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May 2014 - Posts

Sudanese Islamist groups denounce results of Egypt’s presidential elections

May 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Several Sudanese Islamist groups have organized an oratorical festival on Friday to denounce the victory of Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in the presidential elections conducted this week.

The event was organized by the Peoples Advocacy Organization (PAO) and other Islamic groups including Sudan’s Islamic Movement (IM), Islamic Constitution Front (ICF), Muslim Brotherhood, Association of Islamic Scholars and Preachers (AISP), Ansar Charity Association (ACA), and Tigani sufi order.

Preliminary results on Thursday have shown that al-Sisi is heading for a huge victory. He had gained about 90% of the vote after 2,000 of 12,000 polling stations reported their results. However, turnout is expected to be lower than 45% despite a massive push to get more people to polling stations.

Judicial sources said that al-Sisi gained 93.3% following extension of the voting period to a third day.

Al-Sis’s only contender Hamdeen Sabahi conceded defeat on Thursday.

The Islamist groups considered what is happening in Egypt as a setback for democracy and a return to dictatorship, asserting that it aims to destroy the country and eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood.

The secretary general of the PAO, Nasser al-Sid Mohamed, said in press statements that Sudanese Islamist groups are standing by the Egyptian people in their “ordeal”, underscoring the whole Islamic world is targeted by one enemy.

The Sudanese foreign minister had revealed in an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published on Thursday that Sudan’s relations with ex-Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s government experienced a serious strain.

"Frankly, our relations have been strained in the era of Morsi more than in the era of former President Hosni Mubarak because many of the issues that we thought that the [2011] revolution will eliminate, the government of Morsi was unable to accomplish," Karti said.

The Sudanese foreign ministry on Friday welcomed results of Egypt’s presidential elections, renewing its full respect for Egyptian people’s choice and expressing hope the established ties between the two countries shall see further development in the coming period.

The foreign ministry spokesperson, Abu Bakr al-Sideeg al-Amin, told the official news agency (SUNA) they hope the completion of the presidential elections and its results represents a step towards achieving political stability and national reconciliation in Egypt.

He expressed hope the coming period witnesses further promotion of the established relations between the two countries and in accordance with the wishes of the two brotherly peoples.

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

Southern Sudan TV Live :: SSTV :: شاهد تلفزيون جنوب السودانSudan TV Live :: SUDAN TV :: شاهد تلفزيون السودان
Death sentence against Sudanese woman over apostasy is unconstitutional, says legal expert

May 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s apostasy law by which a Christian woman was sentenced to death this month contravenes both the 2005 interim constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) the country ratified more than two decades ago, a legal expert argued.

Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir shakes hands with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party in Khartoum on 14 March 2014
   

A Khartoum court sentenced 27-year-old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim to death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to recant her faith and revert to Islam.

The court convicted Ibrahim, who is in custody with her 20-month-old son and her newborn baby, of the charges on May 11th and gave her three days to return to Islam.

The judge also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery as under Sudan’s Islamic Shar’ia law her marriage to a non-Muslim is considered invalid and therefore an adulterous relationship.

The ruling drew widespread condemnation by Western governments and human right groups.

Sudan acceded to the ICCPR of 1966 in March 1986 and entered into force three months later.

Article 18(1) of the covenant states that "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching".

The following section of the same article underscores that "No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice".

Section three states that this freedom "may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others".

Dr. Faisal Abdelrahman Taha, considered a Sudanese authority on international law, said that the government never expressed any reservation to any provision of the ICCPR when it acceded to it or issued any interpretative declaration like some other Arab countries.

"The covenant is binding to its parties and it affords many rights not even endorsed or approved by Islamic Shar’ia law," Taha told (ST) by phone from Abu Dhabi, a situation which poses a dilemma for the Islamist government.

He emphasized that international law does not allow a state to use its national laws or constitution to justify its failure to fulfill its obligations under a convention it ratified.

The former head of International and Comparative Law division at the University of Khartoum (UoK) recalled that Sudan affirmed its adherence to the principle of the freedom of religion in official reports submitted to the Human Rights Committee tasked with monitoring adherence to the ICCPR.

This includes its third periodic report dated June 26 1996 which noted that article 38 of the 2005 constitution states that "every person shall have the right to the freedom of religious creed and worship, and to declare his/her religion or creed and manifest the same, by way of worship, education, practice or performance of rites or ceremonies, subject to requirements of law and public order; no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith, that he/she does not believe in, nor to practice rites or services to which he/she does not voluntarily consent".

In 2007, the Sudanese government addressed concerns raised by the committee regarding incorporation of the covenant in national law by saying that according to Article 27(3) of the 2005 constitution " All rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified by the Republic of the Sudan shall be an integral part of this Bill [of rights]".

Khartoum also noted that article 48 of the law of the land states that "The Bill of Rights shall be upheld, protected and applied by the Constitutional Court and other competent courts".

"If that interpretation presented by the government on article 27(3) holds, then the ICCPR is now part of the constitution and any law that contradicts the covenant such as the one on apostasy can be challenged as unconstitutional," Taha said.

But Taha acknowledged that Khartoum has not always been consistent in its interpretation of the ICCPR application especially when it conflicted with Islamic Shar’ia law.

In 1991 for example, Sudan told the human rights committee in response to a query on apostasy law that this crime is punishable by death and that Islam is not just a religion but a complete set of teachings on private and public life.

The East African nation also argued that people who commit a crime of apostasy pose a threat to society and are comparable to those classified as traitors in other countries.

But paragraph 61 of a report submitted by Sudan to the committee on December 6 1991 declared that "national law states that the covenant has precedence over all national laws".

Taha said he believes that the government or even the courts might resort to Article 5(1) of the constitution as a line of defense against unconstitutionality of apostasy law which states that "nationally enacted legislation….shall have as its sources of legislation Islamic Shar’ia and the consensus of the people".

