*The lobbying firm, whose previous clients include Mugabe and Gen Haftar, pledges to grant Sudan's military council diplomatic recognition through securing international funding, a meeting with Trump, and favourable media coverage
A Canadian lobbying firm has signed a $6mn deal to clean up the image of feared Sudanese military leader Hemedti and grant his provisional military council diplomatic recognition and international funding, according to the contract document published by the US.
The director of the firm, Ari Ben-Menashe, is a former Israeli intelligence operative whose firm has previously lobbied on behalf of former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, and Libyan warlord Gen Khalifa Haftar, The New Arab web portal has reported.
The contract was signed by Ben-Menashe and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, the deputy leader of Sudan’s military council.
Montreal-based Dickens & Madsen Inc. will use the millions to ensure Sudan’s military council attains “recognition as the legitimate transitionary leadership of the Republic of the Sudan,” by securing high-level meetings and funding from the US, Russia and others, the document reveals.
Sudanese protesters march in a mass demonstration against the country's ruling generals in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on June 30
The firm will also seek favourable media coverage of the military council, in Sudan and internationally.
“We shall [...] attempt to correct unfavorable international media coverage and current misconceptions concerning the Sudan and its government,” reads the contract.
Forces loyal to the military council are thought to be behind the massacre of over 128 peaceful pro-democracy protesters as part of a crackdown on the movement last month.
General Hamdan and his fellow military officers seized power in April, toppling Omar al-Bashir, following months of government protests. After promising to hand over power to civilian rulers, the generals have in June turned their guns on the people, killing more than 100 civilians in a night-time raid on a pro-democracy sit-in.
Hemedti controls the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary group connected to the Janjaweed militia, known for committing gruesome atrocities against rebels in Darfur.
In the contract, the lobbyists also pledged to source equipment and funding for the council’s security forces, in part through a deal exchanging funding for military help to renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), currently waging a brutal campaign against the UN approved government in Tripoli and to seize the Libyan capital.
By agreement, the firm will also seek meetings for the military council with US President Donald Trump, Middle Eastern leaders and Russian officials to bolster international ties and secure government funding.
In addition, the contract lists other commitments such as securing US investment to develop oil project in Sudan, as well as the integration of Sudan and South Sudan into a “Sudanese Union modeled after the European Union”.
The contract also promises push the interests of the Sudanese transitional military council in Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UN, the African Union and “any other mutually agreed upon country or countries,” according to the filings. In Russia, the company aims to arrange “private meetings . . . with senior Russian and other political figures” and to secure aid shipments of wheat, diesel and animal feed.
The lobbying contract was published under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires firms that lobby the US government on behalf of foreign organisations to disclose this relationship.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) say the RSF was responsible for the attack on a Khartoum sit-in on June 3, which saw over 100 peaceful protesters killed, many of whom were thrown into the River Nile.
HRW added that the RSF “is more powerful than ever before” having been promoted by the military leaders who took power in an April coup. The militias are now deployed in large numbers in the capital and across the country, using violence and intimidation against protesters.
Amnesty International said it is “deeply disturbing” that a Canadian lobbying firm has signed a $6-mn contract to promote the interests of the military regime that has imprisoned and killed protesters after seizing power in Sudan.
The human-rights group, in a letter to two cabinet ministers, is calling on the federal government to “investigate this contract closely” to find out whether it violates Canadian arms-control regulations or contributes to human-rights abuses in Sudan.
Meanwhile, Sudanese protest leaders have called for a one-day nationwide "civil disobedience" campaign on July 14, in an announcement on Monday a day after they organised mass protests against the ruling generals that rocked the country.
The move, which aims to increase pressure on the ruling generals to hand power to a civilian administration, will be preceded by mass protests on July 13, the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.