ANALYSIS – Guaido has little to show for his first 100 days

            By Santiago Pena Aranza</p>  <p>  <p>BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - One hundred days is enough time to evaluate a new government and see whether it has delivered on its promises.</p>    <p>On Wednesday, Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido completes 100 days “in charge” in a mandate that seems more like an attempt to topple President Nicolas Maduro than to effectively rule the country.</p>  <p>  <p>Guaido has stood out more for his promises of change within Venezuela than for his actual management abilities as a head of state.

  • First 100 days

Guaido, a virtual unknown in Venezuelan politics, declared himself interim president on Jan. 23 and won support from major powers including the U.S. as well as the Lima Group of countries, making it clear that it was part of a supported strategy to oust Maduro.

While Plan A was to call on the international community to delegitimize Maduro’s rule and pressure the military to rebel against him, Plan B was a U.S.-led military intervention. But the latter was just a bluff.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since January, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president” based on Article 231 of the Constitution. However, he did not call for elections 30 days after the move as the law demands because no institution recognized him as the country’s leader except the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

As a result, he was forced to create an international campaign to send trucks to Venezuela with “humanitarian aid” on Feb. 22 in the hope that it would create a “people’s power” movement of opposition supporters that would prompt the military to switch sides and bring down Maduro, something that never happened.

Maduro mocked Guaido for being a "virtual president" without officers, and Guaido responded by designating top executives for Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA and its U.S. subsidiary Citgo who would work from abroad, as well as his representatives which he called "ambassadors" in the Organization of American States and in countries that recognized him. However, he has not appointed a ministerial cabinet.

Until now, Guaido’s work has been more effective inside the National Assembly, the only place where he was democratically elected.

– Lopez released

On April 30, only a few days before the first 100 days of his self-proclaimed mandate, Guaido made his second political move: he appeared at La Carlota Military Base in Caracas along with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

In 2015 Lopez was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his involvement in the violence that broke out the previous year during demonstrations against Maduro. He had been under house arrest since the summer of 2017 but escaped with Guaido’s help.

Lopez’s release was possible only through the betrayal of a group of soldiers and showed that the former leader of the Popular Will Party is also one of the key players backed by the U.S. government.

This high-profile political move could not occur without Washington’s approval and without consulting with the countries of the Lima Group.

Guaido reiterated — again without success — his call to the army to stop supporting the Maduro government. He managed to muster the enthusiasm of opponents of the government, who took to the streets, but not in the expected numbers.

– Persecution war

While the Maduro government has suffered international sanctions and sabotage by the U.S. and other countries that want him out of power, Guaido and his close associates have also been sanctioned by the Venezuelan government.

Venezuela’s attorney general froze Guaido’s bank accounts and forbade him from leaving the country, a restriction he hasn’t accomplished. The state comptroller also disqualified him politically for 15 years with the argument that his trips abroad were not authorized by the National Assembly and there were inconsistencies between his income and "exaggerated expenses".

The National Constituent Assembly removed his parliamentary immunity following a decision of the Supreme Court of Justice, which leaves him without protection before a possible arrest.

His close circle has also been targeted. For example, Roberto Marrero, one of his collaborators, was imprisoned and accused of terrorism.

Guaido has also been accused of treason, misappropriation of functions and undue appropriation of the nation's assets. Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab has said an arrest could come "in due time".

During his speech on Labour Day in front of thousands of followers, Maduro said those who were behind the attempted coup will go to prison "sooner or later" and that includes, of course, Juan Guaido.

However, Guaido’s arrest could be a double-edged sword for Chavismo because although the self-proclaimed president has done things that justify a prison term, it could radicalize the opposition even more, producing unpredictable results.

For now, while the first 100 days of the self-proclamation are being fulfilled, Guaido has proposed a staggered strike that would turn into a general strike while Maduro has called on social organizations, state governors and the congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to propose concrete ideas that will lead to an "improvement in people’s lives".

Meanwhile, the coup attempts will continue …

*The author is a political scientist at the National University of Colombia with a master's in theory and criticism of culture from Carlos III University of Madrid.

*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

*Jose Baez and Maria Paula Trivino contributed to this story

Three members of Sudan’s ruling council resign

            By Mohammed Amin</p>  <p>KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Sudan’s ruling Military Transitional Council (MTC) announced Wednesday that three of its members have resigned.</p>  <p>The council said in a statement that Lieutenant General Jalal al-Deen Al-Sheikh, Police Lieutenant General Al-Tayeb Babakr and Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abideen have stepped down from their posts.</p>  <p>The opposition has repeatedly called for their dismissal, describing them as representing the old regime of ousted President Omar al-Bashir in the new government.</p>  <p>The MTC and the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the umbrella organization of the opposition, have agreed to form a joint committee to discuss how to hand over power to a civilian authority.</p>  <p>At a press conference in Khartoum, MTC spokesman Shams al-Din Kabashi said the two sides have agreed on several issues while admitting there are areas of disagreement that would be discussed at a meeting of the joint committee.</p>  <p>Ahmed al-Rabia, spokesman for the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, told the press conference that the meeting between the MTC and his organization was constructive and the disputes would be addressed by the joint committee.

