Ethiopia acquires ownership stake in Port Sudan
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has been in Khartoum during the past two days, struck a deal with the Government of Sudan that gives Ethiopia an unspecified amount of ownership stake in Port Sudan. A number of countries, including wealthy Gulf states, are increasing their investments in sea ports on the Red Sea as they compete for influence in a strategic corridor vital to shipping lines and oil routes. More from Reuters:
(Reuters) – Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed on a deal allowing the Horn of Africa nation to take a stake in Sudan’s largest sea gateway port of Port Sudan, officials said on Thursday.
Several countries including wealthy Gulf states have ramped up investments in seaports along the Red Sea and East Africa’s coast as they vie for influence in a strategic corridor that is vital for shipping lanes and oil routes.
While the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are using some of the ports for military purposes, Ethiopia – which lost its access to the sea following the secession of former province Eritrea in 1993 – is aiming to strike deals in a bid to diversify outlets and reduce port fees.
The deal between Addis Ababa and Sudan was reached in Khartoum on Thursday at a meeting between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
“The leaders of both countries agreed to develop Port Sudan together,” said Meles Alem, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry.
“This deal entails that Ethiopia will be a shareholder of the port as well,” he told Reuters.
No financial details of the agreement were disclosed.
Another official said that the agreement would enable Ethiopia to have a say in the level of port handling fees.
The deal comes two days after Ethiopia reached a similar arrangement over the Port of Djibouti, Djibouti’s main gateway for trade.
“Access to a diversified range of ports is a strategic imperative for the government of Ethiopia. That is perhaps one of its most important priorities in terms of trade and development,” said Ahmed Salim, vice president at the Teneo global advisory firm.
Ethiopia’s involvement supported the financing and development of the Sudan and Djibouti ports, he added.
Djibouti had been seeking investors for its port since it terminated the concession for Dubai’s state-owned DP World to run the port in February, citing a failure to resolve a six-year contractual dispute.
The agreement with Ethiopia gave Djibouti the option of taking stakes in state-owned Ethiopian firms. The companies that it may look to invest in include Ethiopian Electric Power and Ethio Telecom – one of Africa’s last remaining telecoms monopolies.
It was not clear if Sudan’s agreement involved a similar arrangement with Ethiopia.
Djibouti’s location is of strategic value to countries such as the United States, China, Japan and former colonial power France, all of which have military bases there.
The deal with Djibouti also followed Ethiopia’s agreement to acquire a 19 percent stake in the Port of Berbera in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland. DP World retains a 51 percent stake there, while the government holds the rest.
Meanwhile, Khartoum’s deal with Ethiopia came in the wake of another arrangement signed with Turkey, which wants to rebuild Suakin – a ruined Ottoman port city on Sudan’s Red Sea coast – and construct a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels.
Qatar has also agreed to develop the same port to the tune of $4 billion.
Sudan's president orders release of all political prisoners
Omar al-Bashir reported to be freeing those detained after unrest but details are unclear
AFP in Khartoum
Tue 10 Apr 2018 18.06 BST Last modified on Tue 10 Apr 2018 18.15 BST
Omar al-Bashir speaks to representatives of the ruling National Congress party on 2 April. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has ordered the release of “all political detainees” held in the country, state media said, weeks after mass arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests.
Hundreds of opposition activists, leaders and protesters were arrested in January by security agents to curb demonstrations that erupted on the back of rising food prices, including bread.
“President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official Suna news agency reported.
“The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” it said.
The January arrests came after sporadic protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and some other towns of Sudan after the price of bread more than doubled.
Some activists were later freed but many remained in detention, including top opposition leaders Khaled Omar of the Sudanese Congress party and Mokhtar al-Khatib, the head of the Sudan Communist party.
Sina did not say how many prisoners would be set free and did not identify any of them.
The US and European embassies in Sudan had called for the release of all detainees, with Washington’s mission saying many were being held in inhumane conditions.
Sudanese authorities had cracked down on protesters in a bid to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013. At that time, dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed demonstrations, rights groups said.
Eritrea accuses Sudan, Qatar of deploying fighter planes on border
By Al Arabiya English
March 26, 2018
The Eritrean government released a statement accusing Qatar of sending Sudan three fighter planes to thwart a purported attack from Eritrea, and of secretly funding an Eritrean Islamist opposition office in an isolated area in Sudan.
In the statement, the Eritrean government said that Qatar is funding supporters of the radical Islamist cleric, Mohammed Jumma, who opened an office in an unknown area in Sudan.
“Followers of the radical Islamic Cleric, Mohammed Jumma, opened an office, under extreme secrecy, in a secluded area to organize political and military activities as well as to train their members. Funding of their activities is provided by the Embassy of Qatar in Khartoum. Training and other logistical functions are managed by the Sudanese Security and Intelligence Service,” the statement read.
They added that Qatar sent three Mig fighter planes to the Sudanese Defense forces which were deployed in Kassala on Eritrea’s border with Sudan. The pilots for the three Mig fighter planes were two Qataris and an Ethiopian.
The Eritrean government said the deployment was done under the pretense of “thwarting an attack from Eritrea that would be unleashed with the support of the United Arab Emirates.”
They also mentioned that a delegation from the Qatari military, led by the ambassador of Qatar in Khartoum, visited the “Joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Defense Unit” in March to inspect its operations and gauge the security situation in the Kassala area, while asking “Why does Qatar involve itself in such senseless intricacies?”
The statement by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information also called recent news spread by Qatar news outlets of the deployment of Egyptian troops in Sawa, Eritrea fabricated, adding that this triggered the subsequent closure of the Sudanese border with Eritrea.