Tag Archive: Lone Nile of Sudan

March 17, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — It was an awkward reminder of the world’s failure to hold to account a president accused of war crimes: A group photo from Egypt’s economic summit over the weekend shows U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry standing just behind Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

Even as the International Criminal Court scolds the U.N. Security Council to make sure a defiant al-Bashir faces trial on charges of orchestrating genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region, the United Nations appears to be easing away from the conflict. Under pressure from al-Bashir, the U.N. opened talks this month with Sudan on a plan for a large peacekeeping mission to leave Darfur.

The Security Council on Tuesday discussed the troubled mission and how its eventual departure will affect a civil war that once drew the world’s outrage. U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the council the security situation has “deteriorated significantly” in the past year.

The idea of a withdrawal alarms observers of the chaos in Darfur, where nearly half a million people were displaced last year, the most in a decade. The U.N. has blamed the spike in violence largely on a new rapid action force backed by Sudan’s government, which has been fighting rebels across the vast region since 2003. More than 300,000 people have been killed overall.

Some suggest that al-Bashir, who is running for re-election this year, is just posturing and doesn’t really want to lose the benefits of a $1.3 billion-a-year peacekeeping mission. But last year he ordered the expulsion of top U.N. officials and the closure of the mission’s human rights office in the capital, Khartoum, and called for an “exit strategy” for the joint U.N.-African Union force, which numbers more than 20,000.

Adding to the tension was the mass rape of more than 220 women in a Darfur village last October by Sudanese army troops. The peacekeeping force, called UNAMID, has been blocked from entering the village after a brief and inconclusive visit shortly after reports of the mass rape emerged.

But Human Rights Watch pieced together details of the attack through more than 100 interviews with local residents, calling it “a new low in the catalog of atrocities in Darfur.” No progress was announced Tuesday on getting access to the village. “As you know, this is something that has gone on far too long,” a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters.

That a single Human Rights Watch researcher could produce a damning report through telephone calls alone, while one of the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping efforts has appeared powerless to act, shows the deep disconnect between the mission and Sudan, said Ryan D’Souza, advocacy officer for the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.

“It’s the worst unkept secret: The mission is failing,” D’Souza said. At the same time, “a withdrawal would send al-Bashir the message that he’d won.” UNAMID has long been criticized for its ineffectiveness in Darfur. It also has become the third-most deadly mission for peacekeepers in U.N. history. At least 215 members have been killed since it was created in 2007.

A new report by the secretary-general says the mission’s downsizing has begun. A total of 770 posts will be gone by April. And UNAMID now has measures to repatriate underperforming members, “in light of several incidents in which military units failed to respond effectively to armed attacks.” Ladsous gave no details.

Sudan’s deputy representative to the U.N. would not say Tuesday how soon Sudan wants the peacekeeping mission out of the country. A fuller exit strategy, based on the new talks among Sudan, the U.N. and the AU, is expected by the end of May.

One Sudanese activist with projects in Darfur, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of safety concerns, said al-Bashir associates the peacekeeping mission with the Security Council’s referral of the Darfur situation to the ICC in 2005. That led to al-Bashir being charged with genocide.

Since then, Sudan’s president has traveled to several countries without being arrested. And the Security Council now faces its sharpest divide since the Cold War. Permanent member Russia can block action on Sudan with a veto, backed by China. Both countries have business interests there.

The activist is upset with al-Bashir’s actions, but also impatient with UNAMID: “The mandate of the mission is just observing. What is the use of observing violations if they don’t interfere?” If that doesn’t change, the activist said, “I think they should leave.”

06 January 2015 Tuesday

Libya’s official government has banned Palestinians, Syrians and Sudanese from entry because their countries are undermining the oil producing nation’s security, the interior minister said.

The government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni runs only a rump state in eastern Libya after a rival group seized Tripoli in the summer, setting ups its own parliament and a government not recognized by world powers.

Thinni’s government would therefore only be able to enforce the ban at the eastern airports of Tobruk and Labraq and the land crossing with Egypt. The country’s crossing to Tunisia and airports in Misrata and Tripoli-Mitiga are out of its control.

“We’ve decided to ban nationals from Sudan, Syria and Palestine after the intelligence services and police established that some Arab countries are involved in undermining Libya’s security and sovereignty,” Thinni’s interior minister, Omar al-Sanki, told Reuters late on Monday.

