By AFP – Jun 27,2019 – Last updated at Jun 27,2019
KHARTOUM — Sudan’s veteran opposition leader Sadiq Al Mahdi rejected on Wednesday a call for nationwide mass demonstrations against the country’s ruling generals on June 30.
The remarks by the head of National Umma Party come as tension between the generals and leaders from the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, remain high after a deadly crackdown.
The June 30 rallies called by the alliance coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Islamist-backed coup that had brought now ousted leader Omar Bashir to power after toppling the then elected government of Mahdi.
“Our opinion is to avoid escalatory measures from either side,” Mahdi, who is part of the protest movement, said at a press conference at his party headquarters in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum across the Nile.
Mahdi said any escalation prior to receiving the ruling military council’s response to a power transfer plan proposed by Ethiopia would be “premature”.
Ethiopia is mediating talks between the generals and protest leaders since previous negotiations collapsed in the wake of the June 3 crackdown on a protest sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital.
Ethiopia’s proposal calls for forming a new 15-member civilian-majority governing body, which the protest leaders have accepted but the military council has so far dismissed.
On June 3, armed men in military fatigues stormed the protest camp, shooting and beating demonstrators who had camped there since April 6.
More than 100 people were killed on that day, according to medics linked to the protest movement. Officials say 61 people died.
The generals deny they ordered the dispersal, insisting they had authorised only a limited operation to clear a nearby area of drug dealers.
Ethiopia and the African Union have since stepped up diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Sudan.
Thousands of protesters had gathered for weeks outside the army complex since April 6, initially to demand the army’s support in toppling Bashir.
The army ousted the longtime ruler on April 11 on the back of protests, but since then the generals have resisted a transfer of power to a civilian administration as demanded by demonstrators.
Protest leaders and the military council are at loggerheads on the composition of the new governing body and on who should lead it — a civilian or a soldier.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on June 20, 2019, approved a proposal to commit $24.7 million to finance the South Sudan Strategic Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project.
Image: Implementation will commence during the 2019/2020 financial year. Photo: Courtesy of African Development Bank Group.
The Strategic Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project will support the rehabilitation of approximately 50km of the Juba town distribution network and related works, including metering and public water collections outlets. The project will also cover feasibility and
engineering design for two other towns under the jurisdiction of South Sudan Urban Water Corporation. The project will additionally cover the development of solar powered water distributions systems and sanitation and hygiene promotion in high-density rural communities surrounding Juba, as well as capacity development in the relevant water institutions.
Implementation will commence during the 2019/2020 financial year, with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and the South Sudan Urban Water Corporation serving as the executing and implementing agencies, respectively.
South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, like many urban centers in the country, suffers from the effects of years of armed conflict and under-investment in the development and maintenance of basic water infrastructure. Increased numbers of displaced people and rapid urbanization have placed considerable strain on existing urban water supply infrastructure and the illegal supply of untreated water drawn from river Nile by private water tanker operators is common in the city and its suburbs.
On completion, the project will directly benefit 300,000 people in Juba and the surrounding rural Jubek state. The nearly $2 million grant will ensure that schools and communities in eight targeted rural areas of Jubek state, will benefit from 40 public/institutional latrines blocks to be constructed, as well as hygiene education.
“The incorporation of a rural water and sanitation component in areas that are relatively safe to reach indicates that the project opens a pathway for more support for rural WaSH going forward,” said Osward Chanda, Manager for the Water Security and Sanitation Division at the Department of Water Development and Sanitation.
“By helping to improve the quality and delivery of urban water supply services in Juba city and strengthening rural water supply and sanitation services, the project will greatly assist its target population,” said Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu. He added that it will help in combatting diseases, reducing health costs, improving quality of life, as well as helping women save time and increased convenience due to closer water supply outlets.
Since 2012, the Bank has contributed more than $136.79 million in
development aid across various sectors in South Sudan. Bank support has
focused on capacity building, infrastructure development, and creating
conditions for promoting peace, stability and state building, among the
Bank’s strategic priorities.
The project aligns with South Sudan’s National Development Strategy (2018-21) and the orientation of the Bank’s 2012-18 Country Strategy Paper, which was extended in May 2019 to 2021. Both strategies emphasize nation building through capacity building and infrastructure development.
