Sudan factions initial pact ushering in transitional government

The document is complementary to a power-sharing deal signed on July 17 that aims to form a joint civilian-military ruling body. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Sudan factions initial pact ushering in transitional government

  • Saudi Arabia welcomes deal in Sudanthat paves the way to civilian rule
  • A new prime minister will be named on Aug. 20 and a cabinet on Aug. 28

KHARTOUM: Sudan's military rulers and the main opposition coalition initialled a constitutional declaration on Sunday, paving the way for a transitional government following the overthrow of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.
The two sides reached agreement on Saturday on the shape of a transitional government in lengthy negotiations since Bashir's overthrow by the army in April.
The parties are expected to put their final signatures on the agreement on Aug. 17 at a ceremony in Khartoum attended by foreign leaders.
Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region by the International Criminal Court, was deposed after months of mass protests. Continuing unrest, during which dozens of demonstrators were killed, has plunged Sudan into turmoil.
Sunday's formalities were attended by African Union and Ethiopian mediators, who had helped broker the accord. Those present in the room clapped and cheered as army and civilian representatives held up copies of the agreement.
Hundreds celebrated in the streets, dancing, chanting revolutionary songs, waving national flags and sounding horns.
"Today, the civilian state is achieved," said Nusseibeh Abdullah, a 21-year-old woman.

We turned a tough page of Sudan’s history by signing this agreement.

Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, deputy head of Sudan military council

One of Sudan's top generals, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is deputy head of the Transitional Military council that will be superseded by the interim government, said the agreement was a victory for Sudan.
"We have finally agreed on a constitutional document that will change the course of history for our country," he said.
Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, some of whose members have been accused of involvement in killing demonstrators who have repeatedly turned out in huge numbers to press for political progress.

Transition
Despite the optimism, some have cautioned that it is still too early to tell how events will unfold in the lengthy transition period required to prepare for elections after three decades of autocratic rule under Bashir.
"It is not the first time that Sudan signed some sort of agreement to resolve very difficult political questions," said Magdi el-Gizouli, a Sudanese academic and a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.
But he added: "I think if there is reason for optimism, the reason is not in the negotiation rooms, the reason is in this popular movement that doesn’t want to go away."
Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir said the agreement "establishes civilian and democratic rule that seeks to build a state of law, a state of equality, a state which does not marginalise its citizens".
The agreement was welcomed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which see themselves as influential in Khartoum. Sudanese troops are currently operating in Yemen as part of a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Houthi rebels.
According to a document seen by Reuters, the formation of a sovereign council, which will run the country during a three-year transitional period leading up to elections, will be announced on Aug. 18.
A new prime minister will be named on Aug. 20 and a cabinet on Aug. 28. The cabinet and the sovereign council will meet together on Sept. 1, ahead of the appointment of a legislative assembly in three months.
The 300-member assembly will serve during the transitional period. The main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change, will have 67% of its seats and other political groups not associated with Bashir will have the rest.

Welcomed by allies

The Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed the agreement as “a quantum leap that will transition Sudan to stability and security,” and Egypt said it was “a significant step on the right track.” 

In the UAE, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Sudan’s transition to civilian rule “turns the page” on former ruler Omar Bashir and his Islamist allies.

(With Reuters)


Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

Updated 30 November 2020

Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran
  • President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap”

TEHRAN: Debate raged in Iran on Sunday over how and when to respond to a top nuclear scientist’s assassination, blamed on arch-foe Israel, as his body was honored at Shiite shrines to prepare it for burial.
Two days after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran, parliament demanded a halt to international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites while a top official hinted Iran should leave the global non-proliferation treaty.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council usually handles decisions related to the country’s nuclear program, and parliamentary bills must be approved by the powerful Guardians Council.
President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap.”
Israel says Fakhrizadeh was the head of an Iranian military nuclear program, the existence of which the Islamic republic has consistently denied, and Washington had sanctioned him in 2008 for activities linked to Iran’s atomic activities.
The scientist’s body was taken for a ceremony on Sunday at a major shrine in the holy city of Qom before being transported to the shrine of the Islamic republic’s founder Imam Khomeini, according to Iranian media.
On Monday live video from Tehran, shared by national outlet Iran Press, showed uniformed men gathering around images of Fakhrizadeh seemingly ahead of a procession.
His funeral will be held in the presence of senior military commanders and his family, the defense ministry said on its website, without specifying where.
Israel has not officially commented on Fakhrizadeh’s killing, less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office after four years of hawkish foreign policy under President Donald Trump.
Trump withdrew the US from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and then reimposed and beefed up punishing sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Biden has signalled his administration may be prepared to rejoin the accord, but the nuclear scientist’s assassination has revived opposition to the deal among Iranian conservatives.
The head of Iran’s Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, said there was “no reason why (Iran) should not reconsider the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.”
Mohsen Rezai said Tehran should also halt implementation of the additional protocol, a document prescribing intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilitates.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Saturday for Fakhrizadeh’s killers to be punished.
Parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf called Sunday for “a strong reaction” that would “deter and take revenge” on those behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who was aged 59 according to Iranian media.
For Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Fakhrizadeh’s killing was clearly tied to Biden’s arrival in office.
“The timing of the assassination, even if it was determined by purely operational considerations, is a clear message to President-elect Joe Biden, intended to show Israel’s criticism” of plans to revive the deal, it said.
The UAE, which in September normalized ties with Israel, condemned the killing and urged restraint.
The foreign ministry, quoted by the official Emirati news agency WAM, said Abu Dhabi “condemns the heinous assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which could further fuel conflict in the region...
“The UAE calls upon all parties to exercise maximum degrees of self-restraint to avoid dragging the region into new levels of instability and threat to peace,” it said.
Britain, a party to the nuclear accord, said Sunday it was “concerned” about possible escalation of tensions in the Middle East following the assassination, while Turkey called the killing an act of “terrorism” that “upsets peace in the region.”
In Iran, ultra-conservative Kayhan daily called for strikes on Israel if it were “proven” to be behind the assassination.
Kayhan called for the port city of Haifa to be targeted “in a way that would annihilate its infrastructure and leave a heavy human toll.”
Iran has responded to the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal by gradually abandoning most of its key nuclear commitments under the agreement.
Rezai called on Iran’s atomic agency to take “minimum measures” such as “stopping the online broadcast of cameras, reducing or suspending inspectors and implementing restrictions in their access” to sites, ISNA news agency reported.
Iran’s parliament said the “best response” to the assassination would be to “revive Iran’s glorious nuclear industry.”
It called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to be barred from the country’s atomic sites, said the legislature’s news agency ICANA.
Some MPs had earlier accused inspectors of acting as “spies” potentially responsible for Fakhrizadeh’s death.
But the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, told IRNA on Saturday that the issue of inspectors’ access “must be decided on at high levels” of the Islamic republic’s leadership.