February 28, 2011

Norwegian Ambassador visits Port Sudan

A Norwegian representative to Sudan, Ambassador Kjemprud visited Red Sea State over the last weekend in February and met Governor Mohamed Tahir Eila on Saturday to discuss fisheries and academic cooperation and possible other areas of cooperation.

In a meeting with the Governor on Saturday, current cooperation between Red Sea State and Norway was discussed. In addition to academic cooperation and Norwegian shipping interests in Port Sudan, possibilities of cooperation in the fisheries sector was discussed with a possibility of assistance from the Marine Research Institute in Bergen, Norway. The prospects for tourism as well as fish farming and securing the environment was also on the agenda.


20,000 attend cultural festival in PS

A huge folklore and music festival was held at the Port Sudan International Stadium on Friday February 25, 2011. More than 20.000 people attended.  They were entertained by famous musicians, poets and dance groups reflecting the cultural diversity of the Red Sea State.

February 25, 2011

Japan supports Kassala State

Japan's international development agency has signed an agreement to fund a Capacity Development Project in Kassala State.

The Project aims at providing Kassala State with basic services such as development planning, water supply, agriculture and livelihood, maternal and child health and vocational training with a total value of 17 million US Dollars to be implemented in three years as from May 2011.

The agreement was signed by the Wali (governor) of Kassala State, Mohamed Yousif Abdalla, and the Resident Representative of JICA in Sudan, Kenichi Shishido.

This development funding is part of Japan's $320 million commitment toward the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

This agreement was reported at AllAfrica on February 23, 2011.

February 20, 2011

"Halayeb could ignite conflict"

A Sudanese Presidential Advisor has issued a statement clarifying the Presidential Assistant's statement that Egypt should immediately return the Hala'ib triangle to Sudanese control.

In the new statement by Dr. Ghazi Salah Addee. he says that the previous statement by Mousa Ahmed, of the  Beja tribe is confusing.

The new statement tries to undo the rashness of the first statement by putting the regional hopes of the Beja people into a national context, and by putting possible negotiations with Egypt into a more appropriate timeline.

There was much grace given, as there was no condemnation of the Assistant's person at all.

Read the statement at Sudan Vision.

Musa Ahmed wants Hala'ib region back

A senior official in President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir's government has demanded that the Egyptian army "immediately" cedes control of Halayeb, bringing back to the fore Sudan-Egypt's longstanding territorial dispute over the border region.

The Egyptian army seized control of Halayeb region, which occupies an area of land measuring 20,580 square km in the border areas of the Red Sea coast, after relations between the two neighbors plummeted due to the 1995's failed attempt by Islamists allegedly backed by Sudan to assassinate Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

In an interview relayed on Wednesday [February 16] by Al-Shurug Satellite TV, Sudan's presidential aide and leader of the former eastern rebels Beja Congress Musa Mohammed Ahmad called on the Egyptian army to pull out of Halayeb "immediately" so the area would not become a "bone of contention" between the neighboring nations.

Musa stressed that the issue is now easier to settle after the resignation of Mubarak whose regime Musa accused of "deliberately inciting sedition" between the two countries, expressing hope that the new Egyptian government would correct the mistakes of the old regime.

Mubarak was ousted last Friday [February 11] after 18 days of public protests against his 30-year rule. The Egyptian army is now the controlling power in the country for a six months transitional period open for extension.

Musa urged the high council of the Egyptian army to immediately pull out of Halayib, claiming that historical documents confirm that the area belongs to Sudan.

The official expressed support for the proposal put forward by Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to refer the issue of Halayeb to the UN Security Council (UNSC), saying that ruling on the issue would be in the favor of Sudan because the latter possesses documents confirming that "the triangle is 100% Sudanese"

Sudanese officials have long avoided raising the issue of Halayeb in public for fears of angering their Egyptian counterparts. Sudan has avoided registering voters inside Halayeb for the elections which took place last year despite earlier assertions that the region was included as a constituency.
But the issue of Halayeb flared up in July of last year when President Al-Bashir made a surprising assertion that "Halayeb is Sudanese and will stay Sudanese" while addressing a rally of his supporters at the coastal town of Port Sudan.

