaky economy.
Nov 26, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Latest UNMISS report from South Sudan’s capital indicate that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has prevented inter-communal clashes that could have killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people, adding that the South Sudanese army(SSPDF) thanked UNMISS for its prompt response.
“Within minutes of receiving warning of a potential clash between armed groups in Cueibet, Nepalese peacekeepers sprang into action, sending a team of highly trained troops to intervene and protect civilians in the area.” Reads part of the UNMISS report.
“At around 9am, the peacekeepers, who are located at a temporary base in the remote area, received information that the group was mobilizing to attack and that 100 people within the town itself had armed themselves as they prepared to repel that attack. A violent clash was imminent.” UNMISS Report continued.
According to Captain Bigyan Bista, the Commander of the Nepalese Quick Reaction Force, the Nepalese contingent “immediately sent a platoon of soldiers to intercept the groups and, within an hour, they had set up a checkpoint” between the two communities.
“Our task was to assess the security situation, patrol the area to deter the armed groups, provide a protective presence and intervene to protect civilians if needed,” Captain Bigyan Bista said.
The threat of an inter-communal clash came about after a young man was killed during a raid on a cattle camp about 12 kilometers north of Cueibet town in the Lakes region of South Sudan.
According to the residents, about 60 members of his community gathered their weapons and headed towards the town to avenge his death.
The joint effort between UNMISS and local security services worked with the armed group turning back to their village.
The report said, the South Sudanese army, loyal to president Salva Kiir, in the area expressed their appreciation for peacekeepers’ quick response.
“The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces in the area expressed their appreciation for peacekeepers’ quick response.” Part of UNMISS report reads.
According to a UNMISS report, this is common for conflict to flare up between communities during the dry season in South Sudan as they seek to recover from the loss of crops and cattle during the previous rainy months through violent raids on others.
In anticipation of these violences, UNMISS had established temporary bases in conflict hotspots in line with its “proactive, robust and nimble” approach to peacekeeping and peace building.
“In these bases, integrated military and civilian teams work to deter violence, support reconciliation efforts, and help communities reach agreement to peacefully co-exist. The aim is to provide protection where it is needed most,” read a report.
Egyptian and Sudanese officials have expressed keenness on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the transportation sector.
While the ministers of transport in both countries agreed, in a joint meeting in Cairo, on increasing the capital of the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation to USD50 million, experts discussed mechanisms to link both countries via railways.
Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir and his Sudanese counterpart Hashim Ibn Auf chaired the Authority’s general assembly on Tuesday.
They discussed upgrading the river units and ships, and stressed construction of new units. The new ones would hold up to 750-1,500 tons compared to the old units that carry small loads.
Wazir affirmed that the political leadership ordered to revive the Authority, a sign of the distinguished cooperation between the two states.
Ibn Auf noted that cooperation and integration between the two nations have proven to be fruitful.
The ministers also discussed a number of road projects, such as executing the land road between Egypt and Chad passing through Sudan, and the Cairo to Cape Town road that stretches through nine African countries.
Director General of Egyptian National Railways Ashraf Raslan also discussed with the Sudanese Minister of Transport means of railway coopetition.
Raslan expressed the Egyptian leadership’s interest in implementing the railway project connecting Egypt and Sudan.
Obituary: The Sudanese statesman served twice as Prime Minister, but failed to effectively rule or establish lasting democratic values .
adiq Al Mahdi, Sudan’s last elected prime minister who died on Thursday, was an elder statesman of Sudan who fostered democracy to the end.
At 84, his death brings to an end an era of turbulent Sudanese politics in which the Oxford-educated scion of a historical family played a key role.
He will be buried on Friday in Umm Durman, Khartoum’s twin city and a stronghold of his supporters, known as the Al Ansar.
“He spent his entire adult life in politics and died a martyr of that epidemic,” said Salah Talha, a Sudanese university professor close to the Al Mahdi family. “He was a moderate Islamist who leaned in favour of democracy and centrist ideas.”
Al Mahdi’s political career spanned more than 50 years, its milestones and details often mirroring the tempestuous, post-independence history of Sudan, from military coups, democratic rule and economic woes to popular uprisings, civil wars and famines.
