US imposes sanctions on Sudanese police department
This past Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on the Sudanese Central Reserve Police (CRP). A statement from the US Treasury Department said the CRP, a heavily armed branch of the Sudanese police, was responsible for the violent actions of Sudanese security forces against peaceful demonstrators in the capital Khartoum, who have taken to the streets regularly to demand civilian rule since the military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in October 2021. According to the Sudanese Medical Committee, the violent crackdown on protests has already claimed several dozen lives and injured thousands. Under the so-called Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to personally sanction individuals around the world accused of corruption, human rights abuses and anti-democratic acts, all US assets of the CRP are now frozen. In addition, US companies and individuals are prohibited from doing business with CRP members. It is the first time the US has imposed sanctions on a Sudanese entity since the overthrow of former and long-time Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The fragile power-sharing agreement between the army and civilians, which had been painstakingly negotiated in the wake of al-Bashir’s overthrow and which envisaged elections in 2023 as well as a return to civilian rule, was ruptured by the military’s coup last autumn. The military’s takeover at the time was roundly condemned internationally and billions in foreign aid were suspended, further exacerbating Sudan’s economic crisis. International human rights organisations see the new US sanctions against those responsible for the violent crackdown on demonstrations as an important signal.
National reconciliation dialogue in the Central African Republic
National reconciliation talks began in the Central African Republic last Monday. The so-called Republican Dialogue, which President Faustin-Archange Touadéra had already announced the day after his controversial re-election 15 months ago, was now launched at short notice and scheduled for one week. The aim of the dialogue, which was also demanded by the international community, is to stabilise the security situation in the country, which has been troubled by unrest and armed insurgencies since the outbreak of the civil war in 2013, as well as to strengthen the participation of both the opposition and civil society in political processes. Criticism was voiced not only at the lack of a concrete agenda, but also at the absence of a debate on the crisis after the 2020 elections, which Touadéra won with more than 50% of the vote, but due to the difficult security situation in the country, only just under a third of the electorate were able to cast their ballots. In addition, the country’s armed rebel groups were excluded from the talks, which ultimately led to a boycott of the dialogue by the opposition. Regional experts consider the dialogue to be less promising due to the absence of opposition and armed groups. Moreover, critical voices are increasingly being raised accusing President Touadéra of only holding the dialogue, which had been promised for a long time and was demanded by the United Nations, in order to secure financial and military support for the Central African country in the future. Relations with the UN and especially with France have been further strained in recent months by the presence of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in the country, although both Moscow and Touadéra’s government deny the accusations. Since 2014, the UN blue helmet mission MINUSCA has been in the Central African Republic with currently around 14,400 military and 3,000 police forces.
In other News
Equiano is the name of the submarine cable that has been connecting Portugal with the West African country of Togo for a week now. Named after the well-known Nigerian writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, the new fibre-optic cable is expected to not only make data traffic significantly faster and more stable by 2025, but also reduce prices by more than 14%. The cable is one of three submarine cables owned by Google and the first on the African continent. By the end of the year, Equiano will reach its destination in Cape Town via several more landing points, which Google says will both provide better internet and create 37,000 new jobs in Togo alone over the next few years. For Togo, which was originally not supposed to get its own connection, the participation in this mega-project is particularly important as it strengthens its ambitions to become West Africa’s digital hub.