China takes Security Council presidency in July, putting wide-ranging crises on agenda

(Xinhua)    13:09, July 04, 2017

Liu Jieyi (file photo)

Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China, UN Security Council president for July, said on Monday that issues of Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Colombia, Haiti and Cyprus will be on the agenda of the 15-nation council in July.

As for Syria, the crisis faced a “crucial month for the political process” with talks in Astana, Kazakhstan followed by resumption of the Geneva talks later in the month, he said. “The council is following keenly the developments in this respect.”

The ambassador said there were “three dimensions” to be addressed by the 15 members of the council on Syria — the political, the chemical and the humanitarian. “These two aspects will also be under review in the Security Council.”

The reference to chemical was for the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria in April, which killed more than 80 people. A report last week said such weapons had been used but did not say who used them.

On Yemen, he said, “the council will look at the situation and hopefully will work to persuade the different sides to the negotiation table to seek reconciliation, to seek to solve the problem through political means and to abandon the notion that there is a possibility of a military solution.”

Liu addressed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, even though not formally listed on the council’s July agenda.

He reiterated the Chinese “suspension for suspension” proposal package — suspension of nuclear and ballistic testing on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and suspension of the military exercises on the part of the United States and the Republic of Korea.

“This is a feasible proposal because it accommodates all of the major parts that confront the region and we do believe that once we embark on the road of negotiations along the lines of these proposals and … we will be able to calm things down and to seek a lasting solution of denuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Liu said. “We do hope that the other parties will be more forthcoming on accepting and supporting these proposals.”

On South Sudan, Liu said that the crucial thing is to achieve reconciliation among the different parties and also to have an effective dialogue for lasting solutions.

“The council will continue to urge different sides back to dialogue to cessation of whatever hostilities still exist and also to work out a lasting solution that is best for the country and the people,” he said.

Liu anticipated that Security Council members would establish a second political mission for Colombia to “monitor the implementation” of final agreements between the government and the rebel group FARC and the extension of mandates for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

“On Colombia there will be adoption of a resolution … by consensus and to lend its political and other support to the Colombian government and people for implementation of the agreement and to put an end once and for all to conflict in the country,” he said. “This will be important not only for the country and the region but even for the world.”

With talks continuing over the long-divided Mediterranean isle of Cyprus, the ambassador expressed hope of progress with the council possibly giving them a “boost for more fruitful results.”

Liu said that he hoped to follow what the Bolivians did in June as president of the council and precede what the presidencies of Egypt and Ethiopia are expected to do in August and September and that is to hold open debates on Africa and the African Unions.

He sees “four months generating more political momentum to help Africa enhance areas of peace and security, because we, speaking for China, are of the view that we should always provide more help to Africa to seek solution, for Africa problems by African countries in African ways.”

Liu said whatever focus the council “can bring to this issue of enhancing capacity-building in Africa should serve a very good cause for not only peace and stability in Africa but also for peace operations throughout the world.”

To that end, the ambassador announced the council would hold two open debates — where all members of the United Nations may participate — on “enhancing African capacities in the areas of peace and security” and on the Mideast, namely the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

He intended the presidency of China to be “objective and impartial … transparent as the council will like us to be and certainly will try to arrange the work of the Security Council in an efficient and effective way.”

Link to web article here.

Ugandan president invites Machar to attend SPLM reunification meeting

KAMPALA – 4 JUL 2017

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has invited South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar to attend a meeting aimed at the reunification of the different factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

In May, three factions of South Sudan’s SPLM party agreed in in Kampala to set aside their differences and work out a roadmap to reunify the party, but the main armed opposition faction loyal to Riek Machar didn’t attend the meeting.

“Your representatives are hereby invited to attend so that mediation process is all inclusive. Eventually, you could come in person after we harmonize in the region,” said Museveni in a letter dated 26 June.

“I have met the different representative of SPLM factions. During the last meeting, it was agreed that all SPLM factions be represented in the subsequent meetings,” Museveni added.

Last Month, Ugandan president invited Machar to come but Machar wrote back that hes under house arrest and cannot leave South Africa. So far, in the second invitation, Machar is yet to confirm whether he will be allowed to leave South Africa.

