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Posts tagged ‘Africa Section’

Roads, trains to link Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia

January 31, 2018

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to establish railways and roads to connect them to each other, Khartoum’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said yesterday.

The presidents of the three countries met on the sidelines of the 28th ordinary AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday where they “agreed to establish railways and roads connecting the three countries,” Ghandour said in a press statement.

They also agreed to establish a joint financial fund to support these projects, he added.

Remarking on the talks regarding Ethiopia’s dam, Ghandour said a joint political, security and technical committee which includes the ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, as well as directors of the security and intelligence services from the three countries will be formed in order to provide technical studies for the heads of the three countries related to filling the dam’s lake and how it will operate in a way that does not affect Egypt and Sudan’s share of Nile water.

The Sudanese minister said that Khartoum and Cairo have also agreed to form a committee of foreign ministers and security and intelligence chiefs who will meet in Cairo during the next two weeks to discuss all outstanding issues.

“The presidents of the two countries stressed that the relationship between Egypt and Sudan is eternal and must be maintained,” he said.

Source: Middle East Monitor.



Egypt’s president submits nominations after rival’s arrest

Thursday 25 January 2018

CAIRO: Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi submitted his nomination documents on Wednesday, a day after a potentially serious challenger in the March vote was arrested by the military.

El-Sisi is virtually certain to win a second four-year term in the March 26-28 vote, as two would-be challengers have withdrawn from the race and another two have been arrested. But his supporters have been actively gathering signatures from voters in an attempt to show he has popular support.

Would-be candidates must secure 25,000 “recommendations” from voters or the support of 20 lawmakers to be eligible to run. El-Sisi already has the support of more than 500 of parliament’s 596 lawmakers. But on Wednesday his official Facebook page posted images of workers unloading boxes of recommendations from a van, each bearing the president’s image and the slogan “Long live Egypt!“

On Tuesday, the military arrested former chief of staff Sami Annan over a slate of serious allegations, all but ending his hopes of running in the election and ensuring that el-Sisi, a former general, will not face off against another member of the country’s powerful military establishment.

Amnesty International said the arrest of Annan amounted to an attack on rights to public participation and freedom of expression.

“It is clear that the Egyptian authorities are hell-bent on arresting and harassing anyone who stands against President el-Sisi,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director. “This is consistent with the Egyptian government’s ongoing efforts to crush dissent and consolidate power by attacking civil society, activists and human rights defenders in the country.”

Annan’s arrest leaves prominent rights lawyer Khaled Ali as the only serious would-be candidate to challenge el-Sisi. But Ali’s candidacy is also at risk because he was convicted in September of making an obscene hand gesture in public. If that ruling is upheld on appeal, he will be ineligible. The next appeal hearing is scheduled for March 7, less than three weeks before the vote.

Two other presidential hopefuls have withdrawn.

Former prime minister and air force Gen. Ahmed Shafiq, who finished a close second in Egypt’s first free election in 2012, said he did not think he was the “ideal” man to lead the nation after days of harsh criticism by pro-el-Sisi media.

Another would-be candidate was former lawmaker Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the nephew of the Egyptian leader who was assassinated in 1981. He said the country’s political “climate” was not conducive to campaigning and because he feared for the safety of his supporters.

Another hopeful, Army Col. Ahmed Konsowa, was court martialed and sentenced to six years in prison for breaching military regulations prohibiting political activism.

In his first public comments since Annan’s arrest, el-Sisi on Wednesday reiterated vague warnings that Egypt is the target of a foreign conspiracy.

“The evil people are still trying to achieve their goal and all eyes are on Egypt, but no one will hurt Egypt,” he said at a ceremony marking Police Day.

“We are talking construction, building and development. We don’t want anyone to lead us astray with rhetoric that we don’t need,” he said, in what may have been a reference to Annan’s video message announcing he would run.

