Afkar Abdullah/SharjahFiled on November 8, 2019 | Last updated on November 8, 2019 at 10.29 pm
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Khartoum’s locally-organised open air film screenings epitomise much about Sudan’s ongoing revolution.
People gather for an open air film screening in Khartoum, Sudan.
Earlier this summer, Lamia Nabil and her friends were sitting drinking tea in Khartoum. They were discussing Sudanese politics in the aftermath President Omar al-Bashir’s momentous fall in April when Nabil remarked that she could do with a break. She wished that she could just get some popcorn and watch a Charlie Chaplin film, she said.
Her passing comment struck a chord with her friends. A few weeks later on a Thursday night in September, crowds gathered under the stars for a free screening of Modern Times.
“Every seat was taken. Many people sat on the floor while others had to stand,” says Shaheen al-Sharif, a schoolteacher and one of the organisers. “The entire community came together to make this happen. One person brought a projector, another speakers. People donated fabric to put up behind the projector. The tea lady donated chairs.”
Soon, Amarat District was screening films twice a month and other neighbourhood committees started to follow its example. On some occasions, people gathered to watch Western films like The Sound of Music, Sherlock Holmes and Aladdin. Other times, groups made sure to organise screenings of Sudanese classics such as Beats of the Antonov, Tajooj and Human Being (Insan).
“Under the previous regime we lived in a bubble where everything was stifled”, says al-Sharif. “An integral part of this revolution means learning our history and about each other and a large part of that comes through embracing our literature, film and creativity, telling the Sudanese story through these lenses. This is why we want to screen Sudanese films.”
For the young Sudanese who formed the backbone of the protest movement that led to the al-Bashir’s ouster, these screenings were new and exciting experiences. For some older generations, they evoked memories of times passed.
“During colonial times, we had ‘moving cinemas’ which were vehicles with a screen and speakers, often airing ‘educational’ films which spread propaganda,” says architect Zainab Gaafar. “Years later when people began to acquire televisions, you would see large groups sitting in communal courtyards watching TV shows.”
65-year-old Hassan Abbas also recalls the importance of movies during his childhood. “Since the 1940s and 1950s there were cinemas and open air screenings showing Hollywood, Bollywood and Egyptian films,” he says. “We would wait with excitement to hear about new film releases and rush to get our tickets. This was a huge part of our lives growing up in Sudan.”
This changed, however, during the economic woes that followed the arrival of al-Bashir regime in 1989 and the imposition of US sanctions in the 1990s. A curfew imposed soon after the new president took office also stopped people going out in the evening and reduced the appeal of public gatherings even after it was lifted. Sudanese filmmakers struggled and open-air screenings dwindled.
“It was one more thing we lost to that government,” says Abbas. “It almost felt like a part of every-day culture was slowly erased. The excitement of heading to the cinema, seeing film posters around and being full of hope about what Sudanese cinema would one day bring us diminished in such a short space of time.”
Watching Modern Times.
Three decades on, those old traditions are re-emerging. Following months of widespread protests across Sudan and an enormous sit-in on the streets of Khartoum in early 2019, al-Bashir was overthrown by senior military figures. After months of tense negotiations, the military and civilian representatives signed a power-sharing agreement to oversee a 39-month transition before elections.
“We were tired, but it was the youth of this country that was exhausted,” says Abbas. “The protests were not about prices of bread or fuel. It was about the incompetence, the corruption and the oppression which were the hallmarks of the regime.”
It was those same young people that organised the Charlie Chaplin screening and continue to uphold the hopes of the uprising. “This revolution was led by the youth,” says al-Sharif. “We feel responsible to see it through till the end and have learnt from previous revolutions which, in many ways, were left unfinished. Almost everyone knows someone who died fighting for this. We owe it to the martyrs.”
This ongoing project to transform Sudan has many levels, from the national to the local, and from the explicitly political to the everyday. This is perfectly captured in the new open air cinemas and the fact that they are being organised by neighbourhood committees. “When Bashir was in power, the neighbourhood committees were largely affiliated with the regime,” says Gaafar. “During the revolution, people have reclaimed these through organising protests to setting up film screenings to leading other community initiatives.”
While they may have started as a way to unwind from thinking about politics, the ongoing screenings epitomise so much of Sudan’s revolution. Led by the youth, they champion film as a way to reclaim public spaces, bring people together, and recover so much of what was previously lost, stolen or suppressed.
Acting US embassy in Sudan, Brian Shukan, revealed that efforts are underway to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
According to Sputnik, the US official explained: “This may take some time,” following a meeting between Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan in his office at the Republican Palace, and Shukan, to discuss prospects of cooperation between Sudan and the US.