Last month, Riek Machar decided not to take up an invitation from Uganda’s president Yoweri Moseveni to attend a consultative meeting for factions of the SPLM party because of his forced detention in South Africa.

Link to web article here.

S. Sudan government to deploy troops along Juba-Bor road

July 1, 2017 (WAU) – South Sudan government is too heavily deploy troops on the road that links the country’s capital, Juba to Bor, an official has disclosed.

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A overturned truck on the Juba-Bor road, which has become almost impassable as a result of the rainy season and its poor condition (ST)

The interior minister, Michael Chiangjiek said that the move came following an emergency security meeting, which was held in Juba on Thursday.

The meeting was chaired by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

He said the meeting resolved that forces would immediately be deployed on Juba-Bor road as governments’ security measure to combat road ambush killings that were taking place in the area.

On 28 June, nine people were reportedly killed and seven others injured on Juba-Bor road. The incident took place when a passenger car carrying traders was attacked by unknown gunmen in Kubri Mohandisiin, located about 8 kilometres from Juba.

Last month, a similar attack left more than 30 people dead.

“One of the resolutions that we made was the immediate deployment of forces, namely the army, the police and the national security to the site so that they enhance the security of the road and at least ease the flow of the goods from Juba to Bor and from Juba to Boma state,” said the interior minister.

The governor of South Sudan’s Jonglei state said Juba-Bor road needed to be secure as it was the lifeline for returnees who have started returning from the refugee as well as displacement camps.

“It will also enable people in Greater Jonglei move to venues where they can participate in the national dialogue,” said Phillip Aguer.

“This road will also facilitate the national dialogue because we want Greater Jonglei to come together and talk for the government to know exactly what is affecting us. Insecurity affects food security and this is the result of poor agriculture,” he added.

(ST)

Link to web article here.

Sudan’s al-Bashir to visit Russia next month

July 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir will visit Moscow during second half of August upon an invitation from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, said Sudan’s Foreign Minister Monday.

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Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

Last October, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said al-Bashir would pay a visit to Moscow by the end of 2016, but the visit didn’t take place. No explanation has been made for the postponement of the visit.

In a press release on Monday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said President al-Bashir “will pay an important visit to the Russian Federation in the second half of August at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in order to strengthen bilateral relations between the two friendly countries at all levels”.

He pointed out that the visit would discuss a number of important issues including trade and economic cooperation, political coordination and consultation and mutual support in the various international forums.

The top diplomat underscored Russia is a key supporter of Sudan’s issues at the UN Security Council and other international organizations, pointing to continued coordination between Sudan and Russia at various levels on all bilateral, regional and international issues.

Politically, Russia is seen as a major ally of the government of al-Bashir that faces isolation from the West. However, economic cooperation between the two countries has remained very low, with a trade balance that does not exceed $400 million.
In December 2015, Sudan and Russia signed 14 cooperation agreements in different domains, including oil, minerals and banks.

The agreements also include a concession contract between Sudan and the Russian Rus Geology to prospect for oil in Sudan’s Bloc E57 and another accord for the geological mapping of the Jebel Moya area, North Kordofan State.

Last November, Russia decided to withdraw its signature from the founding statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the tribunal had failed to live up to hopes of the international community.

Russia was one of eleven countries at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that voted in favor of referring the Darfur situation to the ICC in 2005.

Sudan welcomed Moscow’s move, saying it gives strong support to the African stance against the Hague-based tribunal which has charged al-Bashir with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide connected to the Darfur conflict.

(ST)

Link to web article here.

Sudan’s al-Bashir to skip AU summit in Addis Ababa

July 1, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman on Sunday would lead his country’s delegation to the African summit in Addis Ababa, said the official news agency SUNA.

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Vice-president Hasabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman

Last week, SUNA quoted Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir as saying President Omer al-Bashir will participate in the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

However, the agency on Sunday said Abdel-Rahman will lead Sudan’s delegation to the summit without giving further details on why al-Bashir wouldn’t attend the meeting.

The 29th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union has kicked off last Tuesday and will continue until July 4th, 2017 under the theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”.

The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union will take place from the 3rd to 4th July 2017.

