Sudan: Farmers' fury at Al Bashir’s accusations of theft
President Omar Al Bashir’s allegations that farmers of El Gezira state embezzled agricultural funds have sparked fury and anger among thousands of people in the state.
During a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday, President Al Bashir accused farmers and other people working at the state’s agricultural scheme of stealing from El Gezira Scheme’s Fund. He described El Gezira Scheme at the press conference as non-feasible.
“Since the end of the 1960s, the Scheme has become a burden on the country’s budget. The people of El Gezira have become politicised. They are breeds of communists, as they always want the government to fund their agricultural projects without paying back their loans,” he said.
Members of El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association described Al Bashir’s allegations as “insulting and absurd”.
“Al Bashir’s utterances affirm his entire lack of respect for the Sudanese people. Moreover, his way of speaking is far below the standards of a nation’s leader,” Mohamed Ali Algam, member of both the Farmers Association and El Gezira People’s Forum told Radio Dabanga.
“It seems that with this speech the president wants to add El Gezira to the conflict zones of Darfur, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and eastern Sudan,” he added, warning for an imminent popular revolt in the state.
Algam called on the Sudanese president to “display the documents that prove that the people of El Gezira state are thieves”.
“Al Bashir accused us in an attempt to cover up for the widespread corruption of his government. We have all the documents exposing the corruption of the president, including the privatisation of El Gezira Scheme for his and his party’s benefits, and their failure in managing the Scheme.
Farmers Association member Hassabo Mohamed commented by saying that the Khartoum regime played a large part in the “demolition and liquidation of El Gezira Agricultural Scheme, without spending a penny on it”. He stressed to Radio Dabanga that “none of the farmers in El Gezira is as corrupt as the Sudanese government”.
El Gezira Scheme has remained for nearly eighty years the sole source of hard currency for the country, through the cultivation of cotton, grown over an area of 400,000-600,000 acres. However, the size of cotton production reduced to less than 100,000 acres during the last decades. About 12 cotton ginneries in El Gezira state have closed their doors, owing to a lack of financial support and neglect.
Map: Sudan (ipipotash.org) El Gezira Agricultural Scheme is located south of Khartoum, in the triangle between the White and the Blue Nile.
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Farmers in Sudan’s El Gezira won't plant cotton (27 April 2014)
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