Picture: Samir Bol/REUTERS/File – Malik Agar, deputy chairperson of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview that Russia is leading the reform of the United Nations, to forge an “inclusive” institution.
Sudan supports UN reform, highlights Russia’s role
Malik Agar arrived in Russia on Thursday for talks with Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov, during which the two sides discussed potential trajectories for bilateral relations.
Russia is spearheading UN reform, a process to forge an “inclusive” institution that Sudan backs, Malik Agar, deputy chairperson of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview.
“Russia was leading the reformation of the UN,” Agar said. “And I believe most of the countries […] support the expansion of the UN and reform of the UN.”
According to the official, it has been witnessed that “problems are discussed bilaterally or in other groups”, which can be considered “domination”.
“I think there is a necessity of having a system that is inclusive to everybody,” Agar stressed.
Furthermore, as the senior official noted, the inclusion of some regions in the work of the UN Security Council “is not visible”.
Sudan Will Not Be Isolated
When asked by Sputnik Africa about Sudan’s contribution to the development of a multi-polar world, Agar pointed out that the country is a member of the UN and will always express its opinion.
“Sudan is a member of the United Nations,” the official underlined. “Sudan is not going to be isolated, so it is going to be there. And Sudan’s voice will always come to the right direction of what they want and how they want it,” he noted, adding that “Sudan is not going to be out of the whole issue of the whole process”.
On Thursday, Agar held talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
According to the Sudanese official, the sides discussed only political issues, and the Sudanese delegation asked Russia for recommendations on resolving the raging conflict.
Clashes between Sudan’s regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces broke out in mid-April.
The United Nations says hundreds have been killed and over 2.5 million others displaced by fighting between the rival forces.
Transitional government’s major cabinet reshuffle
The government shakeup comes shortly after the announcement of the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA from the country and a nationwide referendum in favour of the draft new constitution, held on June 18. This is the first Cabinet reshuffle made by Colonel Assimi Goita since he officially took power on June 7, 2021.
The Malian transitional authorities have carried out a partial ministerial reshuffle, appointing 16 ministers out of the 28, including 13 new ones and three swaps.
Among others, the ministers of education, health, youth, and agriculture have been reshuffled according to the decree of Transitional President Assimi Goita, signed on July 1.
The main goal of these adjustments is to deal with the challenges faced by the country and to ensure effective governance in key sectors. It was noted that the officials who hold strategic positions, such as ministers of defence, foreign affairs, and justice, were reappointed.
Among the newcomers to the government is Colonel Assa Badiallo Toure, who was appointed as minister of health and social development. The country’s military leader also appointed Amadou Keita, who was in charge of Mali’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research, as minister of mines.
Although Goita carried out significant changes to the portfolios of 16 ministers within the Cabinet, other ministers will keep their posts, with the overall number of the officials remaining at 28.
The reshuffle announcement comes a day after the UN decided to terminate its peacekeeping mission in the nation. Earlier this week, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to end MINUSMA by the end of the year. The mission is required to start cessation of its operations, transfer of its tasks, as well as safe withdrawal of the personnel in close consultation with the transitional government of Mali.
Last month, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop referred to MINUSMA as a “failure” and urged its termination, noting that the mission’s 10-year presence had failed to adequately respond to the security issues, while causing even more unrest.
Another major development in the country is connected with the June 18 constitutional referendum. According to Mali’s electoral authority, 97 percent of the referendum votes were cast in favour of the draft constitution.
Fighting shakes Khartoum as displaced fight disease
Fierce fighting between the forces of rival generals shook the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday, as disease and malnutrition threatened the rising number of displaced.
Khartoum’s residents said they were shaken awake by warplanes and “violent fighting” between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Witnesses told AFP a police base and the state television building in the capital’s northwest were under attack by the RSF, who said they had shot down an army MiG fighter.
In central Khartoum, others saw “scores of RSF vehicles” driving towards the vicinity of “the Armoured Corps”.
Since April 15, the war between Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has killed nearly 3,000 people and displaced 2.2 million within the country, with another 645,000 fleeing across borders, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
“The situation is grave,” the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement detailing the hardships of displaced Sudanese stuck in nine camps in White Nile State which borders South Sudan.
In addition to Khartoum, the worst fighting has been in the western region of Darfur where residents, as well as the United Nations, United States and others, say civilians have been targeted and killed for their ethnicity by the RSF and allied Arab militias.
The death toll is believed to be much higher than recorded, as the World Health Organisation says about two-thirds of health facilities are “out of service” in combat-affected areas.
Many injured people are unable to reach hospitals, and bodies lie rotting in the streets of Khartoum and Darfur.
A record 25 million people in Sudan need humanitarian aid and protection, the UN says.
According to the MSF, “hundreds of thousands of people, most of them women and children”, pack camps that stretch out from the south of Khartoum all the way to the border with South Sudan.
“There are suspected cases of measles, and malnutrition among children has become a vital health emergency. From June 6 to 7 we treated 223 children with suspected measles, 72 were hospitalised and 13 have died,” MSF said.
The war has smashed the country’s already fragile infrastructure, leaving residents short of water and electricity in the oppressive summer heat.
Numerous ceasefires, including some negotiated by the United States and Saudi Arabia, have failed to hold.
Fighting continued during the just ended Eid al-Adha holiday, for which the warring sides announced separate unilateral truces.
