Chairman of Sudan’s sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, pledged on Saturday to restructure the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in line with the needs of the transitional phase.
“We will all work on restructuring the military and the rapid respond forces to guarantee their development in respect with the current and future needs and in line with the mission for which those forces were first established,” he said during a military graduation ceremony in Omdurman
He also pledged to be responsible for reorganizing and structuring those forces according to the constitution.
The RSF is headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, who is also deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council.
Burhan noted that Sudan is on the verge of a new phase.
“During this transitional phase, we seek to build a regular, professional and specialized force capable of achieving its national duties,” he said.
He pledged that the forces would work on protecting Sudan during the transitional phase.
In October, Burhan ordered a major army restructure, appointing General Mohamed Osman al-Hussein as chief of staff. He also promoted a number of officers to the rank of colonel and referred others to retirement.
His orders were consistent with the provisions of the constitutional document governing the transitional phase, which granted military and security services the authority to restructure the army and other security forces.
For his part, Dagolo told the that the armed forces and RSF are bound by duty to protect the democratic process in Sudan, which will eventually lead to the staging of free and transparent elections.
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.
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.”
Johannesburg – At least 32 people have been killed, 15 abducted and dozens wounded after several attacks on a village in Kolom in the disputed town of Abyei in the South Sudan border area, the UN peacekeeping mission UNISFA said on Friday.
“Our mission in Abyei has increased protection of civilian efforts after attacks that killed at least 32 people. The mission apprehended five armed group members and stepped up patrols and engagement at community levels,” UNISFA said in a post on Twitter.
Local elders confirmed the deaths after armed nomadic herders from the Misseriya tribe carried out the attack on the rural Dinka Ngok village, burning down 19 houses during the violence.
UNISFA spokesman Daniel Adekera told the Sudan Tribune that Thursday’s violence followed clashes between the two sides on Monday and Wednesday, which had already claimed 22 lives.
The cause of the violence is unknown but conflict in the area has revolved around cattle rustling with the absence of police and administrative structures in Abyei exacerbating the situation.
The Dinka Ngok tribe has long called for a referendum to be held on the future of the area, which is currently part of Sudan, so that it can join South Sudan.
South Sudan ceded from Sudan in 2011 and this has been a cause of friction between the two countries due to the political and security vacuum in the 10,500 km area border area despite it previously being seen as a model of coexistence.
Due to the ongoing friction, UNISFA deployed troops to the area to contain the situation and prevent any escalation as armed men from both sides converged on Kolom.
“UNISFA would like to reiterate that any presence of armed groups within the Abyei box other than its own troops is viewed by the mission as a violation of its mandate and will not hesitate to place responsibility on those engaged in such violations,” Adekera said.
Members of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are seen near the area where gunmen opened fire outside buildings used by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum, January 14. (Reuters)
KHARTOUM – Sudan said Wednesday the country’s chief of intelligence had resigned after government forces and paramilitaries crushed a mutiny launched by members of his agency in the capital.
General Abu Bakr Mustafa handed over his resignation after clashes between agents of the General Intelligence Service, formerly known as the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and government forces killed five people including two soldiers.
“He called us by telephone and we asked him to give a written resignation — which he did. We are now examining it,” the chairman of Sudan’s ruling transitional council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, told state television on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, heavy gunfire broke out at several Khartoum bases of the intelligence agency after some of its agents rejected a retirement plan proposed by the country’s new authorities.
NISS agents were at the forefront of a crackdown on protesters during a nationwide uprising that led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir last April.
Late on Tuesday, troops from the regular army and from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) crushed the rebellion after storming these bases amid heavy gunfire.
Burhan’s deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo — who else heads the RSF — has blamed the former chief of NISS, Salah Gosh, for the rebellion.
General Mustafa had been appointed as chief of the newly named General Intelligence Service after Gosh resigned in the wake of Bashir’s fall.
Khartoum — Investigations into organisations and institutions set up by the defunct regime of ousted President Omar Al Bashir showed that the recently dissolved Holy Koran Institute owns a gold mine in River Nile state.
Wajdi Saleh, member of the Anti-Corruption Committee, reported on Sunday that the committee is investigating criminal reports related to “a breach of trust”.
“The Holy Koran Institute has been active in gold prospecting for quite some time now”, he said. He added that the Holy Koran Association also owns a multi-storey building and two hotels in Khartoum, and nearly 100 vehicles.
Saleh explained that the Holy Koran Institute received funds from the state since its foundation, in particular from the Zakat (Muslim alms) Chamber. This funding included machinery used to prospect gold. The funding ended when the Al Bashir regime was ousted in April last year.
According to Saleh, the Institute is supposed to deal with Islam advocacy activities, like teaching and memorising the Koran, “without engaging in commercial activities or any activity that goes beyond the goal for which it was established”.
PM Abdalla Hamdok makes first visit by a government official to conflict-ridden South Kordofan state in nearly a decade.
By Hiba Morgan.