Thinni’s main military partner, former army general Khalifa Haftar, has repeatedly accused Sudanese, Palestinians and Syrians of having joined Ansar al-Sharia and other groups which are battling pro-government forces in the eastern city of Benghazi.

In September, Thinni said Sudan had attempted to airlift weapons and ammunition to the new Tripoli rulers. Khartoum denied this, saying the weapons were meant for a joint border force under a bilateral agreement.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152358/libya-bans-palestinians-syrians-and-sudanese-from-entry.

04 January 2015 Sunday

Sudan’s parliament on Sunday approved new amendments to the constitution to allow the president to appoint and sack the governors of Sudan’s 18 states.

Before the amendments were approved, state governors used to be directly elected by the public in their respective states.

The opposition Popular Congress Party boycotted the parliament session on Sunday, which opened the door for the members of the ruling National Congress Party, which controls 90 percent of the 450 seats of parliament, to easily pass the amendments.

Mahdi Ibrahim, a leading member of the ruling party, said the new amendments aimed to solve tribal problems in Sudan’s 18 states.

The Sudanese presidency introduced the amendments to parliament for approval in November of last year.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152217/sudan-parliament-approves-constitutional-amendments.

21 December 2014 Sunday

Nationwide elections slated for April 2 will now be held on April 13, the head of Sudan’s elections committee said on Saturday, in a move seen as preventing legal confusion over a constitutional amendment.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir proposed a constitutional change on Nov. 3 to make state governors appointed positions rather than elected ones, but the alteration only becomes legally valid 60 days from that date.

Postponing the election allows for the state governor positions to be removed from the forthcoming poll before the new nomination period starts on Jan. 11.

Mokhtar al-Assam, the elections head, did not mention the constitutional issue in comments to Reuters, but said: “The postponement came for very important reasons that we will announce tomorrow.”

Sudan’s ruling National Congress party last month chose Bashir as its candidate for the presidential vote, making it almost certain that he will extend his rule after 25 years in power.

The opposition Popular Congress party has said it will boycott the election because of what it sees as a restrictive political climate.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/world/151296/sudan-postpones-april-elections-by-11-days.


KHARTOUM – Sudanese opposition parties and rebels meeting in Addis Ababa agreed to form a new alliance Wednesday, one of the groups said, urging the creation of a transitional government in Khartoum.

The agreement is the first to include as wide a range of political parties and armed groups as it does, working together against the 25-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

An alliance of insurgents from the war-torn Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur regions known as the Sudan Revolutionary Front signed the agreement with the opposition Umma Party, a grouping of smaller parties and civil society groups, the SRF said.

“The SRF, Sudanese political forces and civil society organisations signed the Sudan’s Call today in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa,” said Nur al-Daim Mohamed, a spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army-Minnawi.

The document said the groups wanted a “transitional government to manage the interim term” before a new government could be elected.

Unlike previous agreements, it did not call for the overthrow of Bashir.

The document was signed by Umma Party head Sadiq al-Mahdi, Darfur rebel commander Minni Arku Minnawi, and Farouk Abu Issa, head of the opposition grouping.

Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup and won a 2010 election largely boycotted by the opposition. He said last month he would stand for reelection for his National Congress Party in April.

Wednesday’s agreement said the election was a “falsification.”

In January, Bashir announced a national dialogue aimed at ending the conflicts wracking South Kordofan and Blue Nile in southern Sudan and Darfur in the west, as well as tackling the troubled economy.

In 2003 ethnic insurgents in Darfur rebelled against Khartoum’s Arab-dominated government, a conflict that has killed 300,000 and displaced two million, the UN says. The government put the casualty figure at 10,000.

Former rebels from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North in Blue Nile an South Kordofan also took up arms against the government in 2011, complaining of their regions’ neglect.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=69191.

04 December 2014 Thursday

A spectrum of Sudanese political and armed opposition groups put aside differences to sign a unity agreement Wednesday night that they hope will strengthen a group’s hand in talks with the regime in two days.

The government has categorically refused to deal with its armed and unarmed adversaries at the same forum and the opposition has been unable to overcome differences to present a unified front.

