West targeting Sudan for ouster from oil business: Bashir

Omar al-Bashir, North Sudan President, during an interaction in New Delhi on October 31, 2015. Photo: Sandeep Saxena   | Photo Credit: Sandeep_Saxena

India has stood by Sudan in “defying” the International Criminal Court’s warrant against him, Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir has said.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu at the conclusion of the third India-Africa Forum Summit, he said India had rejected the “legal colonialism” of western countries that “targeted Sudan” because they had been ousted from the oil business there. “India had always stood with Africa in the freedom struggle against colonial powers. [After independence] In Sudan, India conducted the first population census and even set up our election commission. So, India’s support has always been there, and on this issue [of the ICC warrant] too, India’s support is there,” he said, speaking in Arabic through a translator.

Lauding India for its stand, Mr. Bashir told The Hindu: “In Sudan, we managed to expel all western companies involved in oil extraction and replaced them with Chinese and Indian companies. This is why the West is targeting us through the ICC. The allegations are baseless, and India rejects them, too, as part of the colonial legacy of the past.”

India is the second biggest exporter to Sudan, accounting for 11 per cent of Sudan’s imports, behind China which accounts for 31 per cent. Although the bulk of the erstwhile Sudanese oil reserves has been transferred to South Sudan after its creation in 2011, Sudan has offered ONGC Videsh two blocks for exploration. Speaking of the “vast potential” in commercial ties between both countries, Mr. Bashir said he had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India should invest in “big projects” in Sudan. In particular, he said, BHEL’s 600-MW power plant, Sudan’s biggest, in Kosti, and an extension for 750 MW and possible cooperation in solar energy generation were discussed at the meeting.

Mr. Bashir spoke of India’s and Africa’s call for the United Nations reforms and the Security Council restructuring at the summit, which he termed a “success” that will represent a “big leap” in India-Africa ties. “There is general agreement on need for restructuring the U.N., and increasing the UNSC seats. Africa will be an important part of this process,” he told. The Delhi declaration contains a clause that “takes not” rather than “supports” India’s aspiration for a permanent seat on the Security Council. This has been termed a disappointment in New Delhi as the government had hoped for a clear voice of the African Union’s support for India, as the African Union with 54 countries represents the largest block in the U.N. with 193 member-states. Mr. Bashir denied there was any lack of support, however, saying: “Of course, we want India to have a permanent seat on the Security Council. But much will depend on how the restructuring of the U.N. takes place. The reformation that is needed is across the United Nations, across all bodies.” He said Africa demanded two seats on the Security Council, which India, as a part of the G-4, has supported.

Pharma pricing

On the other contentious issue of pharma pricing, Mr. Bashir said Africa counted on India to help keep the prices of much-needed generic drugs low. At present, Indian companies like Cipla provide low-cost generic drugs to Africa, accounting for 80 per cent of anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. In recent months, health activists have been warning about India-U.S. trade negotiations resulting in India cutting down its supply of low-cost drugs or raising their cost. Mr. Bashir said he had been reassured by India that it would not compromise on its “good relations” with Africa. Repeating his accusations of “western colonialism,” Mr. Bashir said: “Whatever India’s relations with the U.S. are, I have no doubt they will continue to help the people of Africa as there are benefits to both of us in keeping these partnerships.”

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 3:12:11 AM |

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