However, Al-Bashir's remarks were brushed aside by Egypt's foreign minister Ahmad Aboul-Gheit who said that "the Southern borders to Egypt are well known at latitude 22° and I see no need to further indulge in the historical backgrounds [of this subject]."

The Egyptian minister further noted that there was an agreement between Bashir and his Egyptian counterpart to make Halayeb and integration and development zone.

The genesis of the disputes over Halayib dates back to as early as 1958 after Sudan gained independence from Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. The wrangle is a result of a discrepancy in the demarcation of political boundaries set by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the ones set earlier by the British in 1902.

Cairo rejects any international arbitration over the area. This week Sudan's foreign ministry said that the country's complaint to the UNSC on Halayeb pending since 1958 is renewed annually for consideration.


Previous stories on this blog include




February 17, 2011

Human trafficing

The Workshop of Human Trafficking and Smuggling, organized by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC), began Wednesday [February 16] at the Hall of Kassala Police Forces with the participation of leaders and concerned persons in the States of Geddarif and Red Sea, in the presence of the Adviser of the Governor of Geddarif State, Hassan Mohammed Osman. The many refugees in the area increase the possibility of this phenomena.

February 16, 2011

Episcopal Church to remain unified

Using a bible verse from the New Testament, the bishops of the Episcopal [Anglican] Church in Sudan said the church would remain a single church, even though Sudan plans to split into two nations. They quoted a verse about Jesus, "He has committed to us the message of reconciliation" 2 Corinthians 5:19b

The Church has 31 dioceses, or regions, in Sudan each with their own bishop. After a meeting in Juba in early February, the bishops released a statement about their hopes for the new nations.

There are 14 points, covering poverty, peace, unity, the Lords Resistance Army, conflict in Darfur, etc.

For our Beja friends, two points seem most important. The Bishops write,

12. Constitution-making
We call on the Governments of South Sudan and North Sudan to be inclusive of civil society especially the Church and other faith-based organisations in the reviewing and re-writing process of the new constitutions. A constitution is supposed to be a covenant between those charged with the responsibility of governance and the governed. All stake-holders must be involved and once the two nations have been formed, there must be a constitutional conference to enhance ownership of the two constitutions. We call for an inclusive government where justice shall prevail.

13. Separation of State and Religion
There has been misunderstanding on the issue of separation of state and religion. Our interpretation of this is that no majority religion should be above another and that no one church should have the monopoly of being the State Church. Moslems, Christians and followers of other religions must live in harmony with one another. Individuals of North and South Sudan must be allowed to practice their religions freely whilst being tolerant and respectful of people of other faiths.

Read the whole statement at the Anglican Communion News Service
Also at All-Africa.

February 9, 2011

South Sudan to become a new country

  Official results were released on February 7. Over 98% of the voters in the January referendum voted for separation. People in the south are celebrating.

President Bashir has acknowledged the results. South Sudan will become a new country in July, 2011.

Read this summary of the official results of the voting. The difficult path of nation building lies ahead.

February 8, 2011

Massacre remembered - video

A massacre was committed by the authorities in Port Sudan in January 2005, where 22 Beja citizens were immediately shot dead, and more than 400 injured, including women and children. This amounts to a crime against humanity, racial cleansing, mass murder. This happened when the Beja citizen of Port Sudan organized a peaceful demonstration demanding peace, federal rule, end of marginalization, development to their region and democracy. Includes a brief review of life in the east. [Narrated in Arabic]

In 2009, Dr. Abu Amna released a letter on behalf of the Beja Congress, appealling to democratic lawyers to help bring the perpetrators of these killings to justice.

Gration's report after visiting Port Sudan

As I continue my 25th trip as Special Envoy to Sudan, I’m struck by the remarkable potential that an improved relationship between the United States and Sudan holds for the Sudanese people. While much of my time has been spent on Darfur and North-South issues, it’s important to recognize that we seek to broaden our engagement with all of Sudan — north, south, east, and west. Since writing from Juba, I traveled north to Khartoum, and then east for my first visit to the Red Sea State as Special Envoy.

On February 4-5, I visited Port Sudan, a city on Sudan’s eastern coast and a vital economic hub. Its port and oil terminal are critical to the Sudanese economy, and though I was impressed by the superb efforts of local humanitarian workers, it’s clear that eastern Sudan’s citizens would benefit from additional investment in education, health care, critical infrastructure, and improved access to basic services, especially safe drinking water.

