hello, this is the briefing — i'm victoria fritz. our top stories: tensions mount in venezuela over in court in chicago, moves by the opposition the judge told the tv star if the allegations are true, to bring in foreign aid — his actions were utterly the border with brazil has been closed. outrageous and despicable. the family of a british teenager who joined the islamic state group in syria say president nicolas maduro has closed they will challenge the uk venezuela's border with brazil government's decision to strip her of her citizenship. to prevent the opposition delivering foreign aid, the animals and plants vital which he sees as a for feeding the world political provocation. as tensions rise, he's said he may are disappearing by the day, also shut the border with colombia, where most supplies have been stockpiled. opposition leaderjuan guaido has a un report warns. gone to the colombian border to try to bring brexit voices — the new in food and medicine. divisions that are shaping britain as the country prepares for the first time in the history of the catholic church, bishops from around the world to leave the european union are meeting at the vatican to confront decades of child sex abuse by clergymen. coming up in the business briefing. pope francis convened the four—day summit, saying the world expects "concrete superpower confrontation. measures" to address the scandal. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk with zeinab badawi.
welcome to hardtalk, with me, zeinab badawi. the ongoing urban protests in sudan have been the most widespread and consistent demonstrations against president omar al—bashir and his ruling national congress party. after nearly 30 years in power, protesters in major cities in sudan have said enough and are calling on him to resign. at least 30 civilians have been killed, although the government insists its security forces have not opened fire on peaceful demonstrators. my guest is the long—time opposition figure yasir arman. he is the external affairs secretary of sudan call, the umbrella group of the main sudanese opposition parties. he's travelling around western countries to step up the campaign against president al—bashir. are these protests really different this time? can they and will they dislodge omar
al—bashirfrom power? yasir arman, welcome to hardtalk. thank you so much, zeinab, for having me today. how far would you describe these current protests in sudan as representing the biggest threat to the rule of omar al—bashir? first of all, this is the biggest demonstration, ever, sudan has witnessed. not only during this regime, but even since 1956, when sudan got their independence.
it's unique in terms of it's everywhere in sudan, in the rural areas and the urban areas. also, there is heavy participation of women in these. and again, also it has baptised a new generation of views into the political life. but you can't really describe it as a revolution. it's not really such a widespread nationwide movement. it's largely led by professionals, associations of doctors, lawyers, journalists. at its heart, it's an elite urban protest. actually, it did start in a rural area, and then it went over to the deep heart of rural places in sudan. and then the professionals, they came into the scene on 25
december, and they gave it a qualitative move. now, it is everywhere in sudan, and it engulf rural and urban populations. but it's fizzling out, isn't it? i mean, it's losing numbers now. omar al—bashir said, late january, "we do not claim there is no problem, but it is not the size or dimensions that some of the media portray." the numbers are diminishing, aren't they? that is untrue. that has been said in december. it tended to be more stronger in january. .. but he said that late january. yeah, he said it. but the more important thing is the issues that led to this demonstration have not been resolved, and bashir will not be able to resolve them. even his presence in the political scene is one of the problems, after ruling sudan for 30 years. but the government has acknowledged
that there are problems, and they know this started off as a protest against the costs of living, the cost of bread, fuel. inflation is about 70%. and they say, look, there are problems, but they condemn the fact that some of the protesters are turning towards violence. no, the problems did not start today. bashir and his group know that. they killed 100,000 in darfur because they were protesting against the regime. and earlier, before the independence, in 2013... let's just stick with what's going on now. human rights watch say about 50 people have been killed. that's 50 regrettable deaths. the government says more than 30. but let me just tell you what salah gosh, the head of the national intelligence and security services, said. he says, "we recognise that we must have self—restraint, and manage things wisely,"
about the protestors, "and take care of the lives of people and property. we're not bothered by demonstrations, but we are upset by the lapse in security." on 15 february, a policeman whojust happened to be passing by in his vehicle, by chance, somebody threw a stone in his direction. he's dead. you can't condone that kind of action. no, this is actually a fabrication of the security. those who were killed are more than 59, those who are in the prisons more than 2,000, including 300 women. this very security, they have tortured to death four peaceful demonstrators, including a teacher who was raped and tortured to death. how could they say what they are saying? well, i mean, omaral—bashir has said that he condemns the violence used against protesters, and he says we want to maintain security. we want the police to do that