January 10th, 2020
Kauda, Sudan – For nearly nine years, people in rebel-held Kauda in Sudan’s South Kordofan state have been monitoring the skies for the planes coming from capital Khartoum.
The residents in Kauda watched the movement of aircraft to warn others of either the government’s surveillance or dropping of bombs in the conflict-ridden area.
But for the first time since the war broke out in 2011, three planes from Khartoum landed in Kauda on Thursday, carrying representatives from Sudan’s months-old transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as well as diplomats and representatives from humanitarian organisations.
“After all the bombardments that used to come from planes in the sky, this is a big change to see planes coming with a government delegation pushing for peace,” resident Anas Ibrahim told Al Jazeera.
Ibrahim was among tens of thousands of people who gathered at a square near the airstrip in Kauda to welcome the delegation. “It’s the first time a plane comes for something good in so many years,” he said.
Kauda, nicknamed “the fortified place” for being surrounded by the Nuba mountains, is a stronghold of the rebel Sudan’s People Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.
The group was born out of SPLM, which led a war against the Sudanese government from 1983 to 2005, making it one of the longest continuing civil wars in Africa.
The movement was mostly made up of fighters from the south, but also included soldiers from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
In 2005, when SPLM signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government, South Kordofan and Blue Nile were termed as “the two areas”.
While southern Sudan, which gained a semi-autonomous status following the deal, was granted right to a referendum to decide whether it wanted independence, the two areas were granted “popular consultation”.
The deal did not clearly define how the popular consultation would take place and who was eligible to join it. While fighters from the two areas fought for the southern side during the civil war, the areas also had a large population that supported the northern government.
Tensions reached a peak in 2010 during the national and gubernatorial elections. Al-Hilu, who ran for governorship on an SPLM ticket, accused Ahmed Haroun, the then incumbent governor, of rigging the votes in his favour.
Haroun is accused by the International Criminal Court of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur.
South Sudan voted for independence in 2011 according to the 2005 deal, but the Sudanese government showed no signs of wanting to define what “popular consultation” was or if the two areas would get the chance to hold it.
Al-Hilu announced his rebellion in June that year, a month before South Sudan officially seceded. The Sudanese government responded to the rebellion with indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling.
“Wipe them [off], sweep them,” Haroun said in a video two months after the war started. “Don’t bring them back to us alive.”
The exact death toll from the war in South Kordofan is not known as Sudan’s government under longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir blocked medical and humanitarian aid in areas controlled by the SPLM-N.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced, with most of them seeking shelter in camps in neighbouring South Sudan.
Change in tide
Despite on and off declarations of ceasefire and peace talks between the two sides in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the area remains closed off to aid, except under cover through neighbouring South Sudan.
The tide changed in October last year when, for the first time in more than eight years, the World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley officially landed in Kauda after holding talks with Hamdok, who assumed power in August following months of turmoil that started with protests in December 2018 and eventually led to the military overthrow of President al-Bashir and his government in April.
“The first priority of this government is peace,” Hamdok had said in August, days after a power-sharing agreement between the military that overthrew al-Bashir and leaders of the protest movement was signed.
As a sign of goodwill, the new transitional government allowed the WFP chief to return to a rebel-held territory in December, this time to Yabous in Blue Nile which is also controlled by .
Thursday was the 15th anniversary of the 2005 peace deal.
“We have seen agreements in the past and nothing really happened that could benefit the people,” Beasley told Al Jazeera in Kauda.
“Opening up corridors, giving us the access we need … we have now unlike any other time here we have ever had.”
Hamdok also seemed to agree that the trip to rebel-held Kauda was a step in the long road to ending the conflict as talks between the transitional government and armed groups continue in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
“There is a proliferation of armed groups but I think our peace architecture will respond to that in a very positive way,” Hamdok said, identifying five pillars of peace: Economic and social development, addressing root causes of conflict, marginalisation and even development, security reforms, and issues of legal and transitional justice.
The war in Kauda, like in many other parts of Sudan, has left it with poor infrastructure. There are no tarmac roads and hospitals rely on aid.
“I would like to see humanitarian work here only for a short while,” Beasley said. “So we won’t be needed long, so we can see the communities support themselves.”
PM Abdalla Hamdok says new law is not an act of revenge, but al-Bashir’s party condemns the decision by ‘illegal gov’t’.
Sudan‘s transitional authorities approved a law late on Thursday to “dismantle” the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, including the dissolution of his political party and confiscation of all its properties – in response to a key demand of protesters that helped overthrow his government in April.
The law was passed during a joint meeting of Sudan’s sovereign council and cabinet that lasted several hours, during which the body also scrapped a law regulating women’s dress and behaviour.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, welcomed the law, saying it was “an important step on the path to building a democratic civilian state”.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Twitter that the law was not an act of revenge, but was rather aimed at preserving the “dignity of the Sudanese people”.
“We passed this law in a joint meeting to establish justice and respect the dignity of the people, and safeguard their gains, and so that the people’s looted wealth can be recovered,” he added.
