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Obama appoints Donald Booth, Special Envoy for Sudan and S. Sudan

August 28, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – Ambassador Donald Booth is named special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, the White House announced on Wednesday.

Booth was received in the Oval Office by president Barak Obama who stressed that “supporting peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan remains a priority for this Administration”, according to a statement released after the meeting.

The diplomat who served as US ambassador in Ethiopia, Zambia and Liberia "has extensive experience promoting peace and prosperity across the African continent", the White House added.

Booth has to work with the African Union and international community to facilitate the resolution of pending issues between the two countries, including Abyei referendum and the disputed border zones.

He also will continue the efforts of his the former envoy Princeton Lyman in order to end the ongoing conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile " as part of a holistic solution to Sudan’s human rights, humanitarian, and governance crises", the White House underlined.

"And he will urge South Sudan to stay focused on protecting its people, meeting their needs, and realizing their aspirations for a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future".

Bashir-Mahdi meeting brings nothing new to Sudan’s political landscape

August 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The highly awaited meeting between Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi ended without any apparent breakthrough in unraveling what is widely seen as a political deadlock engulfing the East African nation.

Speaking to reporters following their meeting at al-Mahdi’s residence in Omdurman, Bashir said that the summit took place at invitation of the NUP chief adding that they discussed national and regional issues.

Al-Bashir was accompanied by Mustafa Osman Ismail who is the official in charge of NUP dossier at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

NUP officials offered no details on the discussions between the two men which lasted for an hour and a half.

Al-Mahdi said in brief remarks that he agreed with Bashir that issues of governance and constitution are national ones that should exclude no party or faction and stressed that the two parties will hold consultations in order to reach agreements which he did not specify.

The former Prime Minister also said that they discussed the situation in Egypt and the inevitability of Sudanese intervention to contain the situation there in order to prevent further spiral of violence.

Neither al-Bashir nor al-Mahdi addressed speculations that NUP would join the government.

For years the NUP leader has relentlessly sought to convince the NCP to agree to a constitutional conference between all parties and groups in Sudan.

The ruling party however, brushed aside his efforts and asserted that opposition parties should seek change through the available political mechanisms.

In 2008, al-Mahdi and Bashir signed a deal known as the "national consensus" pact that outlined in details the areas where there is agreement. The latter however proved later to be largely symbolic and al-Mahdi later acknowledged its failure to bring any change.

In recent years, NUP supporters and other opposition parties have grown suspicious of al-Mahdi’s stances which they view as becoming more appeasing of the NCP.

Yesterday several opposition figures expresseddisappointment with al-Mahdi-Bashir proposed meeting with some accusing him of playing dual roles with government and opposition.

The NUP leader has reiterated lately that he does not seek regime change but reform thus angering many of his own aides. He has refused to join opposition efforts to mobilize the streets and distanced himself from anti-austerity demonstrations which took place last year.

Critics assert that the former PM has reached a secret deal with the NCP to undermine the opposition in return for appointing his son Abdulrahman, as Bashir’s assistant along with other undisclosed understandings.

Al-Mahdi has warned those within his NUP who oppose his polices to leave and form their own party.

Sudan opposition calls on al-Mahdi to push Bashir on dismantling regime

August 27, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A number of Sudanese opposition figures issued calls to leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi to carry their demands during his meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Kamal Omer, spokesman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) opposition coalition, told today that the NUP is a member of the alliance which has produced the democratic alternative blueprint.

He stressed that the NUP must therefore be in synch with the opposition’s demands and advise Bashir to step down and convince the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to agree to a peaceful transition of power to an interim government.

The opposition figure expressed doubts that the NUP will get on board with the "ailing" government.

The NCP leading figure and investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was the first to disclose news of the planned meeting between Bashir and al-Mahdi at the latter’s residence in Omdurman to address national issues.

Despite speculations that al-Mahdi will discuss the possibility of joining the NCP-led government, the NUP communication officer Abdul-Jalil Basha said the meeting is dedicated to talks on the national agenda within the framework dialogue between opposition and government on national issues.

