March 21, 2011

Interview with Dr. Amna Dirrar

published by Sudan Vision Newspaper.

By: Ibrahim Al-Jack

East Sudan suffered from war throughout recent period however signing of East Peace Agreement has resulted in tangible breakthroughs in east's crisis and number of practical agenda has been set up in coincidence with donors' support to settlement of development in east.

Ibrahim Aal-Jack of Sudan Vision met and interviewed Dr. Amna Dirrar Senior Figure from eastern Sudan, so as to enlighten readers about reality of situations in the east.

Q: We would like you to tell us about East Peace Agreement.
A: Firstly, it's important to mention that east Sudan enjoys a great number of natural resources however the area has been neglected for long. Absence of development has led a number of citizens to rebel. They went to Eritrea and from there armed confrontation began. People in east Sudan suffered much from war between the National Congress Party (NCP) and insurgents.

A large number of the population left their homeland to escape the war. War contributed to raise rate of poverty as well as ignorance. Large groups of people lived in slums on the outskirts of cities. Later, different parties grew to strive for peace after brutality of war had been experienced practically. The agreement addressed basic citizens' basic needs in the east as east's crisis hasn't involved either political or ideological aspects. The agreement is based in particular pivots including security arrangements. The pivot of security arrangements is central in the agreement as it enabled great number of young people fighting the government, to demobilized and reintegrated in society.

Q: Are you satisfied with what has been achieved by the agreement?
 A: About 65 percent of the agreement has already been implemented so far. However, great outputs are expected as soon as the rest of the articles are implemented. Donors Conference convened in Kuwait recently has pushed implementation ahead and I think great efforts as exerted now to implement the agreement comprehensively.

Q: It has been said that the agreement is not more than bilateral political deal between governments of Sudan and Eritrea. Do you agree?
A: No, I don't agree. The agreement is based on profound negotiations between Sudanese government and opposition. What is important is that the agreement provides opposition with great opportunity to work in Sudan.

Q: What is the nature of relations between Eritrean government and opposition in the east?
A: It is a distinguished relation as a number of ethnical as well as cultural ties link east Sudan with Eritrea. In general, our relation with Eritrea is distinguished since it is based on mutual understanding.

Q: How do you evaluate recent crisis erupted in the Red Sea state over property of the port in Port Sudan?

A: I think the port is a national property and its revenue is for all Sudanese people however Maritime Port Authority is required to earmark particular budget from the revenue for development in the east.

Q: Could you inform our readers about East Reconstruction Fund.
A: The objective of the fund is boosting reconstruction in the east. I think USD 600 million is too little to carry out such a magnificent project putting into consideration that the east is a war-affected area however the allocated sum represents  a step forward. I think Donors' Conference conducted in Kuwait is one of the most successful steps towards reconstruction. I think the conference has been successful as it hasn't only pledged to boost reconstruction but it has also taken practical measures to rehabilitate developmental and service projects in the area.

Q: What are the guarantees ensuring implementation of developmental projects?
A: Funds financing these projects guarantee implementation. No project is to be financed unless comprehensive study upon its feasibility is conducted.

Q: What are the advantages of Sitate Dam?
A: It will provide the area with vast areas for cultivation the thing facilitate settlement of citizens residing in the area via providing them with proper job opportunities.

Q: What is your point of view on Halayib issue post change of regime in Egypt?
A: Change of regime doesn't mean change of politics. As the current government in Egypt is a transitional one it is difficult to speak about its stance towards Halayib issue. Anyhow, Halayib is part of Sudan. Current situation won't affect the fact that Halayib is Sudanese.

Q: What is your evaluation to health and educational situations in east Sudan currently?
A: Education in Sudan is less developed compared with other countries. Main challenges hampering development of education in the east are language, poverty, lack of educational institutions in addition to child labor which affect school enrolment negatively. Girls' education is also confronted by number of difficulties. On the other hand, endemic diseases such as TB and Kalazar in addition to maternal mortality in rural areas stand as the main factors threatening people's health in the east. I think great implementation of planned projects will play a great role in resolving these problems.

Q: It is remarkable that east Sudan has been suffering from lack of drinking water for long. Do planned projects put this problem into account?
A: Problem of drinking water has almost been resolved in Port Sudan and Gedarif. Sitate Dam has contributed to resolve the problem effectively. There are projects aiming at drilling artesian wells in addition to projects aiming at establishing stations for water desalination on the Red Sea in addition to water project in Tokar.

Q: Are there split in East Front?
A: East Front is a political party that kicked off negotiations with government on development of the east. Post signature of the agreement number of political forces was formed including Al Osood al Hura and Bija Conference. The emergence of these parties is normal as the new era bears new dimensions. We exerted tangible effort to preserve continuation of different parties as part of East Front however number of difficulties hampered us. We registered the party in the name of East Democratic Party.

Q: Unfortunately East Democratic Party is also witnessing number of disagreements.
A: Inaccurate evaluation of political situations has resulted in the disagreements. Competition on political offices also contributes to increase the agreements. The group that has dismissed me from the party hasn't referred to laws and regulations. This group attributes their mistakes to the chairperson of the party. Anyhow, any chairperson of any party is responsible for indicating the headlines for the party not the details. I think the dismissal is far from laws and regulations directing the party.

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