February 11, 2020 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese police on Tuesday arrested a criminal network manufacturing explosive devices in the Eastern Nile district of Khartoum state, amid reports that the detainees are members of a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks.
The Police Press Office in a statement issued in the evening said that the Eastern Nile police had made a “great achievement and arrested a criminal network, including foreigners, manufacturing explosive devices.”
“The operation carried out by the State Investigation Police led to the arrest of one of the suspects and the seizure of large quantities of raw chemicals and tools used in the initial operations of making explosives,” the statement quoted police chief General Lieutenant Adel Bashayer as saying.
The statement further said that the seized material and devices have been examined by the General Department of Criminal Evidence, while the investigation will be carried out by specialized teams to reveal the dimensions of the activity, which he described as “criminal”.
In the past, the Eastern Nile police had arrested two terrorist groups in the Salmah area in 2007 and Almamoura area in 2017.
The two networks had been arrested for manufacturing explosive devices, explosive belts and chemical preparations using highly flammable materials.
Al-Hadi Mohamed al-Amin, a Sudanese expert on Islamic groups suggested that the seized network would be a “terrorist cell” similar to the previous groups.
“The police confirmation of the presence of foreigners among the accused reinforces the hypothesis of the terrorist cell,” al-Amid told Sudan Tribune pointing that the “East Nile area is one of the known places to host the activities of these groups”.
“The current situation in the country represents a fertile environment and opens the appetite of extremist groups to implement their plans, especially in light of the fragile security situation and economic constraints,” he added.
KHARTOUM/JUBA (Reuters) – Sudan’s government and rebel groups in Darfur agreed on Tuesday that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court should appear before the tribunal, a list that includes ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir, who has been jailed in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Information Minister Faisal Saleh did not specifically name him when announcing the move, but said the decision applied to all five Sudanese suspects wanted by the ICC over Darfur.
Bashir is one of the five suspects.
The government and the rebel groups reached an agreement during a meeting in South Sudan’s capital Juba that included “the appearance of those who face arrest warrants before the International Criminal Court”, said Mohamed al-Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council.
Taishi also said that the two sides agreed to create a Darfur special court to investigate and hear cases including those investigated by the ICC.
That court would try Darfur suspects not indicted by the ICC, said Nimri Mohamed Abd, chief negotiator of the Darfur people in Juba. He said Darfur groups and Sudan’s government had agreed to “fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court”, and that the timing of the handover would be decided in final negotiations.
Bashir’s lawyer said the ex-president refused to have any dealings with the ICC because it was a “political court”.
Bashir has said the allegations made by the ICC, the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, are part of a Western conspiracy.
A spokesman for the ICC declined to comment. The Hague-based court issued its first arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009 – its first for a sitting head of state – and a year later issued a second one.
He told BBC Focus on Africa radio that Bashir and three others would be handed over to the ICC.
Asked if supporters of the ousted president would accept this decision, Mr Taishi replied that no-one was above justice.
“We are doing what the Sudanese people asked us to do,” he added.
Mr Taishi stressed that he was expressing the view of the government, which includes powerful generals in the military, and not his personal view.
Mr Taishi is a civilian member of Sudan’s sovereign council, the body overseeing the country’s transition to democracy.
A step towards peace?
Analysis by Mohanad Hashim, BBC Sudan
The Sudanese delegation negotiating with rebels in Darfur has made a key concession to victims of the Darfur conflict by agreeing that all those wanted by the ICC should be transferred to the court in The Hague to stand trial.
The surrender of former President Bashir is, in fact, something that Sudan’s top military general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan alluded to at a meeting in December with victims of the conflict.
But there is no guarantee that it will happen – the generals may renege on the deal.
And if it does happen, it is unlikely to be anytime soon, as talks to end the conflict still have a long way to go and the transfer of the wanted men – from both sides of the conflict – would have to be part of a broader peace deal.
Bashir, who refused to recognise the authority of the court when he was charged for crimes in the region in 2009, was ousted as president in April last year.
On Tuesday, one of his lawyers told Reuters news agency that Bashir would continue to refuse to deal with the ICC, describing it as a “political court”.
ICC prosecutors in The Hague requested that the former leader stand trial over the Darfur killings and issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The UN says that in addition to those killed in fighting between local armed groups, and Bashir’s forces and government-backed militia – such as the infamous Janjaweed – around 2.5 million people were displaced in the war.
Warrants for Bashir’s arrest were issued in 2009 and 2010 by the ICC.
What is the ICC?
The court investigates and brings to justice people suspected of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, intervening when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.
The ICC was established by a UN treaty in 2002, and has been ratified by 123 countries, including the UK.
Announcement comes as Sudanese transitional authorities and Darfur rebel groups hold talks in South Sudan’s Juba.