Al-Basha ruled out his party’s participation in the government noting that the NUP has adopted the ’Leave’ slogan and is currently collecting signatures from citizens to topple the regime.

"I don’t believe the NUP will participate in the next government because if it accepts that then it will lock the party in dark history and redeems a regime that is doomed to collapse" al-Basha said.

He also revealed that they gathered 2.5 million signatures from all states in Sudan.

Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin, a key NCP lawmaker, concurred with al-Basha saying that the meeting is normal pointing that Bashir reaches out to opposition leaders from time to time for consultations on the future of the country.

"The media should not expect much out of this meeting," al-Amin said.

However, a well placed source at the NUP said the two leaders will tackle possibility of joining the cabinet and the "tough" conditions it presented to agree on that. These includes deep political reforms wide, ending armed conflicts, granting a large share of parliamentary seats and key cabinet posts to the NUP.

The source added that the NCP sees these demands as "impossible" but is open to negotiations.

Al-Mahdi’s daughter, Mariam denied in text messages broadcasted to her contacts rumors that she is readying to assume a ministerial role in the cabinet.

The scheduled meeting drew strong rebuke from a section of the opposition.

Hassan Ismail, a columnist in the privately-owned Khartoum newspaper wrote that, "the position of the NUP and the meeting of al-Mahdi with Bashir reminds me of a pencil which can be used to write on two sides; sometimes with the opposition and sometimes with the government."

The representative of the Baath party within the NCF Fathi Nuri al-Abbas said the NUP is flirting with the NCP to use as a card with the opposition and the government.

"We have launched the opposition’s 100-day plan, but the plan failed because of the NUP which launched similar scheme in a unique tune with the ruling power," he said,

The NUP leader has made sure to distance his party from last year’s demonstrations that broke out in response to the government’s rollout of austerity measures in response to growing economic pressures caused by the secession of the oil-rich South Sudan.

Last June, al-Mahdi said he does not approve of the 100-day plan to oust the regime announced by the NCF even though al-Basha said he took part in formulating the scheme.

Instead, he offered a different initiative to change the regime through collecting a million signatures and organizing sit-ins in public squares and other places.

OPEC approves $400,000 grant for flood victims in Sudan

August 25, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has approved a US$400,000 grant in humanitarian aid to assist families in Sudan affected by severe flooding that has destroyed homes and public infrastructure.

The grant, to be channeled through the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization (ArabRCRC), will reportedly be used to procure urgently-needed relief items.

Persistent floods, which began early this month, have displaced nearly 150,000 people in Sudan’s nine states, with Khartoum, the River Nile, West Kordofan and El Gezira states said to be worst-hit.

The risk of waterborne diseases remain high, after the damage caused to water supply and sanitation systems in these areas, posing threats to public health.

However, the situation is expected to worsen with additional rains forecasted, prompting aid agencies to focus on needs of displaced families.

“The ArabRCRC will use OFID’s grant to purchase non-food items such as plastic sheets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, medical supplies, tarpaulins, cooking sets, buckets and blankets.

Sudan and OFID have reportedly been partners since 1976. In 2007, for instance, OFID reportedly extended a grant to the ArabRCRC to aid the country during a similar crisis.

Over the years, however, the institution has also provided public sector loans in support of the Sudan’s agriculture, energy and transportation sectors, as well as balance of payments support. OFID has also financed private sector and trade activities in the Sudan.

Misseriya threaten to wage war against South Sudan

August 25, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – South Kordofan’s Misseriya tribe threatened to wage war on the Republic of South Sudan if the latter is embarked in organising a referendum in Abyei next October without their participation.

The move comes after the publication of a report in Al-Intibaha daily newspaper, saying Juba has unilaterally started preparations to hold a vote to determine the fate of the disputed region and granted officials and employees from the Dinka Ngok working in the different administrations open holidays from the first of next September.

Misseriya paramount chief Mukhtar Babu Nimir on Saturday criticised the silence of the Sudanese government over the alleged measures taken by Juba government to hold the referendum, adding they are prepared for all eventualities including going to war.

