US names envoy to find ‘peaceful political solution’ in Sudan: official

The US State Department nominated experienced Africa hand Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan on Wednesday, pictured on March 25, 2015. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 June 2019

US names envoy to find ‘peaceful political solution’ in Sudan: official

  • Booth, 65, knows the country well, having served as Obama administration’s special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan
  • Between 2005 and 2013, Booth served as US ambassador to Liberia, Zambia and then Ethiopia

WASHINGTON: The US State Department nominated experienced Africa hand Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan on Wednesday, hoping he can help craft a “peaceful political solution” between the military rulers and groups seeking civilian rule.
The nomination comes nine days after government troops and paramilitaries cracked down on protesters outside army headquarters in Khartoum, killing more than 110 and wounding hundreds over several days.
Booth, 65, knows the country well, having served as the Obama administration’s special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan over 2013-2017.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Booth is already at work, traveling with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy to Sudan “to engage with the parties.”
Between 2005 and 2013, Booth served as US ambassador to Liberia, Zambia and then Ethiopia.
As special envoy to the two Sudans, Booth visited Khartoum numerous times and helped maintain a measured level of relations with the regime of president Omar Al-Bashir, who was under indictment for genocide by the international criminal court.
Bashir’s ousting by the military on April 11 after three decades of rule sparked a nationwide movement calling for a civilian government.
But talks on the composition of a new governing body broke down and on June 3 the military launched a bloody assault on thousands of protesters, drawing international indignation.
The UN Security Council strongly condemned the attacks on civilians.
On June 5, Washington likewise criticized the violence, calling on Sudan’s military leaders to “desist from violence” and agree to “a civilian-led transition that leads to timely elections and free expression of the will of the Sudanese people.”
Nagy was headed to Khartoum to press the military on those demands.
But the administration of President Donald Trump was under pressure to do more.


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 12 min 45 sec ago

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed to due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.