Sudan prime minister announces steps to move out of political crisis

Sudan prime minister announces steps to move out of political crisis
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 October 2021

Sudan prime minister announces steps to move out of political crisis

Sudan prime minister announces steps to move out of political crisis
  • Tensions between the civilians and generals in the transitional government have increased since the foiled coup attempt within the military

CAIRO: Sudan’s prime minister has announced a series of steps for his country’s transition to democracy less than a month after a coup attempt rocked its leadership.

In a speech, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called the coup attempt an “alarm bell” that should awaken people to the causes of the country’s political and economic challenges.

“The serious political crisis that we are living in right now, I would not be exaggerating to say, is the worst and most dangerous crisis that not only threatens the transition, but threatens our whole country,” he said.

Authorities announced the coup attempt by a group of soldiers on Sept. 22, saying that it had failed. They blamed supporters of the country’s former autocrat Omar Bashir for planning the takeover.

It underscored the fragility of Sudan’s path to democracy, more than two years after the military’s overthrow of Bashir amid a massive public uprising against his three-decade rule. Sudan has since been ruled by an interim, joint civilian-military government.

Months after Bashir’s toppling, the ruling generals agreed to share power with civilians representing the protest movement.

But tensions between the civilians and generals in the transitional government have increased since the foiled coup attempt within the military.

There is wide-scale mistrust of the military leaders among the protest movement, and tens of thousands have taken to the street in the past two years to call for an immediate handover of power to civilians.

Earlier this month, the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the nationwide uprising that kicked off in December 2018, said the interim government must end its power-sharing agreement with the military council. Their call then for demonstrations brought thousands more to the streets.

Hamdok said Friday that the root issues behind the political crisis have long been there, in an attempt to bring all parties back to the table for talks. He laid out a series of measures that he said would help speed the handover to a completely elected and civilian government.

They included repeated exhortations for groups of differing opinions to work together, and for the country’s transitional constitution and judicial bodies to be respected.

“This crisis was not created today, it did not descend upon us from the sky, and it did not surprise us at all,” he said of the recent political turmoil.


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RIYADH: The Iran-backed Houthi militia fired two rockets at Marib in Yemen, Al-Arabiya TV reported Sunday. 


World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure

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Updated 39 min 22 sec ago

World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure

World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure
  • Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records
  • Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands

DUBAI: The world’s tallest Egyptian woman Huda Abdel-Gawad died in Egypt’s Sharqiyah province at the age of 27 after suffering from kidney failure, according to local reports.

Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records: the largest hand of a living woman with a length of 24.3 cm, the largest foot at 33.1 cm and the widest arms of a surviving woman at 236.3 cm.

Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands, which affected their weight and height.

Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, 33, got two Guinness World Records: the widest arms of a living man at 250.3 cm, and the widest hand of a surviving man at a length of 31.3 cm.


Daesh attack on Iraqi village kills 10 soldiers, Kurdish government says

Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2021

Daesh attack on Iraqi village kills 10 soldiers, Kurdish government says

Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
  • Kurdistan’s PM calls for greater security cooperation between Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi security forces

SULAIMANIYA: An attack by Daesh militants on a village in northern Iraq on Friday killed three villagers and 10 Kurdish soldiers, officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on an affiliated Telegram account.
The attack took place in the Makhmour region, a hotbed for Daesh activity that sees regular attacks against Kurdish forces, Iraqi forces and often civilians.
Makhmour is a mountainous area about 70 km southeast of Mosul and 60 km southwest of the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called for greater security cooperation between Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi security forces to stop Daesh’s insurgent activities.
Iraqi officials and analysts have long blamed a lack of coordination along a stretch of territory claimed by both Baghdad and Irbil for Daesh’s continued ability to wage deadly attacks.
Daesh controlled roughly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, including the remote Makhmour region but also major cities including Mosul.
A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.
Western military officials say at least 10,000 Daesh fighters remain in Iraq and Syria.
A statement from the Kurdistan region’s armed forces, the peshmerga, said Daesh militants attacked the village in the early hours of Friday killing three residents.
It said peshmerga forces intervened, resulting in clashes that killed at least seven of their soldiers.
Kurdish security and hospital officials said the final death toll was at least 10 peshmerga soldiers and three villagers.
In a separate development, Kurdish demonstrators in The Hague stormed the headquarters of the global chemical weapons body on Friday, sparking clashes in which six people were hurt and 50 arrested, Dutch police said.

FASTFACT

A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the Daesh extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.

Dozens of protesters alleging that Turkey is using toxic arms in northern Iraq broke through security to enter the grounds of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.
A number of them managed to get inside the lobby of the building before police removed them, diplomatic sources said, while the rest staged a noisy protest outside the front doors.
Police dragged the demonstrators off one by one, put them on the ground and handcuffed them, journalists saw. Some were bundled into waiting vans, but the large number meant many were taken away in a hired bus.
At least a dozen police vehicles sealed off the road outside the OPCW, which is opposite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence. Several ambulances and a medical helicopter were also at the scene.
Two police officers and four protesters were wounded when the demonstrators “stormed the building,” The Hague police said.
Turkish jets regularly attack the separatists’ bases in northern Iraq and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, with several villages having emptied of their inhabitants since a new Turkish army offensive in April.
The PKK and Kurdish organizations in Europe have in recent months accused Turkey of using chemical weapons, including a nerve agent and sulfur mustard gas, in dozens of attacks in northern Iraq.
“We have called on OPCW and all international bodies to come and independently investigate the use of chemical weapons,” Zagros Hiwa, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union, the PKK’s political branch, told AFP.


