Sudan's ambassador to Indonesia, Dr. El Shiddiq Abdul Aziz Abdullah, during a press conference at the Sudan Embassy in Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

'We Want to Learn Unity From Indonesia': Sudan Ambassador

BY :NUR YASMIN

JULY 23, 2019

Jakarta. The Sudan Ambassador to Indonesia, Dr. El Shiddiq Abdul Aziz Abdullah, said Sudan wants to follow Indonesia's example in keeping the peace in a diverse and multicultural country as Sudan continues its recovery from a military coup and a civil war.

"We want to learn how to make peace in diversity. Indonesia has been able to maintain peace and unity even when its people are of different ethnic groups and have different ambitions. Keeping the peace is the most important mission for our government right now," the ambassador said in a press conference at the Sudan Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.

During the press conference, Ambassador Shiddiq also recounted what has been happening in Sudan after a six-month civil war during which the dictator Gen. Omar Al-Bashir, who had been in power for almost 30 years, was overthrown in April. 

Bashir was charged with war crimes, including for the genocide in Darfur, by the International Criminal Court in 2009. In 2016, the International Monetary Fund imposed price hikes on basic goods in Sudan, which prompted widespread protest. Bashir cracked down on the protesters, banned media coverage of the unrest and arrested opposition leaders. 

"Demonstrations were happening almost everywhere in Sudan. The people demanded Bashir's removal. Finally [in April], the military managed to overthrow him. After that, a Military Council was formed," Shiddiq said.

Bashir is now being held in a high-security prison in Khartoum and faces charges of corruption. 

Around 180 Sudanese died during April's violent coup. An investigation team is still working to find the killers. Meanwhile, the Sudanese military and its civilian leaders have signed an accord to form a joint leadership for the country.

"There has been an agreement between the Transitional Military Council and The Forces for Freedom and Change [Sudan's civilian leaders]. They will form the Sovereign Council, comprising 11 leaders who will act as a transitional government," Shiddiq said.

The transitional government will form three bodies – the Sovereign Council, Council of Ministers and Legislative Body – to run Sudan for a period of three years and three months before a general election is held. 

"The most important task of the transitional government is to make peace. We need to bring all of our strengths together, and that is very difficult. That is why want to learn from Indonesia," Shiddiq said.

He said another mission of the transitional government is to rebuild the country and revive an economy that has been devastated by war.

"The civil war destroyed our infrastructure and our economy. This is the real challenge. We need to reform our economy and convince our partners [to help us]. It is very difficult and an immense challenge," Shiddiq said.

He said that after almost 30 years under Bashir's dictatorship, Sudan also needs legal reform but lacks the experts to do it. One of the solutions will be to try to lure highly-skilled and highly-trained Sudanese from overseas back into the country. 

"We have very few experts and skilled workers. We need to repatriate our talents. We are in talks with the United Nations on this matter," Shiddiq said.

The ambassador said Sudan will initially need more than $50 billion to start rebuilding the country. On the upside, he claimed, contrary to reports, that the country had not suffered from famine.

"Only a little [food] shortage sometimes. Most of our people can depend on themselves for food. We even still export meat to our neighbors," the ambassador said. 

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