Sudan protesters accept Ethiopia proposal for political transition

Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of Sudan's military council and head of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), greets his supporters as he arrives at a meeting in Aprag village, 60 kilometers away from Khartoum, Sudan, on June 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas)
Updated 23 June 2019
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Sudan protesters accept Ethiopia proposal for political transition

  • The ruling military council has yet to give its decision on the Ethiopian proposal
  • Ethiopia has stepped up its efforts to resolve the political crisis in Sudan since the deadly June 3 dispersal of a protest camp

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protest leaders on Saturday said they accepted the creation of a civilian-majority governing body for a political transition in Sudan as proposed by an Ethiopian envoy.
The compromise blueprint suggests the creation of a 15-member governing body that would install a civilian administration — comprising eight civilians and seven members of the military, they said.
The ruling military council has yet to give its decision on the Ethiopian proposal.
“We think that our acceptance of the proposal is a major leap toward meeting the goals of the revolution, which are freedom, peace and justice,” protest leader Babiker Faisal told reporters in a brief statement.
“It will put the country on the right track to create the transitional period that would usher in sustainable democracy.”
Of the eight civilians, seven will be from the umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change, another protest leader Amjad Farid had told AFP earlier on Saturday.
Ethiopia has stepped up its efforts to resolve the political crisis in Sudan since the deadly June 3 dispersal of a long-running protest camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum.
Sudan has been wracked by tensions between protest leaders and generals, who seized power after ousting president Omar Bashir in April, and the situation was exacerbated after the crackdown that killed dozens and wounded hundreds.
The crackdown carried out by men in military uniforms came after talks between protest leaders and the generals failed to reach an agreement on the composition of a new ruling body and who should lead it — a civilian or soldier.
Days after the crackdown, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led the mediation between the two sides.
In previous talks before the June 3 crackdown, protest leaders and the generals had agreed on a three-year transition period and to form a 300-member parliament, with two-third lawmakers from the protest movement.
At least 128 people have been killed in the crackdown, the majority of them on that day, doctors linked to the protest movement say.
The health ministry put the June 3 death toll at 61 nationwide.
The generals deny they ordered the army HQ protest broken up, insisting they authorized only a limited operation to clear drug dealers from around the camp.
It expressed “regret” over the “excesses” that happened on June 3.


Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

Updated 1 min 29 sec ago
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Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has been hailed by tourism chiefs for staging his son’s lavish wedding reception on home turf.
The influential Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon saluted Saab “for holding the wedding party of his son, Elie Jr., and the Lebanese bride, Christina Mourad, in Lebanon instead of abroad, as do tens of Lebanese leaders and lords.
“Holding wedding parties abroad has deprived the tourism sector as well as other sectors in Lebanon of important revenues that can revive the national economy,” the syndicate said.
The nonprofit body that represents restaurateurs, added that the glittering event had “turned the country into a huge wedding attended by more than 3,000 guests from inside and outside Lebanon.
“People shared their joy on social media, communicating Lebanon’s image of civilization and tourism to the world. This wedding filled Lebanese hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and stirred the economic cycle for more than 10 days before and after the wedding. We salute the man who loves peace and Lebanon a thousand times.”
Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon (ATTAL), told Arab News: “The syndicate’s stance comes in response to a phenomenon that emerged a few years ago. Distinguished people have been holding lavish weddings for their children abroad, where they spend millions of dollars. This has not only been done by politicians, but also businessmen and senior employees, as if it has become a trend or an added value.”
The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels. “We have outstanding wedding planners who get employed to plan weddings abroad,” he added.
Abboud pointed out that the tourist season in Lebanon this year had so far been promising with the number of visitors from GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, up on 2018 figures. He added that the 2019 draft budget approved by Parliament last week had not put “any burdens on the tourism sector.”
Chairman of the Hotel Owners Association in Lebanon, Pierre Al-Ashkar, estimated the cost of wedding parties held by Lebanese people abroad to be around $400 million, including hotel accommodation, purchases and transportation, in addition to the expenses of the wedding itself.
He said: “There is no longer a difference between politicians and businessmen who choose to hold their children’s wedding parties abroad. It is true that these weddings are no more than a few hundred, but their expenses are huge and, therefore, deprive Lebanon of this money.”
Al-Ashkar pointed out that the number of tourists choosing Lebanon this summer had risen, highlighting a significant 30 percent increase in the proportion of visitors from Europe.
“However, the number of tourists from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, has not been as we had wished,” he added.
“Maybe this is because these tourists, who have not been visiting Lebanon for five to seven years, now have business in other countries or investments in tourist places outside of Lebanon, especially as some countries now offer incentives to attract tourists carrying certain passports and residence permits.”