Al-Burhan stressed that the US must play an effective role in removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, highlighting the importance of positively considering the real change brought about by the revolution and the practical measures that it entailed in favour of a change in Sudan.
Sudan has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993. On Monday, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry called on the United States to establish a joint mechanism to negotiate the removal of Sudan from such a list.
Ilham Mohamed Ahmed, an assistant undersecretary at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, referred to the need to reintroduce a joint plan to resume the dialogue with the United States to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Ahmed made these statements, following a meeting in her office with Shukan.
Rwandan peacekeepers operating in Sudan’s Darfur region as part of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation (UNAMID) on Wednesday handed over a newly constructed secondary school they constructed in El Salaam IDP Camp, El Fasher – Darfur.
Nusaibah Girls’ secondary school was previously constructed with rudimentary materials and had a grass roof but Rwandan battalions in the area provided their own engineers and manpower to build a modern structure with a capacity to accommodate 800 students
The school now has 14 classrooms and four offices constructed in collaboration with Rwandan Battalions and the UNAMID Christian Fellowship.
“Today we are glad to receive a complete school for our students. The school will not only be used by El-salaam IDP camp residents but also those in the surrounding areas,” the school head teacher, Adam Suleiman Muhamad, said during handover ceremony.
Peacekeeping ‘with a difference’ has always been the commitment of Rwandan peacekeepers serving under the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and other UN missions, as they continue to build schools for local communities in their areas of operation.
By doing this, the army is always demonstrating that it lives by the values characterising the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) in regards to the social cooperation with the local population.
In all the UN missions where they are deployed, RDF troops introduced initiatives aimed at contributing to the local communities’ physical security and addressing pressing issues of human security as the bedrock of sustainable peace.
Initiatives such as firewood patrols, construction of energy saving stoves, and construction of schools and health centers fall into this category; on top of their core UN mandated military tasks.
Speaking during the school handover ceremony at El-salaam IDP camp, the Secretary General from the Governor’s office, Brig Gen Muhamad Ibrahim, applauded the contribution of RDF peacekeepers towards socio-economic development in the area.
He said: “This serves as a symbol of love and partnership between Rwanda and Sudan.”
Lt Col Bosco Rugema, the Commanding Officer RWANBATT 52, said that the school serves as a knot of friendship between Rwanda and Sudan.
“In Rwanda, the supporting culture is not a sign of wealth but a sign of love, value and honor.”
Rwanda has maintained peacekeepers in South Sudan ever since the creation of the peacekeeping mission.
Rwandan peacekeepers also include police officers.
Sudan’s Attorney General, Taj Al-Sir Ali Al-Habr, met with the delegation of the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) to discuss the extradition of ousted President Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and transitional justice.
The Sudanese SUNA News Agency reported on Wednesday that the meeting discussed a number of issues related to the DBA, including the extradition of the ousted President Omar Al-Bashir to the ICC, the draft amendment of the laws in force, the performance of the Office of the General Prosecutor for Darfur Crimes and transitional justice.
Saleh Mahmoud, Deputy Chairman of the DBA, said the two sides agreed that the timing was not right for releasing statements about handing over Al-Bashir to the ICC.
Saleh pointed out that the Attorney General promised to coordinate with the Minister of Justice to ensure speedy and effective procedures with regard to laws which are inconsistent with international standards.
He noted that the Attorney General also promised to take steps to improve the performance of the Office of the General Prosecutor for Darfur Crimes to safeguard the rule of law so that all citizens enjoy justice.
In January 2012, Minister of Justice Mohamed Bishara Dousa ordered the establishment of a court responsible for all major and serious crimes committed in Darfur.
The ICC has already issued two arrest warrants against Al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010, on charges of “genocide and other atrocities,” as part of his campaign to crush a rebellion in Darfur.
On 11 April, the army’s leadership ousted Al-Bashir from the presidency, after 30 years in power, under the weight of popular protests that began in late 2018 to condemn the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.
Since 2003, Darfur has been the scene of a conflict between the army and three armed movements that have left 300.000 dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN statistics.
Sudan has entered, since 21 August, a transitional period to last 39 months and end with elections, during which power is shared by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, leader of the popular movement.
For the people of Lebanon, struggling under the weight of an ever-growing economic crisis, endemic corruption, and rising social economic crises, it has been a year full of fire. In February, George Zreik, a struggling father who could no longer afford his young daughter’s tuition, torched himself in her school’s playground. His desperate act of self-immolation shook the country to its core. A photo of Zreik embracing his now-orphaned daughter blanketed social media platforms, but Lebanon’s fragile status quo held, if only just.
