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.


Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 22 February 2020

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.