Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

Sudanese celebrate in Khartoum after generals and protest leaders signed a historic agreement meant to pave the way for civilian rule in the country. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

  • Ruling body to be composed of 11 members, including 5 from the military
  • The council was created under a power-sharing deal

KHARTOUM: Sudan's generals and protest leaders on Tuesday formed the sovereign council that will steer the country through three years of transition towards civilian rule.
The body replaces the Transitional Military Council that took over from longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir when he was forced from power in April amid relentless protests.
The former president appeared in court Monday, sitting in a cage to face graft charges — a sight that the two thirds of Sudan's 40 million inhabitants who were born under his rule could hardly have imagined.
The very first steps of the transition to civilian rule after 30 years of Bashir's regime proved difficult however with disagreements within the protest camp holding up the formation of Sudan's new ruling body for two days.
The names of the joint civilian-military council's 11 members were eventually announced late Tuesday by the spokesman of the TMC.
The council includes five members of the military and will be headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who was already the head of the TMC.
"The president of the sovereign council will be sworn in tomorrow morning at 11:00 am (0900 GMT)," TMC spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi said in a short televised address.
Burhan will head the council for the first 21 months and a civilian will take over for the remaining 18 months of the transitional period, which is due to end in 2022 with democratic elections.
Among the six civilian members of the new ruling council are two women, one of them from Sudan's Christian minority.

The protest camp last week picked Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN economist based in Addis Ababa, as transitional prime minister. He will be formally appointed on Wednesday.
The transition's key documents were signed on Saturday at a ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, signalling that Sudan could be on its way to shedding the pariah status it had taken on through years of devastating war in Darfur.
But amidst the euphoria celebrating the promise of civilian rule, unease was palpable within the protest camp that brought about one of the most crucial changes in Sudan's modern history.
One reason is the omnipresence in the transition of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a paramilitary commander and one of the signatories of the documents, whose forces are blamed for the deadly repression of the protests.
Sudanese women, who played a leading role in the protests, have also expressed their shock at female under-representation in the transition.
Every newspaper in Sudan made its headlines with Bashir's landmark court appearance Tuesday.
Some of them carried pictures of the ousted ruler in his courtroom cage, an image that instantly became another symbol of his military regime's downfall.
Large amounts of cash were found at his residence after he was toppled and police investigator Ahmed Ali said the case brought before the court concerned some of that money.
"The accused told us that the money was part of a sum of $25 million sent to him by Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be used outside of the state budget," he said.
On the streets of Khartoum, residents were not trying to hide their contentment at seeing their longtime tormentor in the dock.
"Bashir has done a lot against us in 30 years," said Fatma Abdallah Hussein, a young medical student who took part in the protests earlier this year.
"Hunger, lack of education, what he did in Darfur and other issues, it is for these things we took to the streets, faced the teargas and the harassment," she said.
Alhaj Adam, a Khartoum resident, argued that Bashir's corruption trial should not distract from the need for the new administration to ratify the Rome Statute.
That would allow the former ruler's transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges over the war in Darfur that erupted in 2003.
"The evidence he committed genocide should come forward... Many civilians inside and outside Sudan have died because of him and he should face justice," Adam said.
 


Bahrain says it broke up militant attack plot in early 2020

Updated 45 min 31 sec ago

Bahrain says it broke up militant attack plot in early 2020

  • The plot targeting diplomats and foreign nationals was foiled earlier in the year
  • Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street believed to have been planted to target a ‘foreign delegation’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Bahrain said Monday it broke up a plot by militants backed by Iran earlier this year to launch attacks on diplomats and foreigners in the island nation home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The announcement came hours after Saudi state television and a Bahraini local newspaper implied the plot was new in their reporting Sunday night, just days after the island kingdom normalized relations with Israel. Bahraini government officials, who routinely claim breaking up plots by militants backed by Iran, did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press over the confusion.
The details of the plot became public as tensions between Iran and the US remain high after the Trump administration claimed to have re-invoked all United Nations sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program — something disputed by other world powers. The militants reportedly sought revenge for the US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January, something long threatened by his colleagues in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Iran’s mission to the UN dismissed Bahrain’s claim of Tehran being involved as just “another instance in a long line of preposterous and false allegations, with no basis in truth.”
“It appears there is no limit to Iran-bashing by the US and its client states in the region, who are trying to divert attention from their recent betrayal to Palestinians and their own people,” mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi told the AP.
The Saudi state TV report aired previously unseen footage of what appeared to be police raiding a home with a hidden passage. The footage showed assault rifles and explosives, apparently seized in the raid.
Nine militants have been arrested, while another nine are believed to be in Iran, the Saudi state TV report said.
Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street believed to have been planted to target a “foreign delegation,” the pro-government Bahraini newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The ministry accused the Guard of supporting the militants, who also had surveilled oil sites and military bases, the newspaper said. The militants also planned on assassinating bodyguards of Bahraini officials, the newspaper said.
It wasn’t clear when all the arrests and alleged plots took place, as the Akhbar Al-Khaleej report referred to incidents dating as far back as 2017. The newspaper linked the militants to the Al-Ashtar Brigade, a Shiite group that has claimed responsibility for a number of bombings and attacks in Bahrain, including two that killed police. The group has been sanctioned by the US
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry later published what it described as a “clarification” saying the cases dated to the start of the year and “is not new.” However, media is tightly controlled on the island and access to such trials is routinely limited, suggesting authorities at the least encouraged the initial reporting.
Bahrain is home to the 5th Fleet, which patrols the waterways of the Mideast. Officials have worried in the past that the sailors and Marines attached to the base in Manama could be targeted, as well as others who make up the 7,000 American troops there. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet, declined to comment and referred questions to the Bahraini government.
Bahrain, an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, just last week normalized relations with Israel alongside the United Arab Emirates, in part over their joint suspicion of Iran. The UAE has said their move also pushed Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. Civil society groups in Bahrain have opposed the normalization decision.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the reported arrests in Bahrain.
Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had pushed to take over Bahrain after the British left the country, although Bahrainis in 1970 overwhelmingly supported becoming an independent nation and the UN Security Council unanimously backed that. Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahrain’s rulers have blamed Iran for arming militants on the island. Iran denies the accusations.