Member states will mainly deliberate on the continent’s peace and security, with the renewed fighting in South Sudan, situation in Somalia and crises in Libya among the issues top on agenda for African leaders to be deliberated upon during the summit.

Also top of the agenda for discussions at the summit are situations in Central African Republic, Mali, Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), Burundi and the Darfur region.

The previous summit held in Addis Ababa last January witnessed the return of Morocco to AU after over three decades of absence from the pan-African body.

(ST)

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South Sudan rebel leader snubs dialogue team in S. Africa

July 3, 2017 (JUBA) – The leader of South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO), Riek Machar declined meeting members of the national dialogue committee, citing the need to stop the country’s ongoing war as a priority.

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South Africa’s Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa receives members of South Sudan’s national dialogue committee in South Africa, July 2, 2017 (ST photo)

The co-chair of the committee, Angelo Beda, who led the delegation to South Africa, said Machar declined to meet them, despite repeated attempts by deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

A number of high profile members, including politicians, the elderly, diplomats and religious leaders made up the team to South Africa.

“Our trip to South Africa was a peace mission. The team and I wanted to meet with Dr. Riek Machar so we hear his views on the dialogue. Unfortunately, he could not meet us, but we exchanged messages,” Beda told reporters on Monday.

He, however, said Ramaphosa and the African National Congress (ANC) welcomed and pledged support to the national dialogue.

The official did not clarify on what message was exchange with the rebel leader and how the South African government and the ruling African National Congress would make the dialogue inclusive.

Some members of the delegation, however, said they were not surprised by rebel leader’s decision to decline meeting them.

The deputy minister for information, Paul Akol Kordit, said Machar’s rejection of the meeting with the committee was dialogue in itself.

Akol did not further explain how declining to talk becomes dialogue.

Observers have interpreted Machar’s decision to snub the delegation as rejection of the legitimacy of the dialogue committee.

Meeting the committee, they argued, would legitimatize the purpose for which it was formed on desire of President Salva Kiir and shut other efforts seeking to revitalize the 2015 peace agreement.

The South Sudanese rebel leader, who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August last year after fierce fighting, lives in South Africa.

Meanwhile, another high-level delegation meeting the exiled leaders will reportedly visit Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia and other East African countries, including Sudan to meet the country’s former political detainees, Lam Akol and General Thomas Cirilo.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in late 2013 when Kiir sacked Machar.

(ST)

Link to web article here.

Aid workers warn of ‘devastating’ cholera outbreak in South Sudan

More than 2,500 cases of deadly disease registered since April in world’s youngest country that is already under grip of famine

 Medical staff fear an outbreak in hospitals which are already suffering from severe overcrowding. Photograph: Sam Mednick/AP

Doctors, aid workers and officials in South Sudan are warning of a “devastating” outbreak of cholera that could kill thousands of people in a country where millions are already threatened by famine.

More than 2,500 cases of the disease have been registered since April, a sharp increase over previous months. The total over the last year has now risen to 8,000, with about 250 confirmed deaths. Experts say this is likely to be only a fraction of overall toll.

With no sign that conflict in the world’s youngest country will abate soon, and with the population weakened by years of displacement and malnutrition, there are fears that cholera could spread out of control.

Medical staff fear an outbreak in hospitals. There are few functioning medical institutions in South Sudan and these often care for three or four times the number of patients they were designed to accommodate.

At al-Shabbah children’s hospital in Juba, where a single bed is shared between three patients, three cases of suspected cholera were reported last week. “The fear is that such an infectious disease in this very overcrowded hospital could be devastating. The children are very weak and we don’t have enough drugs. The demand is huge,” said Dr Felix Nyungura, director of the hospital.

More than 200,000 people are living in “protection of civilian camps” set up by the UN to provide a haven for those displaced by the ongoing fighting across much of South Sudan. They too are threatened by the disease, which can kill in hours.

“Last year we had cholera incidents in the camp and now the rainy season is here cholera is the big concern,” said Thomas Makur, an administrator of a camp where more than 30,000 people live adjacent to the principal UN base in Juba, the capital.

People displaced by recent fighting are at most risk. The international NGO Médicins Sans Frontières has opened a cholera treatment centre near Pieri in the remote north-east of South Sudan.

More than 27,000 people have fled their homes in the region since mid-February after clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups.

