Sudan's PM fires ministers over slow reforms

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Protesters in Khartoum calling for reforms and  justice for those killed in anti-government demonstrations last year - 30 June 2020
At the end of June protesters in Khartoum called for reforms to be speeded up

Sudan's prime minister has replaced seven key ministers after protests over the slow pace of reform following the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir as president last year.

Abdalla Hamdok dismissed the health minister and accepted the resignations of the six others - including those in charge of finance, foreign affairs, and energy, the government said.

Correspondents say the Sudanese economy was already in a crisis before the impact of the coronavirus so the new finance minister faces a daunting task amid worsening food and fuel shortages.

On Sunday Mr Hamdok - who heads a power-sharing interim government with the military - replaced the police chief and his deputy.

Correction 9 July 2020: This story has been updated to reflect that seven ministers have been replaced in total, not four as originally reported.

Sudan's final peace deal 'to be signed in two weeks'

Nichola Mandil


Protesters roll down Sudan's flag on the road near Army Headquarters in Khartoum, April 2019 April
Sudanese journalist group
The talks between government and rebel groups resumed via video conferencing

Sudan’s transitional government and rebel groups negotiating in South Sudan's capital, Juba, will sign a final peace deal in two weeks’ time, mediators have announced.

The news emerged after a delegation of South Sudanese mediators returned from Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

The peace talks, taking place in South Sudan, had stalled because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The talks recently resumed via video conferencing between the government’s delegation in Khartoum and the rebel groups in Juba.

Tut Galwak, South Sudan’s presidential security adviser and chief mediator in the peace process, also went to Khartoum as he said some sticking points could not be discussed via video link.

“For us to reach lasting peace; there are dossiers or issues that cannot be discussed via video link, for example security arrangements," he said on Wednesday.

"We have agreed that a delegation from Khartoum should come to Juba after two days from now and continue with their brothers in finalising security arrangements."

He added:

Once we complete these dossiers after two weeks, His Excellency President Salva Kiir will invite his colleagues, the Igad heads of state and the friends of Sudan who would want to witness the signing of Sudan’s peace agreement to come to Juba.”

Mr Tut said Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was to join the discussions on Thursday via video link from Khartoum - his first time to join the negotiations.

The peace talks incorporate rebel groups operating in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions which had been fighting the government of former President Omar al-Bashir before his overthrow in April 2019.

They include the Justice Equality Movement, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /Army-North, Democratic Unionist Party and the Sudan Liberation Movement .

Nile dam: Ethiopia 'taking advantage of heavy rains'

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam on the river Nile in Guba Woreda
The Grand Renaissance Dam is a source of national pride for Ethiopia

Ethiopia will go on and fill its mega dam on the Nile, taking advantage of the heavy rain season, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said.

The filling will continue despite ongoing talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to resolve the long-running dispute on the issue.

"If Ethiopia doesn't fill the dam, it means Ethiopia has agreed to demolish the dam," the AFP news agency quoted the prime minister as saying.

"On other points we can reach an agreement slowly over time, but for the filling of the dam we can reach and sign an agreement this year," he said.

Ethiopia has been insisting that the dam will continue to be filled as scheduled from this month, despite concerns raised by Egypt and Sudan that this will lead to a drastic reduction of water downstream.

The three countries have been taking part in long-running talks to try reach an agreement that includes how the dam would be operated.

The Nile provides about 90% of Egypt's water needs and fears that reduction of the water could affect the livelihoods of its people.

Ethiopia is counting on the dam to produce electricity to power its manufacturing and industrial dreams.

Sudan fires police chief and deputy after protests

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Police officer during a curfew in Khartoum, Sudan's capital
Getty Images
Sudan has not given reasons for firing the top police officials

The transitional government in Sudan has fired the police chief and his deputy, days after large protests across the country as people called for greater political reforms.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok relieved Adel Mohamed Bashaer, the director-general of Sudan’s Police Force, of his duties, replacing him with Ezz Eldin Sheikh Ali.

