, KHARTOUM, September 10 – Sudan on Wednesday announced the completion of a China-funded presidential palace to replace the colonial era offices where British General Charles Gordon died in a battle that defined Sudanese history.
The new three-storey domed palace has been built with a grant from Beijing, the official SUNA news agency reported without specifying the amount.
SUNA said the project confirms “the strong relations between Khartoum and Beijing”, whose ambassador Luo Xiaoguang attended a signing ceremony with Sudanese officials to confirm completion of the project.
The heavy looking, grey brown stone of the new palace contrasts with the whitewashed old palace that recalls Britain’s colonial past.
Both buildings are near each other along the Blue Nile River.
President Omar al Bashir has his offices at the palace, which was originally built in the early 19th century during Turco Egyptian rule.
A plaque inside the old palace marks the spot where General Gordon was killed in 1885 by the forces of a messianic Islamic reformer called “the Mahdi”.
From 1877-79, Gordon was governor of Sudan under the Turco Egyptian administration.
After the British occupied Egypt in 1882 and the Sudanese Mahdist revolt intensified, Britain again dispatched Gordon to Khartoum.
Despite his efforts to defend it, the garrison was destroyed and the Mahdi’s conquest ushered in a period of Islamist rule.
SUNA said construction of the new palace began in 2010. It will be inaugurated on January 1, the country’s independence day.
Emad Sayed Ahmed, the presidential press secretary, told AFP that the government has outgrown the existing palace.
However, official ceremonies will still be held in the historic building even after the administration moves to the new palace, Ahmed said.
He had no details about the cost but said the new palace “reflects Sudan and Sudanese culture.”
The Chinese embassy spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
China, a major trading partner and investor in Sudan, has also built a riverfront convention facility in Khartoum as well as infrastructure including roads and bridges.