"This article, however is directed at the legislator or parliament when drafting a law. Nonetheless, the judge may rule that apostasy law emanates from Islamic Shar’ia law and therefore it is constitutional in accordance with article 5(1) of the constitution," he said.

"If that occurs, then this means that Sudan violated its obligations under the ICCPR and the government cannot invoke its internal laws as a justification for not performing an international obligation," Taha said.

He pointed out that article 2(2) of the ICCPR obligates state parties to "to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant".

Sudanese officials have hinted that courts will not uphold the death sentence and its foreign minister Ali Karti said that this case inflicted a damage internationally to the country’s image.

"Sudan is committed to all human rights and freedom of faith granted in Sudan by the constitution and law," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu-Bakr Al-Sideeg told Reuters. He added that his ministry trusted the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

There have been no known executions for apostasy since the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Code was enacted, although many have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned after recanting their faith.

Southern Sudan TV Live :: SSTV :: شاهد تلفزيون جنوب السودانSudan TV Live :: SUDAN TV :: شاهد تلفزيون السودان
Juba in talks with Khartoum over woman’s death sentence

May 30, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan said it was in talks with the government of neigbouring Sudan over the possibility to reversing a judicial ruling, which sentenced to death a Sudanese-born Christian woman married a South Sudanese national.

Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir shakes hands with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party in Khartoum on 14 March 2014
   

Charles Manyang, the foreign affairs ministry’s undersecretary said the government had approached Khartoum and that they expressed readiness to examine case, which saw 27-year old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim sentenced to death for marrying Daniel Wani.

“You know our relations with the government of Sudan have improved and now approach each other with respect and desire to share and discuss issues of mutual benefits and concerns. The case in point is that recently, through our embassy in Khartoum, we were able to approach Sudanese government over the decision of the court which sentenced a woman married to our one of citizens. And the response we got was positive", Manyang told on Thursday.

"The authorities have expressed readiness to examine the case and see how it could be handled with mutual respect" he added.

The 27-year old woman was convicted of apostasy and adultery on 11 May, with a Khartoum court sentencing her to death by hanging at a later hearing on 15 May after she refused to recant her faith and return to Islam. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for committing adultery as her 2012 marriage to Wani has been considered invalid under Sudan’s Islamic Sharia laws.

Ibrahim, who was raised in Eastern Sudan’s Gedarif state, was born to an Ethiopian Christian mother and a Sudanese Muslim father, who was largely absent from her childhood. She was arrested in 2013 after a relative reported her to authorities for adultery, with an additional charge of apostasy, brought against her in February after she asserted that she was not a Muslim.

The sentence has sparked international condemnation, with United State senators urging secretary of state John Kerry to personally intervene on Ibrahim’s behalf and offer her political asylum.

The UK government, meanwhile, has labelled the sentence “barbaric”, while United Nations human rights experts described the conviction as “outrageous”, saying the right to marry and start a family was a fundamental human right.

But while the Sudanese population is predominantly Muslim, there is a Christian minority, particularly in its southern region.

Southern Sudan TV Live :: SSTV :: شاهد تلفزيون جنوب السودانSudan TV Live :: SUDAN TV :: شاهد تلفزيون السودان
Sudan rejected Iranian offers for building air defense system on Red Sea coast: FM

May 29, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti disclosed that his government turned down several offers by Iran by which it would have installed air defense systems on the Red Sea coast.

In an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper published on Thursday, the minister said that this military platform "was intended to be directed against Saudi Arabia".

Karti reiterated that Khartoum has no special ties with Tehran and only an insignificant level of military cooperation.

"This is not true, our relationship with Iran is very normal and below the level [you would expect] between two Muslim nations and especially that Iran stood with Sudan in all international forums and defended it a lot," he empathized.

"But there is a minor need for Sudan in light of the security challenges facing the country , and we have said this over and over that Sudan benefits from its relationship with Iran in a limited way in the field of maintenance of some of the weapons produced by some Sudanese factories," Karti added.

The Sudanese top diplomat said that his government is willing to have this cooperation with Iran to "monitored and observed".

He stressed that there are no Iranian military experts in his country or Iranian weapons crossing from Sudan to any other nation.

In late 2012, Khartoum denied reports that it has approved an Iranian request for building a naval base off the Red Sea.

Since 2012, Port Sudan has become a regular stop for Iranian warships drawing concern by the US and its allies in the Gulf. Khartoum insists that its relations with Iran are based on common interests and not intended to threaten the interests of the Arab Gulf states.

Iran says that In line with international efforts to combat piracy its Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Tehran.

Israel also accuses Sudan of serving as a hub for weapons coming from Iran that are sent to Palestinian militants.

Last March, Israeli navy commandos seized a ship in the Red Sea off the Sudanese coast that was allegedly hiding Syrian-made M-302 surface-to-surface missiles supplied by Iran.

The mostly Sunni Muslim Arab Gulf states are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, fearing the Shiite-led country is seeking regional dominance that will stir sectarian tensions.

Karti further explained that Tehran’s backing of proliferating Shiite faith in Sudan "does not reflect the official will of the country’s government".

The Sudanese official has in the past criticized his government’s move to receive Iranian vessels and said that he recommended against the move.

‘WORST THAN MUBARAK ’

The Sudanese official went on to say that the Arab Gulf states’ view that Khartoum backs the Muslim Brotherhood is untrue.

He revealed that Sudan’s relations with ex-Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s government experienced a serious strain.

"Frankly, our relations have been strained in the era of Morsi more than in the era of former President Hosni Mubarak because many of the issues that we thought that the [2011] revolution will eliminate, the government of Morsi was unable to accomplish," Karti said.

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 before his ouster last year.

