Sudan – 10 Jan 2015

We must not forget Sudan’s social progress
The government initiated a policy of empowering Sudanese women and mobilising their energies for development by allocating 25% of parliamentary seats to them. It has consolidated their right of equal pay for equal work and opened up employment in the judiciary, the civil service and foreign ministry. The deputy speaker of parliament is a woman, so are 80 judges, 45 diplomats, including 12 ambassadors, a lieutenant general in both the army and police, two cabinet ministers, six state ministers and three republican palace advisers. Currently, 45% of the civil service are women.
Furthermore, after the secession of the south, the Sudanese government embarked on a process of democratisation that culminated in the inclusive national dialogue which is now under way. Nineteen new universities were established as well as hundreds of secondary schools.
Motorways now link Port Sudan and Darfur to the rest of the country and are bound to accelerate development and modernisation. This is politically significant because years of US sanctions have devastated the transport infrastructure. In the past, railways played the main role in breaking down tribal barriers in central Sudan.
Thus through these new projects, the Sudan government addresses the complaints of distant areas that feel marginalised and propels development within those regions.

Omar al-Bashir celebrates ICC decision to halt Darfur investigation
The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has hailed the international criminal court’s suspension of its investigations into alleged war crimes in Darfur, accusing it of trying to “humiliate and subjugate” his country.
Bashir is wanted by the ICC over alleged war crimes in the western region, where the government has been trying to crush an insurgency since 2003.
The ICC’s prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Friday she was halting investigations to “shift resources to other urgent cases”, and criticised the UN security council for failing to push for Bashir’s arrest.
Bashir said in a speech in Khartoum that the decision came about “because of the Sudanese people’s refusal to be humiliated and to kneel down”, state news agency SUNA reported.
He called the ICC one of the “tools aimed to humiliate and subjugate” Sudan, SUNA said.
Bensouda’s decision to halt the Darfur investigations comes amid rising difficulties for the ICC, which dropped charges of crimes against humanity against the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, last week.
The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, on Friday called on African countries to withdraw from the ICC, saying the court had become a “tool to target” the continent.

NUP Rejects Constitutional Amendments
The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) rejected the amendments approved by the Sudanese parliament last week calling it mere “distortions” that harmonized the interim Constitution of 2005 with the actions of the government which consistently breached its articles.
In a statement received by Sudan Tribune, the NUP said the amendments publicly reveal the case of wandering, isolation and anxiety suffered by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
The NUP said it has formed a committee that is working on a detailed study of the amendments and their impact on the political, legal and international situation of the government.
The statement mentioned that the transitional constitution expired since July 9, 2011 which necessitated the creation of a new constitution, adding that all Sudanese forces agreed on the drafting of a constitution in an inclusive process.
“Therefore the rush of the parliament to quickly make these distortions as an attempt to impose more control over the outcome of their planned elections that are useless and futile, in a desperate attempt to secure the election of the one ruler, out of hope of finding protection for him from the reach of the International Criminal Court”.
“We reject these distortions in form, content and timing, and we see them as a loss for the dignity of the Sudanese people, and a waste of the sovereignty of the state of Sudan”. “If they used any of the Sudanese legal minds the Sudanese parliament would not have indulged in these erroneous, obvious and flagrant constitutional distortions”.

Sudanese soldiers using rape as weapon of war, says rights group
Government soldiers in Sudan are using sexual violence, including the gang-rape of teenage girls, as a weapon of war against southern rebels, a watchdog has claimed.
Refugees from Blue Nile state described a pattern of abuses including rapes, torture and the beating to death of men in custody, Human Rights Watch said.
Daniel Bekele, the group’s Africa director, said: “The number of rapes reported to us, often in harrowing detail, suggests that sexual violence is part of the government’s counter-insurgency strategy. The scale of reported abuses points to the urgent need for an international investigation in both rebel- and government-controlled areas.” President Omar al-Bashir’s government has been battling an insurgency in the southern Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since 2011, waged mostly by former civil war fighters who were left in Sudan after South Sudan gained independence that year. “Entire communities are trapped in camp-like conditions behind government lines, terrorised by government forces. In addition to indiscriminate bombing, Sudanese government forces are getting away with abusive and illegal tactics under a guise of counter-insurgency, including rape, arbitrary detentions and killings,” Bekele said.