Weekly Press Columns Digest

Weekly Press Columns Digest

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Press columns the last week focused at length on three issues.

The first issue was the reported proposal by the Gulf State, The United Arab Emirates (UAE), to invest heavily in the Fashaqa fertile rainy enclave along Sudan’s common border with Ethiopia. (The UAE later on reportedly withdrew the offer under wide public rejection).

The Sudan has recently deployed its Army in the area to protect Sudanese farmers from the activity of Ethiopian bandits and ward off Ethiopian farmers who used to illegally farm in the area.

The second issue was the refusal by former vice president Ali Osman Mohammad Taha to cooperate with the court trying him, General Bashir and several others, for masterminding the military coup that brought the Sudanese Islamists to power in June 1989.

The third issue discussed by the press was the internal differences within the Forces For Freedom and Change (FFC), the power base of the transitional civilian-led government.



Under the title: UAE Diehard to Create A Colony in Fashaqa, wrote Osman Mohammad Hassan in the electronic publication Alrakoba (the Shack):

We have not been misled by the claims that the UAE had recognized Sudan’s sovereign right in the Fashaq area. A reading between the lines shows that the UAE initiative had deprived Sudan from its rights in the area. The use of the expression “settling the situation of the Ethiopian farmers” is a hiding of venom in fat.

Then we read in another sentence: “The Ethiopian farmers can continue farming as they used to do for long years”. That means the Sudanese Army should go back to its previous positions, allowing the Ethiopian famers to cultivate what they have been cultivating for long years. That interprets in denying Sudan’s sovereign right in the area.

Then we have talk about launching development projects that benefit the Sudanese (and Ethiopian) farmers and the financing body (the UAE). It is logical for the Sudanese farmers to benefit from development projects within the Sudanese territories and also the right of the funding body (the UAE) to benefit from this investment, because the money is theirs. But why should the Ethiopian farmers benefit from those projects, to be launched on lands which are not theirs and funded by money which is not their own?

It is Sudan that should determine the giving of the Ethiopian brothers the right to benefit from those lands or not.

Forcing the Ethiopian farmers in the issue in this way is a trespassing on Sudan’s sovereign right in its lands, thus denying the country its right to do what it wants in these lands according to its future strategic plans.

The UAE initiative also speaks about allocating the Ethiopian farmers a ‘rate’ in the Fashaqa lands, upon contracts with the proposed (Sudanese-UAE) company the Emirates initiative has proposed to be launched “taking into consideration the Ethiopian farmers who (were) originally farming in the area for long years.”

Goes on the UAE initiative:  The Sudanese-UAE company provides a similar area for the Sudanese farmers who (used to) farm in the area!

How can the Sudanese farmers (the owners of the land) be given (similar) areas to those given to the Ethiopian famers? How can these terms cope with the initiative itself that the Fashaqa is a Sudanese territory?

The dear reader may have doubted the credibility of this initiative, questioning the causes of this UAE adamant quest for the Sudanese Government’s approval of this initiative.

We can say that the UAE initiative is an attempt to blackmail the Sudanese Government by trying to link it with its debts to Sudan. Proof of this is the statement by the Sudanese Minister of Finance that: The Emiratis want to end the discussion on this matter before deciding upon the writing off of Sudan’s debts!

Those aware about the UAE ambitions in the African Horn do not wonder about what was stipulated in the initiative about the UAE keen desire to realize those ambitions. Says the initiative: The UAE will build a railway line (standard gauge) from Port Sudan to Gedarif, Gallabat to Waldaya in Ethiopia. Now Ethiopia has built a railway line between Djibouti to Waldaya. The idea seems to be that the UAE proposed railway line will link Fashaqa with that railroad down to Djibouti, then to the Indian Ocean, to be run by a Sudanese –Emirati company on commercial basis. The UAE will also build an airport in the area, bringing the total UAE investments in this project to $8 billion!!


Former vice president Ali Osman Mohammad Taha has refused to cooperate with the court trying him, Bashir and others for staging the 1989 coup against a democratically elected government.

Taha said he does not recognize the court because it was formed by what he considered an illegal government.

The sitting judge has cut him short by asking him to defer his ideas on the matter to the next phase of the trial when he will be questioned for his role in the coup.

