the united nations has warned the leaders of myanmar could face charges of genocide over the persecution of rohingya muslims. the un's human rights chief said he assumes the country's de facto leader, aung san suu kyi, sanctioned their repression. some 650,000 rohingya muslims have fled to bangladesh since august. south africa's governing anc is voting to choose a new leader to succeed presidentjacob zuma. nearly 5,000 delegates are expected to vote. deputy president, cyril ramaphosa, appears to be leading the nominations. president putin has acknowledged the help of the cia in preventing terror attacks in st petersburg. he told president trump the information had helped to track down and detain a terrorist group preparing blasts in kazan cathedral and other public places in the city. sir mo farah has won this year's bbc sports personality of the year. the motorcyclistjonathan rea
was second, and the paralympic athlete, jonnie peacock, was third. it's the first time sir mo has won the award. the announcement of his victory was made in liverpool's echo arena but the four—time olympic champion was in a studio in north london, with his daughter rhianna, who eventually presented him with his award. but things didn't all go to plan as this happened. mo, i hope you can hear us, rihanna's there with the trophy she can present. please don't tell me... she's gone to bed? 0h, can present. please don't tell me... she's gone to bed? oh, no! i think thatjust she's gone to bed? oh, no! i think that just about sums up mo's evening, doesn't it really? i'm saw that's hussain pulling the plug out.
the most brilliant non— interview that's ever happened. when the line was finally re—established to sir mo, this is what he had to say. as an athlete what i've achieved has been incredible over the years and for all the youngsters out there, you can work hard and achieve your dreams. anything is possible in life if you believe at it, work at it, keep grafting, grafting, anything is possible. what an amazing night it is and! possible. what an amazing night it is and i wish i was there but unfortunately i'm sorry i can't be there, guys, i'm here with my family and my kids here as well. but it's all exciting for us. just can't believe i won! now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, with me, zeinab badawi. is the sudanese government coming in from the cold and moving towards becoming a fully integrated member of the international community? the us lifted economic sanctions on sudan in october, ending two
decades of its financial isolation. washington says sudan has made progress on human rights, democratic reforms and ending ethnic tensions in the country. but critics argue sudan's not done enough. there is still no peace in darfurand other conflict areas and they claim human rights violations continue. my guest is ibrahim ghandour, sudan's foreign minister. has the government really made a fresh start? foreign minister ibrahim ghandour, welcome to hardtalk.
thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be here. how far do you see the lifting of us sanctions as a chance for sudan to make a fresh start? it's lifting of sanctions in the inclusion in the international economy and finance system. for quite some time, sudan has been barred from the international economy, from dealing with banks, from money, investors who are lifting sudan, after are lifting sudan after being in africa, in getting foreign investors. sudan is back and we believe this is a good start for a country with a developing economy. at that time that the economy showed up to 9% of growth. but the us government still wants you to do more. heather nauert from the us state department, spokesperson, said the move by washington recognised sudan's sustained positive actions but more progress is needed. what more are you being asked to do? there is always more
to be asked by anybody. but they were referring to human rights and religious freedoms. and we have been discussing this at length. we said that we are abiding with our constitution. we are abiding with all international convention and agreements and previous conventions and agreements signed on human rights and freedoms and we are ready to listen to friends whenever there are critics. but you mention human rights and that is one very, very big issue. the british ambassador in sudan, michael aron, says he's very worried about human rights, he's also worried about da rfur. he's also worried about the continuing violence. do you accept that you have to do a lot more? we are just coming out of a civil war in the south, and then we came out from war darfur, where darfur is peaceful now and we are now having a settlement, declaring a ceasefire for more than more than one year in the two areas. negotiating the rebel groups.
but we are in an area where it is in a turmoil. we are surrounded by central african republic, south sudan, libya. you name it, you find it boko haram, al—sha baab, isis everywhere. and in spite of that, people are trying to manage and have a country integrity. still you must be worried if you are in that environment. this is why everybody feels that anything is possible at any time. but it's what's going on in your country that is concerning people. you've mentioned darfur and this is what the enough project lobby group cites, that there's continuing abuse and intimidation of civilians in conflict areas. he said, "we've known this government for 29 years and they will never change." in fact the united nations, african union, hybrid force. 22,000 soldiers, observers from different countries of the world.
the reports says that darfur is now peaceful. this is why the un security council took a decision that it is not longer needed. well, it's only been reduced by a third. they'll still keep some 10,000 forces there. it is a full course of departure, but it is first until december almost 11,000 are supposed to leave and then the rest will leave in the coming year. so, it's a fully fledged departure and exit strategy in accordance by the government, the un and african union. there isn't any peace in darfur and you yourself have said the americans say they want to see more movement on that. there was even a government offensive in darfur as late as june last year. 100,000 civilians displaced and so on. so you accept that it is a very volatile situation, you need to do more and violence flares up very easily? i cannot say it is volatile, but i can say it is something that needs to be observed and supervised and the government is very keen to see that happening.