Demonstrations in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum (AP) Khartoum – Ahmed Younis
The Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) said it does not mind sharing the sovereign council equally with the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change.
Council Member Yasser al-Atta said in a press statement on Tuesday that the military has informed US envoy Donald Booth of its rejection of calls for the Freedom and Change forces to control the legislative council, and their acceptance to equally share the “sovereign council”.
The US presidential envoy to Sudan held talks on Tuesday with the head of the TMC, Abdul Fattah Burhan.
Addressing reporters in Khartoum, Booth said his consultations with the parties were aimed at encouraging them to resume direct negotiations. He told the president and members of the military council that the safety of the people of Sudan “was above all.” He asked the council not to hold elections within a year, in order to ensure a democratic transition in the country.
Meanwhile, Khartoum and other Sudanese cities witnessed a number of student and labour demonstrations, demanding the “military” to hand over power to a civilian government.
In parallel, dozens of supporters of the TMC staged a demonstration in front of the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum, to declare their rejection of the Ethiopian mediation, after accusing Addis Ababa of interfering in Sudanese affairs.
Ethiopia has proposed a plan to resolve the Sudanese crisis and bring the parties back to the negotiating table in order to discuss the transition to a civilian government and the signing of a declaration of principles.
The African country led diplomatic efforts after a deadly crackdown by security forces killed at least 128 people across the country earlier this month, according to protest organizers. Sudanese authorities offered a lower toll of 61 deaths.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese security forces used violence to break up a protest in Khartoum on Monday by dozens of students demanding that the military council which ousted former president Omar al-Bashir hands over power to civilians.
The demonstrators chanted “civilian, civilian” as they gathered in front of the National Ribat University in Burri neighborhood near the ministry of defense, but security forces quickly chased them and beat them with batons, a Reuters witness said.
A few protests have taken place at night in Khartoum and other state capitals since security forces stormed a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry on June 3, killing dozens. But Monday’s was the first demonstration in Khartoum to be held during the day.
Talks between the military and an opposition alliance collapsed after the sit-in was dispersed.
The sides had been wrangling for weeks over whether civilians or the military would control a new sovereign council to lead Sudan to elections after the military deposed and detained long-time president Bashir on April 11.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union (AU) have been trying to mediate between the sides.
The council on Sunday rejected Ethiopia’s proposal which the opposition coalition agreed to on Saturday, but did agree in principle to the AU’s plan.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the country’s main protest group, said in a news conference on Monday that the military council is “systematically trying to undermine the gains of the revolution by destroying freedom of expression and violently dispersing the protests they call for”.
The group also said it will continue escalating protests and that it is organizing a big demonstration on June 30.
The prolonged chaos has concerned world powers including the United States, which sanctioned Sudan under Bashir over its alleged support for militant groups and the civil war in Darfur.
The opposition accused the military council of ordering the sit-in’s bloody dispersal and wants an international inquiry. Witnesses said the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, headed by the military council’s deputy, carried out the violence.
The military said a crackdown on criminals spilled over to the sit-in area, but some officers have been detained for presumed responsibility
Sudan’s ousted president Omar Al Bashir has met with Public Prosecutors in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, to hear charges that will be brought against him in a trial scheduled to begin next week.
The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reports that the Prosecution for Combating Corruption has directed charges against the deposed president Omar Al Bashir for violations of foreign currency laws, illegal wealth, violation of the Emergency Order, and possession of Sudanese cash exceeding the maximum amount allowed.
The charges were directed in personal presence of the deposed president and representatives of the defence, including Ahmed Ibrahim Tahir, Mohamed Hassan Amin and Hashim Abubakr Jaali.
An official source at the Public Prosecution said in a statement to SUNA that the ousted president was informed about his right to appeal against the charges within one week to the supreme prosecutor. Pictures show Al Bashir, clothed in traditional Sudanese garb, being transferred by car from Kober prison – which his regime made notorious – in Khartoum North, to the offices of the Attorney General.
The Attorney-General announced on Saturday via SUNA that the trial of Al Bashir will be held next week.
He said in a press conference in the public prosecutor’s office in Khartoum that the investigation in the case had been completed, the charge has been prepared, and the suit would be brought before trial after the legal period of seven days.
