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Fresh clashes force Sudan army to suspend planned talks with protesters

The British ambassador to Khartoum said Sudanese security forces had fired at protesters.

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Fresh clashes force Sudan army to suspend planned talks with protesters
Sudanese protesters use barricades to block main roads as they gather to protest over killing of protestors in Khartoum, Sudan. Mahmoud Hjaj / Anadolu Agency

Sudan’s military rulers on Wednesday suspended crucial talks with protesters on installing civilian rule, insisting that negotiations will resume only after demonstrators remove roadblocks put up in parts of Khartoum, protest leaders said.

The suspension came after at least eight people were reported wounded by gunshots near a sit-in in the capital, shortly before decisive talks were to be held between the ruling military council and the protest leaders on a transitional governing body.

Army generals and protest leaders were expected to finalise the make-up of a new body to govern Sudan for three years, the thorniest issue in installing civilian rule.

But a spokesman for the umbella protest group, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, said the council had suspended the talks.

“They asked us to dismantle barricades in parts of the capital,” Rashid al-Sayid told reporters, referring to roadblocks put up by demonstrators on key roads in recent days that had angered the generals.

Another protest leader, Ahmed al-Rabie also confirmed the military council’s decision.

Just hours before the talks were due to start, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, wrote on Facebook that eight people had been wounded by live fire.

A witness told reporters that gunshots had been fired near the sit-in outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum.

The British ambassador to Khartoum said Sudanese security forces had fired at protesters.

“Extremely concerned by use of live ammunition by Sudanese security forces against protesters in Khartoum today, with reports of civilian casualties,” Irfan Siddiq wrote on Twitter.

“Military council must act to stop this now. No more excuses.”

Protest leaders responded by urging people to boost the numbers at the demonstration, while avoiding clashes.

Security forces were seen chasing protesters in downtown Khartoum and removing some roadblocks, a correspondent said.

The protest movement that brought down president Omar al-Bashir after 30 years of iron-fisted rule is demanding a civilian-led transition, which the generals have steadfastly resisted since bowing to their demands and toppling the autocrat.

A breakthrough came despite the talks being marred by violence that left six people dead on Monday at the sit-in. Protest leaders said it was sparked by security forces trying to remove barricades.

Call to support demonstrations –

After Wednesday’s shootings, another key group in the protest movement urged people to join the thousands of demonstrators at the site, some of whom have camped out round-the-clock for weeks.

“We call on everybody to join the sit-in immediately and support the protesters,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, a group of doctors, engineers and teachers, said in a statement.

But it called on people “to restrain themselves, be calm and peaceful and avoid any confrontation or clash with any group whatever the circumstances.”

The latest round of talks began on Monday and the two sides had agreed on an overall civilian structure, including a three-year transitional period for the full transfer of power to a civilian administration.

They had also agreed that parliament be composed of 300 members for the transition, with 67 per cent from the alliance and the rest drawn from other political groups.

The first six months of the transition would be devoted to reaching peace accords with rebels in war zones including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The United Arab Emirates, widely seen as backing the ruling generals, hailed the agreement on a transitional period.

It “puts Sudan on the road of stability and recovery after years of Bashir and (Muslim) Brotherhood’s dictatorship,” its minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted.

Transitional civilian government –

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have offered $3 billion in aid for Sudan.

The composition of the new sovereign council has been the toughest part of the negotiations, with the two sides so far proposing different compositions of the body which is expected to take all key decisions concerning national issues.

The generals want it to be military-led, while the protesters insist on a majority civilian body.

Before the suspension, General Yasser al-Atta, one of the members of the current ruling military council, had vowed to reach a deal by early Thursday that “meets the people’s aspirations”.

The new council is expected to form a transitional civilian government, which would then prepare for the first post-Bashir election after the three-year changeover period ends.

Protest leader, Yousef downplayed the role of the proposed ruling council, insisting Sudan would have a powerful cabinet.

“All powers will be in the cabinet’s hand, which will be formed by the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” he said.

The defence and interior ministries would be headed by military figures, he said.

Tensions have soared since Monday’s shootings, which the United States blamed on security forces.

Washington has consistently called on the military council to transfer power to civilians.

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North Africa

Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapse

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted.” -Judicial source

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Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapsing
Ousted (now late) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Ahmed Omar / Anadolu Agency

Former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a session in court, judicial and security sources said.

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.

The official Al-Ahram news website also reported the death of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising before the army toppled him in July 2013.

While he was president, Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that granted him unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts as a pre-emptive move against the expected dissolution of the second constituent assembly by the Mubarak-era judges.

The new constitution that was then hastily finalised by the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly, presented to the president, and scheduled for a referendum, before the Supreme Constitutional Court could rule on the constitutionality of the assembly, was described by independent press agencies not aligned with the regime as an “Islamist coup”.

This led to an uproar that contributed to his government being ousted by Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, the incumbent president.

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Africa News & Updates

Key Bouteflika ally, Ali Haddad jailed for six months in Algeria

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed

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Ali Haddad, pro-Bouteflika businessman and main funders of Bouteflika's electoral campaigns is seen in a car after arrested

A key backer of Algeria’s former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and one of the country’s top businessmen, Ali Haddad, was jailed for six months Monday for holding two passports, state television reported. Haddad was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia, in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down. He was found guilty of the “unjustified procurement of administrative documents” and also fined 50,000 dinars, state television reported.

Described by Forbes as one of Algeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire. The businessman had denied breaking the law and said he obtained his second passport legally after seeking an interview with the then prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

The ex-premier and Haddad are among many businessmen and former politicians caught up in a separate anti-corruption investigation launched since the president stepped down. Earlier this month Haddad’s lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, decried a “political trial” and told journalists the passport case had no legal basis.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 18 months term and a fine of 100,000 dinars requested by the prosecutor. Hassane Boualem, then director of titles and secure documents at the interior ministry, was given a two-month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 for issuing Haddad’s second passport in 2016.

He told the court he was following the orders of his superiors – interior ministry head Hocine Mazouz, Sellal and Algeria’s current premier Noureddine Bedoui – who were not investigated over the affair.

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North Africa

UNSMIL welcomes Al-Sarraj’s initiative to end conflict in Tripoli

UNSMIL also said it “offers its good offices to assist the country to emerge from its long state of transition towards a period of peace, stability and prosperity.”

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Fighters loyal to the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) open fire from their position

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has welcomed the initiative launched by Head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, to end the conflict which has lasted for two months in Tripoli.

In a statement released on Sunday the Mission said “UNSMIL welcomes the initiative, and any other initiative proposed by any of Libya’s major actors.”

UNSMIL also said it “offers its good offices to assist the country to emerge from its long state of transition towards a period of peace, stability and prosperity.”

On Sunday, Al-Sarraj unveiled a seven-point initiative “to resolve the Libyan crisis” during a speech in which he discussed the developments in the country considering what he called “the attack on Tripoli.”

He said the initiative includes “holding a Libyan national conference, in coordination with the UN mission in Libya, that gathers all the national powers and the people’s representatives from all parts of country.”

According to Al-Sarraj, part of what would be agreed upon during the conference includes a road map for the upcoming stage and the establishment of a constitutional base to hold the elections.

“The conference will also call upon the UN Security Council and the international community to support its outcomes,” Al-Sarraj added.

There have been clashes in Tripoli between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and militias of GNA after LNA launched a military operation in the capital on April 4. LNA’s operation aims to eliminate militias and terrorist groups that dominated the capital since 2011.

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