How The Women-Only Facebook Group Minbar-Shat Helped Overthrow The Sudanese Government

The women of Minbar-Shat just wanted to snoop on their boyfriends. They helped topple a dictator instead.

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ILIANA HAGENAH OCT 4, 2019
DAVID DEGNER + GETTY IMAGES safa-al-hadi-paints-satirical-graffiti-at-the-sit-in-site

It all started in 2015 with a frantic message from a woman in Sudan who was having cold feet ten days before her wedding. The woman had a nagging feeling her husband-to-be was cheating on her, and she was desperate to find out the truth before she went through with the marriage. She decided to reach out to her friend Rania Omer, who had won a lottery visa to become a U.S. citizen five years earlier. Now Omer was 24 and studying at a college in Nebraska, but she still fancied herself an anti-matchmaker among her close-knit community back home in Khartoum. The friend wanted Omer’s help. Would she mind posting a photo of the potential husband to Facebook to see if other women could dig up information on him?

A few hours later, Omer had her answer: one commenter posted to say she was his wife. “His wife showed up and said please delete this picture and I was like, ‘Oh my!” said Omer in a phone interview with ELLE.com.

As more women began coming to Omer for information on men they knew, she decided to start a Facebook group called Minbar-Shat as a community of female “cheater detectives” who would work to police men’s behavior. Within a week, Omer said, the group’s membership grew to more than 10,000. That’s when she realized there was something more to Minbar-Shat than catching cheaters.

When Omer came to the U.S. from Sudan in 2010, her home country had been ruled by dictator Omar Al-Bashir for 21 years, more than the average age of the population. Most Sudanese citizens spent their lifetime under his rule, and many spent their youth protesting it. In July 2010, Bashir became the first head of state to receive an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, due to his involvement in wiping out non-Arab groups in Darfur. It was a momentous occasion that ultimately petered out without a prosecution, leaving newspapers constantly referring to him as the president “wanted for war crimes.” 2010 was also the year that Sudan’s National Security Act was repealed and replaced with a new one that granted the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) more power to arrest, detain, and torture protestors based on vague grounds. The government protected many NISS officers from prosecution after they were accused of sexual violence and publicly flogging women in the streets.

Sudanese families traditionally approve when and where an unmarried woman can meet with friends, so there was a notable lack of physical spaces where women could connect and vent their frustrations. Living under an authoritarian state, daily speech was also heavily policed. But with Minbar-Shat, Omer was able to provide a space for women to privately share information they might otherwise be too scared to divulge. “The men disagreed with what we were doing,” Omer said. But at the time, she wasn’t afraid of repercussions; she considered the resistance from men as just “talk.”

Marine Alneel, a 26-year-old group member and activist, remembers once when a woman posted a picture of a guy she was dating who had invited her to meet his parents. The woman was hesitant to move the relationship forward, so she posted his picture to find out more intel on him and discovered that two other women in the group were dating him. The women decided that one would ask him to meet at a popular restaurant in Khartoum and then the other women would show up. “After that story, that’s when everyone was like—this group, we need to beware,” Alneel said laughing.

Sudanese activists raise a banner in celebration of the revolution in April 2019. The sign reads, “Girls be strong, this is the revolution of the girls.”
EBRAHIM HAMID GETTY IMAGES

Women have always played a key role in challenging regime rule in Sudan while fighting for female equality. The “morality laws,” one of Bashir’s most infamous pieces of legislation, allowed police to whip anyone who did not adhere to vague ideas of public decency, including ways of dressing. The law inevitably ended up discriminating against women, as their bodies faced the most scrutiny in the context of “public morality.” By 2015, in regime-ruled Sudan, women were desperately in need of platforms to help them hold men accountable. Minbar-Shat became one of those platforms.

“If you girls had nothing to do in life and you just want to talk about men, then I’m sorry.”

The group grew into a support network for women around the country. Members would often help each other with advice and life problems; Omer said Minbar-Shat once collected around $2,000SD in small donations for a woman who needed help paying for college. “We helped sick people, students, someone building a house,” she said.

