KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Three of the most outstanding issues that busied the press in the last week were: The PM Abdalla Hamdok’s pledge to trace and recover stolen money from abroad, the landmark resumption of railway passenger traffic between Khartoum and the Red Sea City of Port Sudan after it had stopped for 16 years and the deliberations of the UN security Council on the protracted dispute over the Grand Renaissance Dam Ethiopia has built across the Blue Nile.
On the recovery of stolen money believed to be kept in foreign banks or invested abroad, wrote Dr. Zuhair Alsarraj in the daily journal Aljareeda (the Newspaper):
Very often we hear commitments from senior government officials to recover the stolen money kept or invested abroad without the government taking the necessary procedures, which are difficult and very painstaking and could lead to failure!
Previously I have written more than five articles on this important matter, indicating its intricacy and the long thorny procedures that need to be followed to recover the stolen money, foremost verdicts that should be made against the accused by fair trials in courts of law where the accused are availed all the chances to defend themselves. At that time the concerned government can embark on procedures for the recovery of that stolen money.
Some countries, mainly the U.S, Britain and France have some years back issued a guide on stolen money, upon an initiative from the United Nations in collaboration with the World Bank and several other circles concerned with corruption combat and the recovery of stolen money.
Egypt, for example, had tried after the downfall of President Mubarak to recover its stolen money from abroad, exerting big effort in this bid, and sought the help of established international know how agencies that cost the country hundreds of thousands of dollars but failed to recover a single penny.
However, there are some successful experiments like that of Nigeria which managed to return sums stolen by former president Sani Abacha and smuggled to Switzerland, all after talks that spanned for more than seven years, beginning with a wide security investigation by the Nigerian authorities in 1998, with Swiss participation, until after when Nigeria managed to recover more than half a billion dollars during 2005-2006 and then two billion dollars in 2013.
We also have the experiment of the Philippines that recovered about two billion dollars out of ten billion dollars looted by president Ferdinand Marcos, but after cases in Swiss courts that continued for 17 years.
The matter is not just promises and pledges. It is not as easy as the way some think or talk about it. It is a long and difficult process that requires laborious work, tremendous effort and patience, may be for tens of years. If we are serious about recovering our stolen money, we have to stop speeches, promises and pledges and begin serious action by putting the thieves on trial instead of the comic plays we see today!
About the resumption of the Eastern train trips to Port Sudan, wrote Ms. Asma’a Juma’a, the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Aldemograti (the Democrat):
The Sudan Railways was a lifeline that used to feed all of Sudan’s different regions with all the means of progress and to deepen the social bonds among the country’s varied components, bringing the nation together and more interactive. It also brought the citizens living in outlying regions closer to the Capital Khartoum without even visiting it. The railways was one of the supports of the economy, that used to drive the wheel of development forward.
Once it had taken hold of power, the ousted regime began the dismantling and destruction of the railways corporation, sending off five thousands of its employees, laying off the qualified cadres who kept the railways functioning. Operatives of that regime even embarked on the removal of the rails, selling them as garbage to steel companies, leaving behind no more than shadows, remains of locomotives railing between limited areas just to secure some jobs for their corrupt cadres and as gates through which they can exercise their favorite satanic hobby for corruption, the art they master very well.
It is imperative for the present government to first revive the railways for this facility to begin to flourish.
Last week the Ministry of Transport officially announced the full maintenance of the railroad linking the cities of Atbara and Port Sudan, through the towns of Jabait and Sinkat which was completely out of service for16 years.
The people of the East have received the first train on this line with tears, ululations and excitement. A wave of joy had swept Eastern Sudan, one of Sudan’s most isolated and neglected regions despite its location as a gateway towards the World, a matter that should have made it the most prosperous and influential region in the country.
It is also good news that the Sudan Railways has embarked on the repairing of other railroads on the way towards bringing life to the entire body of this national carrier..
About the tabling of the issue of the Renaissance Dam Ethiopia has built across the River Blue Nile before the United Nations Security Council, and the latter’s decision to return the dispute to the African Union for further consideration, wrote Mr. Mohammad Almekki Ahmed in the newspaper Alhadatha (the Modernity) under the title: Is it true that Ethiopia has won this round in the dispute and that Sudan and Egypt were the losers ?
The two countries did not completely lose this round and Ethiopia did not triumph completely as has been circulated. The confrontation between the three countries had taken a soft and calm diplomatic approach and did not blow up the possibility of reaching understandings in the future.
In addition, a number of countries had implicitly condemned Ethiopia’s unilateral conduct, stressing the need to make the coming talks a success, a matter that puts the government in Addis Ababa before a difficult international test in the coming period.
It is my belief that Sudan and Egypt had gained a lot at the Security Council in this thorny issue. They have addressed the World’s decision-makers and the Arab, African and international public opinion in a show broadcast live.
Also the Security Council’s consent to the issue to become part of its schedule for the second time is a diplomatic and political victory for Khartoum and Cairo, simply because Addis Ababa was opposed to this issue being discussed at the United Nations.
Ethiopia had gained when it did not boycott this international occasion, despite its rejection of the issue to be tabled before the World organization.
It was noticed that Ethiopia’s address had concentrated on the issue of sovereignty which should not mean jeopardizing the rights of other nations.
The addresses of Sudan and Egypt were characterized with careful preparation and logical language, when the two of them put forward facts about the tripartite talks and the hazards posed by the Dam, sending clear messages of warning to the Security Council.
For its part, the UN has expressed the conviction that “progress can be made to resolve the dispute in a peaceful and constructive manner.”
It urged the three countries to keep up with their cooperation and “avoid any announcements that escalate tension in a region that also faces the challenges of the Covid19 pandemic.”
That means the UN is aware that the water issue can engender a bitter struggle.
In this tense atmosphere there emerged a glimpse of hope from the Republic of Democratic Congo, the AU’s current chairman, which announced that (there were documents which will shortly be presented to the three countries to become a basis for the upcoming water talks).
The AU will receive political and technical assistance from the United Nations, the U.S.A, Russia and the European Union in a bid to end the crisis, and prevent a water war that disrupts the US and European priorities in the World now that attempts have begun to break the ice between Washington and Moscow and also possibly between Europe and Moscow later on.
But the crux of success is to change the mode of the negotiations in order for the previous plowing in water not to keep going on.
The Security council deliberations, apart from political gains and losses, avail Sudan and Egypt with an opportunity to reread the dimensions and effects of the quick international changes upon the region and mull the ways for movement in the coming days.
The deliberations were also a chance for Ethiopia to revise its position, accept understanding and agreement for the three peoples’ interests and to guard the region against a destructive struggle.
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