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South Sudan NEWS Portal ®

U.S. lifts long-standing sanctions on Sudan, rights groups unhappy

The United States lifted long-standing sanctions against Sudan on Friday, saying it had made progress fighting terrorism and easing humanitarian distress, and also secured Khartoum’s commitment not to pursue arms deals with North Korea.

In a move that completes a process begun by former President Barack Obama and which was opposed by human rights groups, President Donald Trump removed a U.S. trade embargo and other penalties that had effectively cut Sudan off from much of the global financial system.

The U.S. decision marked a major turnaround for the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who once played host to Osama bin Laden and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Darfur.

However, Sudan will stay on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism – alongside Iran and Syria – which carries a ban on weapons sales and restrictions on U.S. aid, U.S. officials said.

Sudanese officials also remain subject to United Nations sanctions for human rights abuses during the Darfur conflict, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The lifting of sanctions reflects a U.S. assessment that Sudan has made progress in meeting Washington’s demands, including cooperation on counter-terrorism, working to resolve internal conflicts and allowing more humanitarian aid into Darfur and other rebellious border areas, the officials said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the sanctions relief was in recognition of Sudan’s “sustained positive actions” but that more improvement was needed.

The Trump administration also secured a commitment from Sudan that it would “not pursue arms deals” with North Korea, and Washington will apply “zero tolerance” in ensuring Khartoum’s compliance, one of the officials said.

But they said Khartoum’s assurances on North Korea were not a condition for lifting sanctions, some of which had been in place for 20 years and have hobbled the Sudanese economy.

Sudan has long been suspected of military ties with North Korea, which is locked in a tense standoff with Washington over its missiles and nuclear weapons programs. But the official said Khartoum was not believed to have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and that was not expected to change.

Sudan also has recently distanced itself diplomatically from Iran, another U.S. arch-foe.

POTENTIAL BOOST FOR BUSINESS

U.S. officials have said that sanctions relief, which will unfreeze Sudanese government assets, could benefit a range businesses in Sudan, including its key energy sector.

The economy has been reeling since South Sudan, which contains three-quarters of former Sudan’s oil wells, seceded in 2011.

Shortly before leaving office, Obama temporarily eased penalties against the east African nation. In July, the Trump postponed for three months a decision on whether to remove the sanctions completely, setting up an Oct. 12 deadline.

Rights groups see the sanctions removal as premature.

“It sends the wrong message to lift these sanctions permanently when Sudan has made so little progress on human rights,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch.

Democratic U.S. Representative Jim McGovern said the sanctions decision “legitimizes the murderous actions of the Sudanese government” and warned that “any back-sliding will likely result in Congress reinstating sanctions.”

The United States first imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, including a trade embargo and blocking government assets, for human rights violations and terrorism concerns. Washington layered on more sanctions in 2006 for what it said was complicity in the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region.

REUTERS

Egyptian diplomats to visit Khartoum for bilateral talks

October 6, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A delegation from the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) including four senior ambassadors will start a four-day visit to Khartoum on Monday to set up a working group to draft a paper on Sudanese-Egyptian relations.
Member of the Sudanese Council for Foreign Affairs Ali Youssef told the official news agency SUNA that the visit of the Egyptian delegation comes in implementation of the directives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries (...)

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SPLM-IO Taban rejects IGAD separate consultations

October 6, 2017 (JUBA) - The pro-government opposition faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement led by the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai has rejected separate consultations proposed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc which mediated the 2015 peace agreement aimed at ending war in the young nation.
On Thursday, the group held a meeting chaired by its leader and first vice president to discuss the implementation of the peace agreement, IGAD (...)

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FRONT_PAGE_SECONDARY

U.S. lifts two-decade economic embargo on Sudan

October 6, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The United States on Friday permanently lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan citing positive actions on humanitarian access and counter-terrorism.
In July, Washington said a decision on whether or not to fully lift the sanctions, which former President Obama had suspended shortly before leaving the White House, would be delayed for three months.
“Today, the United States decided to revoke economic sanctions with respect to Sudan and the (...)

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Ethiopia needs policy on ‘sustainable peace and conflict resolution’ – govt body

Ethiopia needs a policy on sustainable peace, conflict prevention and resolution, the country’s human rights body has said.

The Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC) arrived at the latest position after it conducted a study into internal conflicts in parts of the Horn of Africa country.

EHRC’s study was under the topic ‘Conflict and Human Rights in Ethiopia,’ the results were released on Thursday, October 5, the state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting corporate reports.

Beside the Oromia and Somali regions which have been engaged in recent deadly clashes, the study was also carried out in the Gambella and the Southern Nations and Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional states.

They conceded that efforts by security forces and traditional and religious elders to attain resolution of recent crisis had failed, hence the call for a national policy to that effect.