But not every female activist in Sudan was completely on board with the group at first. 30-year-old Rowa Kodi, a women’s rights activist, joined the group for the first time in 2015. Dissatisfied with the lack of conversation on social issues, she left soon after. “I thought, ‘If you girls had nothing to do in life and you just want to talk about men, then I’m so sorry,” Kodi said. “But then, to some extent they were able to be the first advocates for topics like womens’ rights and rape victims.” After 2018, she rejoined when she saw a transformation. Topics of conversation within the group had shifted alongside the political climate; soon the women were talking more about rallies and activist slogans than badly behaved men. As major protests started to spread across Sudan, the group became an important political tool in the fight for the country’s future.

Kodi next to a sign from the Sudanese resistance movement that she’s a part of, “قرفنا,” which translates to “we are fed up.”
ROWA KODI

Kodi herself had been a part of many major protests in Sudan since she was in college. But when they erupted again in December of 2018 it felt different, she says. The protests started in Ad-Damazin, the capital of Sudan’s Blue Nile state and one of the most economically vulnerable regions. This small southeastern region had been devastated by high food prices due to economic policies that lead to crippling inflation. Once Bashir announced that he was going to end wheat subsidies, the price of bread tripled. In Sudanese Arabic, Bread is “Aeesh,” which literally translates to “life:” people began putting their lives on the line in protest.

The protests bloomed across the country throughout December, but Bashir was undeterred. “Changing the government and changing the president will not be through WhatsApp nor Facebook, but will be through the ballot box,” he told supporters in the provincial capital of Kassala.

The government responded to the mass of protesters in Khartoum by granting NISS officers free rein to terrorize them on the streets. They came to protest areas with pick-up trucks armed with AK-47 rifles and pistols; they used tear gas, batons or truncheons to disperse the crowds. Hundreds were critically injured, and women—who comprised up to 70% of the marchers—faced some of the worst retaliation.

Samira Sawlani✔@samirasawlani
Women are at the forefront of the uprising in Sudan.
Just look at her.
Absolute queen.
Crowd are chanting ‘revolution’.
(Video circulating on WhatsApp so have no idea who to credit!)7,3627:47 AM – Apr 9, 2019 https://twitter.com/samirasawlani/status/1115491460340756480

Many popular women’s Facebook groups turned into makeshift organizing headquarters during this time. The Forces of Freedom and Change, the coalition of Sudanese groups that organized the protests, made Facebook posts for groups to share. Popular beauty and hair care groups started spreading the word about protests, as did another chit-chat group that talked about women’s crushes called El-Radmia. In Minbar-Shat, after the second week of January, if you posted anything other than the revolution, you were really shamed about it,” said Omer.

In January 2019, a woman messaged Omer privately on Facebook to tell her about a NISS officer who had harassed and followed her home. The girl managed to take a picture of the guard on her phone and sent it to Omer, asking if she could post it on Minbar-Shat so one of the hundreds of thousands of members could help find his address and tell his family what he had done. Omer complied; soon after, a woman commented with the guard’s name and address.

“He got really scared,” Omer said. “After this incident [the NISS officers] all started to cover their faces” so they couldn’t be identified by the women, who had begun posting pictures of NISS guards instead of crushes. That month, Minber-Shat found its place in the revolution. Omer decided to officially turn the group into a place to shame NISS officers and organize protests. “There are people killing each other, fighting with the government, there is a lot of stuff going on in Sudan,” Omer said.“That is not the right time for posting pictures or fun stuff and videos.” Omer began approving all posts and deleting those that didn’t revolve around the revolution.

BBC News Africa@BBCAfrica · Feb 13, 2019Replying to @BBCAfrica

The victims are beaten.
Dragged into the car.
And disappear.

BBC News Africa@BBCAfrica

So who are these masked, plainclothes agents?

Local activists describe them as low-ranking thugs in the pay of the Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services, or NISS.

View image on Twitter

1031:01 PM – Feb 13, 2019

Omer, now 29, is the oldest of nine siblings and hails from a poor family in Khartoum. She came to the U.S. so she could work to send money home while attending college. “Everything is expensive and there were no jobs,” Omer said of her childhood in Khartoum. Now she lives in Nebraska with her two-month-old baby, while her husband, whom she is trying to help get U.S. citizenship, lives in Sudan. Though she wasn’t able to physically be a part of the revolution, Minbar-Shat made her feel like she could take place in the historical protests from afar.

