Sudanese observe quiet Eid celebrations after crisis

Sudanese supporters of Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, during a rally in the East Nile province. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2019

Sudanese observe quiet Eid celebrations after crisis

  • Sudan is set to have civilian rule after months of bloody protests

KHARTOUM: As Muslims in Khartoum marked their first Eid Al-Adha feast without Omar Al-Bashir as ruler in three decades, the mood was upbeat on Sunday but the menu stayed frugal.

Months of bloody anti-regime protests created a historic opportunity for civilian rule in Sudan but also saw prices soar, putting a damper on celebrations.

In Khartoum markets, the price of a sheep — a must in the Feast of the Sacrifice which is considered the holiest day in the Islamic calendar — has doubled since last year.

“You used to be able to find a sheep for 3,500” Sudanese pounds ($60), said Mohamed Abdullahi, a farmer who lives on Tuti, a rural island wedged between the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman, where the Blue and White Nile meet.

This year he paid 8,000 pounds, an amount he could not really afford even after raising the selling price of the milk from the few cows he rears on a small plot by the riverbank.

“I have three children, I had to bring them something for the feast,” the greying 43-year-old said.

In Khartoum’s Bori neighborhood, considered one of the cradles of the protest movement that brought down Bashir earlier this year, an Eid market known for its low prices is witnessing record turnover.

“There’s a lack of cash in Sudan at the moment. Here we are using electronic payment cards a lot, to make it easier for the people,” said one of the traders, Maki Amir.

“Many people feel happy because of the revolution and the peace that was signed last week, that’s why they want a real Eid celebration,” he said.

Sudan’s economy was sent into a tailspin when the oil-rich south seceded in 2011 and the past eight months of turmoil — which initially erupted with protests over a tripling of bread prices — have taken a further toll.

As buyers swarmed the huddled sheep on the dusty open market ground and inspected the animals’ teeth, the haggling was sometimes acrimonious. Some men looking to buy a sheep to slaughter blamed traders for taking advantage of the power vacuum to raise their prices.

The traders retorted they were being taxed by the government more than ever before.

Since the last devaluation of the pound in October by the then Sudanese authorities, the currency has plunged by a further 70 percent against the dollar on the black market.

A deal was reached a week ago between the country’s generals and protest leaders to transition to civilian rule in just over three years.

The landmark constitutional agreement is to be signed at a ceremony on Aug. 17 but, even if its provisions are implemented, the country remains on the brink of economic collapse.

On the capital’s walls, some of the protest murals have already been painted over and its streets were largely empty, many residents having left town to celebrate Eid Al-Adha in their villages.

At the market in Bori, Amir Abdullah came to buy a goat for an expatriate friend who wants it donated to charity but he will not be able to afford one for himself this year.

He also said celebrating did not feel like a priority after so many protesters, an estimated 250, were killed in their efforts to take down the military regime.

“Eid is not the same for everybody. Now I’m still in mourning for those who lost their lives,” said Abdullah, sweat pearling on his forehead from the afternoon heat.

“Definitely, the situation is getting worse, there is no work, no income and no investment ... but we have to stay focused on achieving the goals of the revolution: Freedom, peace and justice.”


UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

Updated 4 min 27 sec ago

UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

  • Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia
  • Known as the JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms

VIENNA: The United Nations' atomic watchdog agency says Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding Friday in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.
The agency said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on Feb. 19.
Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The US pulled out of the deal unilaterally in 2018.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA.

On Tuesday, the IAEA expressed serious concern that Iran has continued for months to deny it access to sites of interest to it, describing previous suspected activities there that could have been part of a nuclear weapons programme.
The IAEA issued a report in March admonishing Iran for failing to answer its questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and for denying it access to two of them. Diplomats have since said that the agency is looking into activities at the sites that predate its 2015 deal with major powers.
A report to IAEA member states issued on Tuesday detailed suspected activities and materials including "the possible presence...of natural uranium in the form of a metal disc" at a site that "underwent extensive sanitization and levelling in 2003 and 2004", the report said, describing the third site.
The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Iran has been slowly violating the restrictions.
It is now in violation of all restrictions outlined by the JCPOA, which Tehran says it hopes will pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the US withdrew.