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Beja Congress to Sudan’s ruling party: ‘Our patience has run out’

February 9 - 2015 PORT SUDAN
Low school enrolment is just one of many challenges in eastern Sudan, which also faces extreme poverty as well as high rates of under-nutrition, and maternal and infant mortality (Simonsen/Unicef)
Low school enrolment is just one of many challenges in eastern Sudan, which also faces extreme poverty as well as high rates of under-nutrition, and maternal and infant mortality (Simonsen/Unicef)

The Beja Congress in eastern Sudan has warned for the consequences of the delay in the implementation of the 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA). The opposition movement will boycott the general elections, scheduled to start on 13 April this year.

In an interview with Dabanga to be broadcast today, Beja Congress Deputy Chairman, Sheiba Dirar, warned the National Congress Party (NCP) that their “patience is worn out”. He blamed the ruling NCP for ignoring the stipulations laid out in the agreement, signed by the Sudanese government and the Eastern Front, an alliance of opposition forces, in October 2006.

Dirar, the second man of the party, after Musa Mohamed Ahmed, who was appointed Assistant to the President following the peace agreement, stressed that “nine years after the signing, there is not one citizen in eastern Sudan who has reaped the fruits of the ESPA.

“The eastern Sudanese are all victims of neglect and mismanagement. Only Khartoum is profiting from the proceeds of Sudan’s main port of Port Sudan. Jobs and positions in eastern Sudan are almost all taken by people from the centre. You will not find any eastern Sudanese working in the civil service or a ministry, while the unemployment rate in the region is extremely high.” 

“The eastern Sudanese are all victims of neglect and mismanagement. Only Khartoum is profiting from the proceeds of Sudan’s main port of Port Sudan.” 

According to the Beja leader, mediators from neighbouring countries have failed to convince the ruling party to implement the ESPA. He said that the NCP is also dominating the Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund (ESRDF).

“The Fund was supported by international donors with nearly $2 billion, while the Sudanese government has contributed $105 million so far of the pledged $600 million. The money was spent on the rent for ESRDF offices, and on vehicles and other alleged necessities for its officials.”

Dirar added that the party members will boycott the upcoming elections, describing them as “fake”. “The results are already known.”

He furthermore accused the ruling party of dividing the country, saying that “the NCP is a real danger to the unity of Sudan”, and called on the Sudanese people to “stand up, and topple the gang in Khartoum”.

“The Beja Congress recently decided on a surprise move”, he announced, but did not disclose any details. “The time is over for the implementation of the ESPA. Our salvation lies in the eastern Sudanese mountains.”

Transparency

The ESRDF was established in 2007 with the aim of rehabilitating the areas in eastern Sudan affected by armed conflict, by providing services in the field of education, health, and water,  building human and institutional capacity, and developing the infrastructure, agriculture, industry, fisheries, and tourism.

“The development projects are not implemented, while the region continues to suffer from chronic thirst. The eastern Sudanese are in dire need of mine clearance, provision of clean drinking water, and housing projects”, MP Mohamed El Taher Osham said at a workshop on the performance of the ESRDF, held in Khartoum in June last year.

Ahmed Ibrahim Onur, professor at the Faculty of Administrative Sciences of the University of Khartoum, accused the ESRDF of being not transparent regarding its expenditure. “Since the Fund assumed its duties in 2007, it has implemented only 20 percent of the projects in the region, while it has received millions of dollars from donors.”

“The implementation of the development programme on the ground, however, has been zero.”

“The ESRDF adopted a 2006-2011 development programme in eastern Sudan that included the construction and maintenance of water distribution systems, the reduction of unemployment, the establishment of a teacher training institute, a hospital, and 12 health centres. The implementation on the ground, however, has been zero”, Onur stated at the workshop.

The scholar also accused the ruling NCP of dominating the Reconstruction Fund. “The Sudanese president himself has appointed the Fund’s Executive Director.”

Security arrangements

On 19 September, the political secretary of the eastern Sudanese rebel Popular Front for Liberation and Justice (PFLJ), El Amin Daoud, explained to Dabanga that the three protocols of the ESPA, on power sharing, wealth sharing, and security arrangements were to be incorporated in the Sudanese Constitution.

“Nothing of that happened. The wealth sharing protocol has been restricted to the establishment of the ESRDF, which does not serve the purposes of the eastern people, but those of the NCP. The Sudanese government managed to extend oil pipelines from South Sudan to Port Sudan, but failed to deliver water to the thirsty in the Red Sea state,” he noted.

Former combatants have been complaining for years about the delay of the security arrangements. In more than one incident last year, ex-fighters of the Beja Congress, attempted to commit suicide in Port Sudan, in protest against the delay of their dues.

Omar Hashem El Khalifa, Chairman of the Beja Congress and Eastern Front Ex-Combatants Committee of the Red Sea State, commented to Dabanga on 9 December by saying that the dire living conditions, experienced by all ex-combatants, prompted some of them to attempts to take their own lives.

“Hunger and diseases have already caused the death of many demobilised fighters and their family members in eastern Sudan,” he stressed.

 

Related articles:

‘Ruling party hampers eastern Sudan peace accord’ (21 September 2014)

Eastern Sudan ex-combatants ‘lose confidence’ in leaders (19 September 2014)

‘Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund does not work’: MP (22 June 2014)

MP calls for land mine investigation in eastern Sudan (17 June 2014)

’Million signatures campaign’ to remove governor, protests in eastern Sudan (6 May 2014)

EU, Italy launch health programme in eastern Sudan (31 March 2014)

EU, UN launch €8.6 million food security programme in eastern Sudan (25 November 2013)


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