In the video, Annan spoke of deteriorating living standards and what he called the “erosion” of the state’s capabilities, which he blamed it on the military’s growing involvement in the economy and politics. “Wise” policies were needed to bring in the civilian sector, but that required respect for the constitution and guarantees of freedoms, added Annan.

He also took the unusual step of appealing to the military and state institutions to remain neutral in the election, saying they should not be biased in favor of el-Sisi.

El-Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Muhammad Mursi, whose year in power proved divisive. The government has since waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, silencing nearly all its critics.

Except for Mursi and interim president Adly Mansour, who succeeded him in 2013, all of Egypt’s presidents since the establishment of the republic in the early 1950s have come from the military, and the security apparatus is believed to wield great power behind the scenes.

Source: Arab News.


Shafiq says will not stand for Egypt president in 2018


CAIRO – Egypt’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq said on Sunday that he will not now be a candidate in this year’s presidential election, reversing a previous pledge to stand.

His decision to step aside is likely to pave the way for the poll to be dominated by incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The National Elections Authority is expected to announce a date for the election on Tuesday.

Shafiq’s decision not to stand came after he was returned to Egypt last month from the United Arab Emirates, where he had lived in exile since 2012.

“I have decided to not run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections,” Shafiq said in a statement posted online.

“I saw that I will not be the best person to lead the country in the coming period.”

Shafiq was appointed premier by former president Hosni Mubarak shortly before he was toppled in 2011. He was seen as a main challenger for Sisi who has not yet officially announced his candidacy but is expected to cruise to a new term.

“His withdrawal from the elections might be leaving the scene void of any strong personality that can challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a political science professor at Cairo University.

– Deported from UAE –

Shafiq announced his plan to stand in a November 29 video from the UAE, saying that it seemed Egypt needed “new blood” to face “many problems in all aspects of life”.

After angering his Emirati hosts by saying in a video first aired by Al-Jazeera that he was being prevented from leaving the country, his aides said he was deported on December 2.

After arriving in Egypt, Shafiq disappeared for around 24 hours before reemerging to tell a talk show host he was reconsidering his bid for the presidency.

On Sunday Shafiq appeared to have dramatically changed his tune on the situation in Egypt.

Being in exile “may have kept me away from carefully following updates in the homeland, of progress and accomplishments,” he said.

Shafiq narrowly lost out on the presidency in 2012 to Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

After the election he was tried in absentia on corruption charges, and was eventually acquitted.

Sisi, a former army chief, was elected president in 2014, a year after leading the military’s ouster of Morsi.

“Shafiq was considered a strong potential candidate to challenge President Sisi as he enjoyed popularity when he ran in the 2012 presidential elections,” Sayyid said.

“Perhaps many people are nostalgic for the days of Hosni Mubarak, who see Shafiq as a continuation of Mubarak’s rule. That’s why it was expected he would attract a large number of voters,” he said.

Other potential candidates may not be able to be muster similar interest, Sayyid added.

– Other candidates –

Such candidates include Khaled Ali, a rights lawyer and presidential candidate in 2012 who challenged the government over Red Sea islands Egypt gave to Saudi Arabia.

In November, Ali announced his intention to stand again in 2018.

However, he had been sentenced in September in absentia to three months in jail on accusations of “offending public decency”, a ruling he appealed.

This was in relation to a photograph, that Ali says was fabricated and that appeared to show him making an obscene gesture while celebrating a court ruling in the case of the islands’ transfer to Saudi Arabia.

Ali said only the committee organizing the election can decide whether that ruling would disqualify him as a candidate.

Another presidential hopeful, military colonel Ahmed Konsowa, was given six years in prison in December by a military court after the previous month announcing his intention to stand.

Konsowa’s lawyer said his client was given the jail sentence for stating political opinions while still in the military, even though Konsowa said he had been trying to resign from the military for more than three years.

Lawyer Asaad Heikal said Konsowa had only followed Sisi’s example in announcing his candidacy. Sisi was in uniform when he did so, before later resigning as defence minister.