This month Karti also acknowledged that there are tensions with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over relations with Iran as well as the presumption that Sudan backs the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A diplomatic fallout occurred between Qatar and other Gulf states, including UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain after they accused Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.

The three Gulf states are believed to be angry at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement whose ideology challenges the principle of conservative dynastic rule long dominant in the Gulf.

A source close to Qatar’s government told Reuters last March that the dispute had more to do with issues in the wider Middle East such as the crises in Egypt and Syria, than about matters affecting fellow Gulf states.

Qatar is one of the main political and economic backers of Sudan’s Islamist government and has hosted Darfur peace talks which resulted in a peace accord signed in 2011 known as the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) between Khartoum and Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) headed by Tijani el-Sissi.

Sudan looking into ways to control Facebook and Whatsapp

May 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) is conducting technical studies on social networking sites, particularly Facebook and Whatsapp, in a bid to find ways to control their use in the country.

NTC has complained in the past that these sites are creating negative as a result of indecent material on it that runs against the customs and traditions of the Sudanese society.

But many observers believe that this is an attempt to prevent leak of information on government corruption relating to senior figures.

The minister of communications in a report submitted to parliament last week acknowledged the difficulty of controlling Whatsapp and the security and political problems caused by social networking sites.

There has been reports that the Ministry of Culture and Information in Khartoum state is seeking to block both sites through the use of sophisticated equipments. But the ministry denied any role in blocking internet sites.

Mustafa Abdul-Hafeez, the director of technical management at the NTC, told government-sponsored Sudan Media Center (SMC) website that they are monitoring all material circulated on social networking sites.

He called for optimising the use of technology for the benefit of the citizen and said that many countries are suffering from materials circulating on these sites.

Sudanese presidency refuses to interfere to secure release of Al-Mahdi

May 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese presidency on Sunday has refused to issue directives for the release of the National Umma Party (NUP) leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, declaring that it would not interrupt the legal course.

Sudan’s ruling party approves new cabinet formation
            Bakri Hassan Saleh

It pointed to the need for completing the ongoing investigations with al-Mahdi, underscoring its commitment to national dialogue as a strategic choice.

Al-Mahdi was arrested last week, days after he was called for questioning by state prosecutors over statements he made accusing the Sudan’s paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur and Kordofan regions.

The Sudanese First Vice President, Bakri Hassan Salih, met on Sunday with leaders of the opposition parties that are taking part in the national dialogue following their call for the immediate intervention of the presidency to release al-Mahdi in order to create an environment conducive for dialogue.

The leaders of the six political forces also called for removing restrictions on public freedoms, saying it is impossible to start the dialogue before releasing the NUP chief.

According to a press statement issued by the presidency, Salih promised to consider the opposition’s request to meet with al-Mahdi in accordance with the law.

The statement pointed that Salih told the opposition leaders that the NUP leader was arrested due to legal procedures and it is necessary to wait until completing the investigation and then considering the next step.

“Institutionalism and commitment to the law are among the most important elements for maintaining and protecting Sudan’s unity”, he added

He underscored the government’s respect and adherence to public freedoms, saying they will not abandon them as long as they are being practiced responsibly and ethically.

Salih also noted that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s initiative for national dialogue reflects the strategic orientation of the government, affirming the need not to criticize the regular forces as they represent the safety valve for the country.

“Maintaining authority and morale of the regular forces are imperative for any successful national dialogue”, he said.

Leaders of the opposition parties said in statements following the meeting that the arrest of al-Mahdi and restrictions on freedoms of expression and press hinder the national dialogue, expressing hope that the government removes those obstacles.

The representative of the Reform Now Party (RNP), Hassan Osman Rizg, told reporters following the meeting that government’s recent actions including arrest of university students and political leaders, suspension of al-Saiha newspaper and threats made by the information minister to suspend more newspapers besides preventing peaceful protests and publication of corruption cases of government officials, have left negative consequences locally and abroad.

He pointed out that those government measures would delay or completely stop the national dialogue, saying it put the opposition parties which agreed to participate in the dialogue in a critical position in the face of the other parties which refused to join the dialogue and enhanced the latter’s claim that the government is only “maneuvering” and not serious about dialogue.

Rizg further said what they brought up in the meeting with the 1st VP does not represent stipulations but observations, adding that he expressed understanding for the opposition stance.

“We agreed to find a solution in order to continue the dialogue in a smooth manner”, he added

He added that the future of the dialogue is contingent upon removing the obstacles, saying the dialogue mechanism will meet within a couple of days to discuss the next steps.

The RNP official said the suspension of the NUP participation in the national dialogue casts negative shadows on the dialogue’s atmosphere.

The secretary general of the Arab Socialist Nasserite Party, Mustafa Mahmoud, said the recent developments have negatively impacted the trust atmosphere, pointing that al-Mahdi’s arrest hinders the national dialogue.

He added that they told Salih that certain groups within the government are standing against the political dialogue, saying the 1st VP promised to take this observation into consideration and remove any obstacles facing the dialogue.

Mahmoud said the ball is now in the court of the presidency, stressing that dialogue can’t move forward in atmosphere of “repression and tyranny”.

Sudanese presidency refuses to interfere to secure release of Al-Mahdi
                January 1, 2014

NUP DETERMINED TO BOYCOTT THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE

Meanwhile, the NUP renewed the call for releasing its leader and ending the “play of the criminal and legal custody”.

It reiterated in statement issued by the party’s supreme committee on Sunday the decision to suspend participation in the national dialogue in protest of al-Mahdi’s arrest.

The statement denied press reports pointing to continuance of its participation in the national dialogue process or existence of dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

“These reports are untrue altogether. The NUP withdrew from the national dialogue. We warn against any attempts to falsify the will of the party and its members who stopped participation in preparatory procedures of the dialogue of the NCP and its accompaniments following the arrest of their leader”, it read.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Al-Mahdi’s party is one of the major opposition parties to agree to join the dialogue process amid major division in the NUP base which started viewing their leader suspiciously believing he is seeking rapprochement with the NCP.