by using less force. he acknowledges, he says, that there have been cases received in hospitals over the past week that showed gunshot wounds to the head, neck, and chest, and he does not want to see peaceful protesters being targeted. this is what he is saying. but this is a man who ruled sudan for 30 years. he is the only person the new generation knows. this is the man who is wanted by the icc, the international criminal court, and this is a man who committed genocide and who committed war crimes. i believe omar al—bashir is — if you want to do anything, he has to step down and let the sudanese people decide. we will talk about what you in the opposition want to see done. just to continue with the protests that have been going on. isn't there political opposition, such as yours — you are a member of the splm—n, which is one of the opposition parties, part of the umbrella
group sudan call. aren't you jumping on the momentum of the street? you are not leading these protests yourselves. you're being quite opportunistic. no, that is not true. we are organic to the mass movement. not only is there a professional consensus group. this protest is a culmination of a long struggle of the sudanese people. it is true it has been started by this group. they are part of the society. the political parties have been in the front line for years. they not members, necessarily, of the political parties, which are a real mishmash in sudan. a government spokesman said some political parties have emerged in an attempt to exploit these conditions, to shake security in order to achieve their political agenda. i put it to you that parties such as yours are being opportunistic,
trying to jump on this bandwagon that has been set up by what has been set in motion. i don't think this is a correct assessment. these political parties have been against this regime and looking for peace and democratisation for a long time, and now most of the political leaders are in prison. how could they possibly be opportunist? they are in prison. they paid a heavy price. i believe those in the street, and the political parties, their aim and objective is one, and what they're asking for is one. they are asking for peace and democratisation, and the renewal of the country. so they issued a charter calling for the end of omar al—bashir‘s role, a four—year transition period. you also calling on the army to back what you call a revolution. but omar al—bashir has spent 30 years making the army coup—proof. you will not be able to get the army to back you. the situation is complex. the army is not one group.
the rank and file of the army, they are poor. they are below those in the street. it takes more people to go into the street, so as to put pressure on the army to move in. it's true that president bashir is trying hard for the army not to move. in the revolution of 1964... when we removed gaafar nimeiry in 1985, this is not new. i am sure that, with more pressure, the army will take the side of the people. what evidence have you got that the rank and file, the footsoldiers, as it were, do support the aspirations... more than 13 army officers, some of them are lieutenant colonels in the army. there is information that there is a wider discontent within the army itself.
because the leaders in the army, the generals, like the chief of staff, kamal abdul—marouf al—mahi, have said at a recent gathering attended by the minister of defence and other army chiefs, "i affirm our military commitment to guarding our homeland, and standing behind its leadership to protect sudan's national security and its citizens. " i mean, you are not going to be able to get the army to move against omar al—bashir with statements like that. they will move. the senior army generals wantjust to protect themselves, and they want to show allegiance to president bashir. but the army is part of society, and the more society is against bashir and the more people are going into the street — the army will move, i am sure about that. it is notjust the army. omar al—bashir has also built up an effective security and intelligence sector, which kind of serves as a second
army for him, a way of keeping an eye on the army, and the population in general, as well as the politicians. sudan is not exceptional. we have seen it in romania, in many other countries, and even in egypt, tunisia — it's the same situation. the army, eventually, they moved on the side of the people. you know, one of the world's leading experts on sudan, alex duval smith, said this about omar al—bashir. he began by throwing virtually all the elected government and civil servants into prison. he has been careful to manage the political elite of khartoum. the president has the reputation of never sacrificing one of his own. he has been very astute at making sure that he doesn't create too many enemies that really
threaten him, hasn't he? that is long ago. it needs to be updated. but he has just said that. that is long ago. but now the national islamic front — islam is now divided. bashir threw so many of them out. which met with the approval of many people, including pro—democracy supporters, actually, when that happened, because they didn't want the islamists. i believe the islamists now, they want to remove. but the difference is that they wanted to use their system. you have been here before, haven't you, in 2013, when we saw protests against omar al—bashir.