On Thursday, the Public Prosecution announced completion of all the investigations in the criminal case filed against Al Bashir.
Al Bashir, who was deposed by a military coup on April 11 has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide in Darfur, however the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) have opted to try him in Sudan.
Bags of cash found in a search of Al Bashir’s Khartoum residence
On April 18, Sudanese authorities seized a substantial amount of cash during a search of deposed Al Bashir’s residence in Khartoum, including $351 million, €6,7 million, £5.2 million, and SDG 5 billion ($105 million).
The warlord wrecking Sudan’s revolution – The Washington Post
For the first time since April, Sudan’s ousted strongman, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, made a public appearance. On Sunday, the former dictator emerged from prison clad in his trademark white robes and was taken by police to court, where he faced corruption-related charges, including embezzlement and the possession of foreign currency. But glaringly absent from the allegations were the far worse crimes associated with Bashir’s three-decade rule. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide charges related to his regime’s vicious counterinsurgency more than a decade ago in the Darfur region.
That veneer of accountability sums up the grim state of Sudan’s fragile political moment. Bashir was brought down in April after protesters took to the streets for months, clamoring for his exit and a transition to a civilian government in the country. Their pressure compelled Bashir’s former allies in Sudan’s security apparatus to remove him from power. But in the weeks since, the junta that replaced Bashir has cracked down on the protest movement and political opposition with brutality reminiscent of the horrors unleashed in Darfur, where government-backed militias carried out hideous slaughters of predominantly non-Arab communities between 2003 and 2008.
On June 3, soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces, or the RSF, a notorious paramilitary group, attacked protesters in Khartoum, ransacking a central site that the pro-democracy movement had occupied for months. At least 128 were killed, according to the main protest organization. Reports continue to surface of militia forces dumping bodies in the Nile, while subjecting protesters to rape, beatings and other acts of torture. A nationwide clampdown on the Internet followed, shutting off many of the avenues the opposition had to share information with each other and the outside world.
“Now that the sit-in site . . . is in ashes, there is an overwhelming feeling of isolation,” journalist Zeinab Mohammed Salih wrote in a BBC dispatch this week. “Not only are the demonstrators no longer able to gather, but they have found it difficult to communicate and share their disappointment, frustration and anger at the turn of events.”
The junta’s de facto leader is Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who’s also known as Hemeti. Hamdan is no would-be democrat — he’s the head of the RSF, which, before being rebranded, rampaged through Darfur as the infamous Janjaweed militia. Now, as Declan Walsh of the New York Times reported, Hamdan is trying to present himself as a savior. Over the weekend, he took an armed convoy to a rally 40 miles outside the capital, where supporters greeted him with chants celebrating army rule.
“If I did not come to this position, the country would be lost,” Hamdan told the Times, denying responsibility for the slaughter of protesters while also blaming the opposition for goading security forces. “People say Hemeti is too powerful and evil,” he added. “But it’s just scaremongering. My power comes from the Sudanese people.”
In public remarks, Hamdan has panned the protesters and appeared to renege on earlier deals made between the junta — known as the Transitional Military Council — and the main opposition groups. A central sticking point remains the composition of a transitional legislative body that would eventually pave the way for fresh elections. Activists fear Hamdan and Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the more senior face of the junta, may move to appoint a parallel body and further erode what hope there is for a civilian-led democracy. Ethiopian attempts to broker a way forward appear to have made little headway.
“There is a total impasse. The negotiations have been suspended, Internet services remain blocked, and the Ethiopian mediations apparently did not make progress,” Dura Gambo, an activist with the Sudanese Professionals Association, the lead protest group, told the Associated Press. Despite the violence, the opposition is planning on reviving its campaign with nighttime vigils and marches in the country’s cities.
International pressure is slowly mounting on the junta. Western governments are demanding it account for the killings this month. “We believe very strongly there has to be an independent, credible investigation to figure out what exactly happened, why it happened, who gave the orders, how many victims there were,” U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy told journalists in Ethiopia last week.
“It is clear that the responsibility lies with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) as the authority in charge of protecting the population,” a group of European Union foreign ministers said in a statement on Monday, which hailed the “historic opportunity” posed by the protest movement and added to the calls for an independent investigation.