Meetings with local government officials impressed upon me the important role that Eastern Sudan’s three states play in Sudan’s political, economic, and cultural life. I encouraged them to work toward our shared vision of a more open and inclusive society — one where all Sudanese can enjoy a better future, whether Dinka or Misseriya, Darfuri, or Beja. We appreciate the government’s efforts to fulfill its commitments under the Eastern Peace Agreement and encourage it to do everything possible to keep people safe and create the conditions for economic growth. Families cannot thrive where people feel excluded and economic opportunity is scarce.

For the north to reach its full potential, it must be strong and united from east to west. I shared this in my meetings with the deputy wali (the Sudanese term for local governor), and challenged him to consider how an improved relationship between the United States and Sudan could benefit his province’s people. A visit to the port facility revealed a wealth of potential opportunity. In the next decade, Port Sudan could emerge as a major maritime hub and gateway to the rest of the world, and the east could play a major role in the north’s economic stability.

I’m grateful to the people of Port Sudan for their hospitality, and look forward to future opportunities to strengthen the ties forged during this initial visit.


February 7, 2011

Beja lands expropriated?

In an extended essay outlining the outcomes of damming the Nile River, the author points out many problems. Some of the situation rests with the physical aspects of building dams - the land is flooded, but some are political - the strategy of relocating people but not developing services for them is damaging to society.

The critical essay examines options to the water agreements that ensures that Sudan allows water to flow north - Egypt is already stressed to meet the needs of 80 million people who are dependent on the Nile River. Egypt needs more land to grow crops for its people. By making deals with Sudan, it could gain access to cropland, and thus food security. Would Egyptian peasants be resettled onto Sudanese land?

A couple of unsubstantiated sentences challenge the life of Beja in parts of the east.

"In the case of the Beja people of eastern Sudan, it was announced lately that lands in the delta of al-gash and Tokar are being expropriated from the Beja under pretext of not being able to pay back loans they received from the Agriculture Bank, and then handed over to Egyptian companies."


COMMENT: The Gash river flows north through Kassala into the desert, from the Eritrean highlands.
The Tokar delta is just north of the Eritrean border by the Red Sea. The Baraka River flows northeast out of the Eritrean highlands, but dries up in the delta. Both regions are very fertile, and support extensive cropping of sorghum, millet, fruits and vegetables.

North Sudan's Islamic hopes

In speaking to a mass rally of Sufis in North Khartoum on Saturday, February 5, President Bashir commented on the implications of the Southern referendum. [The south has voted for independence.] The north has an opportunity now to focus on Bashir's vision of the country, without the need to accommodate the interests of the south.

At the rally, Bashir said the North will have finally determined its identity. He said, ""Ninety-eight percent of the people in north Sudan are Muslims... Islam is the official religion of the state, and the state will govern by Sharia'a, and this is the basis on which we are going to build a new state."

Opposition parties have said that the ruling National Congress Party's emphasis on Islamic Sharia'a after secession is a prelude to a "police state" used to crush any dissent.

During the meeting, a covanent signed by nine Sufi sect leaders was given to Bashir. The Sheikhs promised to backup the Islamic discourse and support the president. They praised the Islamic achievements of the president.

The Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowment also spoke to the gathering of national leaders of the Sufis. Azhari al Tijani said that though the south has voted for secession, the mother-state in the north will stay coherent and it will cooperate with the newly born state in the south. He noted that the meeting sends a message that the Sudanese people back their leadership strongly.

COMMENT: In his speech, Bashir referred to "Salvation regime."  He appears to be using a historical reference to a previous version of the government he lead in his early days of leadership. “The new state in the North is the second republic and it is the Salvation in new phase,” said the president.

His autocratic rule began after he lead a military coup in 1989. At the time, he suspended political parties and instituted the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation which began a program of institutionalizing Sharia law. The National Salvation government was reconstructed 4 years later as Bashir gained more power, and 10 years later the government allowed opposition parties access to the ruling process and used the National Congress Party label, which had been a front for the National Islamic Front.


