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Posts tagged ‘Salah Gosh’

Sudan urges South Sudan to expel rebels for oil restart.

  • Sudan's Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef looks on after his oath-taking ceremony in Khartoum September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

    Enlarge PhotoReuters/Reuters – Sudan‘s Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef looks on after his oath-taking ceremony in Khartoum September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan will not allow South Sudan’s oil exports to flow through its territory until Juba cuts ties with anti-Khartoum rebels and expels their leaders, a Sudanese vice president said on Wednesday, dampening hopes that bilateral tensions were over.

In a rare interview with foreign media, Sudan’s Second Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef also dismissed rumours that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in poor health, and said senior officers arrested for planning a coup against the veteran leader last month would get a fair trial.

Sudan and South Sudan agreed in September to secure their disputed border and resume oil exports after clashes brought them close to an all-out war in April. It was the worst violence since the South seceded last year under a 2005 deal that ended decades of civil war.

The African neighbours have yet to withdraw their armies from the border, a step both said was necessary to resume oil flows from the south, a lifeline for both of their economies.

South Sudan shut down its entire output of 350,000 barrels a day in January after failing to agree on an export fee with Sudan for the crude to pass through pipelines in the north.

On Sunday, South Sudan’s negotiator Pagan Amum said exports could restart in two or three weeks, raising hopes lingering issues would be resolved at talks in Khartoum this week.

But Youssef rejected Amum’s assertion that security questions had been settled, and accused Juba of continuing to support and host rebels fighting the Khartoum government.

“We see that nothing has been done positively in this respect. We want action, of course, rather than talking,” Youssef told Reuters, sitting in his office in the Republican Palace on the banks of the Nile.

“We hope the next few days will reveal some positive steps,” he said, but added: “Unless the security is sorted out, nothing is going to be implemented (regarding oil) … We are waiting for concrete and positive steps.”

Juba denies Khartoum’s charges that it supports insurgents in Darfur and rebels of the SPLM-North fighting in the border states of South Kordafan and Blue Nile. But analysts say the allegations by Sudan are credible.

Journalists photographed Darfur rebels fighting alongside the South Sudanese army during the border clashes in April and have met some SPLM-North leaders in the South’s capital Juba.

“They shouldn’t be supported, of course, by any means of support, military support or political support. They have to be chased out,” Youssef said.

Sudan would not budge on security, he said, adding that the government had not included oil exports fees from the South in its budget for next year.

Youssef ruled out talks with the SPLM-North, made up mainly of fighters who sided with the South during the civil war, until it cut ties with Juba.

“They have to come to us as Sudanese but not representing the South Sudan army,” he said. “For example, if a Sudanese is working in the American marines and then he comes here to talk with us as a Sudanese, we are not going to accept it at all.”


Youssef, who comes from an Arab tribe in Darfur, dismissed health rumours about Bashir. The president has undergone surgery twice since August in Qatar and in Saudi Arabia.

“He is in his office upstairs and working, you can see him,” he said, pointing in the direction of Bashir’s office in the historic palace, once the seat of British colonial rule in the country.

Bashir has appeared in public less often in recent months and did not attend a major Arab mining conference in Khartoum last week, fuelling speculation that he was in poor health.

The president, who seized power in a 1989 coup, has faced street protests over galloping inflation since Sudan lost three-quarters of its original oil output to South Sudan when the latter gained independence last year.

Youssef said Bashir could stand in the next election, expected in 2015, although officials in his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said last year he would not run again.

“At the right time, the institution will resume its meeting and decide who is the nominee for the NCP for the presidency for the next round,” he said. “There is nothing that will hinder President Bashir to be nominated.”

Weak opposition parties have failed to mobilise mass anti-government protests but signs of a new threat emerged when authorities arrested ex-spy chief Salah Gosh and a group of officers last month for planning a plot to undermine security.

Confirming for the first time it was a coup attempt against Bashir, Youssef said those arrested would get a fair trial. He dismissed the plot as “normal in Sudan”, a country that has seen several governments overthrown since independence in 1956.

“They had prepared their weapons but not shouldered them yet,” he said. “It is normal, isn’t it? It’s normal in a country like Sudan. Haven’t you heard it in other countries?”

“The ambition of human beings cannot be suppressed. Everyone has ambitions to be president, even you probably think of that.”

Youssef said he was keen to repair relations with Germany after protesters stormed Berlin’s embassy in Khartoum in September during demonstrations against an anti-Islam film.

“We are sorry, of course, about what happened,” Youssef said in the highest-level reconciliatory comments to come out of Khartoum since the violence.

Germany closed the building and called off an economic coooperation conference it had planned in October which would have been a rare opportunity for Khartoum to meet Western firms that mostly shun the country due to U.S. sanctions.

(Additional reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and David Stamp)


By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz | Reuters

Sudan blocks three newspaper for “plot” coverage: journalists.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese security agents blocked the Monday editions of three newspapers that had covered the arrest of a former spy chief over an alleged plot, journalists said, a move that highlighted the sensitivity of the issue.

Salah Gosh, former head of Sudan’s powerful intelligence and security agency, was arrested with 12 others on Thursday on suspicion of plotting to “incite chaos” and “undermine stability” in the country, said authorities.

Analysts outside Sudan said the arrests lifted the lid on divisions in Sudan’s power structure and could be seen as a warning to people suspected of planning to challenge the authority of PresidentOmar Hassan al-Bashir.

Inside Sudan, media reported on the arrests but did not speculate on their significance, tending to stick to repeating government statements.

Some of the most extensive domestic coverage was printed by daily newspapers Ahir Lahtha, al-Mashad Alan and al-Wefaq – all considered close to the government. They ran pictures of Gosh, articles about his background and Al-Wefaq quoted lawyers saying they wanted to defend him.