Sudan‘s transitional authorities and rebel groups from Darfur have agreed that those wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes in the region should appear before the tribunal, officials have said.
The announcement was made on Tuesday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, where the two sides are engaged in peace talks.
“We can only achieve justice if we heal the wounds … and we cannot escape from facing these … without the appearance of those against whom arrest warrants were issued by the International Criminal Court,” Mohamed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council, told reporters.
Former president Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC, but his name was not mentioned in the statement. Government officials also told news agencies that al-Bashir and other suspects would be handed to the ICC for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
It was not specified when the decision would be carried out, and there was no immediate comment by the ICC.
Al-Bashir was sentenced in December by a court in the capital, Khartoum, to two years’ detention in a correctional centre for corruption in the first of several cases against him. He also faces trials or investigations over the killing of protesters and his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power.
The government and rebels in late January agreed to establish a special court to prosecute those accused of carrying out war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Al-Taishi said he expected the joint committee tasked with drafting the tribunal’s provisions to soon finish its work.
Sudan’s transitional government has pledged to establish peace in conflict-hit regions, including Darfur, and has restarted talks with rebel groups.
“Since talks started between the transitional administration and the rebel groups, handing over the former president has been a key demand to reach a comprehensive agreement,” Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said.
“While the transitional government had previously said handing him over was to be left to an elected government, it seems like they had to make concessions, otherwise the talks would have reached a deadlock.”
Conflict spread in Darfur in 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum.
Government forces and mainly Arab militias mobilised to suppress the revolt were accused of widespread atrocities.
An estimated 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million driven from their homes.
West Darfur had been largely calm since 2010, though there have been occasional skirmishes over the past three years.
Violence in the West Darfur region in January has killed at least 65 people and wounded more than 50, as well as displacing thousands, according to an international peacekeeping mission.
Following Tuesday’s announcement, one of al-Bashir’s lawyers was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that the 76-year-old refuses to deal with the international tribunal which he denounced as a “political court”.
Bashir has said the allegations made by the ICC, the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, are part of a Western conspiracy.
The Hague-based ICC opened its investigation into Darfur in June 2005, following a referral to the court by the United Nations Security Council.
It issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Darfur province, which he denies.
Along with al-Bashir, the ICC indicted two other senior officials: Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, who was interior and defence minister during much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, a senior security chief at the time who last month was named by al-Bashir to run the ruling National Congress Party.
In that day, my Lord will apply His hand again to redeeming the other part of His people from Assyria—as also from Egypt, Pathros, Nubia Isaiah 11:11 (The Israel Bible™)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Sudan’s transitional leader, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, while the two were in Uganda on Monday.
During the meeting, which was held at the residence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the two leaders agreed to gradually normalize ties.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that Sudan is headed in a new positive direction and he expressed his views to the Secretary of State of the United States of America,” Netanyahu’s official Twitter account wrote.
H.E. Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, Lieutenant General Abdel H.E. Fattah al Burhan, met today in Entebbe, Uganda, on the invitation of H.E. President of the Republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. 282 7:46 PM – FEB, 2020
The announcement is a major milestone for Israel and its efforts to expand ties in Africa.
Sudan, which is an Arab-Muslim-majority country that borders Egypt to the south, has long been viewed as a hostile nation towards the Jewish state. However, long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir, who the international community regards as a war criminal for his role in the Darfur genocide, was ousted last year, and it appears that the country is seeking modernize, end its international isolation, and establish friendlier ties with foes such as Israel and the United States.
The meeting was purportedly orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates, and that only a “small circle” of top officials in Sudan as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt knew about it ahead of time, the Associated Press reported. Sudan is hoping that by forging warm ties with Israel, it would increase its chances for the U.S. to remove its status as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which it was designated as in 1993. Under al-Bashir, Sudan also forged close ties with Iran and served as a pipeline to supply weapons to Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas. Israel is believed to have been behind airstrikes in Sudan that destroyed a weapons convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Burhan and invited the Sudanese leader to Washington.
Currently, Sudan is without a president; Burhan heads a transitional 11-person government in Sudan. Democratic elections are scheduled for 2022.
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.
Published: 22:30 GMT, 15 January 2020 | Updated: 23:25 GMT, 15 January 2020
Ethiopia made progress with Egypt and Sudan in US-brokered talks in easing concerns over a hotly contested mega-dam on the Nile, with a tentative agreement to fill it only during the rainy season.
The three countries had set a deadline of Wednesday to reach an accord over the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, which Egypt fears could deplete its scarce drinking water.
After three days of talks in Washington, the countries’ foreign ministers “noted the progress achieved,” a joint statement said.
But they stopped short of announcing a resolution, saying the three countries would meet again in the US capital on January 28-29 to finalize an agreement.