200 people died at that time. this sudan call umbrella opposition group came together, calling for a new democracy in sudan. you said we have come together to remove the one—party regime. the sudan tribune newspaper hailed it as a breakthrough. what happened ? nothing. omar al—bashir was still in power six years later. why would it be different this time? as you know, it is a process. it's not an event. it is accumulations of what happened in 2013. it produced what is taking place now. this one is wider. the regime is bankrupt. the regime economically is not like it was in 2013, and there are many new factors. i believe the sudanese this time will get a new social political dispensation that they deserve.
what are you going around asking the international community to do? because you're visiting various countries, saying disengage with omar al—bashir. what is it you're saying? well, number one, in europe we are saying to the europeans there is a new situation. you have to consider this new situation. business as usual will not work. you have to disengage the strategic dialogue that uk and europe is having with bashir. it will not work, it will not bear fruits. and we are saying that bashir is a danger to everybody, because bashir is denying 6 million sudanese any space in their own country. that's why we are looking for immigration to europe. internally displaced people? internally displaced, there are potential immigrants. if you want to resolve it,
let us fix our country. let us give those guys an opportunity within their country, and the sudanese, they never expect to go outside sudan. it is only because of dictatorship, of genocide, of war crimes, of aggressions that bashir is inflicting on them. as well as internally displaced people, and refugees themselves, sudan is also a key transit country for african migrants, and indeed, in 2016 was apparently the fifth—biggest source of refugees globally. and therefore, the european union gives sudan tens of millions of euros every year, because it wants it to help them with their migration policy, and also counter terrorism. they're still co—operating with sudan, regardless of what you say to them. i believe the strategic solution is to remove this regime, this dictatorship, and to have a democratic government in sudan that will allow sudanese to have their own life within their own space.
again, the security of bashir are trading, and they are using those immigrants as a business. actually, they are sending them to europe. meanwhile, they are covering it up with the co—operation which they have with some of the european countries. what europe is doing is not a solution. europe need to seek a new solution, to help the people themselves to fix their life, and to have a democratic system. all right. it's notjust europe, though, is it? united states — so we saw in 2017 how the united states lifted some of the sanctions against sudan. it still is on the list of states that sponsor terrorism, but the sudanese government says their removal from that list is a work in progress, and they expect that to happen sometime soon. the americans are still co—operating a great deal with the sudanese. for example, the foreign minister, mohamed ahmed al—dirdiri,
said in november last year the level of cooperation that sudan is having, with the united states in particular and with the region at large, in countering terrorism is exemplary. the americans — the commander of the us combined joint task force in the horn of africa, james craig, praised sudan's efforts to achieve regional security and stability. that's the kind of mood music that's going on. well, the americans, they know very well sudan is organic to terrorism, and they will never change, because they are cooperating now with the united states. what is needed is for america and europe to change their policy. business as usual will not bring an end to terrorism, or to end immigration in sudan. because this government is very — it is the same government that hosted bin laden, it is the same government thatis involved in many incidents, in destroying the american embassy in kenya and tanzania, and many other incidents.
so what is needed now — there is new realities. the americans need to lead in other directions. for that reason, we welcome the statement by the secretary of state in his interview. mike pompeo. mike pompeo, that there is a need for new policies, there is a need to consider the situation of the sudanese people. so those guys who are ruling sudan, they base their rule in a very narrow social base. they need to look into the aspiration of democratisation or peace in sudan. but i mean, the sudanese government, of course, would say that it doesn't in any way sponsor terrorism. some of the acts that you've mentioned, the tragedies such as the one in kenya, and so on, they will say, look, you know, we didn't have any involvement in that. and so that's the view that you propound, but i put it to you that it's falling on deaf ears. i've told you how the europeans are still co—operating, the americans still
co—operating with sudan. and look at sudan's membership of the arab league. you know, as an arab country, it has excellent relations with the united arab emirates, key allies. saudi arabia — the saudi minister of commerce and investment, majid al qasabi, on 2a january, said the king of saudi arabia has confirmed that saudi arabia would not hesitate to support sudan until it overcomes the current situation. the government in sudan has also said russia and turkey have offered assistance to it, economically. the united arab emirates is giving sudan $300 million as well as 1.12 million in tons of fuel. i could just go on and on. sudan has got friends and allies. but they should ask themselves one question — why this system has no impact. this is a corrupt government. this government, politically, is dead. and what they need, they need to reconsider that they are helping the very government that stood for decades against saudi arabia, and the emirates.
