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National Dialogue Leads to Fundamental Changes in the Sudan
Speaker of the Parliament, Professor Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, announced on Sunday 23rd October, that the Parliament has received the proposed constitutional amendments agreed upon as part of the ‘National Dialogue Process’.
The inclusive Sudanese National Dialogue which was launched on 10th October 2015 in Khartoum is now over. The marathon deliberations to which observers and diplomats were invited culminated in recommendations that will revolutionize most aspects of life in the country.
The Parliament will start deliberating on these amendments very soon as part of the due process to enshrine them in the Constitution. A transitional ‘National Reconciliation Government’ will be formed to cater for the implementation of all the agreed upon recommendations, which cover areas of governance and peace; freedoms and human rights; identity of the country; economic policies and foreign relations.Amongst the proposed constitutional amendments is the creation of a Prime Minister office in the government who deals with executive affairs. While “Sudanism” was emphasized as an all-embracing attribute that signifies the unity of all diverse constituents of the Sudan, it has been agreed that Sudan, as enshrined in 2005 Interim Constitution, is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual country.
The recommendations of the National Dialogue process, contained in the “National Document” which was signed by the participating parties and forces and submitted to the President of the Republic, Omer Al-Bashir on the 10th October 2016, represents the outcome of deep, inclusive and detailed discussions and deliberations spanned over almost a whole year with the participation of 89 political parties and 36 armed movements.
Implementation of the recommendations of the National Dialogue is expected to usher in an era of peace and security in Sudan, and to dramatically alter the whole political landscape.
Khartoum Forum on Role of Media in Combating Terrorism
The status of the Sudan as one of the most stable countries in a turbulent region was consolidated last week with its choice as a venue for the Arab League’s Forum on the Role of Media in Combating Terrorism. The timely event on (18-19 August) was addressed by both the First Vice President, in the opening session, and President Bashir in the closing session. The Arab League was represented by its deputy Secretary General Ahmed Ibn Hilli who addressed the distinguished politicians, scholars ,religious leaders and diplomats from all over the world. Sudanese speakers included Dr Ahmed Bilal Osman(Minister of Information whose Ministry hosted the Forum),Dr Isam Ahmed Al Bashir, Dr Kamal Ubaid, Mr Muawiya Madani and many academics and civil society activists. The closing session adopted The Khartoum Declaration which was, as expected, not widely quoted by mainstream Western media outlets. For them, we should only receive not make or disseminate news.
The choice of Khartoum as a venue is not accidental. The Sudan has a pioneering experience in handling cases of those involved in violence or facing the danger of radicalisation. When arrested (as was the case with some who set up a secret training camp in a remote Wildlife Park) they were faced not with torture but taken to several sessions of debate with moderate clerics and knowledgeable religious scholars who challenged the misleading and distorted narrative of Daesh (ISIS)and similar groups. Invariably,the misguided young radicals acknowledged that there was no basis in Islam for their views.Some went on to offer help to open the eyes of other like- minded colleagues. The choice of Khartoum is also appropriate for the Forum because the Sudan has signed all UN terror-related treaties and conventions. As far as implementation is concerned, the Sudan has -according to the US state Department-cooperated in the war on terror. Closer to home, Khartoum has hosted the African Conference of Intelligence and Security Services twice (in 2007 and 2015).