South Sudan rebel leader Machar due to visit Khartoum

May 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition faction, Riek Machar, is expected to arrive in Khartoum within the coming week as part of a tour of East African countries, Sudanese sources have revealed.

Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) greets his South Sudanese counterpart Riek Machar
Riek Machar with Taha (L) at Khartoum ariport on June 30, 2013. (Getty)

The rebel leader has been staying in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, since 9 May where he signed a roadmap peace deal with his rival the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, which shall guide further negotiations between their two delegations on future transitional governance and leadership.

He also held talks with the Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, in which the two leaders discussed the road to peace in South Sudan.

The Sudanese sources revealed that an advance team of the opposition faction was scheduled to arrive in Khartoum over the weekend to arrange for Machar’s arrival.

Machar will meet with officials of the Sudanese government during his visit.

Reacting to the news, South Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, has reportedly said the expected visit by the rebel leader to Khartoum should be coordinated between the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments for the sake of peace and stability in South Sudan.

He pointed out that the two Sudans have good diplomatic relations and the flow of oil through Sudanese territory is evidence of the good ties between the two countries.

Sudanese president Omer AL-Bashir receives South Sudanese voice-president Riek Machar on 30 June 2013
Riek Machar with Sudanese president on 30 June 2013

Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, has confirmed the planned tour to some regional countries by the armed opposition leader, saying the visits are for consultations with the regional leaders on peace and stability in South Sudan.

"Yes, our leadership plans to visit a number of countries in the region for further consultations on the peace process. These are member countries of the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which currently mediates the peace talks in Addis Ababa between us and the regime in Juba," Dak said.

The diplomatic tour by the rebel leader seems to cause anxiety in Juba which has already found difficulty in selling its coup attempt narrative by Machar to the outside world as the cause of the crisis since mid-December last year.

However, the rebel spokesperson said there was no reason for “bad mood” in the visits by the opposition leader.

"I don’t see any reason why such important visits to the IGAD member countries should raise negative emotions in Juba," Dak added.

He said the opposition leader was free to travel to any country in the world he wanted to visit in the interest of the peace process.

The visits, he added, are good for the success of the IGAD sponsored peace talks which aims at ending the 5-month bloody conflict in South Sudan.

The countries to visit beginning in the next few days will include Kenya and Sudan, among others, he said.

The rebel leader’s spokesperson however ruled out any possible visit to Uganda by the opposition leader, saying "Kampala and Juba are partners in war crime against a section of the society in South Sudan."

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Weak turnout at Umma party’s protest against al-Mahdi’s detention

May 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s riot police used tear gas on Friday to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized by the National Umma Party (NUP) in the capital twin city of Omdurman to demand the release of its leader al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi.

Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir shakes hands with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party in Khartoum on 14 March 2014
   National Umma Party June 29, 2013

Regular troops were deployed at several mosques in Khartoum in anticipation of any protests following Friday prayers.

Police forces surrounded the Imam Abdel Rahman Mosque in Wad Nubawi where more than 1,000 people from the Ansar sect – the religious wing of the NUP- gathered to protest al-Mahdi’s arrest.

It also surrounded the NUP’s headquarters in Omdurman where more than 500 of the party members gathered to protest the detention of their leader.

Al-Mahdi was arrested last week, days after he was called for questioning by state prosecutors over statements he made accusing the Sudan’s paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur and Kordofan regions.

He was charged on several counts including undermining the constitutional order and opposing the regime through force. Those charges are punishable by death, life imprisonment and sentences ranging from a few months to several years and confiscation of money.

The demonstration, which was led by the NUP leaders, held banners calling for the immediate release of al-Mahdi and suspension of the dialogue with regime. The protestors shouted “no dialogue with the villains”, “the voice of Al-Mahdi is the voice of the people”, and “we won’t endorse anyone but Al-Mahdi”.

The NUP leaders delivered speeches at their party’s headquarters denouncing the arrest of Al-Mahdi and calling for his release, underscoring the need to suspend participation of the party in the government-led dialogue.

Meanwhile, the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) has agreed with the NUP to dismantle the regime through all means of civil struggle and establish an alternative regime which could achieve comprehensive peace and full democratic transformation.

The NCF and the NUP, in a meeting held on Thursday, announced support for al-Mahdi’s remarks that the Sudanese security apparatus violates the constitution by establishing militias even though its mandate is limited to gathering and analyzing intelligence, demanding investigation on the violations attributed to SRF in Darfur and Kordofan.

The two sides agreed to form a committee of solidarity with al-Mahdi allowing all components of the society and regional and international organizations to join it in order to pressure the government for the release of al-Mahdi.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follow the army.

The NCF disclosed in a press release that they submitted a request to meet al-Mahdi at his prison.

AL-MAHDI’S TRIAL

Meanwhile, Sudan’s information minister and government spokesperson, Ahmed Bilal Osman, announced on Friday that Al-Mahdi will be presented before a court, underscoring that the latter sought to circumvent the national dialogue.

He said on a talk show broadcasted by the state-run Radio Omdurman on Friday that al-Mahdi’s criticism for the RSF was intended to cover internal problems within the NUP.

“Al-Mahdi went out of context when he spoke about the RSF which necessitated filing criminal complaint against him by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS)”, he added

Osman emphasized the RSF is a disciplined regular force which operates under the command of the Sudanese army, saying it achieved many victories and successes.

He pointed out that the role of the RSF is to secure the society and the state.

The information minister further said they wouldn’t suspend the application of the law in order to secure success of the national dialogue.