But the Sudanese government was watching the group carefully, and threatened them on many occasions, according to Omer. Most of the threats she received were over the phone, but she also heard that the government was asking for hackers to expose the group in exchange for money. As men started creating fake female accounts to sneak their way in, she began enforcing stricter background checks for new members. But since many Sudanese women are Muslim and value modesty, they don’t always use a real picture of themselves as profile photos, which made it harder to figure out which profiles were fake. Omer admits there are men on the page, but she does her best to monitor and kick out members she assumes are men. “They say things, different and weird, not like us,” Omer said on how she would detect a man.

“There are people killing each other, fighting with the government. There is a lot of stuff going on in Sudan. That is not the right time for posting fun stuff and videos.”

Concerns about the group’s safety came to a head in March 2019 when an administrator was imprisoned. Omer remembers receiving a call from the administrator’s phone, but when she answered, a man was on the line. The man identified himself as a NISS officer and told her that the government had tracked the administrator down using her IP address. She was arrested on the street while riding in an Uber. “They said they would arrest her forever and said they would arrest my family” if she did not shut the group down, Omer said. After alerting Omer to her friend’s arrest, the officer passed her the phone so she could speak with Omer. Scared, her administrator told her that the government would agree to let her out of jail if Omer gave them control of Minbar-Shat. Omer was undeterred. “All the women—they trust me. There are at least 300,000 members of the group. If we close it, it will be dangerous to them as well,” she said. The administrator was freed from jail about a month later after the government’s demands went un-met.

Minbar-Shat remains influential in Sudanese politics, even after Bashir was ousted from power in April 2019 and replaced with the Sudan Sovereign Council, which now runs the country’s 3-year transition period. On August 19, a woman posted a photo to the group of a local pharmacist named Nasri Morgos the day after it was announced he was nominated as the eleventh member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council. In the post, the woman said that Morgos, an endeared “uncle figure” and well-respected expert in the medical field, had asked her to go behind an aluminum curtain during a consultation at the pharmacy, where he rubbed her legs and lifted up her skirt. Frightened and confused, she ran away.

An activist holds a Sudanese national flag during a 2019 protest in Khartoum.
EBRAHIM HAMID + GETTY IMAGES

“I know that I am not alone,” the woman began her post. Within moments, many other women commented with harrowing stories that chronicled years of alleged sexual harassment from the pharmacist. Within a day of the post’s creation, the Sudan Sovereign Council announced their decision to let a female member take over the seat instead. There was no official announcement about why Morgos’s nomination was revoked, but most activists say the answer is obvious. “Minbar-Shat admins are part of these resistant committees in local neighborhoods,” Kodi said. “They have good connections with the Freedom of Change Forces. Two of the victims met with them.”

In February, Omer went back to Khartoum for the first time in two years, and said she was greeted with screaming fans. “When I was in Sudan, I heard people talking about Rania Omer and the group like everywhere,” she said. “I was famous. I wasn’t used to this.” The group had become larger than life, and Omer anointed a revolutionary hero.

Kodi, who’d originally been skeptical of Minbar-Shat, is one of Omer’s fans. She believes the group has given a reason to “dominate” post-Bashir Sudan even now that members have gone back to posting pictures of cheating men. “Cheating on us, or abusing us—whatever you do it will be exposed,” she said.

“I think Sudanese men will think twice before they cheat now,” she added. ILIANA HAGENAHIliana Hagenah is a writer and producer based in New York City who enjoys telling stories about news, culture, but mostly rebellious women.

Link to web article.

Sudanese Congress says Islamists prepare to pounce on transitional authority.

PCP consultative council members arrested by the army after am attack by angry students on their way to a meeting on 27 April, 2019 ( PCP = Popular Congress Party )

October 6, 2019 (KHARTOUM,) – Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) has accused the Islamist “anti-revolutionary factions” of working to mobilize the masses in an attempt to pounce on the recently formed transitional authority after the collapse of their regime. ( Under Omar al- Bashir)

In a statement issued on Sunday, the SCoP Media Secretariat says that it has been monitoring plans by anti-peaceful democratic transition aiming to “use the difficulties the transitional government is encountering to mobilize the mass to cover up a military coup under the pretext of taking side with people’s will.”