and islam, political islam, destroyed sudan, and it is going to destroy africa, because political islam, they do not recognise the diversity of africa. really? because, i mean, look at kenya. it has problems with the islamist al—shabaabjihadists. when the sudanese vice president, osman mohammed yousif, visited kenya earlier this month, president uhuru kenyatta said on6 february, i am happy to know that sudan is handling matters well, and that situation in the country is under control. he praised sudan as a pillar of stability in the region. well, the status quo will not bring stability to this region. it's not going to bring peace or democracy. sudan is highly involved in central africa, in south sudan, in libya. it is a source of instability in these countries. the political islam discourse will destroy africa, because the fabric of africa
is based on diversity. again, bashir has ruled sudan for 30 years. he divided sudan, he's wanted by the icc. those facts have to be considered. ok, so he is wanted in the international criminal court over his dealings, his attacks in darfur, allegedly. and there are those now in sudan, like the chairman of your group, sudan call, who say the icc should freeze the case against bashir as a kind of exit deal for him. we've also had a very prominent sudanese businessman, saying the same thing — to lift the charges if it means that omar al—bashir goes from power. is that something you would support? well, before we go into all this, did bashir ever express that he wants to step down? did bashir ever say? and what he is doing, he is killing more sudanese...
no, but would you support the icc freezing or lifting its case against omar al—bashir as part of an exit deal? your chairman says yes. first of all, bashir is not ready to leave power, so i am not going into hypothetical issues. and to give bashir a deal when he is not ready even to say, after 30 years, that he wants to leave power — but he wants to stay in power. 30 years injune, it will be. but look, there are elections due in sudan april 2020. as things stand, in the constitution, omar al—bashir cannot stand again. there had been talk of the constitution being changed so that he could run again. but because of what has gone now, these protests, do you think that there's no chance that the constitution will be changed, and that therefore omar al—bashir cannot stand again in april next year, and that will be the end of his rule? the political landscape in sudan has changed. bashir has no chance to stand.
i am very sure the sudanese people, they will change this regime. and there are new social forces that are coming into the political scene, and i think the story of bashir has ended. he is politically dead. politically dead. yes, he is politically dead, and is a matter of time, whatever. and it depends on the sudanese people. we talked about the united states, about europe. we need their assistance to stand by the very values that they are talking about. but again, it is we, the sudanese. we will change bashir, we will change his system. there is a new social force, using women, and with non—violence. unlike what happened in syria, unlike what happened in yemen, the sudanese people, they have experience in overthrowing a dictatorship.
they did before “119611, and in 1985, and i'm sure they will this time manage equally to overthrow the regime of omar al—bashir. yasir arman, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk. thank you. hello there. this very mild, springlike weather for february is set to continue this weekend, and indeed into next week as well. now, on thursday, we saw a top temperature of 18.3 celsius in aboyne, in aberdeenshire. and that has broken the scottish february record of 17.9 celsius, so very mild indeed for the time of year.
now, this warm air is rooted as far south as the azores and the canary islands, and it's being brought up to our shores on a fairly brisk south or south—westerly wind, denoted by those orange and yellow colours. now, as we start this morning, it's going to be a largely dry one. quite breezy across the far north—west, with a few showers, and we could start to see areas of fog developing across england and wales. some of it could be quite dense, in fact. temperature—wise, a few chilly spots across the north—east of england, southern scotland, otherwise, temperatures generally between 6—9 celsius. so that fog could be quite extensive across the midlands, southern south—east england, into east anglia, and extending as far north and west almost as the welsh marshes, up into merseyside and cheshire. and it may take a long time to clear through the morning and could even hold on in one or two spots across the south—east through the day. so some areas could have a grey day. otherwise, for most, another bright and sunny day. some hazy sunshine and it'll feel very warm indeed for the time of year. quite windy across this
far north—west corner, with generally 13—15 degrees, with a few spots 17 or 18 celsius. high pressure still with us as we head on into the weekend as well, bringing these southerly winds. but these weather fronts always trying to encroach in from the atlantic. it will bring more cloud, some outbreaks of rain, i think, on saturday to northern ireland, then into western scotland, the odd heavier burst, and it'll be quite windy too. but eastern scotland, for most of england and wales, away from the west, another fine day with some hazy sunshine after the mist and fog clears away, and again, extremely mild, 111—15 degrees, the odd 16 or 17 celsius. on into sunday, again some mist and fog to start off with. could have a bit more cloud across the west, northern ireland, western scotland, perhaps western wales and the west country, where it'll be breezier. and i think temperatures a degree or so down across the board. so we're looking at 12s to 13s, maybe the odd spot 1a or 15 degrees across the south—east. and then, on into next week, this big area of high pressure still dominating the weather, trying to keep these weather fronts