The signatories hope it will send a message to the government that it must deal with the opposition as one, although some large parties did not sign the agreement.

“Solving Sudan’s problems… would not be possible without (the opposition) reaching a unified political platform,” said the statement, which suggests the closest coordination between the political and armed groups since the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

The major political groups participating were the Umma party and the National Consensus Forces, an alliance of mostly secular parties.

They were joined by a group representing the armed movements of three war-torn regions: Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and a group representing civil society.

But despite the agreement, the government broadly expects it will not change the status quo and a spokesman said “there would be a price” to pay for cooperating with the rebels.

The government is negotiating with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, and the opposition hopes its hand will be strengthened by the agreement in negotiations set to resume on Friday.

When the south seceded, it took with it both the oil wealth and the biggest counterweight to the ruling coalition in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which now rules South Sudan.

Clashes have been reported for the last several days in Sudan as the SPLM-N negotiations with the government are suspended.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/149861/sudanese-political-and-armed-opposition-agree-to-a-unified-front.

20 June 2014 Friday

Sudanese and Turkish officials on Thursday attended the reopening of several Ottoman-era historical sites in northeastern Sudan’s port city of Suakin after they were renovated by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).

“These buildings are witnesses to the brotherhood and cordial ties inherited by our ancestors, who lived here together hundreds of years ago,” Turkish Ambassador in Khartoum Jamal-al-Eddin Aiden said at a ceremony held to mark the occasion.

“This cordiality and history encouraged several Turkish investors to come here and take the Sudanese nationality; now they live here as in their homeland,” he added.

The $9-million renovation project included a massive facelift for Suakin’s Al-Hanafi Mosque, Al-Shafei Mosque and an old customs building, all of which date to the Ottoman period.

Suakin, one of the oldest seaports in Africa, used to be used by African Muslim on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

The reopening ceremony was also attended by crewmen from the Turkish Maritime Task Group (TMTG) Barbaros, currently on a visit to Sudan.

Aiden lauded TIKA’s efforts to renovate Sudanese historical sites, saying the policy reflected Turkey’s keenness to bolster cultural ties with Sudan.

He also said his embassy was encouraging Turkish investors to launch projects in Sudan’s northeastern Red Sea State.

During the ceremony, TMTG crewmen distributed educational and medical equipment as a gift to city residents. The world-renowned Ottoman band Mehter, meanwhile, gave a performance on the sidelines of the event.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/haber/139267/renovated-ottoman-era-sites-open-in-sudans-suakin.

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

August 12, 2014

A 2,000-year-old cemetery with several underground tombs has been discovered near the Nile River in Sudan.

Archaeologists excavated several of the underground tombs, finding artifacts such as a silver ring, engraved with an image of a god, and a faience box, decorated with large eyes, which a researcher believes protected against the evil eye.

Villagers discovered the cemetery accidentally in 2002 while digging a ditch near the modern-day village of Dangeil, and archaeological excavations have been ongoing since then. The finds were reported recently in a new book.

The cemetery dates back to a time when a kingdom called Kush flourished in Sudan. Based in the ancient city of Meroe (just south of Dangeil) Kush controlled a vast territory; its northern border stretched to Roman-controlled Egypt. At times, it was ruled by a queen.

Although the Kushites built hundreds of pyramids, this particular cemetery contains no structures on the surface; the tombs are underground.

“As of now, we don’t know exactly the size of the cemetery,” Mahmoud Suliman Bashir, an archaeologist with Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), said in an interview with Live Science.

NCAM has been working with the British Museum to excavate the cemetery, and the two organizations recently published an online book, called “Excavations in the Meroitic Cemetery of Dangeil, Sudan” (Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, 2014), describing their findings.

“The funerary tradition of the Kushites demonstrates a widespread belief in life after death. This is why goods and foods usually accompanied the corpse,” Bashir and Julie Anderson, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, wrote in their book. “These items were needed to sustain and provide for the individual in the afterlife.”

Treasures for the afterlife

The team has discovered a wide range of goods meant to aid the deceased in the afterlife, including several large jars that originally contained beer made of sorghum.

In one tomb, they found a silver ring with an image of a horned deity. The ring was conserved and cleaned at the British Museum, and its scholars believe the ring depicts the god Amun, who, in the kingdom of Kush, was often shown with a head that looks like a ram. A temple to Amun dating to the same time period as the cemetery is located in Dangeil.