Southern Sudan TV Live :: SSTV :: شاهد تلفزيون جنوب السودانSudan TV Live :: SUDAN TV :: شاهد تلفزيون السودان
Sudanese presidency warns media against crossing “red line”

May 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese presidency on Monday delivered a firm warning to media outlets on its coverage of certain items that poses a danger to national security and the country as a whole.

The unusual statement carrying a veiled threat noted that "some of the media and press outlets are repeatedly dealing with national security, military affairs and justice issues in a negative and destructive manner that subjects the safety of the nation to harm and weakens its cohesion and crumbles its texture".

"This is considered a breach of the red line that is held by all keen and responsible countries to prevent negligence and breaches of security, safety and national immunity," the presidency statement reads.

"They also handled in a negative and exaggerative [way] people and individuals who are being tried in the media without verifying via documents or evidence which is considered defamatory and an incorrect preemption causing effects that press and media must refrain from its events".

"Therefore, the presidency and with a definite interest to preserve the security of the homeland and the cohesion of its armed and regular forces and the prestige of the judicial organs and the protection of the rights of society members from being taken by suspicions and so that nation is not exposed to any damage or demolition of the entity and so that the state proceeds in the legal and constitutional path that was endorsed by competent legal experts, the presidency announces its warning as mentioned above and affirms at the same time that all legal and constitutional avenues are afforded away from media coverage".

The statement did not detail the consequences the media might face if it breaches the directive nor specifically outline the subjects that it should avoid.

In 2012, president Omer Hassan al-Bashir blasted newspapers which he said have endangered national security and insulted the army in what they published. He also defended suspension of newspapers and other measures taken against them.

“We are now fighting and we have an army battling. Any [negative] comments on the spirits of the armed forces or attacking the armed forces or endangering national security; no state accepts prejudice to its national security,” Bashir told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV in an interview.

Last week, the head of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi was arrested by Sudanese security and charged on several counts including undermining the constitutional order and opposing the regime through force.

According to Sudan’s penal code, al-Mahdi could face the death sentence or life in prison if convicted.

Al-Mahdi was questioned before state security prosecutors last Thursday regarding remarks he made accusing the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing serious abuses in conflict zones in Darfur and Kordofan including rape as well as looting and burning villages.

This was in response to a criminal complaint filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follows the army.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas himself accused these forces of carrying attacks on communities, particularly in South Darfur.

In a briefing before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last month, he said that a number of villages have been looted, destroyed and their populations displaced.

Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations also gave an example of a joint attack by the Sudanese army last February on an area known as Um-Gunya, located some 50 kilometers southeast of South Darfur capital city of Nyala.

Ladsous said that, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between 40,000 and 50,000 civilians were forced to flee the area.

These forces were blamed in February by North Kordofan government of looting commercial markets and killing a merchant in the capital town El-Obeid leading to massive protests across the city.

The state governor Ahmed Haroun, announced at the time that his government made the necessary arrangements to drive them out from the state within 72 hours.

CONDEMNATION FOR MAHDI’S ARREST

Today, the political parties that have agreed to participate in the national dialogue called for earlier this year by president Bashir met today to discuss the arrest of al-Mahdi and its impact on the political process.

A statement issued by the parties, including the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and Reform Now Party (RNP) said that their meeting reviewed the dangerous and negative development in the dialogue environment by arresting and directing criminal proceedings against al-Mahdi whom they described as one of the basic components of the national dialogue.

The participants expressed rejection and displeasure at the "abusive" move that was conducted in a way that confirms that the government has backtracked on its commitment to freedoms and creating a climate for dialogue.

They called for his immediate release and dismissing the charges but fell short of announcing a boycott of the dialogue similar to the NUP decision in the wake of al-Mahdi’s arrest.

Last January, the Sudanese president called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.

Last month, Bashir also instructed authorities in the states and localities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters without restrictions except those dictated by the law.

The Sudanese president also pledged to enhance press freedom so that it can play its role in the success of the national dialogue unconditionally as long they abide by the norms of the profession.

Political detainees who have not been found to be involved in criminal acts will be released, Bashir added.

But al-Mahdi’s arrest and the statement issued by presidency today casts doubts over how far the national dialogue process can go.

It also brings to light the powerful role played by the NISS which in many instances appear to override the government’s stated policy or even promises made by the president.

In April, the RNP which is chaired by a leading dissident from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani, announced that the NISS prevented the party from holding a seminar at the Omdurman Ahlia University (OAU) despite obtaining prior permission and in spite of Bashir’s directives.

The NCP blamed al-Mahdi for his arrest stressing that measures taken at him are purely judicial and not political or security related.

The former prime Minister also came under fire from Sudanese lawmakers who said his remarks on RSF amount to treason and backstabbing the nation.

This did not prevent officials including leading NCP figure Mustafa Osman Ismail from describing al-Mahdi’s arrest as "regrettable", according to local media.

Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that al-Mahdi’s detention reflects a power play by elements of the state security service who "don’t care" about the impact on the dialogue.

"The political system in Sudan is the rule of the military and the security," Gizouli told AFP.

"Whatever changes happen in Khartoum, the first victims of such change would be the security establishment," he said.

An opposition politician, who asked AFP not to be identified, also referred to purported divisions in the NCP and said: "By arresting Sadiq, that would be a very good way of stopping the dialogue."

There are also suggestions that the PCP leader al-Turabi would not want to share power with al-Mahdi if the dialogue produced a new government, and that Mahdi himself could benefit from "a revival of his image" by being arrested, the politician said.

On its Monday edition, the pan-Arab al-Quds al-Arabi London-based newspaper said in its editorial titled "Sudan - repression in the north and blockage in the south" that observers believe that the NISS thinks it’s the strongest element in the government.

The newspaper, which has generally been supportive of Khartoum in the past, said that the security apparatus had no problem embarrassing the president and undermining his initiative.

"But Bashir’s regime, which succeeded in suppressing the Sudanese Spring with iron and fire, owes its existence to these agencies and cannot impose the rule of law on them which he was the first to violate".