"Our government is silent while they know everything. We are yet waiting their reaction and if it does not move we will not accept that South Sudan organise unilaterally a referendum . We want the government to be clear with us", he said stressing "if it fails, we will play our part in the liberation of our land in war and peace."

The influential tribal leader further asserted their readiness to move to Abyei to prevent the conduct of the process, saying they have all the necessary weapons to confront the South Sudanese army.

During the war time, the Misseriya were organised in militias and fought alongside the Sudanese army against the former rebel SPLM.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, they rejected a protocol providing to organise a referendum in the disputed area, claiming that Abyei is their land and they hosted Dika Ngok who were in war with the Nuer.

On the other hand, the two signatories of the 2005 peace agreement, which paved the way for the independence of South Sudan, failed to agree on who can take part in this crucial vote.

This situation was complicated by two contradictory propositions an African Union panel made to the parties. The first, which had been instigated by US Obama’s first special envoy Scott Gration, called to divide the area; while the second supported by the former special envoy Princeton Lyman called to hold the referendum without the Sudanese nomads.

Khartoum accepted Gration’s proposal and Juba rejected it, but the Sudanese government refused the second proposition which endorses the South Sudanese position, calling to hold the referendum in October 2013.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL

On Friday the UN Security Council expressed its "grave concern about the highly volatile situation" in the disputed area and urged the two sides to form interim local institutions they agreed in June 2011.

"The Council recalls their decision in Resolution 2046 that the parties must resume immediately negotiations to reach agreement on Abyei final status under the auspices of the AUHIP" further said the UNSC presidential statement.

The 15 member body urged to disarm local communities and to turn Abyei into a "weapons-free zone" as it was previously decided by the two parties at the level of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC).

In line with the 20 June agreement, a joint police force has to be formed besides a joint administration and a legislative council. But they failed to reach a deal on the composition of the local parliament.

Also, the Dinka Ngok fear that the formation of these institutions without an agreement over the referendum would lead to perpetuate Khartoum’s control over the region.

Kiir appoints speaker James Wani Igga as new vice-president

August 23, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit has issued a presidential decree appointing the speaker of the national parliament, James Wani Igga, as the country’s new vice-president.

The appointment comes exactly 30 days after Kiir sacked his long-time former deputy Riek Machar Teny following an apparent internal power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

In a surprise move, Kiir also dismissed his entire cabinet and ordered an investigation into SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amun.

In the decree issued on Friday and read on the state-owned South Sudan Radio, Igga automatically relinquishes the position of speakership in the national parliament, leaving lawmakers to elect a new speaker.

Before he officially takes office, Igga’s appointment will have to be vetted by the national parliament, but first he must tender his resignation as speaker.

Igga is considered by some as a weak leader who lacks seriousness in governance and there are concerns his appointment may be rejected as was the case with the former nominated justice minister, Telar Ring Deng.

Machar is believed to be among the top candidates to replace Igga in the position of speaker.

Kiir is expected to meet with the SPLM caucus on Saturday in a bid to mobilise their support for Igga, as well as discuss the future leadership in parliament.

Police officer claims of corruption in interior ministry earns him 4 years in jail

August 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese court in Khartoum sentenced a police officer to four years in jail and a fine equivalent to 4,000 pounds after convicting him on charges of smearing the reputation of the Interior Ministry and providing false information.

Captain Abu Zeid Abdullah Saleh was suspended by the ministry and referred to a special police court after he sent a memorandum to President Omer Hassan al-Bashir through presidential assistant Abdel-Rahman al-Mahdi which he also submitted to the Sudanese Police Director.

Saleh’s 13-page letter contained allegations of corruption within the ministry which he also shared with the Interior minister.

Later the ministry suspended him from duty and ordered that he stand before an inquiry committee which recommended that he be tried and placed in maximum security imprisonment.

The judge has refused to approve a request by Saleh’s defense team to subpoena several senior officials to testify including al-Mahdi, interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid and police Chief General Hashim Osman Hussein

He also rejected adding four more defense lawyers to the defense team prompting the latter to withdraw briefly before returning after internal deliberations.