Source: Middle East Online.


Sisi orders tighter security for vital facilities in Egypt

December 30, 2017

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered tighter security measures on Friday for vital facilities across the country, Anadolu has reported. The order came just hours after gunmen attacked Mar Mina Church and a shop in southern Cairo, killing at least 10 people, including eight Christians, and wounding a number of others.

Al-Sisi said that he “is following the consequences of the terror attack closely.” Such “desperate” terrorism, he insisted, will never destroy Egyptians’ national unity. An estimated 10-15 per cent of the population in Egypt are Christians.

Hours before the church attack, the Egyptian army announced that six soldiers and three gunmen had been killed in two separate incidents in North Sinai. Another three soldiers were killed in an attack in Beni Suef.

Only last Tuesday, Egypt’s Minister of the Interior raised the security alert to the highest level during the holiday period. Soldiers were deployed in several cities to secure places of worship.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


10-year jail terms for 15 protesters in Egypt

December 29, 2017

An Egyptian court yesterday sentenced 15 persons to ten years in jail each for taking part in protests in late 2013 in the country’s southern province of Minya, a judicial source told the Anadolu Agency.

Fourteen of the defendants were sentenced in absentia and one was present in the court while the verdict was being pronounced.

The verdict may be appealed at a higher court.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of protesting, inciting violence, attempting to wreck public property and membership in an outlawed group, in reference to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The defendants were arrested during a protest in December 2013. Prosecutors referred them to criminal trial in May 2015 and the first trial session was held two months later.

An interim government issued the controversial protest law in November 2013, four months after then-defense chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi led a military coup against the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

In the wake of the coup, the government also banned the Muslim Brotherhood group, accused it of terrorism, and rounded up its members and sympathizers. Thousands have been behind bars in pretrial detention or facing trial for membership in the Brotherhood and over accusations such as “inciting violence” and “membership in a terrorist group”. The Brotherhood has repeatedly denied the accusations and stressed that it adheres to peaceful protests against the coup.

The protest law, which was issued in response to a wave of protests that opposed the coup and called for Morsi’s reinstatement, was described by international watchdog Human Rights Watch as “deeply restrictive” and by Amnesty International as “draconian” and “repressive”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Ambassador: Turkey, Sudan agreements enter into force

January 16, 2018

Turkey’s Ambassador to Khartoum Irfan Neziroglu said yesterday that “the agreements signed between my country and Sudan have entered into force”.

Speaking to the Sudanese Media Center, the Turkish ambassador said as soon as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left Sudan the agreements entered into force.

He stressed that his country “wants to rebuild and revitalize the island of Suakin”.

“We have already begun to do so by reconstructing four buildings on this island, including Al-Shafei Mosque, the customs building and other buildings,” he said.

He condemned statements which criticized Turkey’s role in Sudan saying: “I wonder when the presidents of other countries visit Sudan, why do they not get upset? Why were they upset when the Turkish president came?”

During his visit to Sudan in late December, Erdogan offered to reconstruct the island of Suakin. Egyptian and Gulf media have since said this is a threat to regional security.

The two countries signed 21 cooperation agreements in the fields of economy, tourism, infrastructure, military cooperation, agriculture and others during Erdogan’s visit.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


A Sudan-Turkey alliance promises a new direction for the Muslim world

December 27, 2017

The two-day visit to Khartoum by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir this week, marks a new phase in the relationship between the two countries. It also appears to affirm that a consensus on the Palestinian issue may have been given a new lease of life.

The relationship between the two countries dates back 500 years when the Ottoman Emperor Sultan Selim I and his army — equipped with the latest technology of the day, bayonets of gunpowder — crushed the sword-wielding forces of the 300-year Mamluk dynasty, just outside the Syrian city of Aleppo on 24 August 1516. The victory marked the beginning of the Ottoman conquest of Arab lands and led to a period of Islamic world dominance. Inadvertently, it set the stage for yesterday’s historic meeting between the successor to the Ottomans and the inheritor of the ancient African Nilotic Kush civilization.