This week, after unprecedented wildfires ravaged much of the country, popular discontent finally exploded. Paralyzed by corruption, officials watched helplessly as volunteer firefighters battled the flames with rudimentary and aging equipment. Even as Lebanon’s once lush mountains were still smoldering, an out-of-touch government announced a fresh round of taxes, including on WhatsApp, the popular messaging service. The Lebanese had finally had enough.
The ongoing protests, which so far have brought millions of people into the street and led to the resignation of four ministers, are unprecedented in their nature and scale. Unlike previous waves of popular unrest—including the Cedar Revolution of 2005 and the “You Stink” movement of 2015—the current uprising cuts across all the sectarian and class divisions that historically have made mass mobilization difficult. Lebanese of all backgrounds, including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze; poor and affluent; urban and rural; are in the streets.
To avoid traditional social cleavages that could undermine the movement, each separate group is focused on bringing down the established political order in its own community. The Sunnis of northern Lebanon tore down portraits of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Christians put posters of President Michel Aoun to the flame. Shiites ransacked offices affiliated with Hezbollah and with parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement.
Although spontaneous and still unorganized, the protesters have a few core demands, namely the resignation of at least the current cabinet if not the entire government; its replacement by a government of technocrats to see the country through political, economic, and administrative reforms; and the lifting of taxes levied on poorer segments of society.
Yet despite the extraordinary public pressure being brought to bear, with the country at a virtual standstill, the entrenched political establishment in Beirut is refusing to give way.
Over the weekend, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the most powerful political figure in the country, took to the airwaves and firmly outlined his organization’s red lines against the protesters’ demands. He emphasized that the presidency of his Christian ally Aoun is to continue unobstructed and the current government is not to be toppled. If other political parties tried to take advantage of the unrest, Nasrallah threatened, his militant group would move into the streets and display the full extent of its power.
Heeding Nasrallah’s words of warning, Druze leader Walid Joumblatt, who had called on Hariri to resign along with his own ministers, reversed course and decided to back the existing government. Likewise, Hariri decided to buy time, announcing an ambitious set of economic reforms and hoping that the nationwide protests would gradually recede.
Whether Hezbollah’s intimidation, coupled with Hariri’s overtures, will prove enough to contain popular anger remains unknown.
The fear that once kept many Lebanese from openly and directly challenging Hezbollah is giving way. After Nasrallah’s speech, thousands of people thundered back at him from downtown Beirut, “All of them means all of them, and Nasrallah is one of them,” a reference to the political elite they accuse of ruining the country.
More importantly, protesters within Nasrallah’s own Shiite community are taking to the street despite their ongoing suppression by the militia members allied to him. In the southern city of Tyre, a traditional bastion of support for Hezbollah and the associated Amal Movement, people chanted, “How can we fight for you in Syria and Yemen if we are left hungry in Lebanon?”
Hezbollah’s dilemma, and by extension that of its patron in Iran, is that it can no longer pretend that it isn’t Lebanon’s dominant party. It may hold only 10 percent of cabinet seats, but its real power runs deeper; ever since it secured the presidency and much of the cabinet for its allies in 2016, with traditional rivals Hariri and Joumblatt agreeing to be junior partners, much of the public now holds it ultimately accountable.
KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council recently ordered the closure of the country’s borders with the Central African Republic and Libya, citing security concerns. The order has been gradually implemented in the last three weeks.
However, some Sudanese say the decision is affecting business.
Spare parts trader Ahmed Bushara thinks reopening the borders would ease the country’s transportation crisis.
The current high price of transportation isn’t about the fuel shortages only, he says. Spare parts are a major element for cars. If the borders are open and trade is facilitated, he says, it’ll reflect positively on the car sector and spare parts.
Unlike Bushara, Noman Eisa has welcomed the measure, even though he once tried to migrate through Libya to Europe, only to return to Darfur.
Eisa says Libyan gangs and militias are a danger for Sudanese youth hoping to escape poverty and strife.
He says the closed borders are positive if they stop illegal migration, but he hopes the new government will deal with the people detained and lost in Libya, and handle the root cause of Sudanese youngsters leaving. In addition, he wants measures in place for legal migration.
The Sovereign Council decided to close the borders after a September clash between rival militias in Birau, Central African Republic, that left 23 people dead.
Council members cited reports that militiamen were sneaking into Sudan on their way to join other militias in Libya.
But political analyst Othman Mirghani thinks the council has both economic and security concerns.
The main smuggling of commodities is on the eastern borders not on the westerns ones, he says, but western borders have many security concerns, including weapon smuggling and armed troops entering the country from Libya and other countries that suffer from security issues.
Sudan is located on a widely-used migration route that links east and central Africa with the Mediterranean and Europe.
The unrest Sudan has seen before and since the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir led the European Union to suspend funds for migration control, allowing a greater number of migrants to enter the country. It remains to be seen whether the border closures will slow that flow.