"A weak president, a divided ruling party, fragmented opposition and people left to be the victim of a merciless security," the editorial said.

Yesterday, the NISS director Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula ordered three RSF brigades to deploy around the capital Khartoum and remain in a 100% state of readiness.

The Khartoum state police force on its end also announced that its forces elevated their degree of readiness to 100%.

No explanation was given for these decisions.

AU EXPRESSES CONCERN

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, issued a statement on Monday expressing "serious concern over the recent developments in Sudan as these have the potential of negatively impacting on the national dialogue process".

"The Chairperson of the Commission underscores the importance of the national dialogue process for the future of Sudan, and appeals to all the parties concerned to desist from any actions that could undermine its smooth conduct. In this regard, she wishes to express The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the AU’s continued commitment to assist Sudan, through the AUHIP, in its pursuit of a new political dispensation".

She recall her statement of 7 April 2014, through which she commended Sudan for commencing preparations on the comprehensive and holistic national dialogue amongst the Sudanese stakeholders.

The chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki told reporters yesterday that he brought up the issue of al-Mahdi’s arrest during his meeting with Sudan’s 1st VP Bakri Hassan Saleh.

American Rushes to Sudan to Save Pregnant Wife From Hanging

May 20, 2014 MANCHESTER, N.H. ( ABC News)New Hampshire's senators are trying to help a U.S. citizen from Sudan working to save his pregnant wife, who has been sentenced to death for refusing to recant her Christian faith.

Daniel Wani is in Sudan, trying to save the life of his wife, Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim, who is jailed in the African country along with their 20-month-old son.

Ibrahim, who is eight months pregnant, was sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted of apostasy by a Shariah, or Islamic, court in Khartoum.

"I'm just praying for God. He can do a miracle," Wani's brother, Gabriel, who lives in Manchester, told WMUR-TV. "Everyone is depressed. You don't believe it. It's shock."

Ibrahim, 27, is a Christian, but the court says she is really a Muslim because her father was a Muslim. In Sudan, Muslims who renounce their faith can be sentenced to death.

She was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for adultery - a charge brought because her husband is Christian. Under Shariah law, Muslim women are forbidden to marry outside their faith.

Ibrahim says her father left the family when she was very young and that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother. She was sentenced to death after refusing to renounce her religion.

The court has said she will not be executed until after the birth of her child.

New Hampshire's Sen. Kelly Ayotte and fellow Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to grant Ibrahim political asylum.

"We request your immediate action and full diplomatic engagement to offer Meriam political asylum and to secure her and her son's safe release," the letter said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., called the death sentence an "abhorrent violation of fundamental freedoms and universal rights."

"No man or woman anywhere should be treated as a criminal, much less sentenced to hanging for exercising the basic right of religious choice," she said.

Meanwhile, the British government summoned a senior Sudanese diplomat to express its anger at Ibrahim's death sentence.

Britain's Foreign Office said Monday it had summoned Sudan's charge d'affaires, Bukhari Afandi, and urged him to try to overturn the sentence.

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Verdict not final for Sudanese sentenced to death for her Christianity, official says

May 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – (CNN) -- As outrage grows over a Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christianity, the government defended the verdict, but said it's only preliminary.

A Khartoum court last week convicted Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith.

Ibrahim, who is eight months pregnant, is a Christian, her husband said. But the court considers her a Muslim.

"I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do," said her husband, Daniel Wani. "I'm just praying."

100 lashes

The court also convicted her of adultery and sentenced her to 100 lashes because her marriage to a Christian man is considered void under Sharia law.

Wani is American, Ibrahim's lawyer Mohamed Jar Elnabi told CNN.

The attorney said he'll file an appeal within a few days.

Sudanese parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen said the verdict is not final and is in the hands of the judiciary.

The verdict will go through all the judicial stages to reach the constitutional court, the speaker told Um Derman radio station. His comments were cited Friday by the official Sudanese News Agency.

Ibrahim says she was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left when she was age 6, and she was raised by her mother as a Christian.

The court had warned her to renounce her Christianity by Thursday, but she held firm to her beliefs.

But the parliament speaker said that claims she was raised as non-Muslim are untrue.

She is a Muslim raised in an Islamic environment and her brother, a Muslim, filed the complaint against her, according to Izz Al-Deen.

The complaint alleges she went missing for several years and her family was shocked to find out she married a Christian, according to her lawyer.

However, because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her one too, which would mean her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.

Attempts to contact Sudan's justice minister and foreign affairs minister were unsuccessful.

Pregnant with toddler in prison

Ibrahim's husband is struggling to survive.

He uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on her for all details of his life," said Jar Elnabi, her lawyer.

In addition to her pregnancy, the couple's 20-month-old toddler is with her in prison, and he is getting regular ailments due to lack of hygiene and the presence of bugs, the lawyer said.

She's having a difficult pregnancy, and a request to send her to a private hospital was denied, the lawyer said.

There also is the question of the timing of a potential execution.

In past cases involving pregnant or nursing women, the Sudanese government waited until the mother weaned her child before executing any sentence, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide spokeswoman Kiri Kankhwende.

Worldwide condemnation

Rights groups and foreign embassies worldwide condemned the verdict.

"The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent and should never be even considered," said Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher.

Katherine Perks with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said the verdict goes against Sudan's "own constitution and commitments made under regional and international law."

Foreign embassies in Khartoum, including those of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, urged the government to reverse course.

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Sudan’s NUP suspends participation in national dialogue following al-Mahdi’s arrest

May 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The National Umma Party (NUP) today announced that it has suspended its participation in the national dialogue process and called for mobilization following the arrest of its leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi by Sudanese security.

Al-Mahdi’s personal secretary Mohammed Zaki told reporters that a police force accompanied by personnel in civilian clothes arrested his boss on Saturday night and took him to an unknown location.

