Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Sudan: Al-Bashir Accepts Referendum Results, Clinton Expresses U.S. Support
February 7th, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced his acceptance of the referendum results and his commitment to maintaining good relations between the North and the South. Southern Leader Salva Kiir
welcomed al-Bashir’s comments. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated northern and southern leaders for “facilitating a peaceful and orderly vote” and commended the Government of Sudan for accepting the outcome. She expressed U.S. support during the upcoming transition process and called on the Government of South Sudan to “launch a process of inclusive governance and take steps to improve good governance and service delivery” and to form strong security and economic relations with the North. Clinton also announced that the U.S. is initiating the process of withdrawing Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.
President Barack Obama
that the U.S. will officially recognize South Sudan in July.
Sudan: Journalists Arrested in Crackdown on Opposition Protests
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Egypt is not the only country that is witnessing a crackdown on media. Reporters from opposition newspapers in Sudan were arrested late Wednesday night for covering a meeting of opposition activists. Sudan has seen protests over the past week inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt. They have been much smaller in number but widespread. Activists have been arrested and beaten. Twelve journalists in total are reportedly being held
by Sudanese authorities. One student protester has died since the protests began.
Sudan: Egypt Inspired Protests Continue
February 1st, 2011 by Alec
In the wake of the certification of South Sudan’s independence referendum and inspired by the ongoing uprising in Egypt, Sudanese students and activists in the North have been protesting against the government of Omar al-Bashir since Sunday. The protests have been relatively small, consisting of a few hundred people, with one student killed by security forces thus far. The government is blaming the opposition for trying to “create chaos” and has also cracked down on opposition newspapers and arrested journalists. Activists, calling
for more protests on Thursday, are largely organizing via Facebook
POMED Notes: “Tunisia and the Arab Malaise”
January 31st, 2011 by Naureen
On Tuesday, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a discussion on the uprising in Tunisia and the prospects for the Tunisian example spreading across the Arab World. Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center moderated the event and introduced the speakers: Alan Goulty, former British Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia and current Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and David Ottaway, Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center and former Cairo Bureau Chief of the Washington Post.
To read full notes continue below or click here for pdf.
Sudan: Two Failed Sudans Instead of One?
January 26th, 2011 by Alec
Maggie Fick writing at Foreign Policy, lists a number of political problems facing South Sudan after its referendum on independence. Although Salva Kiir has brought political and military rivals into his administration, the lack of a common post-referendum goal and enemy may cause political splintering: “the greatest challenge for an independent southern government will be to overcome the growing internal threats to its authority without resorting to repression.” Charles Kenny argues the situation in the south will improve, pointing to its comparatively higher GDP than most of its immediate neighbors and the ability of new states to provide basic services post-independence. He also says that fears of a “resource course,” mainly that of the South’s abundant oil reserves, are overblown, and if managed carefully, will help spur growth. Southern leaders have also shown commitment to good governance which will help the new nation stabilize politically.
POMED Notes: “Sudan at the Crossroads”
January 23rd, 2011 by Naureen
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs
held its first Members’ briefing on Tuesday. The briefing focused on the future of Sudan following the completion of referendum elections on secession.
To discuss the issues facing the country, the committee – chaired by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL) and withCongressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) in attendance – requested the testimony of three individuals: Princeton Lyman, Special Advisor for Sudan, U.S. Department of State; Richard S. Williamson, Partner, Salisbury Strategies LLC and Former Special Envoy to Sudan and Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; and Omer Ismail
, Advisor, The Enough Project.
To read full notes continue below, or click here
USAID Administrator Shah Unveils “USAID Forward” Reforms
January 20th, 2011 by Naureen
On Wednesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah discussed the implementation of a series of “USAID Forward” reforms, based on the recommendations of the QDDR, and announced a new and more transparent evaluation policy. Shah also stated that “we have prioritized economic growth and democratic governance in everything we do.” He pointed to funding new open government technologies, such as mobile phone-based election monitoring systems in Afghanistan. Shah also echoed remarks made
by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that economic development is a more cost-effective way of preventing conflict. In the context of USAID’s role in preparing for the Sudan referendum, he asserted the agency is “working hard to ensure that an inspiring expression of democracy does not lead to yet another bout of regional bloodshed.”
Will Tunisian-Style Revolution Spread?
January 19th, 2011 by Alec
A piece in Foreign Policy outlines possibilities for a Tunisia-style revolt happening elsewhere in the Arab world. Five countries are singled out as particularly ripe for such events: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Jordan as they share many of the same problems at the root of Tunisia’s revolt – a government legitimacy deficit, economic stagnation, endemic corruption, high unemployment, and a demographic youth bulge. Laurie A. Brand
, also writing
for Foreign Policy, argues that a replication of Tunisia will not happen in Jordan. She states that current protests in Jordan are targeting the government led by Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai
. However, the PM and his cabinet have little real influence on policy matters, as they are decided by the King and his close advisors in practice. In Jordanian society, however, the King is usually viewed as “being above the fray” she argues. Amr el-Shobaki
, in a piece for AlMasry AlYoum
, also openly doubts that Egypt will follow the path of Tunisia. El-Shobaki cites Egypt’s highly sectarian and divided society, poverty, illiteracy, and underdevelopment as reasons why Egyptians cannot unite in the same way Tunisians did.