They instead decided to file a complaint against the court with Chief Justice, Justice Minister, Interior Minister and lawyers syndicate among several parties.

The also pledged to discuss the defendant’s allegations with the Sudanese presidency and present documentary evidence that were excluded from the trial by the court.

Early in 2012, president Bashir ordered the establishment of an anti-corruption commission to “monitor and follow what is being published in the media about corruption,” and to coordinate with the Presidency of the Republic and other competent authorities in the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly in order to complete information on what is being raised about corruption on the state level”.

But after more than a year of seemingly zero activity, Bashir sacked the commission head and did not appoint a replacement dealing blow to demands by the public for more robust investigation of corruption.

Bashir himself has persistently downplayed the magnitude of corruption saying that most of it amount to nothing more than rumors without credible proof.

Japan donates $3 million in food assistance to WFP to deal with malnutrition in Sudan

August 22, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Japanese government signed an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome by which Tokyo will provide more than $3 million in food assistance to help it respond to food shortage and malnutrition in Sudan.

The Japanese ambassador in Khartoum Ryoichi Horie underscored the importance his government attaches to Sudan.

“Japan regards Sudan as one of the most important countries for achieving peace and stability in Africa and the world. Thus, it is of utmost importance that necessary amount of food should be promptly distributed to vulnerable people and enable them to lead a stable life," Horie said.

The envoy noted that his government launched the $39 million grant aid project named as “Upgrading Food Production Infrastructure” in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to support agricultural development and to contribute to poverty reduction and food security in Sudan.

WFP says that despite a good harvest in 2012 in areas where it operates in Sudan, food security remains fragile and is threatened by a combination of conflict, insecurity and high food prices.

In 2013, WFP says t plans to provide food assistance to four million people in Sudan, including 2.9 million conflict-affected people in Darfur and one million people in central and eastern Sudan and in the conflict-affected states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Khartoum optimistic about outcome of upcoming visit by South Sudan’s president

August 21, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the organizational bureau in Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) Hamid Sideeg expressed hope that the expected visit by South Sudan president Salva Kiir to Khartoum will provide new impetus to relations between the two countries.

Sideeg noted in remarks to reporters on Tuesday the sweeping changes within the ranks of the government in Juba, by which the entire cabinet was changed, saying it is expected to have a positive impact on bilateral ties.

The NCP official said that the talks between Kiir and Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will tackle security arrangements, economic relations, trade and border problems between the two countries.

He claimed that South Sudan’s friends in the western sent a letter to Kiir which contained sharp criticism of the deterioration of the security, economic and political situation in the country.

Kiir’s second visit to Sudan since his country’s independence two years ago is seen as another sign of a thaw in relations between Khartoum and Juba.

An announcement by Bashir last June that Sudan will shutdown pipelines carrying oil from landlocked South Sudan was seen as a major setback in resolving outstanding issues between the two sides.

But afterwards, the Sudanese government twice agreed to postpone implementation of the closure in response to pleas by the African Union (AU) mediators and China.

Khartoum’s main grievance is that South Sudan backs anti-Khartoum insurgents operating in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur.

Juba denies the charge and in turn accuses Sudan of supporting rebels in Jonglei state.

AU committees have been established to verify claims of rebel harboring and support by the two countries.

In a related issue, the AU mediators began making arrangements for a meeting of the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) between Khartoum and Juba in Addis Ababa in early September.

The security subcommittee will convene its third meeting in Khartoum today to finalize a report to be submitted to the AU mediation team.

The Secretary General of Sudan’s delegation in JPSC al-Muiz Farooq told reporters after the arrival of South Sudan’s delegation in Khartoum that the meeting which will be held on Wednesday is considered a "routine" one to discuss the implementation of the outcomes of the Juba meeting which took place last month.

Farooq said he expects the meeting to come up with important solutions within the framework of addressing all issues between the two countries

JPSC spokesman from South Sudan side Tor Deng said that the meeting will be open for one day to discuss pending items.

