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Sudan denies report about UAE takeover of key port

Port workers have indicated they would strike in the event of a foreign takeover [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 April, 2020

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A report over the weekend claimed Sudanese authorities were in the process of handing over control of Port Sudan to a UAE firm.
Sudan has rejected a prominent report claiming that its transitional government is in the process of handing over its largest port to UAE-based ports giant DP World.

On Saturday, Al Jazeera cited unidentified Sudanese officials as saying Khartoum was in the process of handing over control of Port Sudan to the Emirati state-owned company.

Samy al-Sanea, an engineer with Sudan's national ports operator, also told Al Jazeera that Dubai-based DP World was attempting to take over the South Port Container Terminal in Port Sudan.

Saturday's report followed on from a January investigation by Al-Monitor stating that DP World had paid a US lobby firm $5 million to secure support for its bid for a 20-year concession for the terminal.

Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi denied the reports in a Sunday tweet.

"Port Sudan is an asset that belongs to the people of Sudan, which can only be dealt with through good governance, integrity and transparency," he said.

DP World had sought to operate the port under former dictator Omar al-Bashir. The UAE has also looked to control ports across the strategic Horn of Africa region.

Sudan struck a $2.4 billion deal for Port Sudan with a Phillipine port operator that was later scrapped after the Bashir's ousting in April last year.

Workers at the port had protested against the concession which would allow International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) to operate, manage and develop the terminal for 20 years.

Sudan's port workers will not allow a deal with DP World, Sanea told Al Jazeera.

"DP World is implementing a political agenda, not an economical one," he said.

Aboud al-Sherbini, head of the port workers' union, provided further indication that terminal workers could strike again in the event of a foreign takeover.

"We wholeheartedly refuse to sell an inch of our land to the UAE … We're ready [to oppose the sale]," he told Al Jazeera. "The square is what separates us from those who are ready to sell the nation."

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