Last week the UN said the number of people struggling to find enough food each day in South Sudan had grown to 6 million – up from 4.9 million in February. This was the highest level of food insecurity in the country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of intermittent conflict.

Though South Sudan has suffered drought, the crisis has political rather than climatic causes. Violence surged last year after a peace deal between President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar collapsed. Machar has now fled the country, but groups loyal to him continue to fight government forces. The government’s authority is limited, with widespread and increasingly chaotic conflict between local factions, cattle raiding and armed robbery.

Almost all protagonists in the fighting have been repeatedly accused of systematic and extensive human rights abuses.

There is a strong ethnic dimension to the violence, with civilians frequently targeted because of their tribe. Kiir and Machar come from rival ethnic groups. Civilians who have fled the violence to neighbouring countries say government troops, mostly drawn from Kiir’s Dinka tribe, carry out killings and other crimes against Machar’s Nuer and other smaller tribes suspected of supporting rebels.

A UN report last year described evidence of widespread atrocities against civilians including massacres, gang rape, abduction of children, unlawful detention and torture. The government has rejected its findings.

Senior UN officials say the combination of violence, ethnic strife, lack of development, climatic factors and international neglect in South Sudan is unmatched anywhere in the world.

“There are dead ends all around … I think we can still do something but we desperately need international pressure on the parties to go back to the table and be serious about peace,” Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN high commission for refugees, said last week.

Aid workers were struggling to raise funds, partly because of frustrations over the lack of progress in peace talks and partly because the scale of the problem was hidden, Grandi said during a visit to Juba.

“They [South Sudan’s refugees] don’t arrive on the shores of Europe, or Australia or at the border between Mexico and the US. Those are the places where refugees become visible and their voices are heard,” he said.

In an interview with the Guardian, David Shearer, the top UN official in South Sudan, underlined the logistical problems of operating in the country.

“No one quite realises the logistical hassles of this place. You can’t even move around. Travelling the 600 miles … takes two and a half weeks. In the wet season the roads are just impassable. There are 220 kilometres of tarmac roads in a country the size of France,” Shearer said.

More than 2 million people have fled South Sudan, with more than a million now living in neighbouring Uganda.

The case for removing US sanctions on Sudan

Suspending or re-imposing sanctions could not only discourage any future progress, but also jeopardise that which has already been made.

Link to web article here.

Opinion

The US first imposed sanctions on Sudan more than two decades ago. By 12 July 2017, the administration of President Donald Trump must decide whether to permanently lift some of these. This is not an easy decision, but it is the better, although imperfect, choice.

After decades of hostile relations, the US cautiously started engaging with Sudan’s government in 2015 on the potential for sanctions relief. Barack Obama’s administration announced a temporary suspension in January 2017 and held out the prospect of permanently repealing them if Sudan continued a series of advances made over the upcoming six months.

[Easing Sudan’s sanctions: Lifeline for Bashir or catalyst for change? ]

As outlined in a new Crisis Group report, Sudan’s government has made important progress in five key tracks, as required by the process. This includes cooperation on counterterrorism, and with the US-backed counterinsurgency efforts against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It has also ended “negative interference” – support for armed groups – in South Sudan. But progress has been less apparent in improving humanitarian access and ceasing hostilities in the “Two Areas” (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) and Darfur.

Many see the lifting of sanctions as a reward for an autocratic and repressive government. But not lifting them could discourage further cooperation and lead to a reversal of the advances made. If it repeals the sanctions, Washington would retain important leverage over Khartoum, including targeted sanctions on individuals associated with the Darfur conflict and Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. These could be used as leverage to push for greater change.

Sudan’s long history of sanctions

The US first imposed sanctions in 1993 with its designation of Khartoum as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. At this time, Sudan was harbouring US-designated terrorist groups and individuals, including Osama bin Laden. Trade and economic sanctions followed in 1997 and 2006 with Khartoum’s brutal tactics during counter-insurgency operations in Darfur and against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south, also seen as a major problem for US-Sudan relations.

Following Sudan’s consent to a referendum on the self-determination for South Sudan in 2011, the Obama administration offered to review Sudan’s sanctions regime. But continued fighting with Darfur and in the Two Areas halted such efforts. Although justifiable at the time, keeping sanctions in place had grave implications for the relationship between Sudan and the US and reinforced mutual mistrust.