Sudan: Praise for Referendum as Preliminary Results Report Landslide Vote for Secession
January 19th, 2011 by Alec
Preliminary results from the referendum indicate a landslide victory for independence in South Sudan, as support for secession in the poll may reach as high as 99 percent. In the Juba, results point to a 97.5% vote in favor of independence. So far 2,198,422 votes have been cast in the referendum in favor of secession, which exceeds the required 1.89 million votes needed for the turnout to be declared valid. George Benjamin of Sudan’s referendum commission stated
that both the National Congress Party, Omar al-Bashir’s ruling party, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have indicated they will accept the results the of the referendum. He also said the commission was pleased with how the referendum turned out. The African Union has declared the referendum “free, fair, and credible” and the Carter Center released a statement on Monday congratulating the Sudanese for the, “successful conduct of the historic referendum on self-determination.” In a State Department press release
, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised northern and southern leaders for, “creating conditions that allowed voters to cast their ballots freely and without fear, intimidation, or coercion.”
Update: On Thursday, the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE) and the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) deemed the elections to be credible and stated that their observations show that voter participation far exceeded the required 60%, indicating that the referendum results will show support for secession. The groups also offered several recommendations for future elections.
Sudan: Anti-Referendum Opposition Leader Hassan al-Turabi Arrested
January 19th, 2011 by Alec
, leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), was arrested this week, accused of calling for a Tunisian-style popular revolution in Sudan. Abdullah Hassan Ahmed, undersecretary of the PCP has confirmed that the party is, “making preparations for taking to the street to topple the regime.” Eight other members of the party were also arrested. Al-Turabi has been a vocal opponent of the current referendum in South Sudan, blaming Omar al-Bashir’s government for “dismembering” the country. Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani
, an advisor to al-Bashir, denied that there is any political fallout in Khartoum over the referendum: “Separation took place in January 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed […] the CPA laid the foundation for separation. It was inevitable.”
Sudan: Arab Leaders Uneasy Over Referendum
January 10th, 2011 by Alec
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit stated that the government would respect the results of the referendum despite fears that a vote for independence could spark the disintegration of Sudan and threaten Egypt’s economic and security interests. Nasr Farid
, Egypt’s former grand mufti, joined other prominent Islamic scholars to state that independence for southern Sudan “contravenes Islamic law.” Emile Hokayem
for The National, elaborates on Arab fears over the possibility of a North-South split in Sudan: “Sudan would be breaking up just as Kurdish self-determination sentiments in Iraq are rising,” and the continued history of inter-Arab sectarian conflict in Lebanon and the independence movement in Western Sahara remain troubling. Arab leaders fear that southern Sudanese independence could re-energize and exacerbate these sentiments.
Sudan: U.S. Leaders React to Referendum
January 10th, 2011 by Alec
President Barack Obama
, in an editorial, stated that if Khartoum fulfilled its obligations to ensure peace the U.S. could remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism but warned, “In contrast, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the importance of development aid to both southern and northern Sudan: “We also have to work with, and invest in, the north in Sudan so that they see the benefits of having done a very courageous action.”
In Sudan, Senator John Kerrypraised Sudanese leaders, the U.N., and the Obama administration for helping make the referendum a “reality.” He also reiterated the need to remain engaged in Sudan and help the parties negotiate unresolved issues including the final status of the Abyei region. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cautioned “The U.S. and other responsible nations must not ease the pressure on the regime in Khartoum, or provide any concessions, until the result of the referendum in South Sudan is assured [and] peace has been achieved in Darfur and throughout Sudan.”
POMED Notes: “Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Prospects for Sudan’s Future
January 7th, 2011 by Alec
The Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on Thursday on the upcoming referendum on independence in southern Sudan entitled, “Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Prospect for Sudan’s Future.” Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings moderated and introduced the panelists: Hilde Johnson, former Norwegian Development Minister and current Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Gayle Smith, special assistant to President Obama and senior director at the National Security Council, Richard Williamson, nonresident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings and former US special envoy to Sudan under President George W. Bush. The fourth panelist, Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey (D-10), was called back to the House floor before the session began and was unable to participate.
For the full notes, continue reading below. Or, click here
for the PDF. Or, click here
for full audio.
Sudan: Referendum Overshadows Internal Problems in North
January 6th, 2011 by Alec
Andrew Natsios, former Special Envoy to Sudan for the Bush administration, argues internal divisions and pressures in Northern Sudan are being overlooked. He points to growing criticism of President Omar al-Bashir’s government from “Islamist and Arab nationalists” who lament the potential loss of oil resources to an independent South and fear that other rebellious regions will seek to break with the North as well.
