El-Sisi hosts Sudan’s president as demonstrations continue in Khartoum

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi shakes hands with Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir at Cairo’s airport on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2019

El-Sisi hosts Sudan’s president as demonstrations continue in Khartoum

  • Bashir said his country was being destabilized by unidentified "harmful organizations"
  • Bashir’s trip to neighboring Egypt is his second foreign visit since unrest began on Dec. 19.

CAIRO/KHARTOUM: Unfazed by the growing demonstrations against his rule, embattled Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on Sunday arrived in Cairo where he was hosted by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
A statement released by Egypt’s presidency did not mention the monthlong protests that have rattled Al-Bashir’s rule, only saying that Egypt supported Sudan’s stability.
Bashir said his country was being destabilized by unidentified "harmful organizations" and blamed the media for exaggerating the size of his problems.
“There is a problem (in Sudan), we are not claiming that there is not. But it’s not of the size or extent raised in some media,” Bashir said in Cairo after meeting El-Sisi.
The protests were “an attempt to clone the so-called Arab Spring in Sudan,” he said, referring to similarities between the slogans and use of social media in uprisings that hit the region in 2010-2011.
Angry crowds of Sudanese protesters have been seen in videos posted online chanting “The people want the downfall of the regime,” a signature slogan of the Arab Spring.
Bashir has blamed the country’s economic woes on the United States.
Washington lifted its trade embargo on Sudan in October 2017 after two decades of bruising economic punishment, but that has failed to fix the country’s financial situation.
Bashir’s trip to neighboring Egypt is his second foreign visit since unrest began on Dec. 19. He has also visited Qatar.
“We do not claim there is no problem, but it is not of the size or dimensions that some of the media portray.”
“This is an attempt to copy the Arab Spring in Sudan, these are the same slogans and appeals and the very wide use of social media sites.”
The Sudanese people are alert and will not allow for any intrusion or attempt to destabilize the security of Sudan, he said.”
In Khartoum, authorities tried to disperse a number of sit-ins taking place in public squares in response to an appeal from a professionals’ association that has led calls for protests.
Riot police also fired tear gas at protesters trying to gather in Al-Thawra district of Omdurman, and two other areas in Khartoum, witnesses said.
Security forces fired tear gas cannisters at protesters gathered in at least four of the sit-ins, while in others demonstrators tried to block side streets leading to the main squares with rocks and other materials.
One of the slogans used by Sudanese protesters — “The people want the fall of the regime” — was made famous by uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab states.
Sudanese security forces have deployed tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse protests, as well as arresting hundreds of people
Authorities say at least 30 people have died in the unrest while rights groups and local opposition figures say at least 45 have been killed.
El-Sisi, who has been Egypt’s president since 2014, says he is working to restore stability following the turmoil triggered by the country’s uprising eight years ago, overseeing a widespread crackdown on opposition.
He said Bashir’s visit was “the culmination of the numerous efforts we made in the past year to reinforce bilateral relations.” 


Palestinians say receive Israeli part-payment of overdue taxes

Updated 46 min 10 sec ago

Palestinians say receive Israeli part-payment of overdue taxes

  • On Monday Abbas fired all of his advisers amid a financial crisis in the occupied West Bank
  • Israel in February decided to withhold around $10 million a month

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Authority, in deep financial crisis since Israel froze tax transfers in February, said Thursday it had accepted a partial payment of just over half a billion dollars.
“An agreement was reached a few days ago with the Israeli side for transferring duties on oil and fuel which the Palestinian Authority bought in Israel to the amount of around two billion shekels ($568 million, 512 million euros),” Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh told AFP.
Israel in February decided to withhold around $10 million a month from revenues of some $190 million per month it collects on the PA’s behalf, triggering Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to say he would accept either all or nothing.
The deduction corresponds to what Israel says the PA paid Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, or their families.
Prisoners who have carried out attacks on Israelis are among those receiving the payments, and Israel says the policy encourages further violence.
Abbas accused Israel of blackmail and insisted on the full amount, which accounts for around 65 percent of PA revenues.
The money comes from customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
On Monday Abbas fired all of his advisers amid a financial crisis in the occupied West Bank that has prompted deep salary cuts.
Palestinians view prisoners as fighting against Israel’s occupation and say the tax funds support families that have lost their main breadwinners.
The PA has cut salaries for most of its tens of thousands of employees by half to keep the government afloat.
On top of the tax dispute with Israel, the US has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians via various programs.