The worsening situation in Darfur is a bleak reminder of the region’s painful history. In 2003, former strongman Omar al-Bashir armed and unleashed the RSF’s predecessor, the Janjaweed militia, against Darfur’s non-Arab ethnic minorities in violence that killed more than 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.
The International Criminal Court charged Bashir and others with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
A UN official has warned of possible new “crimes against humanity” in the current fighting in Darfur.
Dozens of women have been sexually abused in Darfur and elsewhere, a government unit monitoring such offences has said.
In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, at least 25 “conflict-related sexual assaults” were recorded, in addition to 21 in West Darfur capital El Geneina and 42 in Khartoum.
Most survivors in Khartoum, and “all in Nyala and Geneina” identified the perpetrators as RSF fighters, the unit said.
In early June, Darfur governor and ex-rebel leader Mini Minawi, who is now close to the army, declared Darfur a “disaster zone”.
Aid organisations are repeating their appeals to the warring sides to open up secure corridors so they can reach the injured and those displaced by the fighting.
These appeals have taken on increased urgency with the start of the rainy season in Sudan, which is usually accompanied by floods that bring water-borne diseases.
AFRICA – UFOs
World UFO Day: Most Mysterious Sightings in Africa
On July 2, those who believe in the existence of aliens or study phenomena that have no logical explanation and objects that are attributed to extraterrestrial origin, celebrate World UFO Day.
The choice of the date for World UFO Day is connected with the 1947 Roswell incident. At the beginning of July, a strange object reportedly crashed in the desert near the town of Roswell in the US state of New Mexico. Roswell Army Air Field personnel issued a press release saying they had discovered a “flying disc”. The Army quickly retracted the claim, stating that the crashed object was a military balloon.
However, the news spread across the country, and subsequently all around the world. Despite the lack of direct evidence of a UFO crash in Roswell, some people still believe that it was a flying saucer with aliens on board. Decades later, conspiracy theories appeared, with UFO enthusiasts claiming that the crash of the alien spaceship had been covered up by the government.
Even though some phenomena remain unexplained, sceptics attempt to appeal to common sense, reiterating that science will eventually find answers to everything.
As Earthlings are celebrating World UFO Day, Sputnik Africa presents a list of the most mysterious incidents and alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects on the continent.
Zimbabwe’s Ariel School UFO Sighting
In September 1994, an unusual story unfolded in the tiny community of Ruwa, a small agricultural center located 22 kilometers southeast of the country’s capital Harare. Sixty-two children from the prestigious Ariel School reported witnessing the landing of silver discs, allegedly spaceships, in a field near the school. According to media reports, the children saw strange creatures, who came out of the silver crafts and started talking to them.
It was noted that the creatures they encountered were supposedly similar to humans, but had waxy skin and large, penetrating eyes. Moreover, the students said that the “aliens” telepathically communicated with them, encouraging them to protect the Earth’s environment. Following the incident, the children’s claims were examined by several researchers, including UFO expert Cynthia Hand and Harvard psychiatry Professor John E. Mack.
Decades later, many children from the Ariel School continue to stick to their story. They insist that the phenomenon at the Ariel School really happened, and that on that day, their paths crossed with alien beings. However, skeptics, along with most researchers, claim the incident could be a case of mass hysteria or even a prank.
South African UFO Incidents
There have been numerous reports of strange lights and “crafts“ in the sky in various parts of South Africa, with some people citing these incidents as evidence that humans are not the only intelligent beings in the Universe.
In June 1971, Benny Smith, the owner of the Braeside farm near Fort Beaufort in Eastern Cape Province, stated that one morning, he fired at an unknown flying object. Police reportedly arrived at the site and fired additional shots. Eventually the object took off and entered an impenetrable forest, where it was heard crashing in the undergrowth. Several council members also reported seeing the object. Later, imprints of its alleged landing gear were discovered in hard clay.
Although it was reported that the Grahamstown army regiment investigated the site, it was unable to provide any records of the event. The incident was covered by international media. Interestingly, local businesses managed to profit from the alleged UFO sighting. For example, a tavern in the area was named the “UFO Bar”.
As for more recent incidents, an unidentified flying object was spotted 1,000 feet (about 300m) above an airplane in December 2016, local media reported, citing the country’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). The institute’s spokesperson, Craig Lambinon, stated that the captain and co-pilot of a Boeing 737 cargo aircraft, flying from Cape Town International Airport to Port Elizabeth International Airport, reported seeing a glowing green object. At the time, it was “increasing in altitude past the cockpit”, ascended “to about a thousand feet into clouds above them and then returned towards earth at high speed”.
At first, it was suspected that the object was a green parachute flare. However, this possibility was ruled out, as flares cannot reach that height. Officials at the airport also alleged that it was a stricken aircraft, but there were no reports of craft overdue or missing. Lambinon told media that no further reports of sightings had been received and that “the incident remains a mystery”.
UFO Sighting in Sudan
An unidentified flying object was spotted in the sky over the capital Khartoum in January 2018. Local media reported that several witnesses saw the luminous body, surrounded by a radiant green light. However, in this particular case, the Sudanese military had an explanation, supposing that it was a “suspected” satellite.
According to Dutch scientist Marco Langbroek, the UFO was likely the US satellite Zuma, launched by the Falcon 9 spacecraft, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Earlier, it was reported to have malfunctioned after the launch, falling back to Earth and burning up in the planet’s atmosphere. However, it remains unclear whether the scientist’s explanation is correct, or whether the flying object was something else.
These articles were first published on Sputnik