Nigeria hints it was preparing to arrest Sudanese president during his visit

August 20, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – The Nigerian government was deliberating on actions to be taken regarding the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir during his visit to Abuja last month where he attended a health summit organized by the African Union (AU), according to formal filing by Abuja released today.

Nigeria at the time defended receiving Bashir who is subject to two arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes and genocide committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

As a member of the Hague-based court, Nigeria was theoretically obligated to apprehend the Sudanese leader during his stay.

But officials in Abuja said that they are adhering to AU resolutions directing member states not to execute the warrants against Bashir.

Later Nigerian newspapers quoted unnamed officials who said that they were caught by surprise as the invitation to Bashir was made by the AU and not by Abuja.

Those officials stressed had they known in advance they would have made efforts to keep him away.

The visit drew the ire of rights groups inside and outside Nigeria who argued that Nigeria was in breach of its international obligations under the Rome Statute.

The Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) filed a motion during Bashir’s short stay with the federal high court in Abuja seeking a domestic arrest warrant for him. .

Observers and AU officials believe this prompted the Sudanese president to abruptly leave Abuja less than 24 hours after arriving and without attending the main event of the summit which he was scheduled to address.

Sudanese diplomats gave different explanations for Bashir’s sudden departure with some saying he had other engagements back home and others saying that leaders do not usually attend the entire events of conferences they are invited to.

Diplomats at the conference said, that during the afternoon session, when Bashir was scheduled to speak, he was called to the podium but could not be found confirming the unexpected nature of his absence even by the organizers of the conference and the host nation.

The Nigeria-based Guardian newspaper quoted AU officials last month as saying that Bashir “hurriedly left the VIP room amidst heavy security while the main conference was going on at the main hall" and apparently headed to the airport.

In a filingmade with ICC judges made public today, the Nigerian government suggested that prior to Bashir’s sudden exit it was in the process of initiating arrest procedures against him.

"President Al-Bashir made a brief appearance at the opening of the AU summit and without delivering any statement, left the country" said the letter signed by Nigeria’s Justice minister Mohammed Bello Adoke who is also the country’s Attorney General.

"The sudden departure of President Al-Bashir prior to the official end of the AU summit occurred at a time that officials of relevant bodies and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria were considering the necessary steps to be taken in respect of his visit in line with Nigeria’s international obligations" it read in part.

It is not clear if Bashir was tipped off on the thinking of the Nigerian government thus pushing him to rush home.

The Nigerian official stressed his country’s "firm commitment" to the ICC and "readiness for continued cooperation" with the court "to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community".

Adoke noted Nigeria’s decision to arrest and send back Liberia ex-president Charles Taylor to stand trial in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

Khartoum governor says 17,000 families affected by floods, Morocco to send aid

August 17, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The governor of Khartoum state, Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir, said on Saturday that an estimated 17.000 families have been affected by the heavy rains and floods which swept the state last week.

Al-Khidir, who was speaking at a press conference on Saturday, announced that his government would provide support which will suffice the affected families for 35 days.

He denied that his state suffers from food shortage, disclosing that a technical team was formed to conduct a study for protecting the state against future floods and disposing of rain water.

The governor added that the study would also look at relocating and moving all the affected villages to safe areas and providing them with integrated services including schools and hospitals, saying that the study will be completed and executed within 10 months.

Al-Khidir went on to say that the study aims to offer a scientific approach for land usage regarding the residential compounds which were built on the floodplain.

He announced that a support fund for the affected population has been created, saying that his government’s contribution to it amounted to 10 billion pound (SDG).

Al-Khidir added that aid distribution will be followed by setting up temporary schools and shelters for the affected, pointing that the final stage would involve maintenance of schools, hospitals, health centers as well as environmental sanitation and monitoring of water drainage.

The heavy rains and floods that hit different areas in Sudan recently have lead to the death of at least 60 people and injured dozens as well as destroying thousands of homes. Many ordinary citizens voiced rage over poor preparations by the government and inadequate response to the floods.

