In Sudan, Abdalla Hamdok the new prime minister is seeking full support from the IMF, World Bank and donor nations for Sudan’s new government. Hamdok, an economist who has worked at the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, desperately wants to restructure Sudan’s debt. That will be tough for many reasons, including the drop in oil revenue. The proposed solution in a nine month economic rescue plan that will require a $2 billion loan from the World Bank. Hamdok is addressing obvious defects in the economy to do this. For example, some 60 percent of economic activity is tax-exempt, the result of decades of corruption. There are similar fixes for subsidies. Eliminating exemptions is easy, getting the formerly exempt to pay is not. At least Handok knows how to talk the talk, but can he follow through and walk the walk.
Hamdok also wants to push forward on democratization. He must oversee the organization and appointment of the interim national assembly approved by the recent agreement between the FDFC (Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change) and the TMC (Transitional Military Council). These two groups now compose the governing Sovereign Council. If that weren’t confusing enough the FDFC has had several media names, like the FCC (Forces for Freedom and Change.)
Democratization includes addressing injustices. Hamdok has authorized a full investigation and prosecution of security personnel responsible for the June 3 massacre where Rapid Support Force militiamen and secret police murdered an estimated 120 people.
Democratization also mean reaching stable peace agreements with Sudan’s rebels. Slow wars continue in Darfur and South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. These are discrete and complicated conflicts and Hamdok knows it. Many of these groups have deep grievances. Some have complained the power-sharing deal fails to address their needs. Despite a peace agreement fighting persists. JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) and the SLM-MM (Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi) rebels still occasionally clash with government forces. Another Darfur SLM faction, SLM-AW, continues to reject the Bashir government’s peace agreement and says the new peace terms are not adequate and is now cooperating with Sudan’s Communist Party.
But that’s not all. Resolving border issues between Sudan and South Sudan are also high on Hamdok’s agenda. This includes agreeing to a final demarcation of borders and resolving the final status of the disputed oil-producing Abyei region. (Austin Bay)
September 23, 2019: In South Sudan, another batch of senior rebel commanders announced they were changing sides and pledging allegiance to the government. The reason given was the continued fighting with government forces and tribal militias in violation of the November 2018 peace agreement.
September 22, 2019: Sudanese police arrested the former head of the country’s revenue agency and his son. Both were charged with corruption. The son was found with $1 million in cash in his possession.
September 21, 2019: In Sudan, former president al Bashir’s corruption trial continues. Today prosecutors showed the court piles of cash with millions of euros and Sudanese pounds. The prosecutors alleged the cash on display was part of the illicit foreign currency found in Bashir’s possession. A witness for Bashir said possessing cash was not illegal. The prosecution said trading in foreign currency in Sudan is a crime. Also, Bashir acquired the cash illegally, through bribes (for illegal acts) or illicit gifts. On August 31 investigators seized 6.9 million euros, 5.7 million Sudanese pounds (about $125,000) and $541,770 (U.S.) from Bashir's residence.
September 19, 2019: In South Sudan, an anti-corruption NGO (non-government organization) revealed evidence that a “corruption network” in South Sudan links corrupt senior politicians and military officers to corrupt “external actors” in foreign governments, international banks and corporations. Many of the corporations are “shell” or fake companies. The corrupt South Sudanese leaders and their network have stolen several billion dollars’ worth of South Sudan’s natural resources (primarily oil). Some of the money financed militia and military units that were supposed to protect South Sudan’s oil fields. The NGO’s report alleges the China National Petroleum Corporation and Malaysia’s state-owned oil company, using a consortium called Dar Petroleum Operating Company, supported a pro-South Sudan government militia that committed large-scale atrocities – in other words, war crimes. For the record, Dar Petroleum produces around 180,000 barrels of oil a day in Upper Nile state. This is only one of many examples. The report mentions several American, Canadian, British and African firms. The report names South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and members of his family as being involved in the international network. Kiir’s family denies the charges. Many are now demanding the individuals and organizations involved in the theft and war crimes be held accountable.