In a speech to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) personnel, Bashir received allegiance from the officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers on the hearing and obedience in wealth and poverty as long as he sticks to Sharia law to preserve the country's security and sovereignty.
[awkward translation above: perhaps ... upon hearing the speech, the soldiers offered their obedience, no matter what the economic situation, as long as ....

In addition to being President of the Republic, Bashir is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.


UPDATE: In a speech on Tuesday, February 8, in a mass rally in Umruaba at the start of a tour to  North Kordofan state, President Bashir said, "You must uphold Islamic Shariah, Sudanese values and morals, all being attributes that distinguish Sudanese from others."


UPDATE: Vice President Ali Osman Taha met with Muslim scholars on February 19, to get further understanding of what should be included in the Sharia law.  He promised "that the points raised would be addressed and that it was necessary to always listen to the voices and advice of the Muslim scholars in the application of the shaira laws and to their views on the application of the sharia laws and in the commitment to the Islamic orientation in the future particularly after Sudan gained distinctiveness following the secession of the south."


photo of Bashir from 2009,  Sudan Tribune

February 5, 2011

Red Sea State Governor recovers

Governor of the Red Sea State, Mohamed Tahir Iyla

Mr. Iyla has been so long in Suadi Arabia recovering from unstated health issues, that people have begun to think that he has defected from the National Congress Party, which rules Sudan from Khartoum.

NCP officials have denied these reports, and have explained that he has met with investors in Saudi while recovering. They pointed out that he had been elected fairly [in April 2010], and so had no reason to rebel.


also published at


US envoy Gration visits Port Sudan

Scott Gration, the United States envoy to Sudan, visited Port Sudan on February 4 and 5. He did it without informing authorities of his travel. [No permits are required for travelling in the east, since November 2010.]

While in Port Sudan, he met with UN officials and was briefed on the humanitarian situation. However, he was unable to meet with Beja leaders, because he apparently had not received permission from officials in Khartoum to do so.


UPDATE February 7:  An All Africa article examines various interpretations of Gration's visit to the east and notes differing views on his permission to go east. Beja officials are called "the local opposition." It points out that Gration met with the minister of health and education, but that it was not a political journey.


Key paragraphs copied below.

But Gration was not allowed to meet rebels from the Beja Congress because his visit was not permitted by the authorities in Khartoum, according to a report published on Friday by the daily newspaper Al-Raed, which is affiliated to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

The US embassy's statement contended that the envoy's visit was "fully approved by and was closely coordinated with the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum."

The embassy's claim was confirmed on Saturday by the official spokesman of Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khalid Musa, who told reporters in Khartoum that his ministry did give Gration a permission to visit the state.

Musa, however, stopped short of explaining why Gration was not allowed to meet the opposition.
Instead, he said that the only purpose of Gration's visit was to meet local officials, including the minister of education, and assess humanitarian situation.

The spokesman further asserted that Gration's visit had nothing to do with the political situation in the east, nor does it mean that the U.S had entered into the affairs of East Sudan.

The [political agreement] ESPA promised government jobs and 600 million dollars for development over five years. Accordingly, a development and reconstruction for East Sudan was established but little has been achieved, fuelling bitterness among the region's four million inhabitants.

Gration's visit also coincided with a tense political climate in the state after the long absence of the state's governor Mohamed Tahir Iyla in Saudi Arabia gave rise to speculations that he was disgruntled with the NCP's leadership in Khartoum.

However, Iyla returned to the state and participated on Friday at a rally in which the NCP's deputy president Nafi Ali Nafi dismissed rumors of his defection as propagated by "circles targeting East Sudan and eying its wealth."

Opposition groups in the Red Sea accuse Iyla of accumulating a personal wealth out of development projects and using 'divide and conquer' tactics to consolidate his rule.

February 1, 2011

Port Sudan journalists detained

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that two newspaper journalists based in the eastern city of Port Sudan have been accused of trying to overthrow the constitution, a charge punishable by hanging, just for raising the possibility of eastern Sudan's secession in an article.

read it all.


UPDATE: The United Nations radio service in Sudan reports that the Beja Congress has asked for the release of the two newspaper journalists. Beja Congress spokesman Salah Barkawin said that his party is committed to the unity of Sudan.