More than half the victims, 84 000, are in the area around the capital Khartoum, said the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Drainage is poor in the capital of Sudan, where even a little rain can cause flooding, but this year’s water surge was unusually severe.

MOROCCAN KING ORDERS AID DISPATCHED TO SUDAN

The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, has ordered government agencies to send aid to flood victims in Sudan.

The Moroccan Royal Court said in a statement that armed forces and Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation will coordinate this process.

The aid will include tents, medicine, rice, cooking oil, power generators and pumps, said the statement.

In UAE, the Emirates Red Crescent said it is preparing for the second phase of its relief operation in Sudan to help thousands of families left homeless by flooding.

According to ’Gulf Times’ the Emirates Red Crescent initiated its aid efforts for Sudan ten days ago, through the UAE Embassy in Khartoum. The UAE’s humanitarian programme has already sent a delegation to the flood-hit areas, and is procuring emergency aid including shelters and food from Sudan’s local markets.

Sudanese Islamists in rare show of unity against events in Egypt

August 16, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Islamist supporters of the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have rallied in Khartoum following Friday prayers to protest against the deadly crackdown in Egypt that claimed hundreds of lives this week.

Around 500 people from various Islamic organizations including the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan al-Turabi demonstrated near Sudan’s presidential palace, carrying Egyptian flags and pictures of Morsi.

The protest, which was organized by the Higher Committee for Advocating Legitimacy, expressed support for the Egyptian legitimacy alliance, condemning what the Sudanese official news agency (SUNA) described as “the heinous massacre committed by the bloody coup government in several public squares including Rabaa Al-Adawiya and al-Nahdha”.

"O’ coward Al-Sissi, Islam is in the battlefield”, shouted the demonstrators, referring to Egypt’s army chief, Abd Al-Fattah al-Sissi who orchestrated the ouster of president Morsi after millions protested calling for an end to his turbulent year in power.

“Shame on the coup plotters, Al-Sissi is an Israeli agent”, they also chanted.

The rally speakers called for reuniting the Sudanese Islamic Movement (IM) in order confront the challenges facing Islam and Muslims in the Arab and Muslim world, denouncing what they described as “the negative attitudes of some Arab rulers toward what is going on in Egypt”.

The secretary general of IM, Al-Zubair Ahmed Al-Hassan, called on the Sudanese government to mediate between the conflicting Egyptian parties and appealed for the unification of the IM in order to fight "the enemies of Islam".

The IM was created by Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), following the 1999 schism with its former leader Turabi and his supporters who later formed the PCP.

The IM was designed to exist as a parallel and broader political base to support the Islamist orientation of the NCP regime and mobilize Sufi and radical Islamist groups under its umbrella, while excluding the PCP.

Al-Zubair further said that IM youths are eager for democratic rule, pointing that the coup regime will turn Egypt into another Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

He added that the Sudanese people stand by the Egyptian people and support the Palestinian cause as well as all the Islamic nation’s issues.

The deputy secretary general of the PCP, Ibrahim Al-Sanousi, for his part, denounced the crackdown of the Egyptian government on the protesters and described the ousting of president Morsi as “high treason”, pointing that the Sudanese IM is an extension of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood and its founder Hassan Al-Banna.

The Emir (leader) of the Mujahideen (holy fighters) called upon president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, Turabi and IM leaders to unite against tyranny, saying that they are fed up with fragmentation and rupture.

The Islamic leading figure, Isam Al-Bashir, stressed that what is going on in Egypt represents an obvious targeting of the Islamic nation, condemning what he called the human massacres committed by the Egyptian regime against its people.

Several other speakers expressed solidarity with the Egyptian people and called for the immediate release of Morsi, demanding the Egyptian army to stay away from politics.

Sudan’s Islamist government has appeared uncomfortable with the developments in Egypt given the common ideology they shared with Morsi and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which brought him to power.

However, Khartoum insisted that it is neutral to the change in Egypt and that it is an internal matter.
 After weeks of futile, political mediation, police moved on Wednesday to clear two Brotherhood protest sit-ins in Cairo. Almost 600 people, most of them Islamists, were killed in the mayhem. With no compromise in sight, the most populous Arab nation - which is often seen as leading events in the entire region - looks increasingly polarized and angry.

