Sudan’s new PM meets with Egyptian president in Cairo

Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi meeting with Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at the Ittihadia presidential palace in the capital Cairo. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2019

Sudan’s new PM meets with Egyptian president in Cairo

  • He will discuss bilateral relations after years of sporadic tensions during the rule of autocratic former President Omar Al-Bashir
  • Ties between the two countries were for years frayed by repeated failures to reach a deal over an upstream Nile dam

CAIRO: Egypt’s president on Wednesday met with Sudan’s newly appointed prime minister before heading to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Abdalla Hamdok discussed bilateral relations, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency. Relations between the two Nile Valley neighbors suffered from sporadic tensions over three decades of rule by Sudan’s autocratic former president, Omar Al-Bashir.
The Sudanese military overthrew Al-Bashir in April amid months of pro-democracy protests. A power-sharing deal between the military and the protesters established a new administration that includes a cabinet headed by Hamdok.
Egypt has backed the new authorities in Sudan follwing Al-Bashir’s ouster. Diplomatic ties have frayed in recent years due to repeated failures to reach a deal over an upstream Nile dam being built by Ethiopia, as well as the revival of a longstanding dispute over a border territory held by Egypt and claimed by Sudan.
Hamdok was to head to France to meet with President Emmanuel Macron, but the French Embassy in Sudan tweeted that the meeting was canceled because there was no time in Macron’s agenda, and they were working to set a new date for the visit.
El-Sisi’s government wants Sudan to back its cause in the Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia amid stalemated negotiation between the three countries. Egypt had accused Al-Bashir of siding with Ethiopia in the dispute over the soon-to-be-completed dam.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry earlier this month visited Sudan and discussed the Nile dam dispute.
A round of talks in Cairo earlier this week over the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam failed to achieve progress.
Egyptian Irrigation Ministry says the two-day talks did not touch on “technical aspects” of the dam. It said Ethiopia’s delegation refused to discuss an Egyptian proposal on filling and operating what will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, which is center of the dispute.
Egypt fears the dam could reduce its share of the Nile River, which serves as a lifeline for the country’s 100 million people. Ethiopia has roughly the same population and says the dam will help its economic development.
The dam is now more than 60% finished, and Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon its completion. The dam will generate about 6,400 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current production of 4,000 megawatts.
Egypt received the lion’s share of the Nile waters under decades-old agreements seen by other Nile bastion countries as unfair.


Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

Updated 19 min 27 sec ago

Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

  • “Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Al-Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father said
  • Twenty-four hours later, hei was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home”

BAGHDAD: A prominent Iraqi blogger resurfaced Friday a day after he was seized by masked gunmen, his father said, as Amnesty International denounced a “climate of fear” in the country after protests and deadly violence.
Shujaa Al-Khafaji’s family said armed men had snatched him from his home on Thursday without identifying themselves or showing an arrest warrant.
Khafaji’s Facebook page, Al-Khowa Al-Nadifa (Arabic for “Those Who Have Clean Hands“), carries posts on political and social issues and has some 2.5 million followers.
“Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father, Fares Al-Khafaji, told AFP.
He said they seized his son’s phones and computers, but were not violent.
Twenty-four hours later, Khafaji was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home,” his father added.
The report of Khafaji’s seizure sparked an outcry from activists and influential political leaders.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International denounced a “relentless campaign of intimidation and assault against activists in Iraq” by authorities.
“The Iraqi authorities must immediately rein in the security forces and dismantle the climate of fear they have deliberately created to stop Iraqis from peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly,” said Lynn Maalouf, the group’s Middle East research director.
The group said other activists, including a doctor and a lawyer, were “forcibly disappeared more than 10 days ago,” and called on Iraqi authorities to reveal their whereabouts.
Firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr wrote on Twitter that “any act of aggression (against journalists or activists)... by the state constitutes an attack on freedom of speech.”
Former prime minister Haider Al-Abadi’s parliamentary bloc called on the government “to stop abuses of free media.”
Iraq was gripped by anti-government protests between October 1 and 6, during which 110 people, mainly demonstrators, were killed in clashes with security forces.
During the protests, unidentified armed men in uniforms raided several local television stations in Baghdad, destroying their equipment and intimidating their staff.
Journalists and activists also reported receiving threats, mostly by phone, from unidentified callers accusing them of having sided with the protesters.
Khafaji faced online harassment last month after a string of attacks on bases of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force dominated by pro-Iran groups.
The group on Thursday denied any involvement in the disappearance of activists, threatening legal action against anyone making such accusations.
But according to Amnesty, the Hashed was involved in at least one abduction — that of lawyer Ali Hattab, who represented protesters and was seized on October 8 in the southern city of Amara.
He was snatched by “suspected members of a faction of the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashed),” Amnesty said quoting Hattab’s relatives.
It happened two days after “two armed men from the PMU came to (his) home to warn him to stop being vocal about the killing of protesters on Facebook, otherwise they would kill him,” Amnesty added.