Sudan's cabinet later said in a statement that Othman Mohamed Younes, Mr Bashaer’s deputy, was also dismissed.

No reasons have been given for firing both officials.

But last week the prime minister promised changes were on the way in a speech that was meant to reassure tens of thousands of protesters who have a long list of demands.

There has been growing frustration at the slow pace of change in the country since Omar al-Bashir was overthrown as president by the military last year following months of protests.

'We suffer daily from indiscriminate killings'

BBC Focus on Africa radio

For the sixth day in a row, fed-up residents of Nierteti in Sudan's Central Darfur state are holding a sit-in protest in front of a military headquarters.

One protester tells the BBC's Mohanad Hashim that residents need to be protected against "indiscrimate killings, robbery, pillaging and rapes and all types of crime.

"Add to that, the fact that Jebel Mara relies on agriculture. We're now at the start of the farming season and we're still being threatened by militias blocking us from going to the farms.

"If people don't farm, there will be famine next year."

Listen to the full story:

People have been holding peaceful protests in Nierteti

Thousands march for reforms in Sudan

Catherine Byaruhanga

BBC News, Kampala

Thousands of people are marching in cities and towns across Sudan, demanding greater political reforms.

Civil society groups say the protest is intended to make sure the goals of last year’s revolution, which deposed Omar al-Bashir as president, are achieved.

Security forces have been deployed in the capital, Khartoum, and neighbouring towns as well as on major roads leading to the army headquarters.

Crowds have gathered singing and chanting, blaring car horns and carrying placards.

These are scenes similar to the ones during months of protests which ended Bashir’s decades-long rule and led to the formation of a joint civilian and military government.

But there is growing concern that the country’s hopes for political reform and true civilian rule will not be met.

A BBC colleague has shared a screen grab of the protests from as local TV station:

View more on twitter

Tuesday's protesters want corruption stamped out, justice for those killed under Bashir's rule and after him, as well as for a promised parliament to be set up.

On the eve of the demonstrations Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok addressed the nation and promised that key reforms would be announced in the coming days.

He and other leaders are under pressure to deliver, especially as the country battles with rising food and fuel prices and a coronavirus outbreak which has killed more than 500 people and stifled economic activity.

Sudan braces for 'million-strong' protest

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has called for calm ahead of a "million-strong" march to demand the implementation of the "goals of the revolution" that ousted long-serving leader Omar al-Bashir last year.

"You will be hearing consecutively in the coming days a number of key decisions for the course of the transitional period. Some of them could have a major political, economic, and social effect," the premier said in a national address Monday night.

Activists are calling for the formation of a transitional parliament, the appointment of civilian regional governors and a reform of the country's security agencies.

The protests are also taking place in the midst of soaring food prices and fuel shortages.

The authorities have barricaded the main roads in the capital Khartoum and deployed heavily towards the army headquarters, according to the local media.

On Monday, government spokesman Faisal Mohamed Saleh said the authorities arrested nine agents from the old regime as they prepared to carry out "hostile activities". It is not clear whether the arrests are related to the protests.

Sudan also arrested former foreign minister and leader of the defunct National Congress Party (NCP) Ibrahim Ghandour ahead of protests but no reason was given, the private al-Sayha newspaper said.

The party had said it will not take part in today's protests, which also mark the anniversary of the coup that brought Bashir into power.

Heavy security ahead of Sudan protests

Catherine Byaruhanga

BBC News, Kampala

Roads and streets are being closed by security forces ahead of "millions march" in Khartoum.
Anadolu Agency

There is a heavy security presence in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, ahead of a planned protest on Tuesday.

Security forces have been deployed along bridges, and shops and markets ordered to close.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the protests last year that toppled the former president, Omar al-Bashir, is calling for people to demonstrate for justice for those killed and for Sudan’s resources to be controlled by civilians.

The transitional government is becoming increasingly unpopular as food prices rise and fuel subsidies are removed.