Daily Archives: April 28, 2019

Sources: Sudan Military, Opposition Agree to Joint Council

KHARTOUM, SUDAN Sudan’s military rulers and opposition agreed in principle Saturday to the formation of a joint body to lead a transition from 30 years of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir, but not on the new council’s makeup, two sources said.

The two sides were holding their first formal discussions as opposition groups and protesters push for a rapid handover to civilian rule following Bashir’s fall earlier this month.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC), which ousted and arrested Bashir after months of protests, has said it will rule for up to two years ahead of elections.

Anti-Bashir opposition groups and protesters who have kept up a sit-in outside the Defense Ministry want a civilian-led transitional council with military representation.

They continued their thousands-strong demonstration Saturday evening.

I came to support the sit-in for a civilian government because the army ruled Sudan since 52 years ago and the result is nothing, said Nour el-Dayem Gaafar, a 23-year-old student from South Darfur state who had traveled by bus to the capital.

Opposition groups and activists are represented by an umbrella group called the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, which held two meetings with the TMC Saturday. Both sides expressed optimism after an initial session around the middle of the day.

After a second, evening session, the sources said there was agreement over the formation of a joint council, but not over how many seats either side should have.

The TMC has arrested some former officials, announced anti-corruption measures and promised to give executive authority to a civilian government. But it has signaled that ultimate authority would remain in its hands, leaving protesters frustrated.

‘Half a revolution’

Half a revolution is the perishing of a nation, said Osman Abadi, a 26-year-old sit-in security supervisor draped in a Sudanese flag, who said he was staying even if negotiations between TMC and the opposition failed.

Bashir was overthrown after 16 weeks of protests triggered by a deepening economic crisis. He is being held along with other former officials at Khartoum’s Kobar prison.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Bashir for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, charges he denies.

On Saturday Sadiq al-Mahdi, the veteran leader of Sudan’s opposition Umma Party, which is part of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, said he thought Sudan should join the court.

Now I have no objection to responding to its demands, and it’s necessary immediately to join (the ICC), but this position has to be coordinated with the military council, Mahdi told reporters.

The military council has previously suggested that Bashir would be tried in Sudan, where the public prosecutor has begun investigating him, according to a judicial source.

Raid condemned

Separately, the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces condemned a reported raid on a meeting of the Popular Congress Party, which was allied to Bashir before turning against him.

The alliance said in a statement that though the party bore responsibility for what had happened over the past 30 years, there was no place for the exclusion of rights by force in the nation that our fearless revolutionaries are working to promote.

State TV reported that more than 140 people were evacuated from the hall where the meeting took place and more than 60 had suffered minor injuries.

Source: Voice of America

In Wake of Cyclone Kenneth, Flooding in Mozambique

PEMBA, MOZAMBIQUE Flooding began Sunday in parts of northern Mozambique that were hit by Cyclone Kenneth three days ago. The government has urged many people to immediately seek higher ground, with hundreds of thousands of people at risk.

Authorities have said at least five people died after the storm arrived Thursday evening with the force of a Category 4 hurricane, stunning residents of a region where a cyclone had not been recorded in the modern era. Kenneth came six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people.

The remnants of Kenneth could dump twice as much rain as Idai did, the U.N. World Program has said. It was the flooding after Idai that caused most of the deaths.

Heavy rain was falling in the main city of Pemba, which had lost power. As much as 250 millimeters (9 inches) of torrential rain, or about a quarter of the average annual rainfall for the region, is forecast over the next few days.

Pouring in Pemba

Nearly 700,000 people could be at risk in the largely rural region, many left exposed and hungry as waters rise. Some rivers in the region have burst their banks in the past, notably in 2000.

With streets nearly deserted in Pemba, a few braved the pouring rain. One woman held a plastic dish over her head, negotiating a flooded street.

I have never seen such rains in my life, this doesn’t happen in Pemba. The storms we sometimes have, but such rains, never, said a 35-year old resident, Michael Fernando.

Flattened towns

Aerial photos taken on Saturday showed several coastal communities flattened by the storm in Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province. Not a single house is standing anymore, Saviano Abreu, a spokesman with the U.N. humanitarian agency, told reporters after the aerial assessment.

With many houses built of mud, wooden poles and metal roofs destroyed, families have begun wading through rising waters to what they hope are safer areas or huddling under impromptu shelters.

This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, again raising concerns about climate change.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has reported heavy damage to Cabo Delgado province, with the communities of Macomia, Quissanga and Mocimboa da Praia of highest concern.

About 3,500 homes in parts of Cabo Delgado were partially or fully destroyed by the cyclone, with electricity cut, some roads blocked and at least one key bridge collapsed. Some schools and health centers were damaged.

Source: Voice of America