Sudan President Bashir Vows To Bring Peace Amid Protests

President Omar Al-Bashir


President Omar al-Bashir vowed Monday to bring peace in the state of South Kordofan where Sudanese forces are fighting rebels, as protesters planned to hold anti-government rallies in the country’s conflict zones.

Deadly protests triggered by a government decision to raise the price of bread have rocked the east African country for weeks.

The demonstrations have spiralled into nationwide rallies against the government of Bashir, who swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

Officials say 30 people have died in the violence since the protests first erupted on December 19 in the farming town of Atbara, before spreading to Khartoum and other regions.

Rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed.

On Monday, Bashir vowed to work to bring peace in South Kordofan, a region ravaged by a deadly conflict between government forces and rebels since 2011.

“Our top priority is to bring peace to this area,” Bashir, dressed in military uniform, told a crowd of cheering supporters at a televised rally in Kadguli, the capital of South Kordofan.

“We are ready to go to any length to bring peace to this area. We will undertake all efforts that will bring peace to this area.”

In 2011, fighting erupted in the states of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, both bordering South Sudan, eight years after a brutal conflict broke out in the country’s western region of Darfur.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the three conflicts and millions displaced over the years after ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum, accusing it of economic and political marginalisation.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the war in Darfur. He denies the charges.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) leading the protest campaign has called for rallies in the three conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan on Monday.

Rallies have also been called in other states and in camps for internally displaced people “to show our people’s rejection of the dictator”, the SPA said in a statement on Sunday.

For years, anger has been mounting across Sudan over growing economic hardships and deteriorating living conditions.

That ire has now spilt onto the streets, with protesters chanting their main slogan: “freedom, peace, justice!”

Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls to resign.


Sudan Protests ‘Will Not Change Government’ – President


Defiant Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Monday that ongoing protests will not lead to a change in government, as he addressed a rally of cheering supporters in war-torn Darfur.

“Demonstrations will not change the government,” Bashir told crowds of supporters gathered in Niyala, the capital of South Darfur state, where just a day ago police had broken up an anti-government demonstration.


Bashir Forms Panel To Probe Sudan Protest Violence

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir ordered authorities on Tuesday to set up a fact-finding committee to investigate violence during anti-government protests that have rocked the African country, state media reported.

At least 19 people have been killed and hundreds wounded during the protests that erupted in cities, including the capital Khartoum, on December 19 after a government decision to hike the price of bread.

Human rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

“President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the setting up of a fact-finding committee headed by the justice minister to look into the incidents of the past few days,” state news agency SUNA reported quoting a presidential decree.

The government raised the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents).

The ensuing protests quickly evolved into anti-government rallies in Khartoum and several other cities.

In the initial days of the protests, several buildings and offices of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party were torched by protesters.

Riot police have managed to disperse the rallies so far, while security agents have arrested several opposition leaders and activists in a crackdown on suspected organisers.

Sudan is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation despite Washington lifting an economic embargo in October 2017.

The foreign exchange crisis has steadily escalated since Sudan’s partition in 2011, when South Sudan broke away, taking with it the bulk of oil revenues.

Inflation is currently running at 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have hit several cities.


Sudanese President Bashir Dissolves Cabinet, Appoints New PM

President Omar Al-Bashir


President Omar Al-Bashir on Sunday dissolved the Sudanese government and named a new prime minister, Motazz Moussa.

Al-Bashir said the move is aimed at fixing a crisis-hit economy battered in recent months by shortages of bread, fuel and hard currency.

Motazz Moussa replaces Bakri Hassan Saleh, who was appointed in 2017 as the country’s first prime minister since Bashir came to power in 1989.

Moussa had been serving as minister of irrigation and electricity before the government was dissolved.

Saleh, who had been serving as both prime minister and vice president before the shake-up, will stay on in the newly created post of first vice president, while Osman Yusuf Kubur was appointed second vice president.

The announcement came just after Bashir called an emergency meeting of ruling party officials in the presidential palace on the back of growing economic concerns over price rises and shortages.

No other ministerial appointments were announced, but the number of ministries in the new government will be slashed to 21 from 31, a move intended to cut down on spending, National Congress Party Deputy Chairman Faisal Hassan told a news conference.

The ministers of foreign affairs, defence and presidential affairs will remain in their posts when the new government is formed, Hassan said.


South African Government Loses appeal Over Failure To Arrest Bashir

south african2South Africa’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the government against a ruling that the state had made an error in letting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir leave the country despite a court order barring him from doing so.

Bashir, who was in South Africa for an African Union summit last June, was allowed to go even though the court had issued an order banning him from leaving until the end of a hearing on whether he should be detained under a global arrest warrant.

The court said he should have been arrested to face genocide charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) because as an ICC signatory, Pretoria is obliged to implement arrest warrants.

The ICC has issued a warrant for Bashir on charges of masterminding genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. Bashir denies the charges.

The government had asked the court to overturn the ruling, with its lawyers arguing that a gazzette notice granted diplomatic immunity to all delegates at the summit.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the government’s failure to arrest Bashir “was inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Rome Statute…and unlawful”.

A rights group that had demanded the arrest of Bashir argued during the appeal that South Africa could not grant immunity to someone wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“South Africa should not be treated as a safe haven for suspected perpetrators of egregious crimes,” Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, executive director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which took the government to court, said in a statement.

Justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the government was studying the ruling and had not yet decided whether it would challenge it at the constitutional court, the highest court in the land.

The ruling means that Bashir and others facing global arrest warrants for crimes against humanity would be arrested if they set foot in South Africa. In addition, the High Court had said previously that the National Prosecuting Authority should consider whether to take action against the government for letting Bashir leave the country.

In the aftermath of the initial court ruling, the governing African National Congress party said South Africa should withdraw from the ICC, which African states have accused of bias against the continent.

Judges at the ICC have also asked South African authorities to explain why they failed to arrest Bashir.

Bashir threatens again to stop oil exports from South Sudan

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Friday threatened again to stop oil flows across its border with arch-rival South Sudan unless the south stops supporting rebels operating across the shared frontier.

Khartoum said two weeks ago it would close within 60 days two pipelines carrying oil exports from landlocked South Sudan to Port Sudan unless Juba cut ties with Sudanese rebels. The south denies doing so, and accuses Sudan in turn of backing insurgents on its soil.

The two neighbors agreed in March to restart oil flows and end hostilities plaguing them since South Sudan became an independent state in 2011.

“They (South Sudan) only want to implement the oil deal,” Bashir told a congress of his National Congress Party. “As long as these people do not execute all agreements by 100 percent no barrel of oil will be piped to Port Sudan.”

Under the March deal, both sides were meant to boost bilateral trade, improve border security and set up a buffer zone along their disputed boundary to defuse tensions, after coming close to war in April 2012.

But both armies still maintain troops and tanks inside the zone in violation of the deals, the Satellite Sentinel Project, a U.S. activist group, said in a report.

Showing satellite images, the group said South Sudan’s army had still checkpoints or camps in at least nine locations near the southern side of the border. Sudan’s forces had positions in at least five places where tanks or artillery could be seen.

Sudan has said that it will allow the export of oil already piped to Port Sudan, part of which is owned by Asian firms China National Petroleum Corp, India’s ONCG Videsh and Malaysia’s Petronas.

Diplomats doubt Sudan will actually close the pipelines because its economy has been suffering without South Sudan’s pipeline fees. Juba also depends on oil