Ahir Lahtha editor Mustafa Abu al-Azaim told Reuters agents arrived after midnight at the printing house and ordered staff not to distribute Monday’s edition.

“First they didn’t give us a reason but then they said the ban was because of coverage of the sabotage plot,” he said.

Reporters at al-Wefaq and al-Mashad Alan also said agents had banned them from distributing their Monday print-runs.

Sudanese journalists complain of frequent restrictions on press freedom, even though censorship was officially abolished in 2009.

Security agents often confiscate entire editions after printing is finished to inflict losses on papers as a punishment for critical coverage, journalists say.

The National Press Council, which is formally in charge of licensing newspapers but has little power, could not be reached for comment.

Sudan ranked 170 out of 179 in a global press freedom index compiled by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)



Debate rages over Sudan’s Bashir after “plot” arrests.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s information minister had one clear message after security agents moved in to arrest their former spy chief – that a plot had been uncovered, the culprits caught and the situation in the country was now “totally stable”.

Khartoum did appear quiet a day later on Friday – but on the desert city’s dusty streets the detention amplified a debate about the future of the country’s leader, and posed new questions about who might one day unseat him.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has kept a near quarter-century hold on this African oil producer, drawing support from its all powerful military, security services and large parts of the devout, overwhelmingly Muslim population.

His speeches regularly referred to threats from outside – from the West, from Israel and from theInternational Criminal Court, which has indicted him over charges of atrocities in Darfur.

But the man arrested on Thursday on charges of plotting to “incite chaos” was Salah Gosh, once one of the most powerful figures in Bashir’s inner circle, together with several other senior figures from army and security.

“He (Bashir) would always be worried … that the opposition groups would be involved, but now it’s coming from inside. There is a categorical difference there,” said Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute.

Gizouli said there were signs of frustration inside the military, where many who had fought Bashir’s wars in Darfur and the south were itching for the old guard to move on.

“Inside the regime and army are many who want jobs. They are not young anymore. It’s not about reforms. It’s about power,” he added.

Public unrest has also been growing over rising prices and growing inflation after South Sudan split away as an independent nation last year, under the terms of a peace deal, taking most of the country’s oil reserves with it.

Diplomats and analysts in Sudan told Reuters they doubted those tensions had built up into an active military coup attempt.

The detentions were rather a warning shot to those inside the army, security and services and ruling party who might even be considering searching for a replacement for Bashir, they added.

“This is a power struggle inside the regime. It was a preemptive measure,” said Faisal Mohammad Saleh, a prominent journalist. “I don’t think the arrested people had planned anything yet. Maybe they made some phone calls or met, but this was a early stage.”


Quieter questions were already circulating about Bashir’s future after an official from his ruling National Congress Party said last year, in the wake of “Arab spring” protests, he would not seek re-election in the 2015 presidential election.

Speculation mounted after officials were forced to announce Bashir underwent throat surgery in Qatar in August when people in the street started wondering why he had stopped holding his famous public rallies.

Officials insist Bashir is healthy after undergoing a second operation in Saudi Arabia. But a reduction in his public appearances has kept people talking.

At an Islamist conference last week Sudan invited Muslim leaders from Egypt, Tunisia and further afield, but Bashir’s seat was vacant for more than one hour at the opening ceremony.

When Bashir finally came, officials interrupted a speech to declare “the president of the republic is here”.

The startling arrest of Gosh and the other officials, opened up another dimension in the speculation.

“You cannot stop the succession debate anymore. It’s there and people wonder how fit their president is or whether he wants to run again at the next elections,” said a Western diplomat.

“(Vice President Ali Osman) Taha has many supporters in the NCP but there are others in the army and NCP with ambitions too.”


While details of the plot arrests remain unclear, analysts say the trigger could have been worries that once-loyal Islamists would stage protests after hopes for reforms were dashed at the Khartoum conference last week.

In papers circulated in mosques before the meeting, many had demanded to discuss fighting corruption or reforms at the forum of the Islamic Movement, a quasi-official organization meant to guide the NCP.

But hopes for changes were dashed when the government managed to push through its candidate, former minister al-Zubeir al-Hassan, as new secretary general.

“He is not a historical Islamist leader, he doesn’t really have Islamic credentials,” said Harry Verhoeven, a long-time Sudan watcher.

Thousands of mid-level army officers heeded calls by Muslim leaders to fight southern “infidels” during the country’s decades-long civil war with South Sudan.

Many of them were furious when the peace deal that Bashir secured to end that conflict opened the door for southerners to secede from Sudan last year.

Former “mujahideen” have organized themselves into groups such as the “Saihun”, or travelers in Arabic, to vent their anger against the government.

“I went fighting as a young man and I feel this government has run the country aground with their corruption. We have ministers who are not competent,” said an Islamist, speaking to Reuters before the arrests were announced.

After the arrests, Islamists uploaded pictures of one of the army officers detained alongside Gosh – Wad Ibrahim, a civil war hero respectfully called “Emir of the Mujahideen”.

Shops opened as usual in the morning before Friday prayers. At one mosque visited by Reuters the preacher did not mention the arrests.

Many Sudanese, used to political upheavals, wondered what will happen next. “Who is ruling this country,” wrote a user on the “Saihun” website on Thursday as rumors were swirling around.

“I don’t think they tried to stage a military coup,” said 55-year-old Ibrahim Idriss, a food merchant in central Khartoum. “I’m not interested in it anyway. I worry more about corruption and officials who steal people’s money.”

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


By Ulf Laessing and Khalid Abdelaziz | Reuters

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