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Sudan timeline Jan-March 2020: Little relief to the country’s economic, security woes

April 24 - 2020 DABANGA SUDAN
Waiting to buy fuel in Nierteti in Central Darfur (Social media)
Waiting to buy fuel in Nierteti in Central Darfur (Social media)

The Sudanese peace talks being held in Juba seem to be producing paydirt as rebels and government delegations move closer to agreements on the various negotiation tracks. However there remain security concerns across the country, with acts of violence, often by marauding gunmen, still commonplace, especially in Darfur.

The unilateral ceasefires declared during the negotiations are allowing for more aid and humanitarian organisations to assess the needs of the most vulnerable groups in war-torn areas.

Changes withing the banking system and efforts to remove remnants of the deposed Al Bashir regime from positions of authority are ongoing, and economic reforms, including substantial increases in salaries for civil servants and teachers have been welcomed, if not yet implemented.

However, the Sudanese Pound continues its downward slide against hard currencies, which has a knock-on effect on prices for consumer goods, bread, and fuel, which are in short supply and attract long queues at petrol stations and bakeries across the country. Sudan’s foreign debt and its continued presence on the US terrorism blacklist do not augur well.

The UN called for a universal ceasefire across Sudan as part of global efforts to combat the disease. While preparations for the response to the global coronavirus (Covid-19) began in January, Sudan was coronavirus-free unto mid-March, when the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Khartoum, and Sudan’s Security and Defence Council declared a State of Health Emergency in the country, followed by border closures and the suspension of most international flights.

Radio Dabanga is carrying ongoing coverage of the situation in Sudan.

 

Timeline Sudan January - March 2020

January: Inflation increases, peace talks continue, security forces mutiny

January 1: The Sudanese peace negotiations in the South Sudan capital of Juba make progress on the northern Sudan track. The chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, pledges to adopt a national programme that will enhance living conditions and focus on reforms to boost development in the country.

January 2: The Central Bank of Sudan is to undergo structural changes to bring it in line with the international banking system. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) extends its unilateral ceasefire for three months in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. A delegation led by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and Sovereign Council Deputy Chairman Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ arrive in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, to assess the situation following clashes that broke out on December 29.

January 3: More than 80 people were reportedly killed and 190 others injured in West Darfur violence in end December. Hundreds of women demonstrate in Khartoum demanding Sudan’s new government to sign CEDAW. The hard currency reserves in the Central Bank of Sudan suffice the country’s imports needs for two to three months.

January 5: According to the Sudanese Professionals Association, the structure of the police and security services must be adjusted to avoid violence in the country. The Red Sea state authorities order a curfew in Port Sudan after eight people have been killed in renewed tribal clashes in the city.

January 6: Sudan’s Ministry of Education will double the teachers’ salaries to make the profession more attractive. Yasir Arman, deputy head of SPLM-N Agar criticises the existence of ‘five armies’ in Sudan. According to the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) in West Darfur, the attacks on villages and camps for the displaced in El Geneina last week were the result of ‘deep state elements’.

January 7: Representatives of the UN World Food Programme arrive in Blue Nile state areas controlled by the SPLM-N El Hilu to assess humanitarian needs. Thousands of supporters of Abdelwahid El Nur’s Sudan Liberation Movement demand the hand-over of Al Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

January 8: The Sudanese Anti-Corruption Committee suspends two satellite channels and newspapers ‘until their accounts are reviewed’. Hundreds of demonstrators in the Sudanese capital demand those responsible for the violent break-up of the Khartoum sit-in on June 3, 2019 be brought to justice.

January 9: PM Hamdok visits Kauda, stronghold of the SPLM-N El Hilu in the Nuba Mountains. The Communist Party of Sudan opposes the dissolution of trade unions set-up by the ousted regime of Omar Al Bashir in the country.

SPLM-N leader El Hilu and PM Hamdok hold their hands aloft in Kauda, as WFP chief David Beasley looks on (RD)

 

January 11: Arrest warrants are issued against two brothers of Omar Al Bashir and prominent Islamist cleric Abdelhay Yousef on charges related to terrorism. PM Hamdok expresses his satisfaction about the current partnership with the military.