what happened lastjune, in fact, this is the last rebel group that is still try trying to say, we are here. he is now in france. he refused all calls to sit down and talk. he refused all calls for peace. and he dreams of having his own government led by himself. but there are clashes between the rebels and pro—government militias still in darfur. the rapid support forces, for instance, they need to be reigned in. the government could do something on that, manage them, integrate them into the regular security forces. you can do a lot. with all due respect, the rapid deployment force is not a militia, it is part of the army, it is having ranks, military numbers and identifications, military salaries from the army. they are part and parcel of the sudanese armed force. and their leaders are part and parcel of officers in the sudanese army. and clashes happen between them and the rebels? in fact it is not between them
and the rebels, it is a trial of the government to collect arms from darfur and different parts of sudan. we are neighbouring countries with are neighbouring countries, with civil wars everywhere. smuggling arms is very easy, selling and buying arms and it is part of the doha agreement to collect arms throughout the country and the government now did that fully in darfur. this is why even crimes are now almost cut off by 90%. and clashes happen between them and the rebels? in fact that was about sudan, from the list of countries supporting terrorism. this is the phrase two of our discussion with the americans. john sullivan was referring to the annual report the americans must always leave the door open for a but. and this is why they always say "but" because you cannot say everything is perfect and then you'll come again and make a reverse. this is why this is in politics and diplomacy is well—known. you cannot say that everything is correct and right and this is why
the door is always open for amendments or the door is open for critics, if they are faithful and trustful. you also mentioned that the americans have said in this discussion about lifting the sanctions and what more sudan has to do, the question of religious freedoms and john 0'sullivan, the deputy to rex tillerson, the us secretary of state, paid a visit to sudan in november and he expressed deep concerns about the fact that he feels there is religious persecution of christians... in fact, that was about delisting sudan from the list of countries supporting terrorism. this is phase two of our discussion with the americans. john sullivan was referring to the annual report of the state department on religious freedoms across the world. if you look into that report, you'll found that every country in the world is being criticised by one way or another, including the us, for religious freedoms, and sudan is dealing with that. we have got a special committee on dealing with religious freedoms across the country. sudan is one of the countries that are seeing an excellent religious coexistence between the different religions. butjohn sullivan himself expressing
concern about religious freedoms pointed to what he described as the destruction of churches and the arrests of priests. we told him that the destruction of churches, these are illegal churches, built on land that belongs to other people and, at the same time while three churches were destroyed, four mosques were destroyed at the same time. and that because there was an illegal decision that this land belongs to some people and the churches and churches were built illegally on that land? really? but why would the reverend kwa shamaal of the sudanese church of christ say christians have no rights here any more. everybody can say whatever they say but many priests are saying otherwise. what about a recent case we've had of more than 20 south sudanese christian women being arrested at a gathering in khartoum by the public order police because they were wearing trousers and skirts and were therefore, they said, they were an affront to public decency? i remember very welljohn sullivan was talking on wearing trousers and when we left my office,
going to the meeting place, we met a journalist who was wearing trousers and she was talking to me so i said this is an example that what is being said in the social media is not all true. these women were arrested. there are cases, according to dr ihsan figeiri, the coordinator of the no to 0ppression of women initiative, more than 15,000 women have been sentenced to flogging last year because of the affront to public decency. i read that press release by ihsan figeiri, i dealt with the number, but i cannot deny there may be sometimes problems or indecencies that has been called by the police, but this is one of the issues being addressed in our parliament right now. you are? yes. so christian women can wear their trousers, what they want... ? it has nothing to do with religion. muslim women wearing trousers, many are doing that and it is not
illegal behaviour to wear trousers. another civic freedom is freedom of the press, of course, and sudan's national intelligence and security services apparently seized print runs of four sudanese newspapers, the sudanesejournalist network described the confiscation as a "press massacre". we are having wide discussion over the press and journalism law, with the participation ofjournalists across the country and we are trying to have a new version of ourjournalist and newspapers law that will not have punishment of whatever kind and leave everything to other laws and treatjournalists like in other cities, whenever they make mistakes. why were these newspapers that seized ? this is right now, this is in fact in accordance with the law. it is part of the jurisdiction and powers of the national intelligence. this is why, following the national dialogue, many were asking and this is one of the decisions of the national dialogue, and it's a recommendation that has been endorsed by the government that we need to revisit 120 laws and among them is the press law. so the law as it stands you think
is inadequate and you're in the process of changing...? right now it is under discussion. so press freedoms are guaranteed? i am sure, in accordance with the constitution. this is one of the elephants in the room that we've been discussing, is the issue of human rights and civic freedoms in sudan, the other one, of course, is corruption. you know that when it comes to doing business in sudan all the economic indicators show that businesses just run scared, you know, there's a lack of transparency, poor regulatory framework, huge reputational risks that companies take by doing business in sudan. by saying we are open for business, now that the sanctions are being lifted, you have to do a lot more. there is no country in the world that can deny there is no corruption