The SCoP’s statement comes after calls in the social media from members of the Islamic movement to launch a series of protests ending by a sit-in outside the army headquarters on 21 October to demand the military to “correct the course of the revolution”.

One of the Sudanese Islamists who called for the protest Ammar Alsjad, a PCP leading member, said that the national and Islamic forces have given the FFC, an “adequate opportunity”, but now they will “work to correct the course of the revolution”.

The SCoP party which is one of the main components of the ruling Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) pointed out that the transitional government is committed to the slogans and objectives of the revolution after its formation and won the satisfaction of local and international.

“It does not make sense to expect the final results of its work before the end of one month since its assignment,” further said the statement.

The difficult economic challenges facing the transitional government coupled with the high expectations of the Sudanese street encourage the Sudanese Islamists to increase their efforts to destabilize Hamdok’s cabinet.

In a related development, the Popular Congress Party distanced itself from a call by some of its leading members to demonstrate on October 21 in front of the army headquarters.

Acting Secretary-General Bashir Adam Rahma told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that his party “has not issued any statement on the demonstration on October 21st.”

http://ww.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article68252

(ST)

Faltering peace deal risks return to violence: report

JUBA – 4 Oct 2019

A UN Protection of Civilians Site (POC) in Malakal. Photo credit: IOM/Bannon 2015

Failure to address critical issues in the revitalised peace deal could restart the devastating violence of recent years and displace even more people, a new report has warned.

The report by Refugees International “No Confidence: Displaced South Sudanese Await ‘Real Peace “ says failure to address critical issues, including relocation and disarmament of soldiers and disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities, could restart the devastating violence of recent years and displace even more people.

The new report on South Sudan by Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan  stated that a year after South Sudan signed a peace agreement to end the country’s devastating civil war, a staggering one-third of its population is still displaced.

Few feel safe enough to return home, and the situation remains dire, according to the report released on Thursday.

It calls on the government and opposition leaders of South Sudan to implement the peace agreement, pointing out that little of it has been fulfilled even while a November 12 deadline to form a transitional government looms.

The report urges the government and opposition groups to prioritize the cantonment of soldiers, integration of armed forces to reflect ethnic diversity, and settlement of state boundaries to avoid disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities

It also calls on the parties to the peace agreement reach a political agreement on former Vice President Riek Machar’s permanent return to Juba.

The organization advised the international community to pursue a robust, coordinated, diplomatic effort to engage South Sudan’s leaders toward the creation of a transitional government by November 12, and further implementation of the peace agreement.

It also called for further analysis by UN and NGO actors on the issues of population movements, intentions, and barriers to returns to better plan for returns and avoid manipulation of those returns for political purposes.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan on Wednesday said a transitional unity government should be formed by 12 November as originally planned, pointing out that there should be no more extensions.

The 2018 peace deal brokered by the East African bloc IGAD reinstates opposition leader Riek Machar as first vice-president, one of five vice-presidents.

Last year, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that at least 382,900 South Sudanese died as a result of the country’s civil war.

https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/faltering-peace-deal-risks-return-to-violence-report

Sudan Minister of Finance: France will support debt relief

October 2 – 2019 PARIS

The Sudanese Minister of Finance Ibrahim El Badawi says France will support debt relief for Sudan. He discussed this with his French counterpart and the director of the French Treasury.

The Sudanese Minister of Finance Ibrahim El Badawi (SUNA)

In an interview with Radio Dabanga from the French capital Paris El Badawi stressed the importance of the French role in debt relief as one of Sudan’s largest creditors among the members of the Paris Club.

The Paris Club is a group of countries, mainly in Europe and North America, that tries to find co-ordinated and sustainable solutions to payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries. Its secretariat is in Paris.

El Badawi described the Paris Club as an important platform which could play an important role in debt relief from China, the Arab countries and Russia, along with the member states of the club itself. The members of the Paris Club are unlikely to grant Sudan debt relief if other creditors fail to do the same.