Hamdan and his allies have so far rebuffed those demands. In their camp are a conspicuous crop of Arab autocracies — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The two Gulf monarchies, in particular, are invested in preserving the military regime; Hamdan recently visited Riyadh and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are instead driven by their own fear that should a major Arab country transition to democracy, it would lead to upheavals at home,” Iyad El-Bagdhadi, an Arab pro-democracy activist, wrote earlier this month. He added that “as long as the military junta has political and financial support from the Saudis and the Emiratis, it will have little reason to back down.”
That’s all the more galling when set against the horrors associated with Hamdan’s career. Niemat Ahmadi, the founder of the Washington-based Darfur Women Action Group, described Hamdan to Today’s WorldView as a “bandit” who gained notoriety amid Bashir’s vicious response to the rebellion in Darfur. The lack of real justice for the government’s actions in Darfur, she argued, underlies what’s happening now.
“The reason Hemeti grew prominent was because of the people he killed, the number of villages he destroyed, the many women who were raped,” Ahmadi said. “Now, they repeated whatever they did in Darfur in Khartoum.”
She said that “the TMC was not as confident until Saudi [Arabia] and [the] UAE came into play,” referring to the assurances of support and billions in promised security aid that Hamdan and Burhan procured after removing Bashir.
The two gulf powers may be offering him some lessons in messaging too. In his interview with the Times, Hamdan was unapologetic, styling his forces as the guarantors of national stability — a mantra often preached in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. “The country needs the Rapid Support Forces more than the Rapid Support Forces need the country,” he said.
ADJUMANI, UGANDA – Uganda hosts Africa’s largest refugee population – one and a quarter million people, with two-thirds having fled conflict in South Sudan. Last year’s peace deal raised hopes for some South Sudanese that they could soon return home. But the fragile peace has discouraged many from leaving Uganda’s refugee camps, despite struggles for adequate aid.
James Gwemawer joined other South Sudanese elders for a board game at the Maaji Refugee Camp in Uganda.
It’s been six years since he arrived here after losing his cattle during fighting in South Sudan.
His family scattered to different refugee camps in Uganda, and he’s still wondering when they can all go home.
“I need to first witness peaceful resettlement of my people back home, with no war or tribal conflict, before I can return. But now, I can’t think of going back. Things are still bad, I can’t leave.”
Sixty-three-year-old Madelena Moria hopes to return to South Sudan – one way or another.
“My husband died and was buried in South Sudan. My other children are buried there. When I die, I want to be buried beside them.”
There are more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in camps just inside Uganda, more than four times the number in 2016.
Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s state minister for refugees, says Uganda’s ability to help is being challenged.
“We’d never known that at any given time we would host over 1 million people. We had always oscillated between 200,000 and 300,000. That was what we knew, even at the peak of displacements from DR Congo, from Rwanda and from Burundi. But when South Sudan collapsed, then we received refugees surpassing millions and that overwhelmed our system,” Ecweru said.
In May, Uganda and the United Nations refugee agency appealed for $927 million in funding to address refugee needs until 2020.
The appeal is complicated by the alleged misuse of aid and the exaggeration of refugee numbers, which prompted the dismissal of four Ugandan officials and launched several investigations.
Joel Boutroue of the U.N. refugee agency also says donors no longer see the situation as an emergency.
“We are falling short of what is really required in terms of access to basic services – such as education. Water is slightly better covered health slightly better covered. But, education needs, for environment energy, protection, we are falling short of really what refugees deserve and need,” Boutroue said.
For the time being, South Sudanese refugees in Uganda will get by on basic services and wait for the day when it is safe to return home
Sudan opposition leader Yasir Arman arrived in Juba, South Sudan on Monday after he was released together with two other rebel leaders by the military junta.
Mr. Arman is the deputy chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/ Army- North (SPLM/A/N), an armed faction based in the Blue Nile region.
He had been arrested on June 5 by the Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) for allegedly fuelling protests in the crisis-hit country.
He had earlier defied a military ultimatum that he leaves the country on accusations that he was positioning himself to become the President of Sudan with the help of foreign financiers.
The rebel leader was accused of enjoying foreign backing and positioning himself to become the President of the Sudan. The release of the trio – the others are Ismail Jalab and Mubarak Ardol – is believed to have been negotiated by Ethiopian premier Ahmed Abiy who was on a reconciliation mission in Khartoum last week.