Clearly, the two men and nations have taken divergent paths when dealing with international and domestic issues, but today Sudan and Turkey appear to be more ideologically matched than at any time in the recent past, and their alliance may prove to be key in applying a new dimension to the Palestine-Israel crisis. More than one hundred years after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and almost 60 years after the independence of the Republic of Sudan, Erdogan and Al-Bashir shook hands firmly on the tarmac at Khartoum International Airport in the middle of guests and dignitaries eager to be part of the historic event.

Just two weeks-ago, the two men were also together in Istanbul with other heads of state at the extraordinary summit called by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to reject US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Fifty years ago, it was Omar Al-Bashir’s predecessors who presided over the Khartoum Summit convened by the Arab League in response to the crushing defeat of Arab armies at the hands of Israel in the Six-Day War. The 1967 summit passed a resolution proclaiming no to peace with the Zionists, no to recognizing the State of Israel and no to negotiations. Sudan’s official position since then has been in support of the Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative, which proposes normalized relations with Israel in return for the complete withdrawal of occupation forces from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and most of East Jerusalem, along the 1949 Armistice Line, which was the de facto border in 1967.

Much has also changed on the Arab stance with regard to Palestine, but at Sunday’s news conference the message from Erdogan and Al-Bashir was again another series of emphatic “noes” that seems to represent the view of most other countries around the world: No to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; no to the movement of embassies; and no to the effective takeover of Islam’s third holiest shrine, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. Erdogan reflected — understandably with a sense of satisfaction — on last week’s non-binding UN General Assembly vote declaring Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to be null and void; the vote was 128 in favor of the resolution, with 35 abstentions and only 9 countries voting against. The issue, he said, is one which affects humanity, not just Muslims.

Sources have told MEMO that the two leaders share the view that the issue of Jerusalem could result in a closing of the damaging Sunni and Shia divide. The two leaders have good relations with Tehran. MEMO has been informed that they are persuaded by President Hassan Rouhani’s offer of unity on the Palestinian issue and intend to work towards achieving regional and world peace. The two sides understand that having a unified stance with Iran on the Palestine issue would put them on a collision course with the US insistence that Sunni states should view Tehran as an enemy and a threat to Israel’s interests.

Many people regard Erdogan and Al-Bashir with respect for their pro-Palestine rhetoric and believe that they hold the key to galvanizing global support for the cause. Sudan’s Islamic movement controls up to 80 per cent of the government and regards the question of Jerusalem as a “red line”, as do others. Prominent Muslim scholars refer to Erdogan in religious terms as a “reformer”, the likes of which are promised to appear every hundred years according to some Islamic traditions.

For the moment, though, the priorities of Erdogan and Al-Bashir are to boost bilateral trade, help Turkey establish a foothold in Africa and continue to help each other on domestic issues. Erdogan’s arrival at Khartoum Airport was preceded by that of 200 Turkish businessmen who have signed deals expected to boost the value of bilateral trade to over US$ 10 billion in the next ten years. Sudan is seen as a gateway to Africa helping Turkey to increase its diplomatic, military and economic presence across the continent. The strategy seems to be working; in 2005, Turkey had 12 embassies in African states, whereas it now has 39 major diplomatic missions.

For its part, Turkey has supported Sudan politically over the years in the efforts to get US sanctions lifted. The Turkish President and his government praised Sudan’s defense of the state after the attempted coup on 15 July 2016. Under Ankara’s direction, Sudan has closed schools once run by the FETO Gülen movement and helped to secure the arrest of Turkish nationals suspected of financing the movement’s coup attempt.

The two-day visit ended on note of great optimism, not least for the economic future of the two nations. It also sent out signals of strong leadership that will be central to the direction taken by the Palestinian issue and the Muslim world in general.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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