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Bashir backers stage Sudan rally as rival demo planned

Crowds gathered today in Khartoum in a show of support for the embattled regime of President Omar al-Bashir

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Photo: AFP

Crowds gathered Wednesday in Sudan’s capital in a show of support for the embattled regime of President Omar al-Bashir following several weeks of deadly anti-government protests.

The rally by hundreds of backers of Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup, came as rival protesters prepared to stage their own demonstration in Khartoum.

Hundreds of riot policemen, soldiers and security agents, some carrying machine guns, were deployed around the site of the pro-Bashir rally in the Green Yard, a large open ground in the city, an AFP correspondent reported.

Men, women and children carrying banners supporting Bashir arrived in buses, he said.

Since December angry protesters have taken to the streets after a government decision to triple the price of bread at a time when the country has been hit by an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation of 70 percent.

Supporters of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir shout slogans as they gather during a rally for him in the Green Square in the capital Khartoum on January 9, 2019. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Protests that initially broke out in towns and villages before spreading to Khartoum quickly turned into anti-government rallies, with analysts describing them as the biggest threat yet to Bashir’s regime.

Authorities say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed during the demonstrations, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

Bashir has blamed the violence on conspirators without naming them.

“Those who conspired against us and planted traitors amongst us are those who carried out arson attacks and caused damage,”

the official SUNA news agency quoted Bashir telling soldiers at a military base on Tuesday near the town of Atbara where the first protest broke out on December 19.

In the initial protests several buildings of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) were torched.

“Some people are saying that the army is taking power,” Bashir said, slamming some political groups who previously were with the government but have now called for his resignation.

“I have no problem with that, because the army always guards the security of our homeland,” he said without offering further details.

More than 800 protesters have been arrested since the unrest began, officials say, insisting that the situation has now stabilised.

Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis in the past year, with food and fuel shortages regularly reported across several cities, including Khartoum.

Later on Wednesday, organisers of anti-government protests have called for a new demonstration in Khartoum.

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East Africa Politics News & Stories

Bashir to face corruption charges in court next week

The prosecutor general said that Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during those anti-regime demonstrations

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Ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir will appear in court next week to face charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency, the country’s acting prosecutor general told reporters on Saturday.

The announcement came more than two months after the military overthrew Bashir on April 11 following months of nationwide protests against his 30-year iron-fisted rule.

Bashir “will appear in court next week following charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency,” Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said, without specifying the day.

He added that the investigation launched against Bashir for the charges had been completed.

On Thursday, an unnamed Sudanese official was quoted by the official SUNA news agency as saying Bashir was facing charges including “possessing foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth and ordering (the state of) emergency”.

In April, Sudan’s army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that more than $113 million worth of cash in three currencies had been seized from Bashir’s residence.

He said a team of police, army and security agents found seven million euros, $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds. 

Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. 

Sudan suffered high rates of corruption during his rule, ranking 172 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Last month, Ahmed ordered Bashir questioned over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

In an effort to quell protests that erupted against his rule in December, Bashir imposed a nationwide state of emergency on February 22.

In May, the prosecutor general said that Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during those anti-regime demonstrations, which eventually led to his ouster.

Ahmed also said on Saturday that 41 other charges against “symbols of the ousted regime” were under investigation. 

He did not name the others accused but said most of the charges were related to the “possession of land”.

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North Africa Politics

Opposition leader in Sudan calls for investigation into crackdown

The protest movement has also called for an international probe, something rejected by the military council

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Opposition leader in Sudan calls for investigation into crackdown

Sudan’s veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi called on Friday for an “objective” international investigation into last week’s deadly crackdown on protesters, after the ruling military council rejected such a probe.

Mahdi’s call was backed by top US envoy Tibor Nagy, who urged an “independent and credible” investigation into the June 3 killings.

Thousands of protesters who had camped outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum for weeks were dispersed in an operation which left dozens dead.

The crackdown followed the collapse of talks between protest leaders and generals, following the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir.

The generals had repeatedly pledged they would not disperse the sit-in, but on Thursday admitted that “mistakes” had been made.

Mahdi, speaking after attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, condemned the operation.

“The protest’s dispersal was wrong. There should be an independent international investigation into it,” he told AFP. 

“It’s important that the probe is objective and not biased in favour of the authorities.”

Mahdi’s elected government was toppled in a 1989 coup led by Bashir, who then ruled for three decades before being ousted in April following mass protests.

‘Independent and credible’

Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, also called for an investigation.

“The USA believe very strongly there has to be an investigation which is independent and credible which will hold accountable those committing the egregious events,” he said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, after a two-day visit to Khartoum.

Along with the newly-appointed US special envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth, Nagy met with military council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Thursday.

The June 3 crackdown left about 120 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to doctors linked to protesters, while the health ministry put the death toll at 61.

The protest movement has also called for an international probe, something rejected by the military council.

“We do not accept an international investigating committee. We are a sovereign state,” council spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters late Thursday.

Expressing “regret” over the crackdown, Kabbashi said the plan had been to clear an area close to the sit-in — but “excesses happened”.

He said the military is carrying out its own inquiry, whose findings are to be released on Saturday.

‘Harsh and unacceptable’

On Friday, worshippers at the mosque linked to Mahdi’s National Umma Party appeared frustrated with the generals’ version of the crackdown.

“The way the sit-in was dispersed was harsh and unacceptable,” said Salim Gebril, a university professor and member of the National Umma Party. 

“They (the military rulers) keep saying they are looking forward to reaching an agreement (with the protest leaders) but their tone sounded as if they may take another route.”

Another worshipper, Abdelrahman Amir al-Tom, found the military council’s statement to be “extremely disappointing”. 

Protest leaders and generals have now agreed to resume talks after mediation led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mahdi believes the mediation “may have a positive impact,” and may help both sides overcome the differences.

“In the end, the military council cannot rule, that is clear, and civilian forces cannot talk about a future without the participation of the military council,” the former premier said.

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Africa News & Updates

Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi

According to Sisi, Egypt is supporting “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives.”

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Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi | News Central TV
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said yesterday, that Egypt will always support the Libyan troops loyal to the General Khalifa Haftar.

Following his meeting with the Libyan parliament speaker Aqilah Saleh in Cairo the Egyptian capital, Sisi said, “Egypt’s position on supporting the Libyan National Army in its campaign to eliminate terrorist groups across Libya will never change.”

Saleh is currently on an indefinite visit to Cairo where he is holding meetings with Egyptian officials.

Sisi noted that his country was supporting what he described as “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives,” stressing that the will of Libyans “must be respected.”

During a meeting in Tunisia on Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia called for “an immediate ceasefire,” adding that there was “no military solution to the crisis in Libya.”

In April, Haftar forces launched a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar’s campaign has, thus far, failed to achieve its primary objective, even after several weeks of fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli. Nevertheless, Haftar’s forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

Libya has witnessed serious political unrest since 2011 when long-time leader, Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Two rival seats of power have since emerged in the country, the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition, and the other one on the eastern part of the country, which is affiliated to Haftar.

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