Analysts have feared that the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the colossal 1.8-kilometer-long dam, under construction since 2011, begins operating.
In a draft deal, Ethiopia agreed that it will fill the dam — set to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric project — only in the wet season from July to August, or also in September if conditions are right.
Ethiopia will aim rapidly to reach the level of 595 meters (1,952 feet) above sea level, with later filling to be determined based on the conditions of the river.
The filling “will be executed in stages and will be undertaken in an adaptive and cooperative manner that takes into consideration the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs,” said the statement released by the United States.
The three foreign ministers “reaffirmed the importance of transboundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and their shared commitment to concluding an agreement,” it said.
The draft deal also calls for special mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan on years that they are especially dry.
In early negotiations, Ethiopia had said it would fill the dam’s reservoir in three years while Egypt wanted the process drawn out over 15 years.
– Appeals for mediation –
Ethiopia says the $4.2 billion hydroelectric barrage would double its electricity and be indispensable for a growing economy. It is expected to begin generating power by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.
But Egypt fears disruption in the river that provides 90 percent of its drinking water.
Discussions between the three countries broke down, prompting Egypt to call for international mediation.
The US Treasury Department agreed to broker talks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a pitch to President Donald Trump, his close ally.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his democratic reforms, promised Sunday to take into consideration the other Nile nations’ concerns.
“Ethiopia always believes in a win-win approach with Egypt and Sudan,” Abiy said on a visit to South Africa, adding that peace was essential to “realize our vision of development and growth.”
Abiy also invited South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, the incoming chairperson of the African Union, to help push forward negotiations on the dam.
The International Crisis Group, in a report last year, urged the three nations not to see the dam dispute as an “existential conflict” but as a way to improve resource-sharing.
“Waiting until the dam is operational — when its impact on downstream countries is clearer — would raise the risk of violent conflict,” it warned.
Sudan’s army has overrun the HQ of mutinous forces from an intelligence agency once loyal to ex-leader Omar al-Bashir, reports say.Shooting broke out earlier on Tuesday in the capital Khartoum and some explosions were heard.
The agency, the General Intelligence Service, is being disbanded.
The government says the row is a mutiny over severance pay, but there were concerns about an attempt to derail the political transition.
A senior member of the ruling Sovereign Council, Gen Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemeti, has accused former intelligence chief Salah Gosh of being behind the unrest.
He said that while he did not consider the incident a coup attempt, such action would not be tolerated.
BBC World Service Africa Editor Will Ross says there have long been fears that the stability of Sudan could be tested by once powerful figures who are against the major reforms carried out since Bashir’s overthrow in April last year.
Soldiers from the intelligence agency posted videos of their colleagues firing heavy weapons into the night sky in a show of force.
Reuters news agency quoted residents as saying there was some fighting in a northern district of Khartoum, and a security building was seized by mutineers near the airport.
Meanwhile the AFP news agency said five people were wounded in the shootings.
But military sources said that government troops had now taken back control after negotiations of several buildings from which the mutineers had fired on them.
The country’s main protest group had earlier called for an end to “these irresponsible operations that are causing terror among citizens”.
At least 170 people were killed during the months-long crackdown against the protest movement last year. The unit, then known as the National Intelligence and Security Service, played a major part in the crackdown. Bashir was eventually overthrown by the military, 30 years after he took power in a coup.
He was sentenced to two years in a social reform facility for corruption in December.
South Sudan’s government and holdout opposition groups on Sunday signed a declaration of principles, in a critical step towards resolving years of conflict.
The document, dubbed the Rome declaration on the peace process in South Sudan, was signed under the auspices of the community of ’Egidio, a lay Catholic association dedicated to social service provision.
The government signed the document with South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), a coalition of opposition groups that did not sign the 2018 peace agreement.
The parties agreed to foster political dialogue in order to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilization by addressing the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.
Both sides said the current conflict in South Sudan requires a comprehensive political engagement in order to achieve inclusivity and sustainable peace with the non-signatories to the revitalised peace deal.
The parties agreed that the dialogue will continue under the auspices of Sant’Egidio in consultation with IGAD and with the support of the international community.
The parties recommitted themselves to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in December 2017 to void further armed confrontation. The government and the holdout opposition groups reaffirmed readiness to allow uninterrupted humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of the population.
Sant’Egidio hosted the meeting in Rome, Italy from Saturday to Sunday.
The declaration contains names of presidential envoy Barnaba Marial Benjamin, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Gen. Thomas Cirillo, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Gen. Paul Malong, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Pagan Amum, among other opposition officials.
The document was witnessed by representatives of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) and National Democratic Movement (NDM). The Intergovernmental Authority on Developmental (IGAD), a regional bloc for East Africa, witnessed the declaration of peace as observer.