Thousands of Islamists protested Friday across Egypt, sparking violence that killed at least 70 people and turned parts of Cairo into battlefields after police authorized the use of live ammunition.

The violence drew condemnation from major international players such as the US, France and Germany. This contrasted with support for the clampdown by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Jordan.

Egypt has lurched from one crisis to another since the downfall of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak in 2011, dealing repeated blows to the economy, particularly tourism.

Sudan says floods situation does not amount to "disaster"

August 15, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby called on member states to provide urgent humanitarian relief to the victims of floods and heavy rainfall that hit large parts of Sudan this month.

in a statement issued Thursday, Elaraby appealed to Arab countries and their affiliated organizations as well as the local NGOs to send aid on a rush basis to the Sudanese government to help it provide the basic needs of more than 150,000 people affected by the floods which led to mass displacement and destruction of more than 26,000 homes.

Elaraby said that the Arab League will continue to be in touch with Khartoum to get updates on items it needs to deal with the floods and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

Yesterday, Kuwait joined a string of countries which announced that it will dispatch $2.5 million in relief supplies to Sudan as decided by cabinet meeting.

"The decision was taken after assessing hard conditions of the brotherly Sudanese people, as a result of the floods and heavy rains that inflicted extensive losses," the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Minister of Health, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah in told Kuwait’s official news agency (KUNA on Wednesday.

"The cabinet has instructed Kuwait Red Crescent Society to coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to secure the relief supplies as soon as possible," Kuna reported.

So far the United States, Japan, Qatar, Egypt and Ethiopia have sent aid to Sudan though more help is believed to be needed.

On Thursday, the Sudanese interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told reporters that his ministry’s figures show that 53 people were killed, 77 inured, 40,578 families affected, 20,207 homes completely collapsed and 21,999 partially damaged, 3,000 heads of livestock perished and 251 public buildings were impacted that were primarily schools.

But the minister insisted that the losses so far do not warrant declaring Sudan a "disaster area" which would potentially help solicit more external aid and stressed that the situation is under control.

Hamid added that the Nile river levels at the Murgan station in Khartoum registered 17.4 meters.

The governor of Khartoum state Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir today disclosed his state was hit by 2 billion cubic meters of water stressing that it could have inflicted significant damage if it wasn’t for the existing drainage points.

Sudan’s chief weather forecaster warned on Thursday that more floods should be expected in the coming days.

"According to our information there is heavy rain in Ethiopia, and we expect flooding in the coming days," Abdallah Khiar told reporters according tto Agence France Presse (AFP) .

Rains in Ethiopia feed into the Blue Nile river which runs to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.

He called on imams to urge citizens and young people to contribute to discharging water in residential neighborhoods and contribute to the fund established by the state to support those affected.

Al-Khidir hailed the role of national organizations, particularly the Red Crescent, saying it is playing an active role in correlation with the state to account for those affected and help in delivering aid to them.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Thursday that it launched an emergency appeal for 918,554 Swiss francs ($983,670) to help 35,000 people in Khartoum and River Nile states..

Eight states in Sudan have been hit by flooding triggered by heavy rains that started in early August, damaging schools, health clinics, shops, markets and sanitation facilities, IFRC said.

"The hardest hit areas include the states of Khartoum, Gezira, Northern and River Nile," the IFRC added.

"Some displaced families, mostly women and children, are camping along the tarmac road, others have found shelter staying with relatives who have homes on higher ground," the group added.

Kiir to visit Khartoum for talks with Bashir over post-secession disputes

August 15, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit will make a state visit Khartoum later this month for talks with Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir over bilateral relations, according to senior diplomats.

South Sudan’s new foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, is expected to travel to Khartoum to for talks with his Sudanese counterpart Ali Ahmed Karti to agree on the agenda and date for the summit.