Ancient officials used rings like this to create seal impressions in pottery, Bashir said, adding that examples made of silver are rare.

The tombs in the cemetery yielded other treasures, including a faience box, decorated with what the ancient Kushites and Egyptians called “udjat” eyes — “a well-known tradition in Egypt,” Bashir said, noting that the Kushites also made use of them. “It had a kind of ritual role to [protect] from the evil eye,” Bashir said.

In the cemetery archaeologists also found an interesting “party tray,” which consists of seven bowls attached together; six of the bowls surround another bowl in the middle. “It’s very unique, and we don’t have any kind of similar object found anywhere else,” Bashir said. “It can be used for food. You can put seven different items in one place.”

An archer’s burial

One tomb yielded arrowheads and the remains of a man wearing a stone ring (also called an archer’s loose) on his thumb. “Thumb rings are well-known objects associated with archery, being used to draw back the bowstring,” Bashir and Anderson wrote in their book.

In Kush, archery played an important role in society, with its kings and queens depicted wearing stone rings on their thumbs, Bashir and Anderson wrote. The Kushite god Apedemak, the lion-headed “god of war,” was also depicted as an archer, Bashir said.

Dangeil is located south of the fifth cataract of the Nile River. Excavations at the cemetery are being carried out by the Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, a collaboration between NCAM and the British Museum.

The work is supported by the Nubian Archaeological Development Organization (Qatar-Sudan).

Source: Live Science.

Link: http://www.livescience.com/47306-nile-river-cemetery-discovered.html.

June 23, 2014

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy was freed Monday by a Khartoum court, and has rejoined her Christian husband with their two young children, her lawyer and state media said.

State news agency SUNA said the Court of Cassation threw out the death sentence against 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim after defense lawyers presented their case. Her lawyer, Eman Abdul-Rahim, told The Associated Press that Ibrahim left prison and was with her husband. Her 18-month-old son, Martin, had been with her in jail, where she gave birth last month to a second child.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Sudan’s penal code forbids Muslims from converting to other religions, a crime punishable by death.

Ibrahim married a Christian man from southern Sudan in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.

The sentence drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it “abhorrent.” The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who had met with the Sudanese Ambassador to discuss Ibrahim’s case, described the release as “a huge first step.” “But the second step is that Ms. Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane heading to the United States,” he added. It’s not clear whether Ibrahim had planned to travel to the United States.

Sudan introduced Islamic Shariah law in the early 1980s under the rule of autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri, contributing to the resumption of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar Bashir, an Islamist who seized power in a 1989 military coup, has said his country will implement Islam more strictly now that the non-Muslim south is gone. A number of Sudanese have been convicted of apostasy in recent years, but they all escaped execution by recanting their new faith.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, praised the decision to free Ibrahim and called on the government to repeal the laws to help demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.”

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed from Washington.


KHARTOUM – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has issued a decree banning political parties from holding meetings without permission from the authorities, the official SUNA news agency reported.

The decree comes just a week after Bashir assured a meeting of party leaders they had freedom to operate in the run-up to a “national dialogue” he has promised to hold to address urgent demands for change in his 25-year regime.

“No political party has the right to hold meetings and conferences inside their areas without first obtaining permission from the relevant authorities,” SUNA late on Monday reported the decree as reading.

At the April 6 meeting in Khartoum, Bashir assured party leaders they were free to conduct activities inside or outside their offices, “according to law”.

A day later, however, the Reform Now party said security agents had prevented it from holding a discussion forum and had detained the leader of its student wing, Emad Al-Dien Hashim.

Reform Now was formed in December by Bashir’s ex-adviser Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani after the ruling National Congress Party ousted him.

Critics have said Bashir’s political dialogue is just a way for the elite to hang on to power without properly addressing the country’s problems.

An alliance of small opposition parties has refused to join the dialogue, which Bashir announced in January, unless the government meets several conditions.

These include declaring a ceasefire with the country’s armed rebels, and abolishing all laws that restrict freedoms.

The Revolutionary Front, which comprises insurgent groups from Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, on Sunday rejected participation in the dialogue, describing it as a “farce”.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=65404.