Sudan’s post-Bashir transition faces further delay

In this Aug. 21, 2019 file photo, Sudan's new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)
Updated 01 September 2019

Sudan’s post-Bashir transition faces further delay

  • A power-sharing deal formally signed on Aug. 17 between the protest group and the military generals stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s hard-won transition to civilian rule fell further behind schedule on Sunday, days after the new prime minister delayed the formation of the first government since veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir was ousted.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a seasoned UN economist who faces the daunting task of rescuing his country’s moribund economy, was supposed to unveil a Cabinet on Wednesday under a post-Bashir roadmap.

But he is still considering the candidates, causing a knock-on delay to the first meeting between the government and the joint civilian-military ruling body overseeing the transition which was supposed to have been held on Sunday. Hamdok, who took the oath on Aug. 21, only received the nominees list from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) umbrella protest group on Tuesday and has been mulling the candidates since then.

“The FFC was late in submitting the list of nominees to the PM which has ultimately delayed the unveiling of Cabinet,” protest leader Amjed Farid told AFP.

Ibrahim Al-Amin, another protest leader, said the delay “is entirely the responsibility of the FFC” as there were “differences” within the group over the candidates.

On Sunday, the FFC said it held “deep and constructive discussions” with Hamdok the day before about the candidates of the transitional Cabinet. The premier has not publicly commented on the delay.

Sudan swore in a “sovereign council,” a joint civilian-military ruling body, to guide the country through a three-year transitional period nearly two weeks ago.

It is the result of a power-sharing deal formally signed on Aug. 17 between the FFC and the military generals who seized power after ousting Bashir in April.

The deal stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing.

The legislature should include no more than 300 members, with 201 seats allotted to the FFC. Under the deal, the Cabinet should be largely selected by the premier.

Only the interior and defense ministers will be chosen by the military members of Sudan’s ruling body.

Amin said the delay in announcing the Cabinet would “certainly have a negative impact” by slowing down the transition.

It is not the first hurdle thrown up in Sudan’s path out of decades of authoritarianism.

The lineup of Sudan’s 11-member sovereign council was held up for two days over differences within the opposition camp, before it was finally revealed on Aug. 21.

Hamdok, who built a career in continental and international organizations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, last week confirmed receiving a list of 49 candidates for 14 ministries.

A source close to the premier told AFP on Sunday that “consultations are still under way for the final list.”

Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said he would be choosing technocrats based on their “competence” to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.

Rebel groups from marginalized regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Bashir’s forces.

Sudan’s power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.

On Saturday, four rebel groups from Darfur said they will be “negotiating with transitional authorities with a unified vision,” without elaborating.

Hamdok’s Cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched deep state created under Bashir’s 30-year rule. 

Bashir was taken to Kober prison in Khartoum shortly after his ouster. The former president was charged on Saturday with illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 8 min 41 sec ago

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”


In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”