The dramatic development comes days after the opposition leader appeared for questioning before state security prosecutors to respond to a criminal complaint filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in light of remarks al-Mahdi made accusing Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing serious abuses in conflict zones in Darfur and Kordofan including rape as well as looting and burning villages.

But al-Mahdi defiantly reiterated his allegations to RSF and noted that his remarks were based on factual information he obtained from sources in the region as well as from records of 220 police complaints filed by the locals in the towns of El-Obeid and Abu-Zabad in North Kordofan state.

The former Prime Minister came under fire from Sudanese lawmakers this week who said his remarks amount to treason and belittling the armed forces.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follow the army.

Earlier today, al-Mahdi lashed out at the NISS before a rally in al-Halaween area of al-Gezira state insisting that he will not back down from these accusations.

He condemned the NISS complaint against him saying "Rather than [us] complaining against them, they rushed to lodge a complaint against us".

The NUP chief noted out that the Sudanese security apparatus violates the constitution by establishing militias even though its mandate is limited to gathering and analyzing intelligence.

He described the NISS as an "ostrich" Mahdi emphasizing that in the past it used to be above criticism but that this is no more the case.

Al-Mahdi said that his party proceeded with what he described as "the quiet revolution" and said the regime has two options only, either face a popular uprising or engage in national dialogue that leads to dismantling it. He underscored that their immediate demands are freedom, justice and peace without which there is no agreement.

"We will not go into the next stage [of national dialogue] without ensuring the provision of the deliverables required…so as not to become a laughing stock," al-Mahdi said.

Al-Ansar sect, the religious arm of the NUP, said in a brief statement that al-Mahdi’s arrest is a provocative step to their supporters across all Sudan.

The newly appointed NUP Secretary General Sara Nugdalla read the decision of the Supreme Coordination Council suspending dialogue with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and calling for mobilization of supporters in all parts of Sudan.

Sati’ al-Haj, one of al-Mahdi’s lawyers, said that an arrest warrant was issued for his client from state security prosecutors over the NISS complaint adding that he was charged with undermining the constitutional order and opposing the regime.

These charges carry the death penalty if indicted, al-Haj said adding that authorities allowed a number of defense lawyers to meet with al-Mahdi at the Kober prison in Khartoum.

Opposition parties issued a joint statement today calling on authorities to immediately release and al-Mahdi, affirming that the move reflects the lack of seriousness on the part of the government regarding national dialogue.

The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group made a similar call in a separate statement.

The Reform Now Party (RNP) headed by former Bashir adviser Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani warned against serious repercussions as a result of al-Mahdi’s arrest that could undermine the dialogue and said those behind it are worried that their interest will be jeopardized if the dialogue succeeded.

The government’s decision to arrest the leader of Sudan’s opposition party will likely inflict heavy cost on the ongoing national dialogue process called for by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir earlier this year.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalising national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last month with the participation of 83 political parties.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Al-Mahdi’s party is one of the major opposition parties to agree to join the dialogue process amid major division in the NUP base which started viewing their leader suspiciously believing he is seeking rapprochement with the NCP.

This month the NUP SG Ibrahim was forced out after al-Mahdi urged the Central Commission to sack him saying he failed to build a consensual secretariat.

But al-Amin lashed out publicly against al-Mahdi telling he is working along with his eldest son Abdel-Rahman towards an alliance with the NCP.

Abdel-Rahman was appointed as Bashir’s assistant in December 2011 causing an outcry within the party.

Despite initially distancing himself from Abdel-Rahman al-Mahdi’s decision to take up a position as president Bashir’s assistant, al-Mahdi later praised his son’s qualifications to fill the role.

Al-Mahdi has been critical in recent years of opposition umbrella movement the National Consensus Forces (NCF), of which his party is a member, publicly questioning their ability to remove the regime.

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Sudan arrests opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, could face death penalty

KHARTOUM Sat May 17, 2014 6:44pm EDT (Reuters) - Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi was arrested on Saturday on charges that could lead to the death penalty, a government official said, a move that could hurt efforts to ease political tensions before elections due next year.

Al-Mahdi, a former prime minister in Sudan's last elected civilian government, is the head of the Umma Party, the most prominent party opposing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who ousted him in 1989.

The public prosecutor had in the past days already opened an investigation into accusations that he insulted state security forces over a surge in violence in the troubled Darfur region.

"I spoke to my grandfather's lawyer and he said charges of halting the constitutional system and inciting hatred against the state were added and their penalties range from life in prison to death," al-Mahdi's granddaughter Mariam told Reuters.

A government official, who declined to be named, confirmed al-Mahdi's arrest and the possible punishment he could face and said the investigations into him would start on Sunday.

In response to the arrest, the Umma party cancelled national dialogue talks called by the president, that were meant to ease tension among Sudan's political parties ahead of parliamentary and presidential polls due next year, especially over the handling of Darfur. No firm date had been set for the talks.

It called on supporters to protest against the detention.

Bashir has been working to shore up his power in the face of an economic crisis since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the once unified nation's oil output; protests against him and the violence in Darfur.

He has remained in office despite the sporadic rebellions, U.S. trade sanctions, the economic crisis, an attempted coup and an indictment from the International Criminal Court on charges of masterminding genocide and other war crimes in Darfur.

PROTEST CALL

Al-Mahdi's personal assistant and office manager, Mohamed Zaki, told Reuters two security officers came to al-Mahdi's office, in his home in Khartoum, at 8:45 p.m. and arrested him without giving any reason.

"The Umma Party has decided to stop the dialogue with the National Congress Party, the ruling party, and asks for the release of Sadiq al-Mahdi," Umma Secretary-General Sarah Naqdallah told reporters at al-Madhi's house.