January 13: The deficit of Sudan’s 2020 budget will be $3.3 billion, the Minister of Finance reports. The FFC in El Gezira hold the police responsible for the shooting of two demonstrators against a march of Islamists in Wad Madani. Investigations into institutions set up by the defunct regime show that the recently dissolved Holy Koran Association owned a gold mine in River Nile state.

January 14: Combatants of the Operations Authority of the former National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) fire shots in the air in El Obeid and Khartoum, in protest against administrative and financial measures.

January 15: Sudanese financial experts are concerned about plans to lift subsidies to basic commodities this year. The rate of the Dollar on the parallel market is still rising. Lt Gen ‘Hemeti’ accuses former security director Salah Gosh of being responsible for the rebellion of the Operations Authority troops. The RSF militia denies accusations that it is involved in the armed conflict in Libya. Key stakeholders boycott the eastern Sudan peace conference in Khartoum, as ‘too many supporters of the defunct Al Bashir regime are present’.

January 16: The Sudanese peace talks in Juba discuss Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state).

January 17: Displaced community leaders in Darfur decry the planned withdrawal of the Unamid peacekeeping force, and demand protection after repeated attacks. The FFC accuses the combatants of the NISS’ Operations Authority of being responsible for violence used against protesters during the uprising. The government and the SPLM-N El Hilu faction resume negotiations in Juba. A committee will investigate the NISS forces mutiny of three days ago.

January 18: The US Dollar rate reaches SDG 95 at the Khartoum parallel market. Prices continue to rise. Bread and fuel are becoming scarce again. The Ministry of Industry and Trade will establish a mechanism to monitor the internal markets.

January 19: The government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance both claim great progress in the ongoing peace talks in Juba. Yet Minni Minawi, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, speaks about a setback. The allegedly corrupt Zakat (Muslim alms) Chamber will be purged.

January 20: The SRF demands extradition of the indicted leaders of the former regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. In Bout, Blue Nile state, three church buildings were set on fire twice in the past four weeks.

The Central Bank of Sudan has turned into a commercial bank speculating in gold – PM Abdallah Hamdok

January 21: Unprecedented fuel prices and continuing shortages of petrol lead to demonstrations in the country. Activists accuse the ‘deep state’ of causing the fuel crisis. The Sudanese government and the SRF rebel alliance reach an agreement on accountability, rehabilitation, justice, and the role of the ICC. The editor-in-chief of Radio Dabanga visits Sudan after a 11-year-long exile. PM Hamdok expresses his appreciation ‘for the fundamental role the radio has played over the years’.

January 22: A peace accord on the northern Sudan track is expected ‘within days’. Negotiations on the eastern Sudan track have been postponed. Community leaders in the camps for the displaced near El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, demand the RSF militia to leave the area. The Minister of Energy and Mining orders the removal of gold mining waste from residential areas in South Kordofan.

January 23: PM Abdallah Hamdok expresses his satisfaction with the progress of the peace negotiations, denying military control of the Juba talks. He also criticises the Central Bank of Sudan for not playing its role in controlling the banking system. The West Darfur government and native administration leaders have developed a road map to reach security and stability in the state.

January 24: Finance Minister Ibrahim El Badawi announced that subsidies on fuel will be gradually lifted in the second half of this year.

January 26: Sudan removes all restrictions on aid organisations. The Sudanese government and the SPLM-N Agar sign a framework peace accord in Juba, that includes political, security, and humanitarian arrangements. The Ministry of Industry and Trade announces new measures to control the distribution of flour, as one fourth of the subsidised flour rations -equal to 25,000 sacks a day- are being ‘leaked’.

January 27: The Sudanese government and the SRF rebel alliance sign a final peace agreement on northern Sudan. El Sadig El Mahdi retires from the National Umma Party executive.

The Sudanese government and the SRF rebel alliance sign a final peace agreement on northern Sudan.

