Altaghyeer: Khartoum

A number of months elapsed after launching a campaign endorsed by the Sudanese president Omer Albashir targeting the so-called “fat cats” e.g. corrupted, and yet not a single case involving top businessmen, bank managers, CEOs of governmental and private companies or security chiefs was brought before the special court for corruption.

And concurrently, the press published leaks from security authorities about seizing cash and illegal deposits internally and abroad, especially in Malaysia, which is widely known as the favorite safe haven for hiding Islamists’ money and assets.

Last week Albashir opened a special unit for investigating corruption, which is part of the security and intelligence apparatus, and individuals were seconded from related institutions as the Central bank, taxes authority, justice department and general prosecution and judiciary to work for this unit. And Altaghyeer was informed that Sulieman Mohamed Ahmed, a former businessman was appointed as head of the unit after joining the security service and being promoted to the rank of a lieutenant general and heading the economic security department.

Sulieman worked as a businessman in River Nile State, where he is well known to many merchants and businessmen, he was involved in business activities related to Gum Arabic as well as other business and investment areas. And it was noticeable how Albashir, when opening the unit, rejoiced about convincing him of accepting the appointment and abandoning his business for fighting corruption.

The legal expert Nabil Adeeb thinks that the government’s means and method in confronting corruption won’t yield the desired effects and goals, and demanded turning over the reins to an independent body with wide jurisdiction and separated from the executive branch of the government and with no conflict of interests with other bodies. And he said “granting security authorities, police or justice department jurisdiction over the fight against corruption is of no use, because they are part of the executive branch, and they themselves should be subject to efficient oversight bodies, for example, a corruption commission should be formed and given wide jurisdiction so it could work without interest or intimidation from anybody”.

And Adeeb raised another point by saying “you cannot fight corruption within an atmosphere of oppression and suppression of political and press freedom, the first phase in fighting corruption is uprooting the environment it flourishes in, which is darkness and suppression, freedoms must be accessed along with urging people to talk about corruption and leaving room for the press to act as whistle-blowers and address corruption foci that proliferate day after day”.

Currently detention centers are full of tens of those who were known for their affiliation to the governing Islamists groups spanning all institutions they created or controlled, for instance, there is the manager of Bank of Khartoum Fadul Mohamed Khier, director of Islamic Insurance Company Kamal Jadkarim, the ex-director of the political security department Abdelghaffar Alshareef, as well as the interrogation of the ex-minister of finance Badraldeen Mahmoud.

In the same setting, one of the top Islamist businessmen, Akasha Mohamed Ahmed, was found dead in detention, and security authorities announced that he committed suicide, whereas others- including his relatives- confirmed that he was murdered after he threatened to expose many high-ranking figures who are associated with corruption.

The issue that couldn’t be overlooked is that interrogation and detention didn’t include influential officials and top businessmen close to Albashir who are justifiably suspected of amassing large sums of money in a short while or suspected of influence peddling in order to acquire big portions of stocks in banks and local and international corporates that invest in the country, among them Albashir’s brothers as all reports and evidence indicates.

Meanwhile, the economic analyst Mohamed Aljak sees the campaign launched against corruption as fundamentally a mere act of settling scores between influential figures, as certain groups work towards the elimination of rival groups within the regime under the guise of fighting corruption. And he went on to say “what I currently witness as attempts to fight corruption are basically scores settling and efforts to perpetuate certain groups and figures in order to take full control of the State and its institutions”. Adding “I don’t anticipate positive outcomes over the economy out of this campaign, which is currently failing, instead, the economic status is rolling from bad to worse”.

In the meantime, Transparency International ranks Sudan among the 5 most corrupt countries in the world according to the corruption perceptions index, as observers emphasize the futility of the “campaign against fat cats” and predict its failure in achieving any degree of success, because its main objective is removing those opposing Albashir’s candidacy. And there are others who are pushing further by adding a regional dimension to the campaign’s objectives which is shattering the group close to the (Iran- Turkey- Qatar) axis as a token to get in the good graces of the (Egypt- Saudi Arabia- United Arab Emirates) axis, from which Albashir attempts to draw strength for his internal struggles against his “Islamists” rivals.