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Post-Bashir era unites Sudan’s opposition parties

A military transitional council is now set to rule the country for the next two years.

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Sudanese leading opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi addresses his supporters after he returned from nearly a year in self-imposed exile in Khartoum, Sudan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

After decades of intense divisions, Sudan’s political opposition united recently to form a powerful three-pronged bloc that became part of the protest wave which ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir last week.

During Bashir’s politically repressive three-decade rule, Sudan had around 100 political parties. They ranged from Islamists to leftists and ran the gamut from ardent critics to regime loyalists.

A military transitional council is now set to rule the country for the next two years.

Veteran journalist Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, 91, mapped out the political trajectories of the burgeoning opposition movement for AFP.

– Who is the Sudanese opposition? –

“The opposition in Sudan now is made up of the (Paris-based) Nidaa Sudan, the National Consensus Forces and the Sudanese Professionals Association,” said Saleh, who was imprisoned several times during Bashir’s reign.

Collectively, the tripartite bloc is known as the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

Nidaa Sudan includes the Umma Party, the Sudanese Congress Party as well as armed movements such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The Umma Party is led by Oxford-educated Sadiq al-Mahdi, who was prime minister twice during the 1960s and 1980s and was ousted by Bashir’s 1989 coup.

He returned to Sudan in December after a year of self-imposed exile in Cairo.

Meanwhile, the “more radical” Sudanese Communist Party and the Baath Party alongside other leftist gatherings form the National Consensus Forces.

Lastly, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) is comprised of small political cadres mostly staffed by young, urban people counting academics, doctors and engineers among their ranks.

They have been the driving force behind mobilising thousands of demonstrators through their savvy and active social media usage to protest against Bashir since December 18.

The SPA has called on the transitional military council to immediately “hand over power” to a civilian administration and urged demonstrators to continue with their sit-in.

– How strong is the opposition now? –

Protesters have been camped for several weeks in front of important government buildings throughout the country.

Saleh says the opposition bloc has been the most consistent and well-organised in agitating for tangible political change.

“For four months, these people were not afraid to put their bodies on the line,” he said.

Officials say at least 65 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations erupted.

The bloc has urged the forthcoming transitional government to arrest Bashir and a coterie of political elite figures who have been in power since the 1989 coup.

These include the powerful security and intelligence chiefs and leaders of Bashir’s National Congress Party.

“All the various parties that make up the opposition are now going to unite, sort out their differences and learn from their previous mistakes at this crucial time,” he added.

“But when things return to their natural state, political squabbles and factional in-fighting will ultimately emerge.”

– What about the Islamists and the diaspora? – “Islamists will not disappear from the scene but will not be as influential, especially with the end of the National Congress Party,” the renowned journalist noted.

He told AFP that other Islamist alternatives opposing NCP policies have been a mainstay of Sudanese politics and that they will continue to survive in some form or another.

The most prominent Islamist movement which still has a massive following is the Popular Congress Party, which was founded by hardline ideological figure Hassan al-Turabi.

With the opposition in the diaspora — particularly in London and Paris where exiles have been politically active — Saleh sees them as playing a pivotal role in the future.

Around five million Sudanese live overseas, mostly across the Middle East, Europe and North America.

“All of these opposition movements have their followers overseas …

They represent a mass of human resources that can be drawn upon when it comes to forming a civilian government,” Saleh said.

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North Africa Politics

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will of Egyptians”

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denies allegations of corruption

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday flatly denied allegations of corruption made by an Egyptian businessman, assuring he was “honest and faithful” to his people and army.

Videos posted online from outside the country since early September accusing Sisi and Egypt’s military of graft have gone viral, sparking rare debate about the army’s growing economic empire. 

The man behind them, 45-year-old construction contractor Mohamed Aly, claims that authorities have misappropriated millions of Egyptian pounds in public funds. 

He also alleges the military owes him hundreds of millions of pounds for projects his company was commissioned to build, including palatial residences for Sisi.

Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will (of Egyptians) and make them lose all hope and confidence”. 

Quoted by local TV, Sisi said he decided to speak out despite “calls from all state bodies” for him not to respond. 

“Your son is honest, faithful and loyal,” he added.

Aly — who says he has fled to Spain — has not provided evidence to back up his claims and the Egyptian armed forces declined an AFP request to comment.

In the footage, released in instalments, Aly mocks Sisi – a former army chief – and lambasts the military.

In the first video, posted on September 2, Aly blasted Sisi, without naming him, saying: “You say the Egyptian people are very poor and that we should tighten our belts.

“(But) you are throwing away billions and your men are wasting millions.”

In a speech on Egypt’s economy two years ago, Sisi had said “We (Egyptians) are very poor”.

The reality is different, according to Aly, who says that some of the projects the military asked him to build included a luxurious guest house for Sisi in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and a palace in Cairo.

“People must know how their money is being spent,” Aly says in one video.

For decades, the military has played a key but opaque economic role, producing everything from washing machines to pasta, alongside building roads and operating gas stations.

Since the arrival of Sisi, who toppled his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the army’s economic involvement has been more visible amid austerity measures and rising prices.

The army spokesman said recently on a popular TV show that the armed forces oversee rather than “manage” some 2,300 projects nationwide, employing five million civilians. 

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said

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189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
People disembark from a plane as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries.

A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.

“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” said Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years.

READ: Police arrests several shop looters in South Africa

“They burnt my shop, everything,” he added.

189 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa after xenophobic attacks
Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said.

“We were expecting 317 but from the information we have 189 are on board,” said Nigeria’s minister for diaspora affairs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“There was about a five-hour delay courtesy of the South African authorities who actually frustrated this return of Nigerians,” she said, blaming authorities in Johannesburg for failing to help Nigerians without travel documents.

READ: Nigeria plans to repatriate 600 citizens from South Africa

“There was a lot of frustration in getting them back home but we’re glad that they will be here,” she added.

Leading the returnees in singing the national anthem, Dabiri-Erewa promised the government would provide financial support.

Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri-Erewa speaks after a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrived in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto)

Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a series of deadly attacks on foreigners last week, including many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

At least 10 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.

READ: South Africa vows to tackle xenophobic attacks against foreigners

No Nigerian was killed but the violence led to condemnation across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fuelling diplomatic tensions between the continent’s two leading nations.

The violence also prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.

READ: African migrants seek refuge amidst xenophobic attacks in South Africa

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari’s February election win

The opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court

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Nigerian court upholds President Muhammadu Buhari's February election win

A Nigerian court on Wednesday upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory earlier this year, dismissing a request by opposition parties to overturn the result over claims of voting irregularities.

Buhari, 76, won a second term with 56 per cent of the February poll, which was long-delayed.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who came in second with 41 per cent, immediately called the result a “sham”. Opposition parties lodged a legal challenge against the result in March.

Abubakar, 72, said he had been cheated of the chance to lead Africa’s most populous state after a conspiracy between the electoral commission INEC and Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, on Wednesday, the presidential election tribunal found there was no evidence of the opposition’s claims.

“This petition is, hereby, dismissed in its entirety,” judge Mohammed Garba said on Wednesday.

The ruling was widely expected, with Buhari’s government taking office last month.

Buhari has insisted that the election was free and fair, claiming the vote was “another milestone in Nigeria’s democratic development”. 

In a press statement reacting to the verdict, the opposition party says it will head to the country’s supreme court to appeal the ruling of the lower court.

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