September 16, 2019: Sudan’s Communist Party and the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Abdul Wahid (SLM/AW) announced they will continue to hold mass demonstrations and conduct civil disobedience activities despite the seating of the transitional government.
September 15, 2019: In Sudan, the latest information revealed in former president Bashir’s trial has diplomats and local rebels saying they suspect future corruption investigations will expose deep corruption throughout the country. Bashir had extensive holdings in Sudan’s gold mining companies. He also has financial interests in many Sudanese export businesses. Rumor intelligence suggests the general commanding the paramilitary RSF (Rapid Support Forces), will eventually be investigated. The RSF is already accused of war crimes during more than a decade of unprovoked black Moslem farmers by the largely Arab RSF.
September 14, 2019: A witness at former president Bashir’s trial testified that an “army-owned” company (which Bashir may have owned) had supplied military equipment to groups in unnamed neighboring countries. The money for the supplies came from Bashir. The implication is Bashir received the cash. His critics suspect he not only took the money from foreign sources by also skimmed some of the funds. Sudan has been accused of supporting rebel groups in South Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt
September 13, 2019: Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to reopen border crossings between the two countries. Sudan’s new prime minister is pushing for more trade as well as permitting free movement. Several key border crossings, however, remain closed, including the disputed Heglig area (South Sudan’s Unity state) and El Kurasana (Sudan’s Western Kordofan state). The Abyei region dispute also remains unresolved.
In Sudan, the SLFA rebels agreed to join the rebel umbrella organization SRF (Sudanese Revolutionary Front). The SRF is preparing to engage in peace talks with the transitional government. Three armed groups formed the SLFA in July 2017: the Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice, Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity and the Justice and Equality Movement (Abdallah Bishr Gali faction).
September 12, 2019: In Sudan, several thousand people protested in the capital, demanding justice for pro-democracy demonstrators killed earlier this year during demonstrations against the Bashir government and the TMC. The protestors also demanded the immediate appointment of new senior jurists.
In South Sudan, a senior commander of the SPLA-IO rebels said the organization is fully committed to supporting the implementation of the peace deal. This commander leads a rebel division that has occupied the Aswa cantonment area, per the peace agreement.
September 11, 2019: In South Sudan, the president and senior rebel leader and formally agreed to form a transitional government by November 12.
In Sudan, members of the ruling Sovereign Council met with the leaders of Sudan’s armed rebel groups to discuss the two months of peace talks that are scheduled to begin October 14. Several groups signed the agreement, including the SPLM-North, which is still nominally at war with the government in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
September 9, 2019: South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the country. He met in the capital with President Salva Kiir to discuss forming a coalition government in November.
In South Sudan, the UN peacekeepers reported that as of September 5, 180,505 civilians are living in six Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites. The POCs are located on peacekeeper bases or adjacent to them. The sites include: 103,424 in Bentiu, 1,994 in Bor, 32,608 in Malakal, 13,042 in an area adjacent to UNMISS base in Wau, and 29,437 in Central Equatoria (Juba) UN House (two PoCs, I and III).
September 8, 2019: In northeastern Sudan (Red Sea state), two local tribes (Beni Amer and Nuba ) signed a reconciliation agreement. In August a tribal clash in Port Sudan left 16 dead.
September 7, 2019: The AU (African Union) lifted its suspension of Sudan’s membership. The freeze was imposed until a new civilian government was installed. The formation of the new prime minister’s cabinet met AU requirements.
September 5, 2019: Sudan’s new prime minister announced his new cabinet members. The three-year transitional power-sharing agreement authorized a cabinet named by the prime minister.
September 4, 2019: When Omar al Bashir seized power in 1989 many streets and public areas in Sudan (particularly the capital Khartoum) were renamed to glorify Bashir’s “revolution.” Now the toppled Bashir is getting that treatment. Pro-democracy protestors are renaming streets. So far at least one park in Khartoum has been renamed.