Sudanese group condemns UN’s call to support reinstated premier

 Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 December 2021

Sudanese group condemns UN’s call to support reinstated premier

 Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
  • Hamdok was deposed as part of the Oct. 25 coup by military leaders that brought international criticism and disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy

CAIRO: A Sudanese pro-democracy group has condemned comments by the UN chief urging citizens to support a deal that reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, so the country can have “a peaceful transition toward a true democracy.”
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which was at the forefront of the uprising against former autocrat Omar Bashir, rejected late on Friday Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s comments as a “moral and political failure.”
Hamdok was deposed as part of the Oct. 25 coup by military leaders that brought international criticism and disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy. He was reinstated last month amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight.
The SPA said Guterres’s comments were seen as a “justification for violence” against anti-coup protesters, who vowed to continue their street demonstrations against the deal despite deadly violence by security forces.
The US, its allies and the UN have condemned the use of excessive force against protesters who have since taken to the streets en masse. Dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds of others were wounded since the Oct. 25 coup. The agreement, signed on Nov. 21, has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.
Guterres told a news conference Wednesday that he understands “the indignation” and outrage of Sudanese who have seen the military coup and don’t want any solution involving the military.
“But I would like to appeal for common sense,” he said. “We have a situation which is, yes, not perfect, but which could allow for a transition toward democracy.”
The UN chief warned that calling into question the solution that led to Hamdok’s reinstatement “would be very dangerous for Sudan.”
The SPA said it would continue peaceful protests until the establishment of a “full civilian” government to achieve the democratic transition.
Since his appointment in 2019, Hamdok has been the civilian face of the government and one of the pro-democracy movement’s most respected figures.
But Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have said the deal that reinstated him falls short of their demands for full civilian rule.


Crops at Beirut port silos to be composted, burned after insect infestation found

A member of the French military works at the damaged site of the massive August 4, blast in Beirut's port area, in Beirut on August 31, 2020. (AFP)
A member of the French military works at the damaged site of the massive August 4, blast in Beirut's port area, in Beirut on August 31, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2021

Crops at Beirut port silos to be composted, burned after insect infestation found

A member of the French military works at the damaged site of the massive August 4, blast in Beirut's port area, in Beirut on August 31, 2020. (AFP)
  • Crops at Beirut port silos to be composted, burned after insect infestation found

BEIRUT: Tons of wheat, corn and barley stored at the Port of Beirut since the devastating explosion that rocked the city 16 months ago are to be disposed of as they are no longer fit for consumption, it has been found.

As temperatures change, mold, weevils and other insects have made it impossible to reach the contents of silos at the site without protective equipment; according to the World Health Organization, mold produces mycotoxins “which can cause a variety of adverse health effects and pose a serious health threat to both humans and livestock … ranging from acute poisoning to long-term effects such as immune deficiency and cancer.”

Before the blast, the port’s silos contained about 45 tons of wheat, barley and corn, most of which was lost during the explosion. Minister of Environment Nasser Yassin said that six to seven tons remain at the site.

Lab tests run on samples of wheat in cooperation with the ministries of economy, agriculture and environment, the American University of Beirut, Saint Joseph University, and the French Embassy, which brought in experts to assist, showed that the crops “are suitable for neither human nor animal use.”

In August, a year after the explosion, the remaining grains were removed from their silos and stored in the open air to reduce the risks of accidental fires in the hot weather, but resulted in hastening the demise of the crops as fit for consumption.

A committee formed under the government of former Prime Minister Hassan Diab failed to reach a solution.

Yassin told Arab News: “We decided to ferment these quantities and turn them into compost to be distributed to farmers for free, or turn them into industrial firewood to be given to the Lebanese Army to heat its units in the high mountains, or donate them to needy families living in cold areas.”

He added: “Turning them into compost allows us to avoid any procedure that produces heavy metals, and we started with this process with the help of MAN Group, which obtained funding from France to treat organic waste resulting from the explosion, and had signed the contract with the Lebanese state in May.”

The grain is set to be moved to the municipality of Zahle, which has a landfill site able to treat waste and transform it into compost and firewood.

Yassin noted: “We seek to produce 3,000 tons of compost and 3,000 tons of industrial firewood. We have so far been able to produce 500 tons of compost, which is an organic fertilizer and will be distributed free of charge to farmers and we have finished producing 1,000 tons of industrial firewood through special presses.

“Indeed, this type of firewood does not last long while it burns, but we hope that it will alleviate the distress of people who cannot buy diesel for heating during winter, and curb the phenomenon of cutting trees to secure firewood for homes as an alternative to diesel.”

The silos at the port absorbed about 20 percent of the blast wave, which resulted from storing 1,750 tons of ammonium nitrate at the port alongside seized explosives. Over 220 people died, more than 6,500 were injured and the city’s waterfront was destroyed.

Experts who initially examined the site stressed that the wheat silos, which were severely damaged, would need to be be demolished because they were on the verge of collapsing.

Former Economy Minister Raoul Nehme said in November 2020: “The government will demolish the silos due to public safety concerns.”

However, the Lebanese authorities are yet to take action.

The wheat silos are made up of a giant 48-meter concrete structure built between 1968 and 1970, with a huge storage capacity of over 100,000 tons.

Once considered a key element in Lebanon’s food security, the silos have today become a symbol of the catastrophe.