The judge said the current phase in the trial is for the government attorney to present his case.

Commenting on this affair, wrote Mr. Ramzi Almasri in the Altahreer (Liberation) newspaper:

The judge insisted that Taha keeps his words to the next stage of the hearings. 

After that Taha presented his “supposed” defense to the press via the social media,

After having read what Taha had wanted to say, I wished the court judge had allowed him the opportunity to speak. At that time the public would have known what sort of people had ruled this wounded country for three decades.

Paragraph Four of Taha’s defense reads that:

This court case is in collision with Sudan’s political experiment that such trials are within the mandate of an elected authority! This government has no such a mandate nor does it have a legal, moral or political right to try those who assumed government in the same way, the same means. Then who tries who? (end quote)  

Continues Masri:

Although I am not a man of the law, still I consider this paragraph is enough to condemn Taha and his clique, without any need for additional hearings nor the disturbance the defense in this trail is causing. The man, while trying to condemn the transitional authority as illegitimate, according to his own allegation, told us that the present authority is similar to the 1989 Salvation coup that brought him to power That is: The Salvation coup was immoral, political and illegal.

So, again, the Salvation government had come to power in an immoral, illegal and political manner. Does anyone have any explanation for what Taha had said other than this?

Then there remains the dividing issue between the two regimes for us to decide which of them is immoral, illegal and political. That is to know how each of them had taken power.

The Salvation authority has come to office by means of a complete military coup and without any public support. They ruled the country at gunpoint for three ugly decades. They have hanged, massacred, outlawed and chased the free men and women of this country who stood up to them.

But the other authority, this transitional government, has come to office after demonstrations, protests and sit-ins from all the people of Sudan (save the supporters of the defunct regime). The popular protests had continued for months and when the military felt that the regime had reached a state of collapse, they had no other way but to respond to people’s wish and delved into marathon talks for power sharing with the angry masses. Here the people’s representatives responded to the wish of the Army (and this is one of the mistakes of the great December revolution, the price of which we continue to pay up to now).

It is the story of a popular revolution, with all its errors, all its stumbles and all its correct and incorrect steps.   
There is no comparison Taha. ….Your government was the result of a military coup and the other is the result of a popular revolt. And still you insist to ask: Who tries who?



Editor of the daily newspaper Aldemograti (The Democrat) Ms. Asma’a Juma’a was alarmed by the recent difference among the Forces For Freedom and Change (FFC), the power base of the transitional civilian- led government, urging them to close their ranks and go ahead for achieving the revolution’s ambitions:

The FFC have become the official representative of the people after they have initiated the revolution in December 2018. The FFC have contributed with the people in bringing down the Bashir regime. Then they became the political power base of the government as it has embodied political parties with political experiment that started years before the country’s independence.

The people’s hopes were that the political parties were prepared to lead the post-Bashir era with a new vision and farsightedness. But it became clear that the political parties are still what they were before. They have let down the people as they used to do in their long history.  

After Bashir’s downfall, the ailments of the old parties and also those of Bashir’s National Congress Party began to surface in the components of the FFC: selfishness, conspiracies, differences and misjudgment. That had allowed the then Military Council (which is part of the Bashir regime) to take them into a whirlpool of controversies and negotiations that ended up in a constitutional document which is far below the people’s expectations.    

A witness from inside, resigning member of the Sovereignty Council Dr. Aisha Musa, has conceded that the civilian component in the Sovereignty Council and also at all levels of governance (most of them from the FFC of course) are but an executive, logistic  body that has no role in decision-making. They just rubber-stamp resolutions prepared in advance, resolutions cooked by the military, for sure.

The FFC is plagued with differences, struggles and divisions that have no logical explanation other than personal interests. The people’s interests cannot trigger all this feuding.  

Now and as the situation in the country is becoming more dangerous and more complicated, the differences are mounting within the FFC that failed to restructure its ranks. At the moment there is no bigger threat to the transitional period other than the differences within the FFC.

It is my hope that the components of the FFC would rise up to their responsibilities or, else, stand aside, for the country has lots of genuine cadres from whom the Prime Minister can pick to drive the country forward.



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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