Sudanese opposition leaders have threatened to topple Bashir’s government if their demands of political reform are not met. Faruq Abu Issa, coordinator of the National Consensus Forces, has called on the government to hold a “national constitutional conference to create a new democratic constitution” in addition to addressing Darfur, public freedom laws and rising prices of vital commodities. Other opposition party leaders are worried about the potential implications the referendum will have on the North’s territorial integrity and economy.
Sudan: The Run-Up to Referendum on Secession
January 5th, 2011 by Alec
On Tuesday, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir visited Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, ahead of the region’s referendum on independence to be held on January 9th. He stated that while he remained “committed to unity,” he would be “the first to recognise [the southern region’s] independence if [voters] opt for it.” Senator John Kerry welcomed the remarks as “extremely encouraging” and stated that Washington may remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism early. Osama Saraya, editor in chief of Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, blamed Bashir’s government for emphasizing self-determination over national integrity, calling the referendum a “tragedy.”
Despite peaceful commitments from Bashir, Michael Abramowitzcautions
against the possibility of renewed genocide given Sudan’s history. Rebecca Hamilton
echoes his sentiments by focusing on the “overflow of tensions in Abyei,” a volatile border region between north and south that is vital to the Sudanese oil industry. A pre-polling statement, released by The Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE) and the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE), reports that there have been few incidents of violence in southern Sudan in the run-up to the referendum.
Human Development Report Finds Inequality Persists in Arab World
November 5th, 2010 by Anna
The United Nations released its 2010 Human Development Report yesterday, titled “The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development.” This year’s report, which includes new indices to adjust for inequality, women’s disadvantage, and multidimensional poverty, found that of the countries measured, Oman’s Human Development Index (HDI) score improved the most over the last 40 years. Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco also improved considerably. Overall, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain ranked
the highest in the region; Egypt
came in 101 out of 169, and Sudan ranked close to the bottom.
Inequality remained a significant issue, and Jeni Klugman, the report’s lead author, observed that “the most significant losses for Arab countries in the Inequality-adjusted HDI can be traced to the unequal distribution of income.” Yemen and Qatar ranked very low on gender equality, but the report also notes that women’s representation in Arab parliaments has risen in recent years. On civil and political liberties, the authors report that there is considerable room for improvement across the region.
Transparency International Releases Corruption Rankings
October 26th, 2010 by Evan
Transparency International (TI) released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index today. In the Middle East, little changed over the past year. Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Iran and Libya continued to experience dangerous levels of corruption all scoring 2.2 or under on TI’s 10 point scale (10 being “very clean” and 3, “very corrupt”). Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Israel once again led the region in transparency, all scoring above 6.
POMED Notes: “The Sudan Referendum: Dangers and Possibilities”
October 13th, 2010 by Jason
The Brookings Institution held an event today entitled “The Sudan Referendum: Dangers and Possibilities.” The featured speaker for the event was Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States House of Representatives. The discussants for the event were Richard Williamson, non-resident fellow on foreign policy at Brookings, and Mike Abramowitz, director of the Committee on Conscience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
(For full notes, continue below the fold or go here
Sudan: Khartoum Appeals for International Monitors
September 27th, 2010 by Evan
Amidst growing uncertainty, the Sudanese government in Khartoum called on the international community to monitor the country’s January 9 referendum. The referendum, which if successful would grant independence to the Christian south of Sudan, faces significant opposition from the parties in the north, including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party. Each side has accused the other suppressing dissent and threatening activists in advance of the vote.
Sudan: Media Repression Intensifies
September 24th, 2010 by Anna
Amnesty International writes in a briefing released today that Sudanese authorities – in both the north and the south – have been repressing journalists during the run-up to the country’s January referendum on the secession of southern Sudan. In the briefing, entitled “The Chains Remain: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression,” Amnesty International’s Rania Rajji says: “The whole future of the nation will be at stake so there is the need for the whole of the country to take part in a debate over this…People need to be informed.” Following the April 2010 elections, National Intelligence and Security Services officials made frequent visits to media printing houses to prevent critical articles from being published. In the process, some newspapers were closed down and journalists arrested on politically motivated charges. Although this censorship was technically removed in the beginning of August, a “code of journalistic honor” continues to impose restrictions because newspapers self-censor out of fear of reprisal. Taboo topics for reporters include President Omar al-Bashir and his government, proceedings of the International Criminal Court, public sector strikes and the prosecution of media figures. The result, according to Amnesty, is that it is “nearly impossible” for journalists to write about human rights abuses in the country. As the referendum approaches, Amnesty is also concerned that the press may be discouraged from reporting on pro-unity voices in the south, which is pushing for independence.
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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of POMED as an organization