Furthermore, the Sudan has made a significant contribution to the removal of the roots of grievances that feed hopelessness and violence by accepting, since 2002,The Arab League’s Peace Initiative that calls for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict as a basis for mutual recognition with Israel. Successive Israeli governments have spurned this offer which was welcomed by the US and the international community. Israel persists in a policy of ruthless colonial occupation, land theft ,settlement building and humiliation of Palestinians. The success of this Forum is a landmark because the Sudan has been a victim of a well-oiled and well-financed misinformation media campaign that is still under way. The recommendations of the Forum acquire an extra edge, because they are not mere slogans. They included some of the themes addressed in papers presented by several participants such as revising the school syllabuses to ensure that a message of religious tolerance and understanding is ingrained, retraining of imams and religious community leaders and enlisting them in spreading enlightened interpretations of texts and resorting to debate with those suspected of radicalisation. The recommendations also called for solving relevant background issues like unemployment, standards of living and social justice.They echoed what President Bashir said about double standards in the definition of terrorism and unfair selective designations .It is well-known that the former US special envoy to the Sudan(General-ret-Scott Gration) has said in a testimony for the Foreign Relations Committee (July 2009 ) that there was no US intelligence evidence of Sudan’s involvement in terror sponsorship; yet participants in this Khartoum Forum could not use their credit cards to pay for hotels because the Sudanese Banking System is suffocated by unilateral US sanctions that are devastating the economy and causing extreme suffering. Terror in our region does not flare out of the blue.It is sometimes the outcome of massive political miscalculations like the Iraqi invasion that is partially responsible for the rise of extremist groups including Daesh (IS).Wise voices in the West have warned about half-baked policies. Just before the illegal invasion of Iraq, the British EU External Relations Commissioner, Lord C.Patten asked the EU Parliament “As a general rule, are wars not more likely to recruit terrorists than to deter them?” Time has proved him right.The Forum’s message is different from the short-sighted policies that try to eradicate terror by guns and drones alone..Daesh (ISIS)is an aberration and will be dismantled militarily; but a more nuanced approach is needed to ensure that no ,more extreme group ,will replace it. This is the message of the Khartoum Forum which the mainstream Western media chose to ignore; the way Lord Patten’s words fell on deaf ears.
The Politics of Sudanese Higher Education “ Revisited | By Khalid Al Mubarak
While in Khartoum for the 4th University of Khartoum Higher Education Conference, I asked an employee of Khartoum University Press about former colleagues, then about the trees which I planted (when I was director of KUP). She smiled and said: They are huge and shady now. This was one of several nostalgic moments in which – during my visit – my mind sometimes wandered backwards. Read more…
Sudan Embassy, 3 Cleveland row,
St. James’s, London SW1A 1DD
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60th Anniversary of Independence
On New Year’s Day 1956 the Republic of the Sudan was born. It stood on the foundations of many African kingdoms in Nubia, Darfur, Kordofan, Blue Sultanate and South Sudan.
The declaration of independence came about peacefully when the first elected parliament of 1953 voted unanimously for complete independence from the Anglo-Egyptian colonial administration.
Sixty years on, the Sudan maintains good relations with Britain (which has no sanctions on the Sudan) and Egypt, as well as the Republic of South Sudan which was inaugurated on 9th July 2011 as a result of an overwhelming vote for secession by the people of South Sudan.
This year’s celebrations coincided with a very significant milestone : the Inclusive National Dialogue which started on 10th October last year together with a ceasefire in order to help reach a consensus on the most intractable national issues on the table. Many armed rebel groups were hesitant but have now joined the IND – the latest is the New Justice and Equality Movement (NJEM).
Another positive development was the successful sessions of informal talks in Addis Ababa with the SPLM-N, which is fighting the government in the Blue Nile area and South Kordofan. The talks will be resumed with a hope to reach an agreement that will allow the SPLM to join the Inclusive National Dialogue.
All this shows an all round political will to consolidate peace and stability. The government has already pledged to implement the recommendations of the Inclusive National Dialogue.
Many foreign dignitaries have attended this year’s Independence celebrations. The Sudanese Foreign Minister Professor Ibrahim Ghandour welcomed his counterpart, the South Sudanese Foreign Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin (who arrived as a representative of H.E. President Silva Kiir Myardit). The visit was an opportunity to address many issues, including implementation of the 2012 Cooperation Agreement, commercial exchanges, oil and future relations.
It was declared that South Sudanese pupils in the Sudan, will be exempted from foreign students’ regulations and treated like Sudanese pupils.
The Sudan has celebrated the 60th anniversary of independence in an atmosphere of confidence because it is a relative oasis of stability and peace in the region, welcoming hundreds of thousands of displaced and refugees. It is a country which looks forward to the future with pride, dignity and optimism.
London Media Office
7th January 2016
President Bashir at the AU 27th Summit (Kigali) 10-18 July
Once more, African leaders have confirmed solidarity with the Sudan when President Bashir participated in the AU 27th Summit (Kigali 10-18 July). Read more….