Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

Sudanese celebrate in Khartoum after generals and protest leaders signed a historic agreement meant to pave the way for civilian rule in the country. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

  • Ruling body to be composed of 11 members, including 5 from the military
  • The council was created under a power-sharing deal

KHARTOUM: Sudan's generals and protest leaders on Tuesday formed the sovereign council that will steer the country through three years of transition towards civilian rule.
The body replaces the Transitional Military Council that took over from longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir when he was forced from power in April amid relentless protests.
The former president appeared in court Monday, sitting in a cage to face graft charges — a sight that the two thirds of Sudan's 40 million inhabitants who were born under his rule could hardly have imagined.
The very first steps of the transition to civilian rule after 30 years of Bashir's regime proved difficult however with disagreements within the protest camp holding up the formation of Sudan's new ruling body for two days.
The names of the joint civilian-military council's 11 members were eventually announced late Tuesday by the spokesman of the TMC.
The council includes five members of the military and will be headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who was already the head of the TMC.
"The president of the sovereign council will be sworn in tomorrow morning at 11:00 am (0900 GMT)," TMC spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi said in a short televised address.
Burhan will head the council for the first 21 months and a civilian will take over for the remaining 18 months of the transitional period, which is due to end in 2022 with democratic elections.
Among the six civilian members of the new ruling council are two women, one of them from Sudan's Christian minority.

The protest camp last week picked Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN economist based in Addis Ababa, as transitional prime minister. He will be formally appointed on Wednesday.
The transition's key documents were signed on Saturday at a ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, signalling that Sudan could be on its way to shedding the pariah status it had taken on through years of devastating war in Darfur.
But amidst the euphoria celebrating the promise of civilian rule, unease was palpable within the protest camp that brought about one of the most crucial changes in Sudan's modern history.
One reason is the omnipresence in the transition of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a paramilitary commander and one of the signatories of the documents, whose forces are blamed for the deadly repression of the protests.
Sudanese women, who played a leading role in the protests, have also expressed their shock at female under-representation in the transition.
Every newspaper in Sudan made its headlines with Bashir's landmark court appearance Tuesday.
Some of them carried pictures of the ousted ruler in his courtroom cage, an image that instantly became another symbol of his military regime's downfall.
Large amounts of cash were found at his residence after he was toppled and police investigator Ahmed Ali said the case brought before the court concerned some of that money.
"The accused told us that the money was part of a sum of $25 million sent to him by Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be used outside of the state budget," he said.
On the streets of Khartoum, residents were not trying to hide their contentment at seeing their longtime tormentor in the dock.
"Bashir has done a lot against us in 30 years," said Fatma Abdallah Hussein, a young medical student who took part in the protests earlier this year.
"Hunger, lack of education, what he did in Darfur and other issues, it is for these things we took to the streets, faced the teargas and the harassment," she said.
Alhaj Adam, a Khartoum resident, argued that Bashir's corruption trial should not distract from the need for the new administration to ratify the Rome Statute.
That would allow the former ruler's transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges over the war in Darfur that erupted in 2003.
"The evidence he committed genocide should come forward... Many civilians inside and outside Sudan have died because of him and he should face justice," Adam said.

A Jordanian NGO takes on social ills in Amman neighborhoods

Updated 22 February 2020

A Jordanian NGO takes on social ills in Amman neighborhoods

  • Harra aims to revive neighborhoods by encouraging residents to work collectively to improve their environment
  • Initiative has made a difference in five neighborhoods, including deprived areas in Amman

CAIRO: A local initiative in Jordan is rejuvenating neighborhoods in the kingdom’s capital, bringing together communities and encouraging residents to work collectively to improve their environment.

The Harra, an NGO which translates into “neighborhood,” has so far renovated five areas in Amman under the guidance of its founder, the social entrepreneur Mohammed Abu Amerah.

When Abu Amerah returned to Jordan after many years away in 2005, he was saddened to find his local community in disarray — epitomized by ugly concrete boxes and overflowing litter — and quickly decided to take action to reinvigorate the local area.

Abu Amerah believes that traditional “harra” life in Jordan has been compromised by Amman’s explosive growth, as it struggles to contain growing numbers of refugees from across the country’s borders.

“A class system has developed, encouraging discrimination and degradation of the community,” he said.

Abu Amerah said he was spurred into action when he heard the news that his neighbor had been shot at in a dispute over a parking space.

“The idea for Harra came to me slowly. I saw that the lack of elegant structures in the community reflected not just the public space, but also created a negative psychological space among inhabitants.”

The Harra founder said that worn-out built environments not only lack “function” but also breed discontent, insecurity and even violence.

Abu Amerah has since created a Harra “identity plan” which he uses as a guide to breathe life and renewed confidence into communities.

The Harra rejuvenation strategy, which is funded by Jordanian aid, is based around physical, environmental, educational and social aspects – which are then mobilized into the community.

It has taken Abu Amerah 12 years to successfully rejuvenate five harras in Amman: Al-Ashrafiyah, Yarmouk, Jabal Jouffah, Al-Nasr and Wihdat refugee camp, which are some of the most deprived areas in the Jordanian capital.

The Harra Initiative brings neighborhood residents together to develop and implement rehabilitation projects that address common problems.

“The rehabilitation projects ultimately lead to improving the living conditions in the neighborhood,” said Abu Amerah.

The main drive in Harra is the community itself and the need to show members of the locality how to use their power to change their own lives and those of their children and their neighborhood.

This starts with the physical rebuilding of the neighborhood, including the renovation of walls and streets, adding address numbers to houses and collecting garbage, which lasts between 12 and 14 months. But the purpose of this phase is also to build social nets in the Jordanian community.

The process of rehabilitation brings with it the creation of neighborhood associations, the establishment of recycling and energy saving projects or creating ways of generating income.

“The methodology rests on a community participatory approach, which unlocks residents’ own innovative thinking and creative energies,” said Abu Amerah. “Harra interventions are designed to foster a sense of accountability and collective ownership.”

The social entrepreneur said the benefits of the Harra programs have been very tangible. “The programs have provided the initial motivation and leadership needed to inspire change within each targeted community.

“They have also promoted recognition and sensitivity towards social, behavioral processes, cultural and economic diversity.”

Abu Amerah said that reclaiming the public space has helped to reduce violence, created a community voice and promoted social cohesion and resilience among communities.

“Creating the sense of collective ownership among residents was the biggest challenge of all,” Abu Amerah said.

“We have successfully created the voice of harra to address and influence the issues that shape our reality and future in all aspects.”


• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.