Sudan’s progress

The US will make its decision on sanctions after measuring progress against the five tracks: cooperation on counterterrorism; addressing the LRA threat; ending negative interference in South Sudan; ending hostilities in domestic conflicts; and improving humanitarian access.

With regards to the counterterrorism cooperation, Sudan started working with the US shortly after the terrorist attacks from 11 September 2001 and has, with some fluctuation, continued since. Khartoum is also believed to have distanced itself from the LRA and it recently showed willingness to cooperate to eradicate the group.

On South Sudan, Khartoum has refrained from providing significant military support to armed opposition groups. Given the continuing instability and danger of a return to famine, this remains a major priority of the US in the region. However, if Khartoum believes that South Sudan is not doing enough to stop Sudanese rebels from operating within its borders, or is seen to be channelling support to them, it could feel threatened and decide to interfere again.

More problematic are the final two tracks: refraining from military offensives in the Two Areas/Darfur and humanitarian access. Following the announcement of several unilateral ceasefires, there has been little fighting in the Two Areas and Darfur since January 2017. Given that Sudan has refrained from offensive actions, the government seems to have made progress. But the security situation in both remains fragile. Without a political solution for the underlying conflict, a ceasefire is neither sufficient nor sustainable.

[Amid silence, atrocities in Darfur have restarted]

Humanitarian access has suffered for decades in which Sudan has sought to block or manipulate aid organisations and there is a legacy of distrust between the government and humanitarian officials. A December 2016 step by Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) to establish a clear framework for the relationship between the government and humanitarian partners is a meaningful step forwards, if it can be fully implemented. According to international organisations there is at least some improvement in the general operating environment. But despite some progress, access continues to be restricted in many areas. It remains to be seen whether these first steps will yield greater and much needed progress.

Re-imposing, suspending or repealing?

Sudan’s progress remains fragile and limited. Bad governance continues as the regime engages in political repression and violates human rights. Many non-governmental organisations and human rights activists therefore call for the re-imposition of US sanctions. They say that a permanent lifting would not only reward the autocratic regime, but also incentivise it to do just enough to keep sanctions lifted without carrying out real change. Others argue for an intermediate option. As Khartoum has made partial progress, sanctions should be suspended for another period of six months to further test the goodwill of the Sudanese government.

While both arguments are valid, the progress made by Khartoum needs to be acknowledged. Indeed, several countries including the Gulf States and Israel are encouraging improved US-Sudanese relations, which serve their own geopolitical interests. Following an improvement of relations between Sudan and the EU due to cooperation on migration, key EU members such as the UK, Germany and Italy, back sanctions repeal as well.

In addition, sanctions as they existed before January 2017 were not having the intended effect. They hurt ordinary Sudanese people disproportionately, while the government became adept at surviving them. Since sanctions relief was activated as an incentive for better behaviour, real – albeit moderate – progress has been made.

Ultimately, suspending or re-imposing the sanctions could not only discourage any future progress, but also jeopardise that which has already been made. It might empower those in Khartoum who argue that restraint is not paying off and that a military solution for internal conflicts is necessary. It would confirm the belief that Washington has a history of moving goalposts in issuing demands and it would erode the recently built up trust.

Even if the US were to repeal the sanctions, the option of re-imposing them would remain, should Khartoum backtrack on its current commitments. Other important sanctions are also still intact. Thus, by repealing some sanctions, Washington would have the leverage and credibility to keep pushing for broader reforms.

Opponents of this process are right that the Sudanese government needs to do far more to win full international acceptance. But repealing the sanctions is the most pragmatic approach to try to push for more, a first step along a road that would otherwise be blocked.

Sudanese Christians denounce demolition of their church buildings

A letter distributed on social media asks for the “attacks against the church” to stop. Twenty-five buildings are set to be demolished, but Christians in the country are “very resilient”, a source says.

A Sudanese Church of Christ church building in Algadisia, after a demolition. / WWM

Sudanese Christians have been under pressure for a long time. In a risky move, the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) has now published an open letter denouncing the “systematic violations” of their rights.

