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Weekly Press Columns Digest

Weekly Press Columns Digest

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The most outstanding issues that drew press commentaries this week were the address by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok marking the first anniversary of the formation of the civilian-led government and the impediments he said the government faces. The second issue was the controversial address by chairman of the Sovereignty Council, General Abdelfattah Alburhan to the military’s brass (from brigadier general and above) in which he replied to the Prime Minister’s remark that the army did not handover its investment companies to the Ministry of Finance. The third issue was the series of official visits to Sudan by foreign officials, including that of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

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Commenting on General Burhan’s harsh criticism of the Prime Minister’s remarks about the army’s investments and how they hamper the authority of the Ministry of Finance on public money, wrote Alrayyah Abdelgadir in the Sudanile electronic publication Sudanile:

Analysts who watch the military’s investments around the World conclude that trade and the military are two complete opposites that never meet. But this does not mean the army should not work in the civilian domains. Many of the World armies contribute widely to the armaments industry side by side with the private sectors and in the promotion of strategic technologies.

The armies also have a role in road building in remote areas with rough terrain.

Why roads and bridges?

Because investment in them has no quick return but, at the same time, the roads and bridges are part of the army’s strategy: The roads and bridges help the army with easy movement when the need for quick security intervention arises.

But when the army is involved in the economic life, it sure spoils the investment climate and undermines fair competition. That is because the army enjoys tax, customs and procedural exemptions and obtains wide lands or it can easily obtain land plots. This is not available for the civilian private contenders. An atmosphere like this does not just deter local investments. It equally deters direct foreign investments, and thus reduces the flow of foreign exchange. An example of this is what happened in our neighbor Egypt when the IMF in 2017 warned that the military corporations impede the progress of the private sector that could create jobs for the Egyptians.

Based on this, and if the Army companies were working in road and bridge building in Darfur, Eastern Sudan and Kordofan, for instance, they could have competed with the undisciplined private companies, and could have more easily helped wipe out the rebel movements by facilitating traffic on the roads they build. Furthermore, they could have contributed to the development of those areas and, by that, this development could have removed the causes for rebellion. But when the army companies compete with the private sector in quick investments, like in food commodities and the telecommunications market, they expose themselves to the causes of corruption and corrupting and eliminate fair competition and fair play.

In this respect it should be remembered that China was obliged to prevent its army from commercial investments after senior officers were involved in corruption cases, a matter that marred the army’s image. Here the state leadership decided to sacrifice profits in recognition of the fact that with the existence of corruption no sophisticated army that faces the mounting challenges could be built.

It is for this reason that most of the poor countries are plagued with corruption when their armies turned into a state within a state due to these vast military investments that generate big profits to the interests of the generals and their narrow circles inside and outside the armies, while the junior army officers and soldiers suffer the same poverty that grips the general public. The state of Pakistan is an example of this situation when the country lives under a situation in which the generals lead a life of luxury with investments reaching 20 billion dollars, while the general public suffers a dire economic situation.

In the light of these facts, we return to Burhan’s speech:

First: You said you have launched the army companies by deductions from your salaries. We understand from this that the army investments are no more than small companies, the like of trade unions’ cooperatives. If that is the case, why do you complain that their handing over to the Ministry of Finance is tantamount to the dismantling of the army? Does the dissolution of a cooperative society similar to that of the teachers union mean the collapse of the country’s schools and universities? What we necessarily understand from your speech is that these are big companies that can carry the entire national army on their shoulders and similarly the entire nation of Sudan.

Second: Do the other social sectors, like the teachers, laborers and medical doctors, have companies equal to those of the army?

Third: For example, I have visited the building of the strategic studies academy. I have never seen a building as luxurious as that. In fact I did not expect to see a building like that in Sudan. An economic expert who had seen the ‘monument’ from the inside has estimated that it could have cost 40 or 50 million dollars to build. That was the cost of constructing the building of this educational institution of the security and equipping it, including that imported strange high quality grass. The cost of this building could have built:

- A thousand primary schools (with safe lavatories that do not collapse under the pupils’ and teachers’ feet).

- Establish laboratories and lecture rooms to redress the deficit in these facilities in all of the country’s universities

- Build 200 hospitals like the cracking one in the Buram locality of South Darfur. This hospital building is about to collapse and nothing inside it in terms of equipment and apparatus in an area of about a million inhabitants. And if you ask about the number of physicians in this hospital you can have this surprise: there is a single general physician.

