Sudan appoints new defense chief amid tensions with Ethiopia

Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin, left, takes the oath as minister of defense in the presence of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, center, in Khartoum. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 03 June 2020

Sudan appoints new defense chief amid tensions with Ethiopia

  • The country is on a fragile path to democracy after former President Bashir was overthrown last year

CAIRO: Sudan on Tuesday swore in a new defense minister more that two months after the death of the former defense chief and amid tensions with neighboring Ethiopia.

Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin was sworn in before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, according to a statement from the council. Yassin came out of retirement to take the position.

The ceremony was held in the capital Khartoum.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the country’s Chief Judge Neamat Abdullah attended the ceremony, the statement said.

Yassin replaced Gen. Gamal Al-Din Omar, who died in March of a heart attack in neighboring South Sudan, while taking part in peace talks between his country’s transitional government and rebel groups.

Yassin told reporters after the ceremony he would support Hamdok’s government and work hard to “achieve the goals ... of the transitional period.”

Born in 1958 in Khartoum, Yassin, a career army officer, studied at Sudan’s military academy, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in military science from Jordan’s Mutah University. He retired in 2010, according Sudan’s official SUNA news agency.

The swearing-in came amid tensions with neighboring Ethiopia over a cross-border attack allegedly conducted by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military.

At least one Sudanese army officer and one child were killed in an attack on Thursday by an Ethiopian militia group in Sudan’s eastern Al-Qadarif province, according to Sudan’s military. Another Sudanese officer and three civilians were wounded in the incident, according to the Sudanese statement.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow former President Omar Bashir in April last year. A military-civilian government now leads the country to elections in less than three years.

The transitional administration faces towering challenges, including the dire economic conditions that fueled the protests late in 2018 that eventually led the military to remove Bashir. Sudan’s economy has been battered by decades-long civil wars and international sanctions.

Achieving peace with armed groups is crucial for the government as it would allow a reduction in military spending, which takes up to 80 percent of the budget, the prime minister has said.

Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in its far-flung provinces for decades, and while a rebel alliance has joined the pro-democracy coalition, it said last month that it should be represented in the transitional government.

The August power-sharing deal has called for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within 6 months. This deadline was not met and both sides agreed to extend the talks to reach a deal.


UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

Updated 29 October 2020

UK govt: British women strip-searched in Qatar

  • London describes incident as ‘unacceptable’
  • Strip-search took place in Doha airport

LONDON: British authorities have formally registered concerns with Qatar following reports that two women who are UK nationals were strip-searched in Doha.

The forced medical examinations were carried out in Doha airport after authorities discovered a newborn baby in a bin.

This, it is claimed, prompted them to conduct “urgently decided” intrusive examinations, described as “absolutely terrifying” by one of 13 Australian women on a flight to Sydney who were subjected to them.

The British women were part of a group that was forced to disembark flights before having their underwear removed for a female medical professional to carry out an examination assessing if they had recently given birth.

The complaint was registered by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which said in a statement: “We are providing ongoing support to two British women following an incident in Doha. We have formally expressed our concern with the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways and are seeking assurances an unacceptable incident like this cannot happen again.”

Australian officials said passengers from 10 flights leaving Doha on Oct. 2 were subjected to the ordeal.

“The advice that has been provided indicates that the treatment of the women concerned was offensive, grossly inappropriate, and beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent,” said a spokeswoman for the office of Australia’s foreign minister.

Sources familiar with the incident have said the newborn is alive and in care, and the mother has not been identified.

Related