The result was also published with about forty-eight hours to the one-year anniversary of a state of emergency declaration. The government in 2016 imposed the measure to quell spreading anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

The EHRC in April 2017 released a report of a probe into the anti-government protests. According to the report, a total of 669 people were killed in the unrest that hit the Amhara, Oromia and the SNNP regional states.

The report was presented by head of the EHRC to the legislature – the House of People’s Representatives (HPR). Whiles blaming lack of good governance and related issues for the unrest, they held that security forces applied proportionate force to protesters.

Regional experts pushing for common agenda ahead of COP 23

Congo Brazzaville is holding an extraordinary conference on the environment and economy of the Economic Community of Central African States and the East African Community. Experts from 16 African countries held the meeting in Congo’s capital with a focus to acceleration of the operationalisation of the climate commission for the Congo Basin.

According to the Congo’s Environment and Tourism Minister, Arlette Sudan Nonault, the meeting of experts must address the ongoing rampant environmental pollution.

“It is a question of political will. For too long we have considered that ecology has been a luxury to the rich countries. In so doing, we have persistently allowed the industries to pollute the environment and also use it as a means to experiment their studies. We must establish a forceful and credible report. Yes the Fund as blue like any other must be operational,” Congo’s Environment and Tourism Minister said.

The meeting is set to develop a strategy on how to speed up the operationalisation of the Congo Basin Commission of which the Blue Fund of the Congo Basin, the Green Business Fund and other initiatives created to ensure economic development within the region do not compromise environment conservation.

The experts are also expected to strategize the agenda for the joint activities of the 16 countries at COP23, as well as the draft operating budget for the Blue Fund and the Green Economy Fund for Central Africa.

Kagame critic ‘denied legal rights’ in first court appearance

A prominent critic of Rwanda’s president appeared in court alongside her mother and sister on Friday, all charged with forgery and inciting insurrection.

Diane Shima Rwigara is accused of faking the registration papers she filed to stand against President Paul Kagame in an August election. She was eventually barred from running and Kagame went on to win with 98.8 percent of the vote.

Rwigara, 35-year-old accountant, has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s tight grip on the country since it fought its way to power to end Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

On Friday, she told the packed court room she had been forced to appear without her lawyer because authorities had not told him about the hearing in time.

Rwigara, her mother Adeline and sister Anne, have said charges against them are politically motivated.

Kagame has been widely praised for restoring stability but rights groups say he has muzzled independent media and suppressed opponents – accusations he dismisses.

Rwanda last month charged another opposition official and eight others with forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government.

Rwigara, her mother and sister were first taken from their home in the Rwandan capital on Aug. 30 on tax evasion allegations related to the family’s tobacco company.

The tax accusations did not appear on the charge sheet and prosecutors did not give details on the insurrection charge.

Rwigara’s sister Anne said they had not had enough access to their lawyer.

“How can a lawyer defend the case he doesn’t know?” she told the judges. “He came Friday and he was only allowed five minutes to discuss with us and on Sunday when he came back he was not allowed to see us.”

Rwigara’s mother is also charged with “discrimination and sectarianism”.

Prosecutor Michel Nshimiyimana said the Rwigaras’ lawyer, Buhuru Pierre Celestin, had been informed. The judges set the next hearing for Monday.

REUTERS
Photo credit: BBC Africa Live

Kolo Toure named assistant manager of Ivory Coast, Twitter reacts

Former Ivorian international, Kolo Toure, has been handed a national team coaching role. He has been appointed an assistant manager of the Elephants.

Toure will join the current Belgian manager, Marc Wilmots, the football federation (FIF) announced. A statement from the FIF read: “He will take on the role of coach Marc Wilmots’ assistant from the Mali-Ivory Coast match of October 6, 2017.’”

He is already an assistant manager at the last club he played, Scottish side, Celtic. He hung his boot earlier in September 2017 after a year with Celtic where he teamed up with his former manager, Brendan Rodgers.

He won the Scottish league with the side in an unbeaten 2016/2017 season. It was his second unbeaten league run after a similar one with Arsenal 2003/2004 season. In both cases, he played 38 straight games without defeat.

Ivory Coast legend Kolo Toure recently announced his retirement from the game, but did you know he had two unbeaten “Invincibles” seasons? pic.twitter.com/RRa4ri95yq— Soccer Laduma (@Soccer_Laduma) September 18, 2017

The 35-year-old defender has a wealth of experience, having played in the English Premier League with three high flying clubs, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, winning two league titles and three FA Cups.

Kolo, born in Bouake, has been capped 118 times by the Ivorian national team and is the second most capped Ivorian player. He represented the team at three successive World Cups (Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014).

