U.S. moves to stop Russia ‘suppressing democracy’ in Sudan




Sudan’s one-time strongman went on trial today, just 24 hours before the civil society groups that brought down his autocratic regime are recognized by the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED). 

Three decades ago, a little-known army officer named Omar Hassan al-Bashir seized power in Sudan, ushering in a long period of brutal rule that would push the sprawling African country into a series of destabilizing wars, cripple its economy and result in humiliating international isolation. Now Mr. al-Bashir is being called to account for his actions, The Times reports:

The autocrat, 76, who was ousted last year following street protests, was led into a courtroom in Khartoum on Tuesday to stand trial for his role in the bloodless 1989 coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Also in the dock were 27 of Mr. al-Bashir’s most senior officials, including former vice-presidents, ministers, governors and military officers…..

Although Sudan’s transitional government, which is jointly led by civilian and military leaders, indicated earlier this year that it was ready to send Mr. al-Bashir to The Hague, there has been little sign of that happening. Instead, the new administration has appeared to shy away from a trial on Darfur, probably because its own leaders might also face accusations.

“This trial will be a warning to anyone who tries to destroy the constitutional system. This will safeguard Sudanese democracy. In this way we hope to bring an end to the era of putsches in Sudan,” Moaz Hadra, one of the lawyers who led the push to bring the case to court, told The Guardian.

Known as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “chef” because of the billions he made in the catering business, Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin (below) had far more cooking abroad, including meddling in U.S. elections and suppressing democracy in Sudan, according to U.S. charges, VOA reports: 

This month the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on businesses tied to Prigozhin. The Putin ally is accused of supporting former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and advising him to violently suppress protests. In return for this support, Sudan gave businesses linked to Prigozhin access to gold and the ores of precious metals….. In Sudan, a business he controls called M-Invest is accused of spreading disinformation and advising Bashir on ways to quell protests that swept the nation in 2019.

“M-Invest is believed to have advised Omar al-Bashir on how to create a whole system of false propaganda to discredit the leaders of the popular pro-democracy protests,” said Suliman Baldo, senior adviser at The Sentry, an investigative and policy group researching money connected with war criminals. “Then also, they advised him to stage public executions and kill a reasonable number of protesters so as to quell the protest against his regime.”

New Form of Colonialism

Bashir’s regime is accused by the Treasury Department of granting gold mining concessions to Meroe Gold, a subsidiary of M-Invest, VOA adds.

“What Russia is doing is practicing a new form of colonialism, and they are exploiting the natural resources of Sudan. The natural heritage of the Sudanese youth who are peacefully protesting is being given away to Russians,” Jonathan Hutson, a human rights advocate in Washington, told VOA last year.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) will pay tribute to the people of Sudan and their historic 2019 revolution this week when it honors three organizations (above) working to strengthen civil society with the 2020 Democracy Award. The three organizations represent the key populations engaged in the protests: young people, women, and those living in the countryside on the periphery.

“The 2020 Democracy Award honors three groups who have been working for years to ensure the rights of all Sudanese people are protected, to build a new generation of democratic leaders, and to shape a democratic future for Sudan,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “It is NED’s hope that this award will build solidarity for the people of Sudan in their historic struggle for inclusive democracy, human rights, and lasting peace.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Regional Centre for Development and Training
Nuba Women for Education and Development Association
Darfur Bar Association


Remarks from Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Omer Ismail and Makila James, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa and Sudan & South Sudan. 

Conversation with Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Presentation of the 2020 Democracy Award featuring remarks by members of Congress

Conversation and Q&A with Democracy Award Recipients moderated by PBS Newshour’s Nick Schifrin

US Sanctions Aim to Keep Russian Financier from Meddling in Sudan’s Future https://t.co/MqlsxbY9gV


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