 

January 28: Sudan’s foreign debt, not the US terror list, forms the main obstacle to Khartoum securing financial support, says US Assistant Secretary of State. According to Sudan’s Attorney General, the peace talks will determine whether Al Bashir will be extradited to the ICC. A container of radioactive medical waste has been found near a residential area in the west of Omdurman. The Health Ministry will set up checkpoints at the borders and airport as part of precautionary steps against the coronavirus epidemic.

January 29: An estimated 30 per cent of all crops harvested in Sudan is reportedly lost due to traditional storage.

January 30: The Sudanese Cabinet approves several draft bills designed to repeal or amend a raft of restrictive legislation that was passed by the regime of Omar Al Bashir. The head of UNDP urges the international community to immediately boost its support to Sudan to accelerate its transition to civilian rule. International lawyers file a complaint to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the detention of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal.

January 31: Khartoum and a number of Sudanese towns witness mass rallies demanding the appointment of civilian governors in the country. Marginalised Darfuri acknowledge Radio Dabanga’s 11-year contribution to independent news during the visit of the RD editor-in-chief to Sudan.

 

February: Fuel and bread shortages grow, govt continues purging institutions

February 3: The SRF rebel alliance agrees to discuss all differences of opinion with leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change in order to reach peace.

February 4: Mohamed El Taayshi, member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and government spokesman for the peace talks, expects a final peace accord will be reached before the end of February. Food prices increase again in Sudan, while bread and fuel shortages continue. El Sadig El Mahdi calls off West Darfur forum after protests against him and his party, the National Umma Party.

February 5: Sudan’s Sovereign Council says the recent encounter of its president, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda was driven by ‘his responsibility to protect the Sudanese security’. Khartoum will evacuate 150 Sudanese students from Wuhan in China because of the coronavirus epidemic. The Ministry of Industry and Trade announces a programme to reopen idle factories and restructure factories that are not operating efficiently.

February 6: Humanitarian routes to open in conflict-torn South Kordofan.

February 7: The US-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) says Sudan must do more to combat human trafficking.

February 9: Sudan’s Anti-Corruption Committee dissolves the boards of the Central Bank of Sudan and 11 other banks. Khartoum asks for UN peace-building mission amid Unamid drawdown. UN S-G Guterres urges USA to remove Sudan from terror list. Germany will support Sudan with an estimated budget of €80 million in the field of energy and infrastructure.

February 10: Khartoum and several state capitals are experiencing severe fuel and bread shortages. The Evangelical Church demands its administrative legitimacy be restored and all its property stolen during the Al Bashir era returned.

February 11: The Sudanese peace talks resume in Juba. Khartoum agrees with the rebel groups to extradite Omar Al Bashir to the ICC in The Hague. The SRF rebel alliance supports Hamdok’s proposal for a UN political peace mission in Sudan. People in various places in Sudan demonstrate against the current military state governors and demand them replaced by civilian administrators. Others protest the fuel and commodity shortages.

February 12: Thousands of protestors in Khartoum demand the appointment of civilian governors and formation of a Legislative Council.

February 13: The UN Security Council extends Sudan sanctions amid wavering support.

February 14: The Central Bank of Sudan freezes accounts of 47 Al Bashir regime leaders. German Chancellor Merkel welcomes PM Hamdok to Berlin.

February 16: Expelled NGOs are welcomed back in Darfur. Secretary Pompeo calls USS Cole settlement ‘an important step in progress in US-Sudan relations’.

Musicians play traditional instruments during a protest against the Renaissance Dam negotiations with Ethiopia, Feb. 26 (Mahmoud Hjaj)

 

February 17: The Ministry of Energy and Mining obliges petrol stations to be open 24/7 until the fuel crisis ends. Peace negotiations in Juba to tackle appointment of state governors and formation of Legislative Council.

February 19: The Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance agree that the peace accord will prevail over Constitutional Charter. The Sudanese Finance Minister presents economic reform plans at a meeting of the Friends of Sudan in Stockholm.

