This Week’s Top 5 Stories from Sudan

PCP Secretary-General Ali al-Haj Mohamed (SUNA)

Islamist Party hails Qatar, wants Sudan to help

The Popular Congress Party (PCP) doesn’t like criteria used by Saudi Arabia in its claim that its neighbor Qatar supports terrorism. While Sudan’s government has tried to chart a middle course in the dispute between the two Gulf neighbors, the opposition PCP want to throw Sudan’s diplomatic support behind Qatar.

PCP Secretary-General Ali al-Haj Mohamed addressed a meeting of his party’s Shura Council in Khartoum last Saturday saying that Palestinian organization Hamas shouldn’t be considered a terrorist organization. “We reject this classification, we don’t beat the drums of war… and we confirm that we are in permanent contacts with all embassies and our single message to them is that what is happening is not in the interest of all of us,” he said of the Gulf Crisis.

The Islamist party’s late leader Hassan al-Turabi used to travel regularly to Doha where he was received by Qatari officials. The party also praised Qatar for its role in Sudan’s affairs, including the mediating role it played in the Doha agreement on peace in Darfur.

Dismissals in SPLM-N in bid to control rift 

A leadership split in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (North) is deepening after Nuba leaders declaired General Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu as chairman of the movement and rejected the leadership of Malik Agar, who has historically led the group.

In response, Agar began a purge of officials aligned with Al-Hilu, announcing the removal of the SPLM-N military spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi and the heads of SPLM-N chapters in the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, the Netherlands and Canada. He appointed Mubarak Ardol as the official spokesperson of the movement and the army and appointed Mawjoud Mohamed Daoud as the spokesperson for the peace file. Agar denies the legitimacy of the Nuba group calling its efforts a “coup d’état”.

The split in the Sudanese rebel movement, which controls parts of Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, relates to differences over the handling of peace talks and the control of resources within the group.

Food and energy prices continue to rise

Sudan’s Central Statistics Office reported Monday that the annual rate of inflation rose to 35.52 percent in May from 34.81 percent in April, as food and energy prices continued to rise following subsidy cuts implemented in November. Sudan is also suffering a dollar shortage and a growing black market trade in hard currency. This has increased the price of foreign-made goods.

Sudanese doctors petition for declaration of cholera outbreak

The Sudanese Doctors’ Union has petitioned the parliamentary committee for health to officially declare the spread of cholera as an epidemic across the country.

Ihsaan Fagiri, a member of the Sudanese doctors’ union, urged the Federal Ministry of Health to be responsibile towards its citizens and declare the outbreak to allow international health organisations to intervene.

The government prefers to call the cholera outbreak ‘watery diarrhoea’.

BBC, the global broadcaster, published a letter this week by Sudanese journalist Yousra Elbagir criticising the Sudanese government’s failure to get to grips with a cholera outbreak. “While the country’s politicians continue to shirk responsibility and avoid action, the number of cases continues to climb,” she wrote.

The first infections were confirmed as early as August 2016 in a cluster of South Sudanese refugee camps in White Nile state. From there it spread. “Sudan’s crumbling infrastructure and underfunded healthcare system made conditions rife for the disease to spread,” Elbagir says. “Poor sanitation, meagre emergency services and underpaid doctors, striking intermittently since October 2016, have left the nation extremely vulnerable.”

UNESCO to help Sudan state radio

A United Nations agency has signed an agreement with the Sudanese government to fund government radio in eastern Sudan. The deal, which depends on donor funds from Italy, was signed Tuesday by UNESCO’s representative to Sudan Pavel Kroupkine and the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information Ambassador Yassir Khidir.

As quoted by the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), Minister of Information Ahmed Bilal Osman praised the program for its aim of spreading ‘lofty values’ among rural communities in eastern Sudan, thus creating a climate conducive for development and peace.

UNESCO has previously described the program on its own website as one intended to spread the values of civic virtue and global citizenship among the rural population” of Red Sea, Kassala, and Gedaref states. The UN funds will go toward training content producers, upgrading equipment and assisting in other ways at the Sudanese Ministry of Information and the Sudanese state media – “both federal and state levels.”