February 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese columnist on Sunday rapped the government for falsely advertising the visit of a delegation led by a United States Republican senator who turned out to be a businessman with no membership in any American legislative body.
- Veteran Sudanese journalist and analyst Faisal Mohammed Salih speaks to AFP during an interview in Khartoum on May 29, 2012 (File/ AFP)
Journalist Faisal Mohamed Saleh in his daily column accused the government of being fooled and subsequently fooling the Sudanese people by highlighting the senator’s visit on state media.
This week, Sudan official news agency (SUNA) and state TV covered a visit by a delegation of American investors led by "Senator" Sonny Lee that expressed its desire to enter on Sudan’s oil and gas sector as well as refineries in Sudan despite US unilateral economic sanctions imposed since 1997.
Lee and his delegation met with the Sudanese officials including presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, foreign minister Ali Karti, investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and oil minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad.
According to the former chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations subcommittee al-Tijani Mustafa, the US lawmaker affirmed the negative impact of these sanctions on American businesses and vowed to seek to have them lifted through amending laws in collaboration with other congressmen.
He went on to quote Lee as saying that " Sudan is a stable country and that its people do not deserve these sanctions and should be granted its natural right in international relations, like all other countries".
But Salih said after extensive research on the internet, Lee turned out to be the chairman of Great American International Development Corporation (GAIDC). He is a member of the Rotary Club of New York which on its website stated that Lee s was awarded the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom described as "the highest honor the Republican members of the U.S. Senate can bestow".
"If we had a Ministry of Foreign Affairs that performed the bare minimum of its duties and mission they would have been keen on obtaining information on visiting foreign dignitaries and arranging suitable meetings and conferences for them," he wrote.
"We will continue to wonder, until we get the answer: Who arranged the man’s visit? Did he contact the Sudanese Embassy in Washington? Is the U.S. embassy in Khartoum aware about this visit? And on what basis do officials of foreign guests? Salih asked.
The US embassy in Khartoum said it has no information on Lee or his delegation when contacted by Sudan Tribune last week.