Fourth: The army is the people’s army. The army and its money and its companies belong to the people. The army can operate in strategic areas the private sector does not want to go into. It can usefully contribute to the building of roads and bridges- small and big bridges on creeks. It can help fight thirst, for instance in partnership with the Ministry of Irrigation in water harvesting by dam construction and the digging of water reservoirs, artificial lakes and others, away from any dubious investments. More than that, the army can enters into any useful investment within the jurisdiction and action plan of the executive authority, on one condition: government auditing and checking.

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Writing in the Alsudani daily, Columnist, Doctor  of Economics and Political Studies, Abdellatif Albooni, pondered on the series of visits by senior foreign officials that ‘rained’ on the Sudan in just a few days:

Our country is nowadays witnessing an unprecedented rush from senior foreign officials, each of them with his own demand from Sudan. Now the question: Whose demand will Sudan respond to? That is: Who is going to repay for Sudan’s response to his demand?  The answer to this question is that Sudan, in its turn, supposedly knows what it wants from the others. But if (the others) know what they want from Sudan and Sudan does not know exactly what it wants from (the others), then God bless!

The first visitor was the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mr. Madbooli, who led a big delegation of different specializations.

Sure, Egypt wants to unify its position with the Sudan with respect to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam .

Then: What price did Sudan ask for? Is it the disputed border enclave of Halaib? Is it electricity? Is it a ban on Egyptian opposition elements seeking haven in Sudan? etc. etc…?

Then on Monday morning came the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abeiy Ahmed.

Of course his demand from Sudan is well known. But what is the price Sudan has asked for? Is it the Fashaga district the Ethiopians had used to trespass? Is it a guarantee for Ethiopia’s dams? etc..etc..? 

At midday the same day the most important visitor was Mr. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of the State, who came to us directly from Tel Aviv and who openly said he was inaugurating the new air route between Sudan and Israel. That means his demand is clear and that Sudan’s demand from America is clear, but also a single one at this stage. Then what is the response of each party to the other’s demand? In other words: Is Sudan going to normalize relations with Israel while its name is still lingering on the US damned list of countries Washington dubs as sponsors of international terrorism? 

The next big guest is the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister. The demand of this one is not as clear as Sudan’s demand from Saudi Arabia. For me, the latter is worthy of celebration, because what is wanted from him is clear: Financial support.

The space allocated for this column is over. But talk needs more analysis and investigation. But I conclude by saying that as a Sudanese citizen, I would be very sad and very angry, to the extent of hitting my head against the wall, if there is a difference between the two components of the government: the civilians and the military which the visitors might play on.

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This time very serious, the usually sarcastic writer Alfatih Jabra, Aljareeda newspaper, has criticized what he considered the lenient position of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdak is taking towards the designs of the counterrevolution seeking to undermine his government:

Whatever PM Hamdok says about his government’s ability to overcome the hurdles put in its way, I think he will not make it as long as the forces trying to fail his government are at large, doing what they please, some of them from within the government’s civilian and military structures.

The people are well aware about the catastrophe that will beget the country if Dr. Hamdok and his government would go.

There will be a constitutional vacuum which the Security Committee of the defunct regime, whose members are working according to the plan drawn for them by their benefactors in the ousted regime, seeks to exploit.

 And because the people of Sudan are well aware about this design, they have been (and still are) very patient with Hamdok’s government in the hope that Hamdok would speak out and name those who set the hurdles before the revolution.

If he does this, the people would stand up to these elements and sweep them out.

It is a fact of life that what is happening now is a plan proceeding according to the conspiracy of the ousted regime (under the auspices of that regime’s Security Committee).

Yes! the plan being brewed by the remnants of the defunct regime, the sectarians and some military from the security committee is about to bear fruit, starting from the demonization of the youth’s Resistance Committees down to the liquidation of the Forces of Freedom and Change, towards the targeted plan of ousting Hamdok.

 If this satanic plan would succeed, Hamdok would have contributed a great deal in its success through his continuous silence about the secret designs against the revolution from the interest groups and the corruption empires built during the ghastly Ingaz regime, in addition to the military involved in the crimes of that defeated regime.

These elements continue to work for a situation when they can escape accountability for the crimes they committed against the people.

 It is surprising indeed that Hamdok, and despite the clear faltering of his government in the treatment of crisis and the fulfillment of the revolution’s requirements, did not speak about the hurdles put before his government, whether in his latest televised statement or his previous statements that look more like public relations speeches.

He continues to tell us that “We will make it..We will make it. He knows pretty well that he will not make it as far as the state of Sudan is still hijacked.

Dear Hamdok. All what happens now tells of something being planned, if you do not come out and tell the people in all transparency about the hurdles you face and ask the people to support you in removing them, then you will be leading the country towards a real catastrophe.

 

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YH/AS

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...

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