The 27th session of the heads of state summit of the African Union was officially opened Sunday in Rwanda’s Capital Kigali. Sudan’s President H. E Omar Hassan AL Bashir perhaps in defiance to an arrest warrant on his head by the International Criminal court (ICC) over war crimes was in attendance.
Sudan’s country’s economy has been ravaged by unilateral sanctions issued by the US demolishing 90% of its railway that is reliant on imports as well as Sudan’s fresh produce exports. CNBC Africa’s Bonney Tunya had an exclusive conversation with the president of Sudan.
Tunya:The big question about Sudan other than your presence here is the impact of US sanctions on your government, help us understand the impact of this?
Al-Bashir:First of all, we are glad to meet the media here in Rwanda. The American unilateral sanctions on Sudan have had negative effects on Sudan because of the influence of America on companies and banks worldwide, so they hindered us from having international finance for our projects, and preventing us from having technology.
For example we have the biggest railway in Africa, but this sector is demolished because 90 % of our railway transportation system is made in USA and Europe. The investors think twice before investing in Sudan because the Americans make it hard for them to transfer their profits from Sudan via the American banking system.
The unilateral American sanctions affected the health sector, as we cannot import medicine made in USA or Europe. The higher education and research sector is affected because we cannot import technology needed for our development. Our economy is suffering from the unjust and unfair American sanctions, moreover we are not given the opportunity to lift the international debts within HIPICS group, although it is one of our rights.
Tunya:Mr. President, let’s talk about the Agricultural investment opportunities your county faces in the region, food insecurity is a present challenge in the Sahel region on account of political instability. How high is agricultural development in your government’s priority list?
Al-Bashir:Sudan is definitely looked at as one of the countries which offer food security for the world along with Australia and Canada. These three countries can make the change in the food security of the world’s future.
Sudan has vast lands and naturally fertilized soils, with diverse climates that give the opportunity for hygienic food as cereals, vegetarian edible oils, red and white meat, Sugar. We recently started huge projects, for example Aljazeera Agricultural projects consists of two million acres. We have Alrahad Agricultural project with one million acres, Seteet & Atbara project with over a million acres. Marwi Project is approximately a million acres, and all of these big projects we are working on now are irrigated with the River Nile watering system.
We have set up an initiative called the Arabic Food Security, and a big amount of finance will be provided as many investors around the world are intending to invest, especially from Saudia and other countries.
We have neighboring countries in Africa who are suffering, for example our neighbors in South Sudan are suffering from war and displacement, Central Africa, and other countries that are affected by the dry weather and deserts, countries with high population density as Ethiopia and Egypt, are all in need of food security, and we really plan to cover all of our neighbors at least, and the rest of Africa despite the American sanctions, we will succeed in making the best for Africa.
Tunya:South Sudan has been a big concern for the region with the recent spate of killings propagated by supporters of President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar, what do you see as your role in resolving this conflict?
Al-Bashir:What is happening to our neighbors in South Sudan is so sad. My government has signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to end the war in our united country, and to end the suffering of people and displacement.
Unfortunately when the separation of the South happened, we lost our unity, but moreover we lost the most important thing, which is peace and security for our citizens living in the Southern part of Sudan.
What is happening in South Sudan after separation has never happened during the twenty years of internal war in the united Sudan. The conflict in Sudan, when it was united, was between the government army and the armed rebels, and we were protecting the citizens in the conflict areas. But now, as you obviously see, the normal citizen in South Sudan is losing his security and protection.
Since these incidents started in South Sudan, we in the north have accommodated more than a million of southerners crossing our borders to our country, because of these internal wars. We in Sudan, cannot treat them as refugees, because these people were part of Sudan until 2011 in one united country, and we really care for them.
So we called their leadership in the South, President Salva kiir Mayardit and the vice president Riek Machar asking the for a cease fire and encouraging them to cool the situation down, and control their forces, unfortunately the leaders have no control over their forces. We however insist that the peace efforts should continue, to bring back the security to our neighboring nation.
Tunya:Finally, Mr. President let us talk a little bit about the elephant in the room, the ICC. We did not expect you to attend the AU Summit on account of the arrest warrant against you.
Al-Bashir:Africa now owns its decision and has its own stand, after the African people discovered the political agenda of this court, and after the world discovered documents suggesting that this court’s judges, counselors and prosecutors were receiving bribes. So Africans are united against this court, and the African voice is becoming strong.
African governments are working together, to plan the continents withdrawal from the Rome statute for all African countries. Look I am moving freely in Africa because this is an African position and independent opinion, despite the attempts of the ICC and the Americans to misguide us.
Sudan continues to wonder in shock why the USA is not a member of the ICC, moreover America criticizes this court considering it as an invasion court, You see the Americans have a law that allows their army and forces to free any American citizen who would be captured by this court whilst at the same time financing the use the propaganda against Sudan persuading and this court to put more pressure on us in Africa.
I thank the African nations and leaders for their complete rejection of such hypocrisy and mockery of justice in the name of the what-so-called ICC. That’s why I can freely fly over our continent as an African man, from north to south, and from east to west.