Imprisonment, hiding and exile in many ways defined his political life. In other ways, they serve as something of a manual for the art of political survival in a country that often looked like it was about to come unglued or implode and where every democratic experiment won international accolades but was later abruptly ended by military coups.
Known to his supporters as simply the Imam, Al Mahdi will not be remembered only for his political career. He has left behind a wealth of writings on Islamic jurisprudence and on modernising Islam’s teachings to fit in with the complexities and contradictions of the present time.
Al Mahdi, critics contend, spent much of his political career addressing himself to Sudan’s political establishment and intellectual elite in near total seclusion from the rest of the country, while also striving to maintain his standing and relevance as a traditional religious leader to the hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters who treated him with deep reverence and saw him as a spiritual guide.
“The pain that comes with ailment is the best time to take stock of one’s personal, moral and social track record,” Al Mahdi, forever the philosopher, wrote after he was diagnosed with Covid-19 last month. “Self-criticism is one of the most important tools for personal betterment and satisfaction.”
In his two spells as prime minister, Al Mahdi led dysfunctional governments that miserably failed to resolve any of the country’s major problems, from civil wars, an economy that’s in disarray and the ethnic and religious fault lines that divided the country.
n some ways, his critics say, his ineffectiveness played a part in tempting the military to seize power in 1969 and 1989, with the generals convinced that they could easily do a better job running the country than civilians.
In his later years, Al Mahdi capably took on the role of statesman, offering counsel to the young men and women who led months of violent street protests against the 29-year regime of Omar Al Bashir until the generals stepped in and removed him last year.
In the aftermath, Al Mahdi helped in no insignificant way to eke out compromises between young protest leaders and generals on the future of Sudan.
His effort bore fruit in August 2019, when the two sides signed a landmark power-sharing agreement that has since served as a transitional constitution for Sudan until a new one is adopted and free elections are held.
Ameen Makki, a prominent figure in the anti-Al Bashir uprising, recalled Al Mahdi’s role in the early days of the uprising. He and others in the pro-democracy movement sought the counsel of elderly statesmen like Al Mahdi as the regime’s security forces grew more brutal in dealing with the protesters.
“The Imam carried more weight, was the wiser and more rational among them. He contributed to the halt of bloodletting,” he said.
“It’s for people like him that the flags are lowered, a state of mourning is declared and official funerals are held.”
In some ways, Al Mahdi’s role in the 2018-19 uprising was a surprise to some of the young opposition activists, who saw him as a political relic from a bygone era who was out of touch with the mood, aspirations and rebellious traits of Sudan’s contemporary youth.
To them, Al Mahdi was the quintessential symbol of the traditional and religious forces that dominated but achieved little during spells of democratic rule in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s. These forces, they argued, have been displaced by a new strain of political activism that is mostly liberal, left-leaning and fearless in the face of brutal force.
Their argument may not be entirely without merit, although Al Mahdi dismissed it as untrue and argued that he and his Umma party, Sudan’s largest, were at the heart of the uprising.
He was also just as dismissive of the notion held by some activists that with his impeccable English, aristocratic manners and Oxford degree, he presided over an elitist political system.
However, a significant part of Al Mahdi’s relevance in the “new Sudan” came from the voting power of his supporters, which has for decades kept his Umma party as a political powerhouse.
Al Mahdi served twice as prime minister, the first time when he was barely 30 in 1966. His second term as prime minister came in 1986, a year after the military seized power in a bloodless and popularly-supported coup amid nationwide street protests against the 16-year rule of military dictator Jaafar Al Nimeiri.
His democratically elected government was toppled in a 1989 coup led by Al Bashir, an Islamist whose time in office handed Sudan its worst chapter since independence in 1956.
Al Bashir is now in prison following his conviction of corruption and is facing additional trials for the shooting deaths of protesters in 2018 and 2019 and for violating the constitution when he plotted and led the Islamist-backed 1989 coup.
But Al Mahdi betrayed no glee when he spoke about what it meant for him to see Al Bashir appear before a criminal court last year charged with corruption.
“The wrong must eventually be vanquished, the righteous state must come back,” Al Mahdi told The National in an interview last year at his Umm Durman residence.