"By arresting Sadiq al-Mahdi the regime has gone back on all of its promises about dialogue and has returned to square one ... (the Umma Party) calls on all of its grass roots supporters to express rejection of this step in the capital and the provinces in a peaceful fashion."

One analyst said the president's proposal for the national talks may have only been a stalling tactic in the first place.

"May be this step points to the ruling party not being serious about the dialogue and that it was a tactical question only ... How can you arrest the main side with which you want to hold a dialogue?" political analyst Khaled al-Tujani said.

Western diplomats and Sudanese security sources estimate that thousands have been killed in clashes between militias supporting and opposing the government in Darfur since March.

Opposition leaders have accused government forces of attacking civilians in the region. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has also accused Khartoum of obstructing the joint U.N.-African Union peace keeping force, known as UNAMID.

The United States in March said civilians were being "terrorized, displaced, and killed" despite the presence of one of the world's biggest peace keeping missions.

Law and order has collapsed in much of the huge region, where mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, which they accused of discriminating against them.

UNAMID has been deployed since 2007. The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced around 2 million, according to the United Nations.

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Al-Mahdi unapologetic for accusing Sudan’s RSF of human rights violations

May 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (NUP), stood by statements he made this month in which he accused the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing serious abuses in conflict zones such as rape as well as looting and burning villages.

Al-Mahdi appeared today before state security prosecutors to respond to a criminal complaint against him filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in light of these remarks.

The complaint was filed under articles (62) (66) (69) (159) of the 1991 criminal code regarding publication of items which causes grumbling among regular troops, publishing false news, breach of public peace and defamation.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Dozens of al-Mahdi’s supporters gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office since early hours of Thursday morning along with activists, lawyers and opposition politicians. The latter included chairman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) Farouk Abu-Issa and even former NUP Secretary General Ibrahim al-Amin who recently fell out with al-Mahdi and traded public accusations.

The former Prime Minister arrived at the prosecutor’s office amid his supporters’ chants "No more dialogue", "We will not back anyone but al-Sadiq", "With soul and blood we sacrifice ourselves o’ Imam".

Al-Mahdi said in remarks following the questioning that the complaint was brought against him for two possible reasons; One to kill the ongoing national dialogue process and second to silence his voice in order to scare others so that they won’t speak of RSF violations.

He defiantly reiterated his accusations to RSF of violations in Darfur and Kordofan and noted that his remarks were based on factual information he received from sources in the region along with 220 police complaints filed by the locals in the towns of El-Obeid and Abu-Zabad in North Kordofan state.

The opposition leader noted that North Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun broke down in tears when al-Bidairiya tribal chief told him of RSF abuses.

He said the NISS complaint is a violation of the constitution which limits their mandate to the collection and analysis of information only but they are the ones who admitted to managing the RSF.

Al-Mahdi said that his criticism of those forces came late and recalled that the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur criticized RSF in tougher terms in the presence of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir recently during a tribal conference in Um-Jaras in Chad.

He said that the NISS "stupidity" made it put itself in a corner and isolated itself from the people.

Later in the day, al-Mahdi’s office dismissed as fabricated a copy of a handwritten pledge attributed to him stating that he will not criticize the armed forces again or affiliated units and denying remarks made by him against RSF.

Yesterday Sudanese lawmakers devoted most of their session to slam al-Mahdi’s statements with the speaker al-Fatih Izz al-Deen saying that belittling RSF could amount to treason.

Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, former parliament speaker, for his part said that stabbing the armed forces is a stab to the people, demanding that politicians stand with the nation and that there is no room for opposing the army.

Tahir said that these forces are fighting rebels whom he described as having no morals or religion or patriotism.

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Egyptian presidential candidate asserts sovereignty over Halayeb

May 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The main contender in Egypt’s upcoming presidential race asserted that his country has sovereignty over the border triangle region of Halayeb which Sudan also claims.

In an interview with Sky News Arabia broadcasted today, the former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi underscored that Sudan as well as Libya are the "strategic depth" of Egypt when asked about the issue of Halayeb.

"There is no difference that has no solution as Libya and Sudan are strategic depth to Egypt and we are keen on relations with them’," said the candidate who is widely expected to win the elections later this month.

"There is no reason why we cannot reach an understanding with them as dialogue and communication forms the climate and platform for understanding and positive work," El-Sissi said.

He also issued a veiled warning to Sudan over the issue of Halayeb.

"Halayeb is Egyptian and there is no problem at all, unless there is someone who wants to create a problem. We do not incite problems with anybody and I wish no one seeks to create problems with us’’ said al-Sisi who deposed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi from Egypt’s presidency almost a year ago after massive anti-government demonstrations.

Morsi’s ouster privately angered the Islamist government in Khartoum but it nonetheless refrained from making its views on the matter public and insisted that it is an internal matter.

Relations between Cairo and Khartoum took a downward spiral particularly after Sudan announced its strong support of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Egypt fears that the $4.6 billion hydropower plant will diminish its share of the river’s water flows, arguing its historic water rights must be maintained in line with the 1929 and 1959 colonial agreements.

Sudanese officials accuse Egyptian media of seeking to provoke their government against Khartoum in light of this position.

Many Egyptian politicians and observers and have expressed fury over Sudan’s stance with some going as far as calling Khartoum an "ingrate" and "treacherous".

The media in Egypt have suggested that Khartoum is providing refuge and support to fugitive Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figures.

Some commentators have speculated that Khartoum wants to use the dam issue as a bargaining chip to claim back Halayeb which has been under Egyptian control since the 90’s.

The genesis of the disputes over Halayeb dates back to as early as 1958 after Sudan gained independence from being ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt. The wrangle is a result of a discrepancy in the demarcation of political boundaries set by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the ones set earlier by the British in 1902.

Egypt brushed aside Sudan’s repeated calls for referring the dispute to international arbitration.

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