Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

31 May 2013

Sudan: Water Shortage Closes Schools in Eastern Sudan - Rebel Sympathies Grow

Port Sudan — The closure of schools and kindergartens in Red Sea State, eastern Sudan, has prompted the local liberation front to reaffirm its support of the Sudanese Liberation Front (SLF).

Red Sea State's Ministry of Education announced this week that the schools will close "due to a lack of drinking water".

Responding to the announcement in an interview with Radio Dabanga, the Secretary General of the Eastern Sudan Liberation and Justice Front, Sayed Ali Abu Amna, described the situation in eastern Sudan as "a real disaster by all standards".

"The water scarcity is only the beginning of the problem," he said. "Then, there is the lack of provision of services and development."

The Eastern Sudan Liberation and Justice Front is made up of 18 factions representing all components of the eastern Sudan. Amna says that hios Front's aim is "to topple the Khartoum regime in collaboration with other opposition factions. He underlined that his Front's cause is "for all of Sudan's dignity, justice and democracy".

"Our Front has taken its natural Sudanese position with the consensus forces and the SRF to overthrow the regime," said Amna. "The regime managed to deliver an oil pipeline from the far south to the far east, but failed to do so with water pipes from the Atbara River to Port Sudan. This shows how the regime deals with services and water issues - for commercial interest."

Amna welcomes the position taken by the leaders of the National Congress of the legislative Council of Port Sudan, who have threatened to resign en masse should basic services not be provided to Eastern Sudan. In the interview, Amna sharply criticised Sudan's President Al-Bashir. "The Eastern Front supports the opposition and the SRF in their goal to overthrow Al Bashir.

"Al Bashir is not reliable, he always withdraws his statements and is not considered a legitimate president," Amna said. "He came to power through fraudulent elections, so he does not truly represent Sudan. His mandate has come to end and the current Constitution is illegitimate."

The situation grew tense in eastern Sudan following Khartoum's recent announcement of "the futility of the pipeline project" designed to carry essential drinking water from the Nile to the city of Port Sudan.

In an emergency session of the Legislative Council of the Red Sea State on Wednesday, local politician Ali Baleit accused the central government of "focusing development in the Hamdi triangle".

Baleit launched an attack on the Khartoum government, urging the Red Sea State and the Eastern Region "to draw-up a strategy that allows them to take advantage of their resources, instead of begging development from the ruling centre that pays no attention to the issues and pains of either State."

Baleit also criticised government officials who "hold foreign nationalities yet presume to control the fate of the Sudanese."

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