“We feel deeply sorry and strongly condemn the abusive procedures against the holy places”, the SCOC said in an open letter.

“We hold the National Intelligence and Security Services responsible for the damages and other consequences that can be caused due to their confiscation of documents. We also hold the land authorities of the Ministry of the Planning and Infrastructure Development of the Khartoum state responsible for the attacks against the Church and for the financial damages caused”, the letter states, according to World Watch Monitor.

The letter was sent out one day before the government demolished a SCOC building in east Khartoum.

25 other churches have also been designated for demolition, including Catholic, Pentecostal and Coptic Orthodox churches.

ARBITRARY LAND CONFISCATIONS

The letter “calls on the presidency to allocate land to churches and to guarantee Christians their constitutional right to own land in all of Sudan’s states”, World Watch Monitor said. “It asks President Omar al-Bashir to order the NISS to return all arbitrarily-confiscated land ownership and travel documents and to prevent the NISS from any further violation of Christians’ rights.”

In 2013, the Sudanese government announced that no licenses would be granted to build new churches in the country, claiming “there is no need for new church buildings because many mainly Christian South Sudanese refugees returned to their own country after the secession of South Sudan in 2011.”

An evangelical church in the process of being demolished, in Khartoum. / WWM

A LONG HISTORY OF ABUSES IN KHARTOUM

A Christian worker serving in Khartoum for more than 20 years told Evangelical Focus this kind of governmental action has been common for a long time in Sudan.

“Displaced Christians from the Nuba mountains would often build their places of worship before their own homes and spend many months getting and paying for the correct land ownership documents from the government.”

This source used to work alongside several evangelical Christian denominations in the country (among them, the SCOC), and had had access to ownership documents which verified the legality of several church buildings.

“The ownership documents, however, were often disregarded if the government wanted to re-develop the land on which the places of worship were established.”

Christians in Sudan are “very resilient” and respond with “courage and joy” to these struggles.   EU: SUDANESE CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE PROTECTED In March, the new European Union special envoy for freedom of speech, Jan Figel’, visited Sudan and wrote a letter to the Sudanese government, in which he asked to reduce the “tensions” caused by the pressure on Christians.

“Regarding the ongoing confiscations of religious properties from Evangelical churches, I cordially encourage you to (…) ensure your Government’s full protection of the rightful legal church committees, as recognised by the respective religious leaders and the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Sudan”, he said.

Sudan is number 5 on Open Door’s 2017 World Watch List.

See more: http://evangelicalfocus.com/world/2675/Sudan_Christians_denounce_demolition_of_their_church_buildings

Link to web article here.

Sudan hopes US travel ban won’t harm sanctions bid

International passengers arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles. Photo: Reuters
KHARTOUM – Sudan expressed hopes on Tuesday that a US court’s decision to partially reinstate a travel ban that includes its citizens will not harm its bid to have American sanctions lifted.The US Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated President Donald Trump’s travel ban imposing restrictions on citizens from Sudan, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

The ruling comes just weeks ahead of an expected decision by Trump on whether topermanently lift the United States’ 20-year-old trade embargo on the North African country.

“Sudan hopes the decision on sanctions should not be impacted by this latest decision,” senior foreign ministry official Abdelghani Elnaim said in a statement.

Elnaim said Khartoum had made “progress” on meeting conditions for Washington topermanently lift the sanctions that were imposed in 1997 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups.

Then-president Barack Obama eased the sanctions in January but made their permanent lifting dependent on Khartoum’s progress in five areas of concern during a six-month review period that ends on July 12.

These conditions — known as the “five tracks” — include improved access for aid groups, halting support for rebels in neighbouring South Sudan, an end to hostilities in the conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and counterterrorism cooperation with US intelligence agencies.

Soon after the court’s decision on Monday, Trump said it was a “clear victory” for US national security.

Elnaim said Sudan respects the right the United States has to protect its own national security.

“But at the same time, Sudan, its government and its citizens are not a threat to American national security,” he said.

“Sudan is fully cooperating with the United States, which has been acknowledged by US security agencies.”

Although the US court reinstated the travel ban partially, it said the restrictions could not be imposed against people with personal links to the US, including foreigners wishing to visit family or students accepted into US universities.

AFP

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