April 27, 2020:
Recently an American NGO (non-government organization) released a study of corruption and mass murder in South Sudan. The South Sudan federal government and Eastern Equatoria state are involved in a criminal network that smuggles South Sudanese gold to Kenya via the Kenyan border town of Lokichoggio. Some smuggled gold end up in Dubai, Khartoum (Sudan’s capital) and Kampala (Uganda’s capital) where buyers from multi-national mining firms purchase it. South Sudan’s gold is produced in small-scale (artisanal) gold mines in Eastern Equatoria and in adjacent areas that were once part of what was formerly called the Central Equatoria region. For example, numerous small mines operate in the Didinga Hills area. Similar artisanal mines extract cobalt, gold and other minerals operate in eastern Congo where the “blood mineral” money finances rogue militias, warlords and organized crime. Crooked politicians take a percentage and leave the mining operations alone. The new study contends that South Sudan is developing a similar culture of corruption and perpetual disorder in the mining regions. The miners themselves receive very little money. The gold smuggling profits either pay corrupt politicians or are used to buy weapons. This amounts to foreign buyers, especially China, financing low-level warfare in the region. In several parts of Eastern Equatoria disputes over mining rights, both claimed and sought, have sparked friction between local tribes. For example, a dispute is simmering in the Lauro area between the Toposa and Didinga tribes. South Sudan is rife with tribal clashes over grazing rights and water access. Now it looks like gold is another reason to fight or commit a local tribal genocide. (Austin Bay)
April 26, 2020: So far Sudan has had 237 confirmed cases of covid19 and 21 deaths. That comes to five cases per million population and .5 dead per million. The number of confirmed cases has doubled in the last week. South Sudan has had six confirmed cases of covid19 and no deaths. That comes to .5 cases per million population. The national health system in the two Sudans is largely non-existent and many cases of covid19 will go undetected as will deaths, which can be confused with any number of similar diseases (pneumonia, influenza and so on). In contrast, Western nations tend to have some of the best health care systems in the world and more of their urbanized populations are regularly exposed to foreign travelers who unknowingly spread such diseases all over the world. For example, all of Europe has detected 1,723 cases per million population and suffered 164 deaths per million. In contrast, Africa has detected 27 cases per million population and suffered 1.2 deaths per million.
Covid19 is not as scary in Africa because there are so many other deadly diseases or unnatural ways to die. One more does not make much difference and since covid19 is most fatal for the elderly or those already ill from other afflictions, in most of the African covid19 deaths will not even be noticed. Covid19 is similar to the annual influenza outbreaks but infects and kills more people. Not a lot but enough to be declared a health emergency in most countries. Pneumonia and influenza are still killing more people worldwide than covid19 but those two diseases are accepted as normal, covis19 is not. In Africa, a fatal cause of covid19 is just another death by a fever of someone seen as close to death already. This happens in the West as well, but much less frequently and usually by accident. For example, a lot of nursing home deaths in the West were, at first, not attributed to covid19 because nursing homes normally have frequent deaths. The victims tend to have a number of health problems that can eventually kill them. In the West “just another fever” as a cause of death is no longer acceptable even though it is what is happening. African governments often say they will deal with covid19 but won’t discuss how because there are no resources for a nationwide response other than warning people to stay away from anyone who appears to be infected. This will result in some mistaken identity incidents but without widespread testing, it will never be known how many were infected and died from this virus. That is what happened with earlier pandemics passed through and were hardly noticed.
April 24, 2020: Sudan’s Anti-Corruption Committee (full name the Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee) announced it has recovered 79 properties that criminally acquired by Islamic movement aligned with former dictator Mar al-Bashir. The properties are worth around $2 billion. Many of the properties were controlled by Abdelbasit Hamza, a key Islamic movement leader. Other properties were owned by the Islamic Daawa organization.
April 23, 2020: In Sudan, the FFC (Forces for Freedom and Change) coalition may be losing one of its key political allies. The NUP (National Umma Party), which was active in the anti-Bashir protests, has demanded the pro-democracy coalition to end its disputes over the economic reform and stop internal bickering. An American diplomat working in Sudan survived an apparent assassination attempt when an unidentified attacker began shooting at his car while it was driving through Khartoum, the capital. The American diplomat survived the attack. Sudanese security personnel are investigating the attack.