Accrual of interest

Sudan’s huge debt is mainly due to accrual of interest and steep penalities when the Sudanese government fell behind on its payments. For example, a single $ 130 million loan from Kuwait from the late 1970’s has now exploded to a $2.8 billion debt. Sudan owes $ 56 billion to other countries and financial institutions as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

El Badawi said Sudan can count on France to accelerate the debt relief process. He stressed that it will concern a full debt relief rather than a limited one. He commended Paris for its willingness to host a Donors Conference in coordination with the government of Sudan.

El Badawi described the French President Emmanuel Macron’s $ 60 million support for Sudan in such a short period of time as unprecedented.

Economic relations

At the meetings restoration of the economic relations between the two countries was discussed. In the past French companies used to engage in major projects in Sudan in sectors such as railways, electricity, archaeology, and agriculture.

Turning Sudan’s Red Sea coast into a regional port was discussed as well. It could serve as a gateway for landlocked countries such as Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Finally, the ministers discussed deepening cultural and academic relations and cooperation between French and Sudanese universities and research institutions. At this moment there are 60 post-graduate Sudanese students in France.

Link to web article.

Sudan Sovereign Council Refers Constitutional Declaration to Justice Ministry

Thursday, 3 October, 2019 – 08:45

Military and civilian members of Sudan’s new ruling body, the Sovereign Council, are sworn in at the presidential palace in Khartoum, 21 August 2019. REUTERS

Khartoum – Ahmed Younis

A joint meeting between Sudan’s Sovereign Council and the cabinet gave a final approval on the Constitutional Declaration during the transitional period. A copy was referred to the Ministry of Justice in order to be published in the official gazette.

Information Minister Faisal Mohammad Saleh said that the 78-articles declaration was approved by the Sovereign Council and the cabinet. Also, the council is anticipated to approve Nemat Abdullah as head of the judiciary and Taj El-Ser as deputy general.

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper learned that the council and the Freedom and Change Forces (FFC) agreed verbally on the candidates for these two major posts.

Sovereign Council Member and spokesman Mohamed al-Faki told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that the council awaits the official candidacies for the two posts by FFC. Upon receiving the names, the assignments will be determined in a meeting on Thursday and announced in the media, Faki added.

Meanwhile, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok briefed the ministers on the outcome of his foreign tour in New York and Paris as well as its positive impact on the Sudanese people, and the international acceptance of Sudan in the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Hamdok stressed the importance of the UNGA 74 meetings after this long time, adding that they were “successful” and had been praised by the world. A total of 55 meetings were held, mostly highlighting the lifting of Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

The visit to France was awesome, said Hamdok, noting that the French government expressed readiness to support Sudan and participate in resolving the challenges facing it.

Link to web article.

What Happened in Sudan?

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS  •  October 3, 2019  •  Vijay Prashad

n 19 December 2018, an uprising began in Sudan. This uprising would culminate in the removal of Sudan’s president – Omar al-Bashir – from power on 11 April 2019. The army staged a conservative military coup to abort the revolutionary tide and keep the same old policies. It dissolved the parliament and established a two-year military regime led by the Transitional Military Council. The revolutionary forces – galvanized into the Alliance of Freedom and Change, with the Sudanese Communist Party and the Sudanese Professionals Association at the front – continued their march forward, determined to make a full revolution.

The clash between the Transitional Military Council and the Alliance of Freedom and Change continues. It could either result in an Egypt-like solution, where the military regime masquerades as a democratic party, or it could move forward with a revolutionary democracy.

Why Did the Sudanese People Rise?

In 2018, the range of negative social pressures rose as a result of the stagnation of Sudan’s economy. The growth rate fell to -2.3% that year. This was a result of at least four reasons:

  1. Wars. Omar al-Bashir had been in power since 1989. He oversaw two deadly wars in this period. The first war was between the north and south of the country, a war that in its second phase lasted from 1983 to 2005. This war resulted in the death of two million people, the displacement of four million people, and the partition of the country into Sudan and South Sudan in 2011. The second war was in the province of Darfur, which resulted in the death of millions and the destruction of that vast, marginalized region that has been deeply impacted by the desiccation of the Sahara Desert. Both conflicts weakened Sudan.
  2. Oil. Sudan’s economy is dependent on oil exports, with most of the oil in the southern part of the country. With the partition of Sudan, the country of Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves to South Sudan. Nonetheless, in 2008, 21.5% of Sudan’s GDP came from oil exports (and drove a growth rate of 11.5%). When global oil prices collapsed in 2014, Sudan’s economy went into rapid decline.
  3. IMF. By 2017, Sudan had an external debt of over $50-billion – 61% of its GDP – with about 84% of it in arrears. Sudan owed 89% of this debt to countries and to commercial banks (the rest to international financial institutions). In November 2017, the IMF recommended that Sudan’s government cut bread and fuel subsidies and devalue the Sudanese Pound. The government followed the IMF advice. Already, 50% of the Sudanese population lived in poverty. The situation went out of control after the subsidy cuts and the devaluation.
  4. Since 1976, Sudan has drifted into the worldview of political Islam. The US-backed dictator Jaafar al-Nimeiri allied himself with the Muslim Brotherhood that year. A mass uprising erupted in April 1985, resulting in the overthrow of the al-Nimeiri regime and opening the way for the restoration of a democratic process. Attempts were made between 1985-89 to reach a peaceful solution to the civil war in the South and to abolish the Sharia law that was introduced by al-Nimeiri and the Muslim Brotherhood alliance. However, the democratic process was shortlived. In June 1989 the Muslim Brotherhood staged a coup, toppled the democratically elected government, and dissolved parliament, political parties, trade unions, and all civil society organizations. It imposed the most reactionary regime resulting in the continuation of the war in the South, the dismissal of over 250,000 workers and civil servants from work, and the establishment of ‘ghost houses’ where leaders of the democratic forces were tortured (and some killed). Omar al-Bashir, who inherited this regime, continued the Muslim Brotherhood agenda. Rather than tackle the serious political, economic, and social problems in Sudan, the governments of al-Nimeiri and al-Bashir hid behind a harsh cultural agenda (which included blasphemy laws, laws against women’s rights, and policies against the diversity of Sudan’s peoples and culture). Both al-Nimeiri and al-Bashir fell because they had no answer to economic crises; their only response was repression against IMF riots.

How Did the Sudanese People Rise?

The uprising began in Atbara, a workers’ city which had witnessed the birth of the Sudanese trade union movement in the 1940s. The residue of that struggle, and of the victorious fight to overthrow the British-backed dictator Ibrahim Abboud (in October 1964) and al-Nimeiri (April 1985), remains.

A range of older political formations (the Sudanese Communist Party and the Sudanese Women’s Union) and newer formations (the Sudanese Professionals Association, formed in 2016 by 17 trade unions) joined in this current struggle with civil society groups and political parties alongside a new group whose name defines the temperature, Girifna – ‘We Are Disgusted’. These groups gathered around a Declaration of Freedom and Change, which called for full democracy over the politics and the economics of the country, and for a commitment to health, education, housing, and the protection of the environment, as well as the immediate formation of a National Committee for the Constitution. This Declaration binds the various political actors into a tight unity.

What is Possible in Sudan?

For the moment, the military seems to have the upper hand. Faced with the determination and heroic continuation of the mass protest movement under the leadership of the Freedom and Change Alliance, and the support of junior officers, the military junta accepted the compromise proposals of the African Union to share power with the alliance for the coming three years. The military is not prepared to fully crush the movement because many junior, non-commissioned officers are sympathetic to its goals. This does not mean that the military – like al-Bashir before it – has not used violence. It has. But the alliance, rooted in the Declaration, has been resilient. For them, the revolutionary process has not ended. •

This article first published on the The Tricontinental.org website.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009; Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017) and The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016); and the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.

Link to web article.

At UN, Sudanese Prime Minister says ‘great revolution has succeeded,’ country will rebuild, restore values

27 September 2019 UN Affairs

The “great revolution” of Sudan has succeeded and the Government and people and will now rebuild and restore the values ​​of human coexistence and social cohesion in the country as they try and turn the page on three decades of “abhorrent oppression, discrimination and warfare,” Prime Minister Abdullah Adam Hamdok told the United Nations on Friday evening.

Addressing the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Hamdok said Sudan’s people, after months of mass protests, had recently prevailed “against a brutal and repressive regime,” and thanked the UN Security Council, the Assembly, the African Union and other international partners for their support.

