Western nations call for Sudan ‘transition plan’

The US, UK and Norway said Tuesday that Sudanese authorities must now deliver a “credible plan for political transition.” (AFP)
Updated 11 April 2019
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Western nations call for Sudan ‘transition plan’

  • The three countries also called on the authorities to release all political detainees and stop using violence
  • Sudan has been rocked by protests against Bashir’s rule since December

KHARTOUM: The US, UK and Norway said Tuesday that Sudanese authorities must now deliver a “credible plan for political transition” as anti-government protests rocked Khartoum.
“The time has come for the Sudanese authorities to respond to these popular demands in a serious and credible way,” the embassies of the three Western countries said in a joint statement in Khartoum.
“The Sudanese authorities must now respond and deliver a credible plan for this political transition,” it added as thousands of protesters massed outside the army headquarters in the capital demanding an end to President Omar Al-Bashir’s iron-fisted rule of three decades.
The three countries also called on the authorities to release all political detainees and stop using violence against “peaceful protesters.”
The protests “continue to grow and the demand for political change from the courageous and resilient people of Sudan is becoming ever clearer and more powerful,” the statement said.
“The Sudanese people are demanding a transition to a political system that is inclusive and has greater legitimacy.”
The three countries vowed to support such a political process to help resolve the economic challenges facing the country.
“This is a pivotal moment for the future of Sudan,” the statement said.
“The decisions the Sudanese authorities take now, in an inclusive dialogue, will have a dramatic impact on the lives of 40 million Sudanese people and the stability of the region.”
Sudan has been rocked by protests against Bashir’s rule since December, with angry crowds demanding the veteran leader step down.
They accuse his government of mismanaging the economy that has led to soaring food prices, and regular shortage of fuel and foreign currency.


Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

Updated 12 sec ago
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Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

  • Hazza Al-Mansoori 'living a dream' as he and backup astronaut train for space mission in September
  • Soyuz-MS 15 launch could be the beginning of a bold new era of Arab exploration of space

DUBAI: More than 30 years after an Arab first journeyed into space, an  Emirati is preparing to become the latest Arab space traveler when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) in September.

For months, Hazza Al-Mansoori and backup pilot Sultan Al-Neyadi have been undergoing intensive training in Russia, Germany and the US to prepare for the mission. The first Emirati to travel into space will make the historic journey on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.

During the eight-day mission, he will conduct a tour of the ISS for Arabic viewers on Earth and carry out 15 experiments for the Science in Space schools competition conducted by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

The crew, who will include an American and a Russian, are allowed to take up to 1 kg of personal items with them on the mission.

“I will take my family photo and share the experience of being in space with them,” Al-Mansoori said. There will also be an image of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father, meeting American astronauts in 1976.

“I am also going to take an Emirati flag. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.”

‘I will take an Emirati flag into space. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.’

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori

Al-Mansoori will join an elite space club comprising Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman and Syria’s Muhammed Faris. Prince Sultan became the first Arab to travel to space as part of space shuttle Discovery’s crew in 1985. Faris was a crew member of USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987.

The Emirati astronaut is aware that history is resting on his shoulders. Speaking to the media recently during his training program in Houston, Al-Mansoori  said it is a huge personal honor to be the first Emirati chosen for space exploration.

“I’m excited about the whole mission, but especially to experience the microgravity and be living in the ISS, and conducting daily experiments and working with the amazing group on board,” he said.

Al-Mansoori and Al-Neyadi have been undergoing rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program includes familiarization with NASA equipment on board the space station, and handling emergency situations, such as ammonia gas leaks and depressurization.

The Emiratis have been trained to fend for themselves if the return goes off course and they land in the wilderness of Russia.

Speaking of the Soyuz-MS 15 mission, Yousuf Al-Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, said: “We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Program achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country’s position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy.”

The September launch could prove to be the beginning of a bold new era for Arabs and space. Al-Neyadi, the backup pilot, has been promised a seat on a future mission, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up ambitious plans for the development of the region’s space industry.