Troika warns Sudan about ar­rests of pro­test­ers

The East African - - NEWS - By FRED OLUOCH Special Cor­re­spon­dent

SUDAN, WHICH had been warm­ing up to the West, could be side­lined again after a vi­o­lent crack­down on pro­test­ers that has left at least 22 peo­ple dead.

The Troika — the US, UK and Nor­way — has warned that if Sudan does not re­lease po­lit­i­cal de­tainees and rights ac­tivists ar­rested dur­ing the protests, it would im­pact their fu­ture re­la­tions with Khartoum.

"We are ap­palled by re­ports of deaths and se­ri­ous in­jury to those ex­er­cis­ing their le­git­i­mate right to protest. The govern­ment of Sudan’s ac­tions and de­ci­sions over the com­ing weeks will have an im­pact on the en­gage­ment of our gov­ern­ments and oth­ers in the com­ing months and years," said the state­ment, which was also signed by Canada.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures given by the In­te­rior Min­istry in­di­cate that 816 peo­ple have been ar­rested across the coun­try and 19 killed, but the op­po­si­tion coali­tion says over 40 peo­ple have been killed.

The US lifted eco­nomic sanc­tions against Khartoum in Septem­ber 2017; the UK had pledged to help Sudan write off a $53.35-bil­lion debt, pro­vided that Khartoum pro­moted di­a­logue and in­sti­tuted demo­cratic re­forms that en­sured po­lit­i­cal free­doms.

All this could go down the drain given that the US re­tains Sudan on the list of coun­tries spon­sor­ing ter­ror­ism. Last Novem­ber, the US and Sudan launched the se­cond phase of a process aim­ing at nor­mal­is­ing bi­lat­eral ties and Sudan’s re­moval from the list of coun­tries sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism.

The Mo Ibrahim Foun­da­tion, which fo­cuses on lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance in Africa, said 70 per cent of the budget in Sudan is spent on se­cu­rity, armed forces and mili­tia, so it is no won­der that the coun­try’s econ­omy is fall­ing.

“To buy food — even bread — has be­come difficult. The mes­sage is clear that the govern­ment has been re­jected by the peo­ple. This is ev­ery­where, in all the towns in Sudan, peo­ple are com­ing out and say­ing enough is enough,” said Dr Ibrahim, founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foun­da­tion, who also has roots in Sudan.

Pic­ture: AFP

Sup­port­ers of Sudan’s Pres­i­dent Omar al-bashir at a rally in the Green Square in Khartoum on Jan­uary 9.

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