World reacts to the downfall of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan

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Sudanese demonstrators gather in a street in central Khartoum on April 11, 2019, after one of Africa's longest-serving presidents was toppled by the army. (AFP)
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Sudanese demonstrators gather in a street in central Khartoum on April 11, 2019, after one of Africa's longest-serving presidents was toppled by the army. (AFP)
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A Sudanese demonstrator chants slogans as they gather in a street in central Khartoum on April 11, 2019, immediatly after one of Africa's longest-serving presidents was toppled by the army. (AFP)
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Sudanese demonstrators block the vehicle of a military officer as they chant slogans as they protest against the army's announcement that President Omar al-Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019. (Reuters)
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Demonstrators chant slogans along the streets after Sudan's Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained "in a safe place" and that a military council would run the country for a two-year transitional period in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019. (Reuters)
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Sudanese demonstrators gather in a street in central Khartoum on April 11, 2019, immediatly after one of Africa's longest-serving presidents was toppled by the army. (AFP)
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Demonstrators wave their national flags as they drive along the streets of Sudan on April 11, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 11 April 2019

World reacts to the downfall of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for a transition in Sudan that will meet the "democratic aspirations" of the people
  • Egypt said it backed the removal of longtime autocratic ruler Omar Al-Bashir in neighboring Sudan

KHARTOUM: Here are the reactions to the end of Omar Al-Bashir's 30-year rule:
United Nations:
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for a transition in Sudan that will meet the "democratic aspirations" of the people, his spokesman said.
Guterres appealed for "calm and utmost restraint by all" after long-serving president Omar Al-Bashir was ousted by the army.

Egypt:
Egypt said it backed the removal of longtime autocratic ruler Omar Al-Bashir in neighboring Sudan.
In a statement, Egypt's Foreign Ministry expressed support to the "Sudanese people's choice and will."
The statement called on the international community to help Sudan to have a peaceful transition.

United States:

The US said it supported a peaceful and democratic Sudan and believes the Sudanese people should be allowed a peaceful transition sooner than two years from now.
"The Sudanese people should determine who leads them in their future," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said. "The Sudanese people have been clear that they have been demanding a civilian-led transition."
Bahrain:

Bahrain said that it is following the current developments in Sudan with great interest, and hopes that the country will overcome this critical stage. It also said that the country stands with Sudan.  

African Union:
The African Union on Thursday criticised the military coup in Sudan and called for calm and restraint.
"The military take-over is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people," said a statement from Moussa Faki, chairman of the AU Commission.
Britain:
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says two years of potential military rule in Sudan "is not the answer" for "real change" in the country.
Hunt tweeted Thursday that Sudan needs "a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership" and an end to violence.
Turkey:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said he hoped Sudan would return to a "normal democratic process" after an uprising led to the army toppling President Omar Al-Bashir, a close ally of Turkey.
"I hope that Sudan overcomes this affair with fraternity and ease, and I believe the country should work towards a normal democratic process," Erdogan said during a press conference in Ankara with the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Russia:
Russia on Thursday called for calm in Sudan and expressed hope that close bilateral ties would not be threatened, irrespective of who was in power. 
"We are monitoring this situation very carefully," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"And we are hoping that first and foremost there won't be an escalation that could claim human lives," he said, calling the protests an "internal affair".
"We expect that whatever the outcome, Russian-Sudanese relations" will be a priority for Khartoum, Peskov said. 
George Clooney:
Actor and activist George Clooney said Thursday that the fall of Sudan's veteran strongman Omar al-Bashir was not enough and called for the dismantling of the military-led system.
The Hollywood star, who has been arrested protesting against Sudan's campaign in Darfur that the United States described as genocide, called for Bashir to be extradited and prosecuted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
"The people of Sudan have been waiting for this day for a long time, but it is only a tentative first step towards real change," Clooney said in a joint statement with John Prendergast, the human rights campaigner with whom the actor founded The Sentry Project, which researches illicit money and war crimes in Africa.

(With AP, AFP and Reuters)


Egypt’s options dwindle as Nile talks break down

Updated 22 October 2019

Egypt’s options dwindle as Nile talks break down

  • Talks collapsed earlier this month over the construction of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
  • El-Sisi said he would “never” allow Ethiopia to impose a “de facto situation” by filling the dam without an agreement

CAIRO: The latest breakdown in talks with Ethiopia over its construction of a massive upstream Nile dam has left Egypt with dwindling options as it seeks to protect the main source of freshwater for its large and growing population.