Sudan opposition rejects deadline for handover of power

            KHARTOUM (AA) - The Sudanese opposition on Wednesday rejected a proposal by the African Union (AU) to give Sudan’s ruling Military Transitional Council (MTC) a three-month deadline for handing over power to a civilian authority. </p>    <p>Opposition leaders rejected the proposal at a press conference attended by representatives of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the opposition National Consensus and Sudan Appeal parties, and several civil-society organizations.<br>

“We didn’t call on the army to assume power; we called on it to stand with the people,” opposition spokesman Omar al-Deqir told reporters.

At a Tuesday AU summit in Cairo, attendees floated the notion of giving the MTC a three-month deadline for relinquishing power to a civilian administration.

“The Cairo summit saw the AU’s earlier deadline for relinquishing power [to a civilian government] extended from 15 days to three months,” Bassam Radi, a spokesman for Egypt’s presidency, said in a statement.

According to Radi, summit attendees had agreed that a 15-day deadline was “insufficient”.

Egypt currently holds the AU’s rotating chairmanship.

On April 11, the Sudanese army announced the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir following months of popular protests against his 30-year rule.

Four days later, the AU’s Peace and Security Council gave Sudan’s new military rulers 15 days to hand over power to a civilian authority or have its membership in the pan-African body suspended.

Algeria opposition announces plan to boycott elections

                             By Abbas Maymouni </p>    <p>ALGIERS (AA) – Algerian opposition groups on Tuesday announced plans to boycott upcoming presidential polls scheduled for July 4.</p>    <p>In a joint statement, several leading opposition parties -- including the Development and Justice Party, Al-Nahda and Al-Benaa al-Watani -- described the upcoming polls as “an attempt by the illegitimate authority to replicate itself through false elections”.</p>    <p>“The holding of elections with the same legal and regulatory framework will lead to the assumption of power by the same authorities that the people are now demanding step down,” the statement read.</p>    <p>Last Friday, hundreds of thousands of people staged demonstrations across Algeria to demand the departure of all government officials affiliated with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.</p>    <p>Friday’s demonstrations came three days after Parliament Speaker Abdelkader Bensalah was sworn in as interim president vowing to hold “free and transparent” polls before the end of a 90-day transitional phase.

Sudanese opposition insists on civilian government

            By Adel Abdelrheem Humaida Elfadol, Hamdi Yildiz</p>  <p>KHARTOUM (AA) - Sudanese opposition groups linked to the “Declaration of Freedom and Change” demanded Saturday that power be handed to a civilian government.<br>

Protests and strikes will continue until that takes place, the umbrella organization said in a declaration.

The removal of Omar al-Bashir from the presidency, the resignation of Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf, who became head of the transitional military council, and the appointment of Abdel Fattah Burhan as the council’s new chief are far from satisfying the opposition.

The declaration stated that Ibn Auf’s resignation emerged “under pressure of the revolution” and protests would continue until the old regime is ousted.

Referring to Sudan’s Armed Forces, the declaration pointed out that “changing faces” would never be accepted and urged the army to guarantee the transfer of the country's administration to a transitional civilian government.

The declaration called for the arbitrary decisions to be canceled and figures affiliated with the former regime be tried in a fair manner.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, Nidaa al-Sudan, National Consensus Alliance and Unionist Gathering were among those that issued the declaration.

Ibn Auf, speaking as head of the transitional military council on April 11, said the army had gained control of the nation's administration and a two-year long transition period had begun.

He resigned from his post within a matter of hours, however, and announced Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan as his successor, who then assumed the position and was sworn in.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

Sudan: Despite curfew protests rage after Bashir ouster

By Omer Erdem

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Demanding a civilian transition government following the removal of Omar al-Bashir from office, thousands of Sudanese protesters took to the streets Thursday in the capital Khartoum despite a military-imposed curfew.

Protesters gathered mainly outside the army headquarters calling for the resignation of Awad ibn Auf, defense minister and the newly-appointed head of a military transitional body tasked with running the country for two years, as well as other senior officials linked with al-Bashir's ousted government.

Sudanese opposition parties and professional associations also voiced "total rejection" of the "military coup".

Protests were expected to continue Friday.

Ibn Auf was sworn in as the chairman of the Military Transitional Council, taking oath in a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Abdul Majid Idris which was broadcast live on state television.

Kamal Abdul-Marouf Al-Mahi, the chairman of the Joint Staff Command, was sworn in as deputy chairman of the council.

