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Al-Bashir visit to Russia departure from the Islamists ideology: Sudanese official

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President Putin shakes hands with President al-Bashir at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 23 Nov 2017 (Photo Kremlin)
December 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mubarak al-Mahdi said the recent visit of PBashirent Omer al-Bshir to Russia was part of the efforts to reform the foreign policy away from the Islamists ideology.

During his first visit to Russia since he came to power in 1989, al-Bashir last month asked President Vladimir Putin to support his country against American plans against the Sudan accusing Washington of planning to divide his country into five states.

In an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper Sunday, al-Mahdi said al-Bashir has redirected Sudan’s foreign policy “360 degrees”, pointing out that relations with the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the U.S. have returned to normal.

He added al-Bashir’s visit to Moscow aimed to open the doors towards the Eastern Block.

“The visit was part of the efforts to reform the Sudanese diplomacy and to rid it of the impact and programmes of the Islamic Movement (IM) ideology which restricted the country’s foreign policy to China and Asian countries only,” he said

Al-Mahdi pointed out that the IM chose to enter into an ideological confrontation with America and the West and dealt with Russia and the East Europe as part of the West.

“Because Russia agrees with the West in confronting the religious extremism, which fundamentally contradicts with the IM agenda, Sudan has moved away from Russia,” he said

He said the visit forged a pivotal alliance with Russia similar to the visit of the Saudi monarch to Moscow in which he signed a $3 billion arms deal as well as the wheat storage agreement signed last week Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Sudanese Deputy Prime Minister further said al-Bashir has launched the National Dialogue to let up the IM domination over the government and get rid of the Islamists internal and foreign agenda, saying the move has led to changing the U.S. stance towards Sudan.

He said the previous U.S. hard-line policies were directed to Sudan when the government was adopting the Islamists agenda but when al-Bashir changed his direction he found the doors open to him.

Last October, the U.S. Administration permanently lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan citing positive actions on humanitarian access and counter-terrorism.

Al-Mahdi added the statements made by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan during his recent visit to Khartoum regarding some religious issues were misunderstood.

He pointed out that the U.S. diplomat’s remarks regarding the removal of articles 151, 152 and 153 from the 1991 Criminal Code were contained in the National Dialogue Conference recommendations, saying these articles became a source for human rights breaches.

It is noteworthy that the 1991 Criminal Code includes corporal punishment for crimes that are described in insufficiently clear and precise terms, such as gross indecency (article151), indecent and immoral acts (article 152 ), possessing, handling or manufacturing materials and displays contrary to public morality (article 153).

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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