February 20: The Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups agree on specific criteria to address civil service imbalances in the country.

February 21: The Forces for Freedom and Change in Saraf Omra in North Darfur protest against the shortage of fuel and corruption in the locality. Human Rights Watch urges Khartoum to accelerate legal and institutional reform.

February 23: The Sudanese government and the rebel groups in Juba agree on peace in eastern Sudan. PM Hamdok orders an investigation into the use of force against demonstrators.

February 24: Militiamen of the Popular Defence Forces continue to attack people in the Nuba Mountains.

February 25: The Sudanese government and the rebel groups in Juba agree to allocate 20 per cent of the civil service posts to Darfuri. Sudan witnesses protests against gold mining, remnants of the old regime, and increased medical fees. Security officers insult a ‘black’ Nuba man.

February 26: Sudanese women want a larger role in the peace negotiations. Activists from Blue Nile state organise a protest vigil in Khartoum against the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Supporters of the Popular Congress Party protest against the continued imprisonment of the party’s leaders.

February 27: The President of Germany begins his two-day visit to Sudan. The prosecutor of Abyei was shot dead in West Kordofan. The Sudanese Pound hits record lows against world currencies. Supporters of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal claim that one of them was tortured to death in jail.

February 28: Relatives of detained militia leaders are concerned about their health. They accuse the Military Court of partiality. The chairman of the Beja Congress-Freedom and Change faction denounces the eastern Sudan peace accord.

February 29: The EU pledges an additional €100 million to support democratic transition in Sudan.

 

March: Sudan to combat the spread of Covid-19, peace talks continue successfully

March 1: The appointment of civilian governors, MPs remain obstacles for the peace negotiations. The government releases 24 Darfur rebels from various prisons in the country. The Darfur Bar Association calls for the release of all other political prisoners detained during the former regime.

March 2: An EU delegation visits El Fasher and the Zamzam camp for the displaced in North Darfur. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) files complaints against journalists of El Jareeda newspaper after they criticised the militia. Fuel shortages continue.

Darfuri women present their recommendations during the peace talks in Juba, March 8, 2020 (Social media)

 

March 3: Security and safety remain primary concern in Darfur. Owners of public transport vehicles double their tariffs as a result of the fuel crisis.

March 4: The Minister of Trade and Industry announces “unprecedented increases“ of the salaries in April.

March 5: The Sudanese Pound hits a new low as US Dollar and gold prices soar. Activists criticise members of the committees tasked with purging remnants of old regime.

The new government shows a willingness to provide for people in need and remake the country, but we need the international community to rally to its relief now – Jan Egeland, Norwegian Refugee Council

March 6: Sudan’s Finance Minister apologises for his government’s inability to curb the inflation.

March 7: Human rights activist detained by Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum. Sudan’s sorghum production turns out one third less than last year.

March 8: Forces for Freedom and Change and the government work together to address economic crisis. Representatives of displaced people and refugees in Darfur join the peace talks in Juba.

March 9: The motorcade of PM Abdallah Hamdok is attacked with an explosive device in Khartoum. Hamdok arrived at his office ‘in good health’. A US delegation visiting Sudan says the country will ‘soon’ be removed from the ‘terrorism list‘. A delegation of Darfuri women presents their recommendations to the peace negotiations in Juba. The Sudanese Lawyers Syndicate is working on a monitoring mechanism for human rights violations in detention centres in the country.

Cars destroyed in an attack on the motorcade of PM Abdallah Hamdok (SUNA)

 

March 10: Demos across Sudan voice support for PM Hamdok after assassination attempt. Representatives of the victims of the war in Darfur hand over their demands to the negotiating parties in Juba. At least 12 people are killed in a herders attack on a village in South Darfur.

March 11: The Sudanese government and the armed movements reach an agreement on the future system of governance. PM Hamdok will chair Sudan’s new Economic Crisis Management Mechanism. People in El Gedaref stage a rally in support of the Sudanese government.