He has also played at seven African Cup of Nations (AFCON) between 2002 and 2015, helping the team finish runners-up in 2006 and 2012 before winning the trophy in 2015 after beating Ghana on penalties in the final.

Twitter reactions to announcement

Very happy to see my big bro Kolo is Côte d’Ivoire assistant coach. Excellent 😊 🇨🇮 pic.twitter.com/zUAOh6jP4m— Yaya Touré (@YayaToure) October 5, 2017

🙌 Double invincible.
🍀 Coach at Celtic.
👔 Assistant manager of Ivory Coast.

😍 Is there anything Kolo Toure can't do? pic.twitter.com/jFMU9JkC23— bet365 (@bet365) October 5, 2017

OFFICIAL: Kolo Touré has been appointed as Ivory Coast assistant manager. 🇨🇮

The legend continues…😎🙌 pic.twitter.com/3b7nolQsea— SPORF (@Sporf) October 5, 2017

Congratulations to Kolo Toure who has been named Ivory Coast assistant manager 👏🇨🇮 pic.twitter.com/XzpzPyS3vW— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) October 5, 2017

Reasons to support Ivory Coast:
1. Kolo Toure is now their assistant manager
2. Their flag is a reverse Ireland flag
3. No more required— Paddy Power (@paddypower) October 5, 2017

🙌 Kolo Toure has become the Ivory Coast’s assistant manager

He just keeps on going pic.twitter.com/JRaM8b5t9w— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) October 5, 2017

Libyan horses find new hospital

Libyan horses in need of medical treatment have a brand new facility in the country’s capital.

The al-Qadiysiya hospital for horses was funded by the veterinarians who now run it. Construction of the hospital took a year.

The veterinarians say it is the first of its kind in the country and has the capability to treat broken bones, deal with pregnancies or even provide shelter for stray horses.

They say the hospital has the potential to expand even further, despite Libya’s political instability.

“We still hope to develop it even more and for it to be more advanced, but as you know all of the general problems Libya is going through hinders development,” said al-Qadiysiya veterinarian Abdel Salam Arhouma.

Horses who participate in racing tournaments and equestrianism, which are both popular sports in Libya, are regularly sent to the centre for check-ups, and guard horses used by security forces are also given the same treatment, according to veterinarian Sarah al-Bosphy.

“We have treatment for wounds, and other regular check-ups for horses, as well as guard horses, check-ups for race horses, surgeries for broken bones and also general surgeries. The surgeries for broken bones for example are for broken jaws as well as ordinary fractures,” she said.

X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, pharmaceutical services and even massages are also provided.

The veterinarians at the hospital include women, which is unusual according to al-Bosphy.

“The female participation in this field of the treatment and surgery of horses is very rare in Libya. At the same time, this sort of profession for women is very good because she can care for the horse and love it, as well as have compassion for it,” explained al-Bosphy.

The hospital currently services between 30 to 40 horses a month, and the shelter’s 10 cubicles takes around 50 to 70 patients a month.

General check-ups can cost a horse-owner between 20 and 120 Libyan dinars ($14-87 USD) but surgeries can cost much more, up to 300 Libyan dinars ($219 USD).

The shelter for stray horses is crowd-funded and free of charge and hospital owners are currently expanding with two extra cubicles.

Reuters

Election campaigns intensify ahead of Liberia’s crucial polls

Political campaigns in Liberia enter their final stages this week, ahead of next week’s presidential elections, as incumbent President and Nobel Prize Peace winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prepares to step down, after two terms in office.

The much anticipated October 10th elections will be Liberia’s third post-war presidential and legislative polls, marking the first time a democratically elected president will hand over power to a similarly leader.

Twenty presidential candidates will be competing in this year’s elections, including vice-president, Joseph Boakai, former footballer George Weah amongst others.

Many have lauded Sirleaf for helping Liberia slowly regain its political standing following the two civil wars that spanned 14 years, by restoring order and holding peaceful democratic elections.

Despite’s Liberia’s abundant raw materials, and as Johnson-Sirleaf sought investment for an economy devastated by war, critics complain reforms have been slow.

Liberia’s economy has taken a big hit from a slump in commodity prices since 2014, and from the Ebola epidemic analysts say many Liberians are looking for a president who will help boost the economy.

“From all indication, the Liberian people want change. I mean a change for the better. Because looking at the 12 years of service of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, we observe that there was some gains, especially for maintaining peace,” said political analyst Kerkula Kamara.

Sirleaf made history in 2005 when she was declared Africa’s first female president. At the time, Johnson-Sirleaf faced the uphill task of rebuilding a country shattered by 14 years of war.

The then-67-year old had gone from waiting tables while at Harvard, to being a government minister in Liberia, to working as an economist in exile after she’d criticised the military regime of the 1980s.

