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The dictator PR gloss: Canada lobbyists paid $6m to promote Sudan's ruling military Open in fullscreen

Florence Dixon

The dictator PR gloss: Canada lobbyists paid $6m to promote Sudan's ruling military

Ari Ben-Menashe runs Montreal lobbying firm Dickens & Madsen Inc. [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 June, 2019

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The lobbying firm, whose previous clients include Mugabe and Haftar, pledges to grant Sudan's military council diplomatic recognition through securing international funding, a meeting with Trump, and favourable media coverage.
A notorious Canadian lobbying firm has signed a deal worth 6 million USD in order 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.

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.

The firm will also seek favourable media coverage of the military council, in Sudan and internationally.

Read more: Who is Hemedti? The man behind the massacres

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 this month.

“We shall [...] attempt to correct unfavorable international media coverage and current misconceptions concerning the Sudan and its government,” reads the contract.

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 Khalifa Haftar.

The contract was signed by Ben-Menashe and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, the deputy leader of Sudan’s military council.

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.

Read more: After a trial run in Egypt, Arab despots come for Khartoum

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 Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), currently waging a brutal campaign 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 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 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 add 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.

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