March 12: Sudan is still coronavirus-free. Entry from coronavirus hotspots is barred, the border with Egypt closed. Long queues of motorists at fuel stations across Sudan are still the norm.

March 13: First coronavirus case confirmed in Sudan as Khartoum man dies. Residents of North Darfur’s Kutum complain about an increase of thefts and robberies.

March 14: The Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance fail to reach a final peace accord on the Darfur track.

March 15: Council of Ministers decides to close all schools, universities, and religious institutes for a month to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Sudanese government and the SPLM-N Malik Agar faction agree on governance issues in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state. The annual inflation rate reached 64.3 per cent in January. Food prices soar in Darfur amid continuing flour, fuel shortages. Farmers in El Gezira have great difficulty to obtain fuel and burlap sacks to complete the wheat harvest.

The most affected by the spread of the coronavirus are those who depend on their livelihood on their day-to-day income. These represent a very large segment of the Sudanese people – Prof Hasan Bashir

March 16: The government agrees with eastern Sudan community leaders to hold consultative conference on the region. Farmers of the El Gezira irrigation scheme demand funding and reform.

March 17: Sudan's Security and Defence Council declares a State of Health Emergency in the country to counter Covid-19. The Sudanese government and the SRF rebel alliance agree on most power-sharing issues for Darfur. Fuel prices are soaring as the shortages continue.

March 18: The Public Prosecution issues an arrest warrant against Ali Karti, former Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the past three weeks, a church in Khartoum and another in Blue Nile state were torched.

March 19: Khartoum agrees with the SRF rebel alliance on most issues of the Darfur wealth-sharing file. The South Sudanese mediation team expects the parties will reach a final peace agreement on April 9. Khartoum airport is re-opened for 48 hours to enable Sudanese stranded abroad by coronavirus travel restrictions to return home, and foreigners to leave.

March 20: The fuel crisis is continuing in Sudan, while people complain about fraud during the distribution of petrol and diesel.

March 22: Imams in Khartoum shorten Friday prayers as ‘historic’ coronavirus precaution.

March 24: A new case of coronavirus infection is identified in Khartoum.

No traffic in Khartoum after dusk-to-dawn curfew is imposed, March 25, 2020 (Social media)

 

March 25: The body of Sudan’s Minister of Defence and head of the Sudan government delegation to the peace talks, Lt Gen Jamaleldin Omar, who died suddenly of a heart attack in Juba, arrives in Khartoum. The top priorities of the displaced people in Darfur are justice, security, an investigation into crimes against humanity, and the disarmament of the militiamen in the region. The SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu claims that the SPLM-N faction of Malik Agar does not control any territory in South Kordofan or Blue Nile state.

March 26: The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mining states that the current diesel shortages in the country will be reduced soon. The government wants to secure the country’s need for strategic commodity reserves, and calls on producers and importers of strategic goods to submit an overview of their stocks. According to economist Hasan Bashir, the spread of Covid-19 will create more pressure on the Sudanese economy.

March 28: The Norwegian Refugee Council laments the lack of international support for Sudan.

March 29: The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan calls for a ceasefire across Sudan as part of a global fight against coronavirus pandemic. Commodity prices are soaring as precautions against the coronavirus impact on daily life in Sudan.

March 30: Six people in Sudan have been infected with the coronavirus so far. Prisoners in El Hoda Prison in Omdurman demand to be released for fear of Covid-19 infection. Flour mills in Babanusa in West Kordofan ceased operating because of diesel shortages.

March 31: The SPLM-N El Hilu extends its unilateral ceasefire in Blue Nile and South Kordofan for two months. People in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, protest water outages. The Ministry of Health reports a seventh case of coronavirus in the country. The Sudanese secondary school certificate exams have been postponed until further notice.

 

Previous timelines:

How did civil discontent propel Sudan towards the overthrow of Al Bashir? (May 2019)

Sudan uprising: Timeline of tumultuous change (August 2019)

Sudan timeline July-Sept 2019: Turbulent transformation from tyranny

Sudan timeline Oct-Dec 2019: Interim government put to the test


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