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)
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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.

Working mothers hit back at nursery closures in Jordan

Updated 21 October 2020

Working mothers hit back at nursery closures in Jordan

  • Jordan has already endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the region
  • Working mothers fear a second knockback as the country tries to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus

AMMAN: Working mothers staged protests on Wednesday against Jordan’s decision to close all nurseries until year-end, saying the move unfairly targets women in the pandemic.
Jordan has already endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the region and now working mothers fear a second knockback as the country tries to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“This decision has taken us back to events of (the first lockdown), when mothers were in disarray and nurseries were collapsing,” said Rana Ali of Sadaqa, an organization that advocates for women in the workplace.
“It’s an added burden on mothers who will lose the ability to balance their childcare duties and their work.”
Mothers and daycare workers demonstrated against the shutdown — due to begin on Saturday — outside the social development ministry, echoing growing anger on social media.
“Nurseries offer a crucial solution for thousands of working women and it is not a luxury,” tweeted Hadeel Seddiq.
“The closure decision is unfair and remote work is not a viable option for many professions.”
The protests came a day after the ministry of social development announced the planned shutdown, with almost 41,000 coronavirus infections and 414 deaths recorded countrywide.
The ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

It marks the second time that nurseries will close because of COVID-19 after a near three-month hiatus in spring.
Only about 400 of the nation’s 1,400 nurseries re-opened after lockdown was lifted in June, citing financial losses and new hygiene and testing costs, Ali said.
Nebal Al-Haliq, who owns two nurseries in the city of Salt, 22 miles (35 km) from the capital, said the closure would hurt mothers and the 10 staff who tend to 55 children in her care.
“My priority is securing their salaries because their only source of income is the nursery,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“And I’m still paying off the debts from the first closure.”
Dentist Majd Hawamdeh said she would take her two children from Salt to her parents in Amman, a two-hour round-trip that she must make twice daily to carry out her job.
With only three hours work in between, the 29-year-old said had no choice but to cut patient numbers, halving her income.
“Meanwhile I have bills to pay every month,” she said. “These don’t stop whether you go to work or not.”
Women make up less than 15% of the workforce in Jordan, one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the World Bank.
“We already have challenges that face working women and these decisions... will only worsen women’s economic participation,” Ali said.