“The Sudanese people are moving confidently and steadily on their way towards the future as a friend and equal partner with all peace-loving people of the world,” he said, explain that the country will now aim to transform its foreign policy from the one that’s prevailed the last three decades.

In this new approach, Khartoum will reach out to its regional neighbours and all other countries worldwide, with a true spirit of friendship, guided by its genuine belief in human values and the heritage of Sudanese wisdom, he said.  

Sudan pledges to uphold international law, human rights, and efforts to end discrimination, exploitation, injustice and inequality.  “We remain committed to maintaining international peace and security,” he said.

The revolution aims to end Sudan’s international and regional isolation, Mr. Hamdok continued, but reminded delegations that his country has inherited international sanctions, and it is on the list of State sponsors of terrorism. However, “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, he explained, not Sudan’s people.

The sanctions have wreaked havoc on its population. “We call on the United States of America to remove Sudan from the list of” State sponsors of terrorism and cease punishing the population for acts committed by the previous regime.

He said that Sudan is determined to address the root causes of its civil wars: economic marginalization, and ethnic, cultural and religious discrimination. As such, in addition to promoting social coexistence and fostering a culture of peace and tolerance among all components of the Sudanese people, he declared his determination to move forward in this way by building a state of government, a state of citizenship, a state of balanced development, and a state of protecting the rights of Sudanese.

The country will address the situation of refugees and displaced people, “while compensating them for the damages incurred” by war, he said.  An additional challenge is the accumulated foreign debt inherited from the previous regime, and Sudan looks forward to the generosity of the international community.

Link to web article.

Sudan PM meets Darfur rebel chief in ‘essential’ step to peace: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 30, 2019. (Reuters)
  • Hamdok said that his meeting with Nour involved “very profound exchanges.”
  • “The Sudanese deserve to finally live in peace and security,” Macron said

PARIS: Sudan’s prime minister has met a senior Darfur rebel leader living in France, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday, hailing an “essential step” for peace in the troubled east African nation.

“We facilitated talks that Prime Minister (Abdalla) Hamdok had yesterday with Abdel Wahid Nour, who is in our country,” Macron said at a press conference with Hamdok after talks in Paris.

“I think the step taken yesterday is an essential step,” he added. “The Sudanese deserve to finally live in peace and security.”

Hamdok said that his meeting with Nour, which he had expected to last 30 minutes, went on for nearly three hours and involved “very profound exchanges.”

“We discussed the roots of the Sudanese crisis and possibilities for a solution and… we are going to lay the first stones for this edifice of peace,” he said.

Darfur fell into widespread conflict in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government of Omar Al-Bashir, who was toppled in April this year.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the years-long conflict in Darfur and more than two million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Link to web article.

Seize this moment in Sudan

Protesters call for the extradition of ousted president Omar Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, on Sept. 23. (Marwan Ali/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

By Rebecca Hamilton September 30 at 3:16 PM

Rebecca Hamilton is an associate professor at American University Washington College of Law. She is the author of “Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide.” She covered Sudan for The Post from 2010-2011.

Sudan is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation moment. Courageous and persistent pro-democracy protesters, who broke the grip on power that president Omar Hassan al-Bashir had held for three decades, have now succeeded in bringing civilian reformers into leadership positions. The significance of this moment might be overlooked by anyone who expects a democratic transition to be heralded by a headline-making event akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The democratic opening of Sudan (population 42 million) is equivocal, precarious — but no less historic.

In Khartoum, military commanders sit alongside civilian officials in a transitional arrangement that makes everyone uneasy. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, is on the power-sharing sovereign council that will lead the country until elections scheduled for 2022. Hemeti was a commander of the Janjaweed militia that devastated the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit communities of Darfur in western Sudan over a decade ago. He now heads a proxy militia that was responsible for massacres of pro-democracy protesters in June. No one should doubt that any and all democratic progress could be destroyed upon his command.

And yet.

Even as Hemeti sits on the sovereign council, the prime minister chosen by the pro-democracy protesters, economist Abdalla Hamdok, has forged ahead with building a cabinet of technocrats more diverse than Sudan has ever seen. On Tuesday, the nation’s new minister of justice, Nasredeen Abdulbari, appeared on behalf of his government at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva: “We believe peace can only be achieved if we address the root causes of Sudan’s wars, which are the marginalization by the state of the peripheries.”