Mr Abiy met TMC, Alliance for Freedom and Change and other political leaders with a message that Sudan reverts to democratic rule.
Jalab and Ardol were detained from their residences after meeting with Mr Abiy Ahmed in Khartoum on Friday for talks aimed at reviving negotiations between the generals and protest leaders.
Arman arrived in Khartoum on May 26 to take part in talks with Sudan’s ruling generals who took power after the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir in April following months of mass protests against his authoritarian rule and worsening economic conditions.
On June 3 military forces raided a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, starting a week of violent crackdown that has officially left 61 dead, 49 of them from live ammunition.
The protesters put the toll at 118. The SPLM-N’s armed wing has battled Bashir’s forces in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since 2011.
The rebel group is part of the Alliance for Freedom and Change. It had set Arman’s release as one of several conditions before any fresh negotiations with the generals could begin. The protest movement wants the ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian-led administration.
The protesters started a nationwide civil disobedience campaign on Sunday, paralysing transport and shutting down cities like Omdurman, al-Obeid and Port Sudan.
In the capital Khartoum, however, several shops and fuel stations opened and buses ran on Monday, the second day of disobedience. The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide in last week’s crackdown, 49 of them from “live ammunition” in Khartoum.
Sudan’s military leaders say they are scrapping all existing agreements with the main opposition coalition and will hold elections within nine months.
The announcement came as the military faced mounting international condemnation for their violent attack on protesters in the capital, Khartoum, which reportedly left at least 30 dead.
See video in the web article – link at bottom of this article.
The US said it was a “brutal attack”.
The crackdown came after the military and protesters agreed a three-year transition period to civilian rule.
Demonstrators argue that former regime of President Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown by the military in April after months of protests, is so deeply entrenched that a transition of at least three years is needed to dismantle his political network and allow fair elections.
Sudan’s alliance of opposition and protest groups said on Monday that it would push ahead with a general two-day strike starting on Tuesday hours after the Transitional Military Council said it was ready to hand over power swiftly.
Deputy head of the TMC, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as “Hemedti”, added however that the opposition was not being serious about sharing power and wanted to confine the military to a ceremonial role.
“By God, their slogans cheated us. I swear we were honest with them 100 percent,” Hemedti said at a dinner with police. “That’s why, by God Almighty, we will not hand this country except to safe hands.”
Talks between the TMC and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance are at a standstill after weeks of negotiations over who will have the upper hand after the ouster of long-time President Omar al-Bashir last month, civilians or the military.
Wagdy Saleh, a representative of a coalition within the DFCF, told a news conference called by the alliance that the TMC had demanded a two-thirds majority, of eight to three, on the sovereign council that will lead the country.
Hemedti said the military council respects many members of the opposition movement, including Sadiq al-Mahdi, who heads the Umma Party that is part of the alliance.
Mahdi rejected the strike on Sunday.
However, his son, Al-Sadeeq Sadiq al-Mahdi, told Al Arabiya TV after Hemedti’s remarks: “Our stated position is not a rejection of the principle of strike, but our logic is that there is no need to escalate now.”
The TMC has suggested that if an agreement cannot be reached between the two sides, elections should be held.
“We are not saying we will not negotiate,” Hemedti said. “But we have to guarantee that all the Sudanese people are participating in the matter.”
“We do not cheat, nor do we want power,” Hemedti said, adding that elections could be held in as little as three months in order to “…choose a government from the Sudanese people.”
Mubarak Ardol, who represents the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, said at the news conference that it was essential to have an accurate and transparent census before elections can be held because millions of Sudanese remain displaced or refugees and would therefore be excluded.
“Elections cannot be held in the current situation,” Ardol said.
The DFCF said Tuesday’s strike would encompass public and private enterprise, including the civil aviation, railway, petroleum, banking, communications and health sectors.
If an agreement is not reached with the TMC, the DFCF will escalate by calling for an open strike and indefinite civil disobedience until power is handed to civilians, Saleh said.
The military ousted and detained Bashir on April 11, ending his 30-year rule after 16 weeks of street protests against him spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, part of the DFCF.
Hemedti said on Monday: “These people’s goal is for us to hand over to them and return to our barracks.”