EU, UK, and Hamadok’s Office should get out from this Foggy Area

European contribution in the transitional period in Sudan is highly appreciated, but transparency cannot be compromised

Mekki ELMOGRABI – Khartoum

Sooner or later, the details of EU fund to the Office of the Prime Minister of Sudan (OPM) will be disclosed, and it is better for it to be done by the Prime Minister, Dr. Abdalla HAMDOK himself.
He is a strong and honest leader and will take the right decision.

Currently, people in Sudan – especially those from the new generation who supported the revolutionary change – are discussing whether this government is truly representing their ambitions and dreams or not.
The promises of good governance, transparency, democratization, and zero-corruption are at stake now.

Definitely, these principles will be protected if OPM takes the lead in disclosing all details and names of beneficiaries and amount of money they have received before investigative media reports are conducted on this issue.
It is highly appreciated that the European Union has posted on the website of EU Trust Fund for Africa a fact sheet document on EU’s financial support to OPM.

Not only that, but the document mentioned that the program covers a certain number of employees in OPM, and it could be extended to include other ministries.

The objective of the 7-million euro fund is to support the democratic transformation in Sudan by supporting the civilian component in the transitional government.

Supporting the civilian component is crucial for democratic change in Sudan. I personally agree with EU and all other genuine parties who want to support the civilian rule in Sudan, a country that suffered from a vicious cycle of military rule followed by weak civilian periods.

The real reason for returning to military rule is the weakness and non-professionalism of the civilian rule.
However, this approach cannot justify for the civilian component to repeat the same mistakes of authoritarian regimes and old political parties of Freedom and Change Alliance.

Transparency is the most important advantage of the European experience, it is the core of good governance in the first world and democratic countries; it should not be compromised at all.

My message to Hamdok and his OPM office is that it was a big mistake that the only source for Sudanese people to know the general information around this financial support was the EU and not OPM.

Why didn’t OPM posts a fact sheet in Arabic language with more details on its website?

So far, available details are insufficient; the Sudanese people have the full right to know exactly how much the employees receive per month, and also for missions, assignments, and trips, because all these expenses are mentioned in the EU’s document.

The allocated support for media and communication must also be disclosed; how the fund was transferred to beneficiaries and whether it was spent through governmental institutions, media companies, or individuals.

Some claim a large network of bloggers and social media users was included with a big number of people in the payments. To destroy these rumors, just go to the facts and publish all details.

The challenge of the Second Cabinet

The Second Cabinet that was declared in February 2021 is better than the first one.
This is what I had wrote in my article “Four New Leaders for Free Economy and Better Relations with the World”, which begged the question: “Could the right & center alliance liberalize the Sudanese economy, stabilize the political arena, and defeat Marxists?”

I am a strong believer in the necessity of making the transitional period a successful experience, but the OPM should be at the level of the expectations of Sudanese people and the new generation.

These questions, if not answered by the government, nor does the government take initiative in clarifying the situation, then OPM’s reputation, the image of the EU, and even the image of the civilian rule will be at a risk and a big gap will appear between the new generation and the civilian component.

Here comes the real threat to democratic transformation!

The UK is said to have also provided financial support to the government. Two Sudanese columnists wrote about salaries from a UK agency to OPM.

If the Sudanese writers are wrong, then why had the UK Embassy in Khartoum and the OPM kept silent and didn’t correct them or clarify what kind of support has been made by UK to the transitional government.
Why is this great and ethical assistance from Europe surrounded by misinformation in a foggy area?

Despite the EU’s support – which is based on high-quality standards – there was very strong criticism on the performance of Hamdok’s office during the previous period.

The Prime Minister sacked all the staff, and there were many articles criticizing some employees and advisers.
There were voices that said that the office does not lead the government of Sudan, and that there is a group of friends of the Prime Minister under the name of “the farm clique” in control, not the government. Some even refer to them as “Addis clique” because they used to meet or work in Addis Ababa.

The loudest criticism came from ministers and the Freedom and Change alliance, notably on Al-Sheikh Khiddir, one of the powerful figures within the OPM. They claimed that he always interferes with the work of the ministries in technical and political issues that are not matching with his advisory position.

Who is in charge of monitoring and evaluating this program from the EU side? Is the EU aware of investigative reports that raised criticism to the OPM?

EU, UK, and OPM should get out from this foggy grey area to deal honestly and professionally with the situation. The EU should form a fact-finding committee on the accusations of poor performance of OPM in the previous period.

Comparison between EU and USA

Although the nickname of the USA State Department is “the foggy bottom” because of the name of the neighborhood in Washington DC, US policy in Sudan is clearer than the European one.

The lack of information has led Hamdok’s office to be in this foggy area. In particular, the Trump administration was tough with Sudan but very clear in its objectives and demands.

Trump made the deal of “Normalization with Israel – Taking Sudan out of terror list”; he was undemocratic but he made a good deal for his country and – to some extent – to Sudan.

The real “foggy bottom” is the Sudanese-European relations, specifically with the EU and the UK.

Mekki ElMograbi is a press writer on African affairs. He can be reached through his email (elmograbi@gmail.com) or his contact number +249912139350 (Whatsapp and Telegram)

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