But critics say Sirleaf’s legacy may be overshadowed by opponents who accuse her of corruption and nepotism. She has appointed several family members to senior government posts, but denies any favouritism.

The country held presidential debates for the first time to enable candidates spell out their plans for Liberia.

Analysts say though that challenges such as lack of preparedness and voter awareness may hamper elections.

“This year we have many young people who will be voting for the first time, and I don’t see much awareness carrying on. It’s going to be that people will vote, here will be many invalid votes,” said Kamara.

Despite the numerous challenges that a new president will face, many voters are hoping for a government that will overturn the economy and maintain peace in the country.

“By gathering them together in discussion is good. But for me, I ask that this time, let them do less talking and do more work,” said Monrovia resident, Euwina Gerome.

“I’m optimistic that these elections are going to be very peaceful, even though there were one or two isolated cases of violence, but in the overall I strongly believe that will definitely gonna be a peaceful elections,” added another resident Malcolm Joseph.

Johnson-Sirleaf took office in 2006 and promised to take Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic still recovering from the 1989-2003 civil war, away from debt and rampant corruption.

Reuters

Free chocolate each day for every student, Ghana’s president promises

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised to initiate a programme that will ensure every student receives free chocolate or cocoa products every day.

He said the decision is tied with the government’s plans of boosting the local consumption of cocoa products from the world’s second largest producer of the cash crop.

“Our target is to provide every Ghanaian student with a bar of chocolate or cocoa beverage each day whilst in school … [Government agencies] are to ensure the sustained provision of cocoa beverages and chocolates to school children from primary school to secondary level,” he was quoted by local media.

President Akufo-Addo said the programme will be launched soon and some cocoa product manufacturing companies have pledged their support already.

He announced the decision at an event celebrating World Cocoa Day and the 70th anniversary of the country’s cocoa pricing company, Ghana Cocoa Board.

Ghana is the second largest exporter of cocoa in the world after neighbouring Ivory Coast. The West African country produced an estimated 909,493 metric tonnes by July, 2017 – biggest harvest in six years.

It is estimated that Africa consumes only 4% of chocolate products from the continent.

Ghana’s Cocoa Processing Company Limited produces the country’s popular Golden Tree chocolates which are on every shelf and sold in the streets in the country.

The company says about 65,000 metric tonnes of premium Ghana cocoa beans are processed at its factories annually.

Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis created ‘warlike atmosphere’ – Bamenda Bishops

Church leaders in Cameroon’s Anglophone region have spoken on the current crisis which has led to deaths, injuries and arrests after security forces clashed with protesters.

The Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) in a statement issued on Wednesday October 4, said the clashes created a ‘warlike atmosphere’ during the period spanning September 29 to October 2.

“The sighs of those who have lost property through looting or arson, the pain of anxiety inflicted on families and friends of those abducted or missing, the trauma caused on the young and the old by the fright from the warlike atmosphere of last weekend in particular have left another heap of painful memories in our minds and hearts.

“We want, in the first place, to express our profound grief and sympathies to those families who in the recent crisis have lost their dear ones. We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died,” they said in the 26-point statement.

The release signed by six Bishops gave a detailed account of what happened in the region as they saw it and reiterated past efforts they had undertaken to avert the crisis. They also declared October 14 a day of mourning for those killed in the clashes.

Significant portions focused on the highhanded nature of the security response to what they said were very peaceful processions.

Point 8 read as follows: “On Sunday, 1st October 2017, some Priests and some members of Christ’s Lay Faithful were prevented by the heavy military presence on their streets from going to church and so they failed to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of worship. In some areas, we noted with disgust that some Christians were teargassed as they came out of Mass!

“This move, by whosoever instructed, created a lot of confusion and chaos, especially as the faithful believed that the Archbishop’s letter, calling for prayers for peace and tranquillity and which had been endorsed by the Governor of the North West Region, was sufficient authorization for Sunday worship to go on as normal, despite the political tension.

“We, the Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference, are sad and disturbed, having learned that some of our Christians were pursued into their houses – some arrested, some maimed and some (including defenceless teenagers and elderly persons) were simply shot to death, some from helicopters.

“Elsewhere in the world, the Forces of Law and Order protect demonstrating citizens. In our country, peaceful demonstrations, except perhaps those organized by the ruling party, seem to be an opportune moment for our Armed Forces to demonstrate their shooting prowess both from the ground and from the air on unarmed and helpless civilians.”

Condemnation of the deadly clashes have been coming in thick and fast. President Paul Biya, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations chief among others have all called for restraint and dialogue to resolve the tensions.

Cameroon’s Eglish – speaking regions that have long protested marginalization from French Cameroon are now fighting for independence under the Ambazonia republic name. Younde, however, insists that the unity of the Central African country is non-negotiable.

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