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Sudan’s Red Sea ports open briefly after El Burhan appeal

October 8 - 2020 PORT SUDAN / SUAKIN
Protestors remove containers blocking the gates to Port Sudan harbour (Social media)
Protestors remove containers blocking the gates to Port Sudan harbour (Social media)

The Beja Nazirs Council confirmed on Wednesday that the gates to the ports of Port Sudan and Suakin, and the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway have been opened for 48 hours. The decision follows a request by the President of the Sovereign Council, Abdelfattah El Burhan.

Leading Beja nazir* Karar Askar said in a press statement that they have shifted the location of the southern port sit-in tent from the gate so that the port can operate normally.

El Burhan said he needed two days to propose a solution to the impasse caused by the eastern Sudan protocol, which is part of the comprehensive peace agreement Khartoum signed with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (RSF) rebel alliance on October 3.

At the conclusion of a meeting held by the Beja Nazirs Council in Suakin, Askar reported that the Beja nazirs renewed their rejection of what they described as “the tutelage of the SRF rebels, who want to steal the votes of the people of the region”.

‘The blockades will resume if no solution has been found within 48 hours’ – Beja Nazirs Council

The sit-ins in all locations will be maintained. The blockades will resume if no solution has been found within 48 hours. The Council holds the government in Khartoum responsible for further developments.

The parties of the eastern Sudanese negotiation team that agreed on the contents of the peace agreement said in a joint statement yesterday that they hold accountable “anyone who threatens national security and attacks national institutions”.

The Beja Conference-Armed Struggle, the Beja Opposition Conference, and the United Popular Front stated that the eastern Sudan Track agreement “brings great gains to all the people of the East, and will contribute to solving the deep-rooted problems in the region.

“However, serious work has to be done to show the people the gains of the agreement and make it owned by all the people in eastern Sudan.”

The three groups expressed their categorical rejection of “hate speech and exclusion”, and called on their fellow Beja “to listen to the voice of reason”, and “start work to consolidate and strengthen societal peace in eastern Sudan”.

The parties further stated that the planned People of the East Conference will be “the correct place to address all issues not mentioned in the Juba Peace Agreement, provided that its recommendations become part of the peace document”.

Eastern Sudan Track

They further expressed their appreciation for “the efforts made by the political and civil society forces, and the initiatives proposed to consolidate social peace and resolve the disputes that have recently emerged in eastern Sudan”, and lauded the support of a large number of native administration leaders of eastern Sudan Track protocol in the Juba Peace Agreement, including Sheikh Suleiman Betai, chiefs of the Ammar, Beni Amer, Habab, Jumeilab, Bawadara, Ababda, and other community leaders on various levels in the region.

The Eastern Sudan Track accord was already controversial at the time it was signed, in February this year. In July, a committee was established to re-discuss the protocol.

According to Abdallah Obshar, the rapporteur of the Beja Nazirs Council, members of the group that represented eastern Sudan during the peace negotiations in Juba have no historical or geographical ties to the region and do not even speak the Beja language**.

“The eastern track signed in Juba is a clear encroachment to the Beja tribe because the group which represented eastern Sudan during the negotiations have not had any relationships with the area whatsoever. They are a group of individuals which had been receiving support from the previous administration to change the demography of the Beja area,” Obshar told VOAnews earlier this week.

“Our area has been witnessing marginalisation and exclusion since the independence of the country; it is still being practiced against our people, and the worst is now they are trying to change our demography and do away with our identity. This is one of the dangerous series of plans that is facing the people of eastern Sudan.”

* A nazir is a state-appointed administrative chief of a tribe, according to the Native Administration system in Sudan.

** The Beni Amer and El Habab clans speak Tigre, not Beja.

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