April 22, 2020: In northern Sudan (Northern State) the government decided to restrict movement and close markets sparked several violent protests. One of the markets closed was a mining market and several thousand miners objected to its closure. The state’s governor claimed protestors fired on police and wounded two policemen.
April 21, 2020: Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) issued an interesting statement that basically said the special militia recognized that Sudan’s armed forces are a unified and cohesive force that serves the country’s interests. The statement is viewed as a response to rumors that members of the RSF are at odds with the rest of the Sudanese military.
April 20, 2020: In Sudan, the SRF (Sudanese Revolutionary Front) said it will continue to reject the legitimacy of new appointments of state governors until the SRF reaches a comprehensive peace agreement with the government.
Meanwhile, in South Sudan, several senior leaders of SPLM-IO, the main opposition party, have quit the opposition and joined the governing SPLM (Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement). The former rebels who quit the rebel group complain that First Vice President Riek Machar (the SPLM-IO’s leader) has turned the party into a “family dynasty.” They have many complaints but the most obvious is Machar’s decision to appoint his wife, Angelina Teny, as the transitional unity government’s minister of defense. Nepotism is common in both Sudan’s but not to this extent.
April 17, 2020: In Sudan, the prime minister Abdalla Hamdok fired general Ahmed Abdoun Hamad, the governor of the capital (Khartoum). Hamdok said Hamad defied a direct order to cancel Friday prayers in Khartoum and Omdurman. The public prayers were canceled because of the threat posed by the covid19 virus. In response, Hamad said he intended to ignore the prime minister’s order and remain governor.
April 16, 2020: In Sudan, the Finance Ministry raised the minimum wage of civil servants by 570 percent. The raise goes into effect in May. The move is controversial within Sudan. Civil servants say that the raise is necessary because of rampant inflation.
April 12, 2020: Sudan, in an attempt to halt the spread of the covid19 virus, has banned all passenger road transport between cities. So far Sudan has had 19 confirmed cases in the country.
April 11, 2020: In Sudan a year ago today, after months of anti-government protests, Omar al-Bashir resigned as president (for life, he thought) of Sudan.
April 10, 2020: In Sudan, the government and the SRF rebel coalition agreed to extend their peace negotiations through May 9. Both sides said the covis19 pandemic has delayed negotiations.
April 9, 2020: Egypt announced it intends to construct several water projects in Uganda and South Sudan. In Uganda, Egypt will help build five “rainwater harvesting dams” to provide drinking water. There will be six drinking water reservoirs in South Sudan.
April 7, 2020: In Sudan, the Ministry of Justice completed compensation settlement negotiations with the survivors of U.S. Navy sailors killed in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000. The attack occurred in the Yemeni port of Aden. The U.S. government said that Sudan must reach a satisfactory deal with the survivors in order to be removed from the state sponsor of terrorism list. Sudan, however, continues to insist it was not involved in the terror attack. According to the media, Sudan will be paying the survivors around $70 million.
April 3, 2020: The UN and food aid NGOs believe that the covid19 pandemic will slow down South Sudan’s ability to import and distribute food and make the nation’s food crisis even worse than it is. The price of grain jumped by almost 40 percent in March. The virus will also exacerbate Sudan’s economic problems. In Sudan, there is already a shortage of flour, medicines and fuel.
April 2, 2020: Sudan’s ambassador to the U.S. asked the American government to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. “De-listing” is the official diplomatic term. In early March the U.S Treasury Department told Sudan “de-listing” was a matter of time.
March 31, 2020: In Sudan (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states) the SPLM-N rebel faction SPLM-N-Hilu, led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, announced it has agreed to extend the ceasefire until May 30.
March 29, 2020: In Sudan (Khartoum, the capital) the Army claimed it shot down a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that was seen circling in the vicinity of the home of the Sovereign Council Chairman Abdel Fattah al Burhan. It turned out the UAV was monitoring the night curfew that had been imposed on March 23 because of the covid19 pandemic. However, soldiers in Burhan’s presidential guard detail were not told about the drone so they assumed the worst. As for the curfew, reports indicate it is not being strictly followed and enforced.
In Sudan (Omdurman, the second largest city) several violent demonstrations broke out in El Hoda Prison. Prisoners said they are afraid of the covid19 virus and demanded to be released.