Ibn Auf announced a one-month curfew along with a three-month nationwide state of emergency as well as the suspension of Sudan’s 2005 Constitution and the dissolution of the Sudanese presidency, parliament, and council of ministers.

Al-Bashir came to power on the back of a 1989 military coup against the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

  • Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

Sudan opposition rejects ‘military coup’

            KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Sudanese opposition parties and trade unions on Thursday voiced their rejection of a &quot;military coup&quot; against President Omar al-Bashir amid reports that the latter was forced to step down by the army.<br>

“The country’s crisis won’t be solved by a military coup,” read a joint statement released by the Sudanese Professionals Association and three opposition coalitions (Sudan Appeal, National Consensus and the Democratic Unionist Rally).

“Al-Bashir's rule began in 1989 with a military coup, which has left domestic politics in a state of chronic crisis,” it added.

The statement goes on to assert that “the only solution to the current crisis is the handover of power to an agreed-upon civilian government”.

An ongoing sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum, it adds, “will continue until the revolution’s objectives are met”.

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Khartoum — and other Sudanese cities — to express their joy following reports of al-Bashir’s resignation after 30 years in power.

According to local media reports, al-Bashir is currently under house arrest while his bodyguards have been detained.

The Sudanese army, however, has yet to release an official announcement regarding the president's reported resignation.

  • Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg

Turkey: Opposition party favors new polls in Istanbul

             By Alp Ozden and Sinan Uslu</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - A do-over of recent mayoral elections in Istanbul is &quot;wiser&quot; than &quot;social confusion,&quot; said the leader of a Turkish opposition party on Tuesday.</p>  <p>&quot;Renewed elections are a requirement of democracy,&quot; Devlet Bahceli, the head of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), told reporters in the capital Ankara.</p>  <p>Bahceli, whose party formed an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the March 31 local elections, said new polls to &quot;ease the conscience&quot; could be considered for Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city.</p>  <p>Bahceli said that objections in the wake of elections are a &quot;democratic right,&quot; adding that they should be evaluated as soon as possible for the benefit of Turkey.</p>  <p>Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31 in local elections to choose mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials), and members of elder councils for the next five years.</p>  <p>According to unofficial results in the Istanbul mayoral race, before any recounts, Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), led with 48.79% of the vote, ahead of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's Binali Yildirim with 48.51%.</p>  <p>Contesting the results, the AK Party has asked for a recount, saying the recount might change the results.</p>  <p>* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

Assad regime never sought to regain Golan: Opposition

By Burak Karacaoglu and Esref Musa

IDLIB, Syria (AA) – The Syrian regime has never attempted to regain the occupied Golan Heights from Israel, an opposition spokesman said Sunday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Naji Mustafa, spokesman for the opposition National Liberation Front (NLF), said the Syrian regime has used the Golan Heights issue to "suppress any potential uprisings in the country".

"[Late President] Hafez Assad has sold the Golan Heights to Israel under a secret agreement," he claimed.

He said the current regime of Bashar Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez in ruling Syria, has never attempted to politically defend the Golan issue in international arenas.

"The regime did not want to regain the Golan at any time," Mustafa said. "Rather, it used the issue as a 'foreign threat' against its people."

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said it was time for the U.S. to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict. It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 — an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution opposing Israel’s continued occupation of the Golan Heights.

Sudan: Opposition bloc withdraws from road map

            By Mohammed Amin</p>  <p>KHARTOUM (AA) – Sudan’s largest opposition bloc decided Wednesday to withdraw from a road map agreement signed with the government in 2016, deeming it non-binding.</p>  <p>The decision by Nidaa al-Sudan, or Sudan’s Call, was part of the closing statement of a three-day meeting of its leaders in Paris.</p>  <p>The bloc, which includes rebel groups as well as a number of political parties, also announced that all of the armed movements will halt negotiations with the government.</p>  <p>According to its concluding statement, the meeting included discussion of the expansion of &quot;the revolutionary movement&quot;, the diversification of its tools and its expansion in an organized way through committees in cities, villages and neighborhoods to “resist the regime’s schemes to suppress it and its escalation until reaching the decisive action that brings the regime down”.</p>  <p>In August 2016, the bloc’s leaders signed a road map agreement in Addis Ababa which had already been signed by the Sudanese government in March of the same year.</p>  <p>The bloc’s meeting is the first of its kind to be held abroad since its leader and the leader of the National Umma Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi, returned to Sudan on Dec.19.</p>  <p>The bloc includes the armed movements the Sudan Liberation Movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. It also includes several political parties, most prominent of which are the National Umma Party and the Sudanese Congress Party.</p>  <p>Sudan has been rocked by popular protests for the last two months with demonstrators decrying President Omar al-Bashir’s seeming failure to remedy the country’s chronic economic woes.</p>  <p>A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of some three quarters of its oil output -- its main source of foreign currency -- since the 2011 secession of South Sudan.