For Sudanese and all who follow Sudan, it is impossible to overstate how extraordinary it is to hear such a sentence uttered publicly by a Sudanese official. From British colonialism onward, those on the periphery — what is now South Sudan, along with the Three Areas, Darfur and East Sudan — have been excluded from power. Decades of war and the associated deaths of millions of Sudanese flow from this common root cause.

What makes the acknowledgment of this reality all the more remarkable is that Abdulbari is himself of Fur ethnicity. Back in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell stood before the Senate to proclaim that atrocities unfolding in Darfur constituted genocide, it was literally unimaginable that 15 years later, a lawyer hailing from one of the groups targeted for destruction would be the Sudanese minister of justice.

The rest of Abdulbari’s speech in Geneva detailed the new government’s plans to advance human rights. These include the establishment of a legal reform commission to “amend or abolish tens of pieces of legislation in Sudan that restrict freedoms or are inconsistent with international human rights law,” and the decision to join international human rights treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention against Torture. The day after the speech, the Sudanese government matched words with action, signing an agreement with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to open a country office with access to all areas of Sudan.

These are dizzying developments to all who know Sudan. For more than two decades, U.S. officials, Republican and Democratic alike, have invested thousands of hours of policy analysis and diplomatic engagement, along with billions of dollars in aid, in the hope that Sudan would emerge from a genocidal dictatorship. Finally, democracy has gained a foothold.

To say the current situation is fragile underplays the risks. The structures that supported al-Bashir’s reign remain, and Sudan’s history counsels that failure is more likely than not (of the three democratic governments Sudan has seen since independence in 1956, all have been overthrown by the military). But this reality must not lead the international community to hedge, waiting to invest fully in supporting the efforts of the new government until a complete democratic transition seems like a sure bet. The time to pull out all stops in support of the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people is now.

Hamdok and his cabinet have been clear about their desire for Sudan to shed its pariah status. And they have specifically asked that the United States remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list. Doing so would allow wide-ranging sanctions to be lifted. For Hamdok’s fledgling government, now responsible for an economy in free fall after decades of corruption, this would be a lifeline. This is the moment for the United States to lead the way.

In a time of growing authoritarianism worldwide, Sudan’s extraordinary protest movement serves as a beacon of hope. As Abdulbari put it in his speech to the council: “The people of Sudan have — by making enormous sacrifices — practically proven that ending an authoritarian regime and starting the process of establishing a free, just and peaceful society is possible. The international community should show its solidarity with the people of Sudan.”

Read more:

The Post’s View: Sudan has a remarkable, unexpected second chance at popular rule

The Post’s View: What Trump should learn from the downfall of Sudan’s dictator

Andrew Natsios: How Washington and the world can help Sudan fulfill its democratic dream

Reem Abbas: Sudan must come together to face its terrifying violence

Reem Abbas: Sudan is tasting freedom for the first time. We can’t turn back.

Link to web article.

France Offers Conference on Sudan’s Debt if US Lifts Sanctions

By Reuters September 30, 2019 07:52 PM

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, poses with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok ahead of a meeting at The Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, Sept. 30, 2019.

PARIS – France will host a conference with Sudan’s international creditors to help Khartoum address debt issues as soon as the United States removes the country from its state-sponsored terrorism list, French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.

In efforts to stabilize the country and to repair an economy battered by years of U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule, Sudanese transition government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is holding talks with Washington to see Sudan withdrawn from the list.

“As soon as the Americans make their decision, we will be able to restructure the debt together,” Macron said at a joint press conference with Hamdok in Paris.

“I have decided that France will host an international conference with private and public international creditors,” he added.

Macron provided no timeframe.

“The precise timing of the conference will depend on the timing upon which sanctions are to be lifted,” Macron said.

On the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly last week, Hamdok expressed hope Sudan would reach an agreement with the United States “very soon.”

Sudan has been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because the United States still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.

A senior U.S. official said in August that Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Macron said France had also planned for Hamdok to have a meeting in Paris on Sunday with one of Darfur’s rebel leaders, Abdel Wahid el-Nur.

Link to web article.