"The minister of foreign affairs is supposed to go first (to Khartoum) but he is now scheduled to attend the first anniversary of the death of the late Ethiopian prime minister in Addis Ababa next week. He will go on Monday 19", the spokesperson of the foreign affairs and international cooperation ministry, Mawien Makol told on Thursday.

The Meles Zenawi Foundation announced that the commemoration will start on August 20.

The office of the president also confirmed that Kiir will visit Khartoum this month to discuss the implementation of the 11-month-old cooperation agreement between the two nations, which involves border security and claims claims over support to rebel groups, oil exports, citizenship and other issues.

It is expected that the two leaders will also discuss how to resolve the impasse on the disputed status of the Abyei area, strengthening mechanisms to resolve other contested and claimed border areas.

Kiir’s second visit to Sudan since the independence of his country is seen as another sign of a thaw in relations between Khartoum and Juba.

Sudan this week said it pushed back a date to stop the flow of South Sudanese oil until 6 September, alluding to positive steps taken to stop Juba alleged support for the Sudanese rebel groups.

South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, also confirmed the visit, explaining it demonstrates the commitment of his government to establish and promote strong relations with Sudan.

"I believe that the planned visit makes it clear that the government of the Republic of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit wants not just a strong, normal, but special relationship with Sudan. It also demonstrates our commitment to fully implement the cooperation agreement", Marial told on Thursday.

Marial, who previously served as South Sudan’s information minister, is among few ministers who survived the recent overhaul of the cabinet.

He said his ministry’s objective was to win back trust and set a good precedent between the countries, arguing there was a need for the leadership of the two nations to work together.

"We need to support the two leaders resolve issues of contention amicably, through the use of such mechanisms", Marial said in reference to the summit planned to take place in Khartoum.

He said history and the common border could provide mutual bonds between the countries and to lay a strong groundwork for lasting bilateral cooperation.

"When I came to the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, the first thing I asked was cooperation in the ministry so that it could allow us, whether small or big official to promote friendly relations as a priority with Sudan", he explained.

SPLM SG Amum takes South Sudan’s Kiir to court over "violations of constitution"

August 8, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan Secretary General of ruling party, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum has filed a petition in the Supreme Court of the Republic of South Sudan against the president and chairperson of the SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit, accusing him of violating the party’s charter and transitional constitution on his rights and freedoms of movement, speech and expression.

Amum who submitted the petition to the supreme court on Wednesday equally took the SPLM party to court for not advising the chairperson against the violations.

On 23 July, Kiir issued a party order suspending Amum whom he accused of insubordination and incitement, among others, when the latter criticized the president’s action of suspending two national ministers, Deng Alor Kuol and Kosti Manibe Ngai.

Kiir formed a committee to investigate Amum, which he rejected, challenging Kiir to use the party structures.

He also issued another party order banning Amum from travelling outside Juba and not to speak to any media.

17 lawyers have signed the petition against the president in defence of the secretary general.

In the petition in which Kiir is referred to as 1st respondent while the SPLM is referred to as 2nd respondent, it accuses the two respondents for infringing on the personal liberties of the party SG.

“The first and the 2ndrespondents are jointly sued for their violation, infringement and contravention of the petitioner’s rights of personal liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of movement under articles 12, 24 and 27 respectively, of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011”, partly reads the petition.

It said the party failed to advise the first respondent to comply with the SPLM constitution which does not provide for restriction of rights and freedoms and to observe those rights as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011.

“The acts and/or omissions of the Respondents to prohibit the petitioner from making any press conference or media, travel outside Juba violates the fundamental right of the petitioner captured in Article 9 (2) and (3), 12, 24, and 27 of the Constitution of South Sudan 2011,” it said.

Amum demands that the Supreme Court declares the act of the party chairman prohibiting him from enjoying his fundamental right and freedom of expression as unconstitutional and a violation of article 24 (1) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan.

The petition also called on the SPLM to form a committee in accordance with the party’s constitution 2008.

“A declaration that the SPLM’s Constitution has no force of law, and contravention of those provisions of the SPLM constitution and regulations does not create any offence except when the alleged act contravenes provisions of any law in force within the Republic of South Sudan”, it said.

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