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Sudan: Support and dissent for El Burhan-Netanyahu meeting

February 6 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Cartoon by Omar Defalla for Radio Dabanga
Cartoon by Omar Defalla for Radio Dabanga

Sudan’s Council of Ministers has issued statement on its position on a meeting between the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Entebbe in Uganda on Monday. El Burhan also elaborated on the motivation behind the controversial encounter amid sharp political criticism.

The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reports that after a prolonged meeting on Tuesday, between the Council of Ministers, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), and the Sovereign Council, the ministers stated that they were “surprised by the Entebbe meeting,” and after discussing its repercussions, “shared identical views” with the FFC.

The statement explained that during the meeting, El Burhan stressed that he made the initiative personally, did not consult anyone, and he bears responsibility, believing that this step was for the benefit of the Sudanese people.

According to the ministers’ statement, El Burhan said that meeting was exploratory, during which he did not make any commitment or promises to normalise or establish diplomatic relations [with Israel], and that he leaves the issue to the competent authorities to decide.

The Council of Ministers stressed that the issue of relations with Israel is beyond the powers of the transitional government, which has a limited mandate, and that such an issue must be considered by the legislative authority and the constitutional conference.

El Burhan affirmed that his meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister was “spurred by the difficult conditions in the country and the threats facing its people when it comes to decent living, free movement, communication, and travelling around the world”.

Speaking to reporters at the General Command of the Sudan Armed Forces in Khartoum on Wednesday, El Burhan stressed that Sudan is facing various difficulties, “a matter that requires making all attempts for securing the nation’s best interests”.

He said his meeting with the Netanyahu was a move he made to improve conditions in the country, without undermining the national principles nor the due rights of Palestinian people.

El Burhan affirmed that he did not infringe into the mandates of the executive, but that it was “a prelude introducing the executive into the question”.

US-brokered

El Burhan told reporters on Tuesday that his meeting with Netanyahu was facilitated by the USA, based on his personal conviction of the importance “opening all doors for the benefit of the Sudanese people and the advancement of the state”.

He said that the aim of the meeting is to remove the name of Sudan from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

El Burhan said that he notified Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok of his meeting with Netanyahu two days beforehand. He pointed out the agreement that all airlines travel through Sudan’s airspace to Israel, explaining that “some airlines have remained crossing Sudanese airspace to Israel for months”.

He said that the meeting with Netanyahu took place without any preconditions, referring to the preparatory talks that preceded the meeting three months ago with the Israeli Prime Minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He expected that the Netanyahu meeting “would bring great benefits and that it would contribute to Sudan’s integration into the international community”. He denied that the meeting was an outrage against the executive authorities in Sudan, stressing the necessity of keeping all doors open “to lift the siege of Sudan”.

‘The FFC did not object to the move to meet with Netanyahu; their objection was that they were not consulted beforehand’ – El Burhan

El Burhan said that “the FFC did not object to the move to meet with Netanyahu; their objection was that they were not consulted beforehand”.

The spokesman for the Sudan Armed Forces, Amer El Hasan, said in a press statement after El Burhan’s press meeting that the Netanyahu meeting “was imposed by the economic and living conditions in the country and bold decisions, at the level of internal and external policies to improve the economic situation and for Sudan to return to its leadership role”.

El Hassan said that the military do not aspire to continue ruling the country, and that they will hand over power to people chosen by the people after the elections, according to the provisions of the Constitutional Document.

He said that the dangers that Sudan faces require daring steps and stressed Sudan’s policies are unmoved regarding the Palestinian issue.

Previously, the Sovereignty Council issued a statement explaining that the meeting between El Burhan and Netanyahu took place “from the responsibility to preserve and maintain Sudanese national security and achieve the supreme interests of the Sudanese people, while emphasising Sudan’s principled position on the Palestinian issue and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state”.

The Sudan Youth Association announced its support for the meeting of El Burhan with Netanyahu, considering in a statement by the Secretariat for Foreign Relations yesterday a step in the right direction and a great achievement in the way of ending the isolation of Sudan, in order to correct a historical situation in the path of Sudanese foreign policy, and to advance the homeland towards horizons of development, stability, prosperity and decent living.

The statement stressed that Sudan has the right to build balanced external relations based on the interests of Sudan to achieve the benefits for the country and to put the supreme interest of the country above all partisan and ideological interests.

FFC: ‘Major and unacceptable transgression’

The FFC described the meeting as “a major and unacceptable transgression, that it is a violation and casts a negative shadow on the political situation in the country”.

In a statement on Wednesday, the FFC pointed out that the Constitutional Document stipulated that external relations are the prerogative of the executive authority. It noted that “making fundamental changes in a political issue of the magnitude of the relationship with Israel should be decided by the Sudanese people through their institutions that express their will”.

The Sudanese Professionals Association described the meeting of Netanyahu and El Burhan as “a serious transgression of the institutions of the transitional authority and the Constitutional Document”.

It added that the historical position of the Sudanese people is not to deal with or normalise relations with Israel, “a position that El Burhan does not have the right to change”, noting that “the meeting is not related to the relations that bind the Sudanese and Palestinian peoples”.

The Sudanese Communist Party announced its rejection of what it called the normalisation steps with Israel. Party spokesman, Fathi Fadl, described the meeting as “a stab and betrayal of the clear stance against Zionist imperialism”.


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