of some kind. but i use the example of sudan getting investors from abroad. until 2009 sudan was number two in the arab region in getting foreign investments and number three in the whole of africa in getting foreign investments and many companies from different parts of the world are there. corruption, i cannot deny that there is corruption, but it is not of the magnitude that people are broadcasting everywhere. and it is part of the propaganda again of the government, but i will tell you that right now the government are investigating corruption and it is part of the resource of the recommendations of the national dialogue. i tell you what abda el—mahdi, economic consultant and former minister of state in the ministry of finance says, that the government of sudan is to blame as much as sanctions when it comes to, you know, the economic ills which have happened and she says that foreign investors will not come to sudan and local investors will not prosper if there is no level playing field,
with economic and political stability and clear policies to reduce high levels of poverty. it goes without saying, for successful investment as well everywhere. but investment is part of it itself, because it creates decentjobs and it helps elevating poverty everywhere. but you know, last year there were demonstrations by students, yourformer vice chancellor of khartoum university yourself. there were doctors, there were lawyers, all protesting against the high cost of living t removal of fuel subsidies and other subsidies and so on. actually they, were mass arrests, weren't there as a result of those protests? yes, in fact we are still not at the level of having peaceful demonstrations across our country, but there are many who are organising demonstrations
against the government sometimes. and they go untried and arrested. but they have a right to protest, don't they? it is a right by law, and constitution. but sometimes we will go and disturb public facilities. the public or private and then the police intervene. we are for peaceful demonstrations, we for, in fact whatever that people can express their way in the way they like. only those who wreak havoc and carry out violence were arrested because that's not the kind of report we got? and many anti—government demonstrations have been going on peaceful, walking through the streets, slogans against the government. students in particular. but the university of khartoum, you referred to and other universities as well. they have a right to protest and what a lot of demonstrators are saying and civil society organisations, particularly now that sanctions have been lifted, is that, look, we want to make sure that the lifting of economic
sanctions is going to benefit all the people of sudan, that we're not going to see vast profits creamed off by the government and its supporters. i fully agree with that. can you guarantee and say that there'll be full transparency? for sure. and we are one of the few countries in the world that is having an audited general, that doesn't report to the government. he reports directly to the parliament in an open, transparent broadcasting sitting of the legislative organ and that is coming in all newspapers. he doesn't take his report to the president or to the government or to the minister. it is from him to the parliament to the tv or radio to the press. because you know sudan has got a lot of mineral wealth. sudan is the second biggest producer of gold after south africa on the continent of africa, 90 tonnes of gold produced last year. about 50 i think were exported.
despite losing 70% of its oil production when the south got independence in 2011, sudan still produces 88,000 barrels of oil a day. you've got the agricultural land and a lot of riches in the country. and i must say to you, you know, people really want to know that the riches, the natural resources of the country will go to the benefit of the population as a whole, where there is wide—spread poverty? definitely and this issue you can see them in growth. you can see them on various occasions. you can compare the roads which have been built, the bridges that have been built, the transformation in education, the number of universities the number of schools, the numbers of hospitals and hospital beds. that you can see it, but it's still we need to reflect on people's way of living. at a time oil was there, people used to have a new way of living. people used to a new boost, a new way of living. all of a sudden, oil was a way
and people had a shock. if not the diversity of the sudanese economy, that shock had been a devastating shock to the country. but in spite of that, sudan overcame the shock and the economy was again on the right path. but there is wide—spread poverty as i said. a third of children suffer malnutrition in sudan. one in two people experience poverty. it is only a country of 37 million. if you say that it's got these riches, why haven't you done something about these poverty rates? you've had nearly 29 years in power as the ruling national congress party. you are a senior member of the party. you have been a member of the parliament since the mid—90s and so on and so forth. in fact, sudan has been in civil war for a long time and then the cps... that is the comprehensive peace agreement. . . then we entered into the darfur conflict and the two areas came in peace with a country
with civil wars and conflicts, you need a lot of spending. two, sudan has been under sanctions for 21 years. that is also another problem. in spite of that, the economy is moving. and development is going on. drugs are available, which has been imported. sugar is available. but prices are expensive, the cost of living is high. and there is a problem that needs to be addressed. and you have given your gash tee that the issue of corruption at high levels is not something which the government will tolerate. we can hold you to that? yes. the whole of the leadership is against corruption. all right, you have the message you have given very much indeed, foreign ministers that sudan is turning a corner, using the lifting of the us sanctions to be readmitted fully into the international community.