Talks collapsed earlier this month over the construction of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is 60 percent complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people.

But Egypt, with a population of around the same size, fears that the process of filling the reservoir behind the dam could slice into its share of the river, with catastrophic consequences. Pro-government media have cast it as a national security threat that could warrant military action.

Speaking at the UN last month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he would “never” allow Ethiopia to impose a “de facto situation” by filling the dam without an agreement.

“While we acknowledge Ethiopia’s right to development, the water of the Nile is a question of life, a matter of existence to Egypt,” he said.

Egypt has been holding talks for years with Ethiopia and Sudan, upstream countries that have long complained about Cairo’s overwhelming share of the river, which is enshrined in treaties dating back to the British colonial era. Those talks came to an acrimonious halt earlier this month, the third time they have broken down since 2014.

“We are fed up with Ethiopian procrastination. We will not spend our lifetime in useless talks,” an Egyptian official told The Associated Press. “All options are on the table, but we prefer dialogue and political means.”

Egypt has reached out to the United States, Russia, China and Europe, apparently hoping to reach a better deal through international mediation. The White House said earlier this month it supports talks to reach a sustainable agreement while “respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”

Mohamed el-Molla, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official, said Cairo would take the dispute to the UN Security Council if the Ethiopians refuse international mediation.

That has angered Ethiopia, which wants to resolve the dispute through the tripartite talks.

An Ethiopian official said the packages offered by Cairo so far “were deliberately prepared to be unacceptable for Ethiopia.”

“Now they are saying Ethiopia has rejected the offer, and calling for a third-party intervention,” the official added. Both the Ethiopian and the Egyptian official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks with the media.

The main dispute is centered on the filling of the dam’s 74-billion-cubic-meter reservoir. Ethiopia wants to fill it as soon as possible so it can generate over 6,400 Megawatts, a massive boost to the current production of 4,000 Megawatts. Ethiopia said earlier this year that the dam would start generating power by the end of 2020 and would operate at full capacity by 2022.

That has the potential to sharply reduce the flow of the Blue Nile, the main tributary to the river, which is fed by annual monsoon rains in the Ethiopian highlands. If the filling takes place during one of the region’s periodic droughts, its downstream impact could be even more severe.

Egypt has proposed no less than seven years for filling the reservoir, and for Ethiopia to adjust the pace according to rainfall, said an Egyptian Irrigation Ministry official who is a member of its negotiation team. The official also was not authorized to discuss the talks publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Nile supplies more than 90 percent of Egypt’s freshwater. Egyptians already have one of the lowest per capita shares of water in the world, at around 570 cubic meters per year, compared to a global average of 1,000. Ethiopians however have an average of 125 cubic meters per year.

Egypt wants to guarantee a minimum annual release of 40 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile. The irrigation official said anything less could affect Egypt’s own massive Aswan High Dam, with dire economic consequences.

“It could put millions of farmers out of work. We might lose more than one million jobs and $1.8 billion annually, as well as $300 million worth of electricity,” he said.

The official said Ethiopia has agreed to guarantee just 31 billion cubic meters.

El-Sisi is set to meet with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on Wednesday in the Russian city of Sochi, on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit. They may be able to revive talks, but the stakes get higher as the dam nears completion.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, warned earlier this year that the “risk of future clashes could be severe if the parties do not also reach agreement on a longer-term basin-wide river management framework.”

In recent weeks there have been calls by some commentators in Egypt’s pro-government media to resort to force.
Abdallah el-Senawy, a prominent columnist for the daily newspaper el-Shorouk, said the only alternatives were internationalizing the dispute or taking military action.

“Egypt is not a small county,” he wrote in a Sunday column. “If all diplomatic and legal options fail, a military intervention might be obligatory.”
Anwar el-Hawary, the former editor of the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, compared the dispute to the 1973 war with Israel, in which Egypt launched a surprise attack into the Sinai Peninsula.

“If we fought to liberate Sinai, it is logical to fight to liberate the water,” he wrote on Facebook. “The danger is the same in the two cases. War is the last response.”