But al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) condemned the decision by what it called new “illegal government”.
The party accused the authorities of trying to confiscate NCP properties to help tackle Sudan’s economic crisis, which it said the new government had failed to tackle.
“To rely on the assets of the party, if there are any, is nothing more than a moral scandal, an act of intellectual bankruptcy and a total failure on the part of the illegal government,” the NCP said on its Facebook page.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the new decree “embodies the demands of the Sudanese people”.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the new law was not an act of revenge but was rather aimed at preserving the ‘dignity of the Sudanese people’ [El Tayyieb Siddig/Reuters]
According to the new law, members of al-Bashir’s old party are barred from seeking an elective position in the next 10 years.
“This is significant, and to a certain degree it fulfils the demands of the people, who have been protesting for the past few months, demanding a change in governance,” our correspondent said.
Filmmaker and activist Hajooj Kuka told Al Jazeera from Khartoum that people were “really excited” about the rule.
“We were expecting it a month ago … This was the one thing that was uniting us all. For us, this is the end of the era,” he said.
Kuka also said that the ruling also marked the beginning of the struggle of taking the financial power from the former ruling elite.
“They own everything. This was an Islamic dictatorship that controlled the money. Can we actually take that away from them? It is very problematic,” he said.
Hamdok’s government was formed in September after a power-sharing deal between anti-al-Bashir groups and the Transitional Military Council that ruled the country immediately after Bashir’s overthrow.
Implementation of the law will be a crucial test of how far transitional authorities are willing or able to go to overturn nearly three 30 years of rule by al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said the government has repealed a law used under al-Bashir to regulate women’s dress and behaviour and punish those found to contravene it with flogging.
The law was deployed to impose conservative Islamic social codes, restricting women’s freedom of dress, movement, association, work and study. It had been widely criticised by local and international human rights groups.
Protests erupted against al-Bashir’s government in December 2018 and quickly turned into a nationwide anti-regime movement that finally led to his removal.
The army deposed him on April 11 in a palace coup, and in August a joint civilian and military sovereign council was formed to oversee the country’s transition to civilian rule as demanded by protesters.
A civilian-led cabinet headed by Hamdok is charged with the day-to-day running of the country.
Al-Bashir is being held in a prison in Khartoum facing trial on charges of corruption. Several other officials of his government and senior party members are also in jail.
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok reiterated once again that the challenge of achieving a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Sudan will remain a top priority for the transitional government.
Speaking at a workshop to discuss the programme of transitional priorities at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum yesterday, Hamdok stressed that the priorities of the transitional government are to fight corruption, recover the looted funds, spread and ensure public and private freedoms and human rights, and adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability.
Restructure the state
He stressed that his government is working to restructure the state, both the civil service and the security apparatus, to develop a balanced foreign policy that will remove Sudan from the US lists of states sponsoring terrorism, and to achieve debt relief.
Hamdok acknowledged the daily suffering faced by the people of Sudan because of high prices and the transport crisis, stressing the government is addressing that and wants to have a dialogue about this topic with all sectors of society.
Hamdok said that the people have high expectations and that “these expectations need to be managed”.
Minister of Finance Ibrahim El Badawi said that the state budget aims to reach 54 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), while this is currently between 10 and 15 per cent.
The minister called on the international community to replete the budget deficit.
He explained that the government wants to address social issues and double wages in the public service.
He also wishes direct cash support for the 15 to 20 million of people in Sudan who live in poverty (65 per cent of the population).
Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has revoked the registration and will freeze or seize all assets of 28 legal entities affiliated with the deposed Al Bashir regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.
HAC announced on Thursday that in entities involved include organisations, union associations, and institutions. The decision is based on Article 14 of the Sudan Voluntary Work Regulation Act of 2006, the HAC statement explained.
According to the decision, the registration of the entities has been annulled, their property will be seized, and their assets and cash balances will be frozen.
They include “several organisations that are dominated by officials and affiliates of the former regime, such as the Sanad Charity chaired by Widad Babikr (wife of deposed president Al Bashir), the organisation of Charity and Communication (headed by the wife of former First Vice President Ali Osman Taha), El Zubeir Charity, Majzoub El Khalifa, I am Sudan, the National Youth Union, the General Union of Sudanese Students, the Women’s Union, and the Working Women’s Association.
Vestiges of the old regime
Removing vestiges of the old regime from positions of authority has been a priority theme for the transitional period.
On Thursday, during an extensive interview with Al Jazeera Mubasher, El Burhan assured that the former ruling National Congress Party is not allowed to operate during this transitional phase. He further revealed that the Public Prosecution is responsible for the fate of the former regime officials who have been arrested over the last months.
“The greatest achievement so far is the overthrow of Al Bashir’s regime; and thus it is unfair to judge the government within three months,” he stressed.
The frozen accounts including companies and business names associated with prominent officials of the former regime, against whom reports of irregularities have been filed regarding land and real estate.