i have to ask you then, why was it that the president when he went on a visit in november to moscow, you were with him, and he obviously held talks with president putin and what he said, he described us aggressive acts and asked for russia's protection against these acts, saying we believe the problems with the region are facing have been caused by us interference? he was referring to areas like syria, iraq, afghanistan and others. no—one can deny the role of the us in those countries. but protection from the us, the president was referring to a particular incident. in the us security council at a time, less than eight mondays ago, the us and other stakeholders within the un security council tried to pass through the un security council a resolution that prevents sudan from exporting its gold and a at that time
they called it bloody gold. russia and china and egypt at that time stood against that. it was not possible to go through and get the resolution. and the president was referring with president putin on russia's support within the security council. he was referring to russia... just that specific act. there was more to the conversation saying there might be a military base, russia could build a military base on sudan's red sea coast, that a lot of observers said, this sounds like a bit of a snub to washington and sudan cosying up to russia, at the very time that america has lifted the sanctions and you're looking forward to closer ties with washington? no, we don't tie our relations with any country or another one. we are looking for excellent relations with russia. why we are waiting to have excellent relations with... not a snub to washington then? not at all. that will never happen. otherwise we shouldn't have been to talk to the americans for more than two—and—a—half years in order
to get the sanctions lifted and we started a new chapter for the second, on the second phase. but you've still got the fact that sudan is on the list of us, on the us list of states that sponsor terrorism. informed speculation in well regarded circles says that america would not remove sudan from this list until president bashir departs the scene? this is not true. 0h unless, if they don't want to co—operation on counter—terrorism. the director of the cia on 15th june last year, declared publicly in the international media that sudan is one of the most countries that are supporting the us in counter—terrorism, and sudan is not supporting any kind of terror against the us or other countries. when will you be removed from the list? we are agreed on a plan that we will continue for the whole of the year, because it requires the president's decision,
the congress decision and then back to the president. it's a process. this is why we are discussing our relation with the us at that time with dr rice and state secretaryjohn kerry. that is the previous administration? the previous administration. they said that time is not enough... all right it will happen ina yearorso. this is howjohn sullivan's visit was concerned. another elephant in the room is the fact that president bashir has got two arrest warrants issued by the international criminal court related to allegations of human rights abuses to do with darfur. he's been in power since 1989 — time for him to call it a day, don't you think? you know, this is a decision of the people and people in the west shouldn't ask us to follow them in democracy on everything. and there are other leader ins the world whose leaders and there are other leader in the world whose leaders are still there because
their people want them. sudan, as you know, had two popular revelations since 64 and 85. sudan proceeded the arab spring in overthrowing government... he will stand again in 2020? i don't know, this is the decision of the people. will he stand ? he said he will not stand. i am not sure what will happen. now we are more than two—and—a—half years away, some people want him to stand. a majority are talking about that. what would you like to see? you know, it is very difficult to say. but president bashir has been leading sudan excellently. he saved sudan from different problems. sudan has been targeted from different countries of the region, through proxy by the us. foreign minister, ibrahim ghandour, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk. thank you. monday morning starts off on a chilly note. there will certainly be more frost in rural spots with mist and fog. high pressure building in from the south and that keeps the weather pretty quiet during the day on monday. the mist and fog across parts of the north—west of england and down to the midlands should slowly clear.
then lots of dry and bright weather, a bit more cloud across the far north and north—west of scotland with some showers. temperatures range from a chilly four degrees in the east to eight or nine further west. monday evening, once the sun goes down, mist and fog forming quite widely, especially across central, southern and eastern parts of england, where there could be dense patches of freezing fog temperatures here dipping below freezing even in the towns and cities. some of that fog across central, southern and eastern parts of the country could be problematic, causing disruption to travel first thing on tuesday morning. a cloudy, grey day on tuesday but we will see a return to brighter conditions from the north during wednesday. bye— bye. this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top story. south africa's governing african national congress is voting to choose a new leader — we'll have the latest, live from johannesburg. myanmar‘s leaders could face genocide charges over
the persecution of rohingya muslims. we have an exclusive interview with the un's high commissioner for human rights. austria's controversial coalition government — including members of the far—right freedom party — will be sworn in later today. and in business what is the outlook for the south african economy as its ruling party scrabbles to find a new leader. we get the view of a leading economist and as president zuma calls for a new era i'll be listening.