Four people were killed in Sudan on Sunday as protesters launched a civil disobedience campaign against the military after a bloody crackdown on a sit-in demonstration calling for civilian rule.
The campaign got underway nearly a week after the assault on demonstrators at the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum, which followed talks breaking down between protest leaders and military rulers over who should lead a new governing body – a civilian or soldier.
Following the call for the campaign of civil disobedience, protesters set about building roadblocks in Khartoum while markets and shops were closed in several other towns and cities. A doctors committee linked to the demonstrators said two people were killed on Sunday in unrest that rocked Khartoum and two others in its twin city of Omdurman, just across the Nile river.
Dozens shot dead during the civil disobedience
The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors blamed forces of the ruling military council and paramilitary “militias” for the four deaths, which it said took the overall toll to 118 since the June 3 crackdown to disperse the sit-in. The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide in Monday’s crackdown, 49 of them by “live ammunition” in Khartoum.
In the capital’s northern Bahari district, people gathered tyres, tree trunks and rocks to build new roadblocks as the campaign began Sunday. “Almost all internal roads of Bahari have roadblocks. Protesters are even stopping residents from going to work,” a witness said.
But riot police swiftly moved in, firing gunshots in the air and tear gas at demonstrators before clearing the makeshift barriers, he said. The Sudanese Professionals Association, which first launched protests against longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in December, said the campaign of civil disobedience would continue until the military rulers transfer power to a civilian government.
In Bahari district, onlookers saw a police truck full of people in civilian clothing but it was not possible to confirm whether they were arrested demonstrators. “We blocked the streets to send a message to those trying to steal our revolution that they will fail,” said Emad Ibrahim, 25, a protester from Bahari.
“It is a long road ahead for us, but after the sacrifice made by our brothers who have been killed, we believe that we will achieve our goal.”
Empty streets during the civil disobedience
Several protesters said they faced difficulties but were still backing the campaign. “The roadblocks prevented me from reaching the market to buy vegetables,” said Hassan Abdelrahim, a vegetable vendor.
“This will impact my income, but when I look at these youngsters who are on the streets for six months, I’m not angry even if I lose my income.” Khartoum residents have mostly remained indoors since Monday when men in military fatigues raided the protest camp.
Several vehicles of the feared Rapid Support Forces, blamed by witnesses for the killings, were seen Sunday moving across some parts of the capital loaded with machineguns. RSF members were also seen surrounding the main electricity station.
Several airlines have scrapped their Sudan flights since the deadly raid and passengers were left waiting outside Khartoum airport’s departures terminal Sunday, although it was unclear whether any flights would take off.
The downtown business district was largely shut and buses were not running in several areas, but private vehicles were ferrying passengers in some locations. In Omdurman, many shops and markets remained closed but people were seen buying staples in some grocery stores.
“Troops were also seen removing roadblocks from some streets in Omdurman,” an onlooker said.
Markets, bakeries close due to civil disobedience
In the central city of Al-Obeid, the main market was shut and several bank employees did not report to work, residents said. In the town of Madani, southeast of the capital, people were seen queueing outside closed bakeries while the main market was also shut.
“I went to three bakeries and have been unable to buy bread,” a Madani resident told AFP by telephone, adding that protesters had built roadblocks on several streets making it difficult for vehicles to pass. It was the tripling of bread prices that first triggered protests against Bashir in December, which later turned into a nationwide movement against his iron-fisted rule.
After the president was ousted in April, demonstrators remained camped out for weeks in Khartoum to pressure the ruling generals into transferring power. After several rounds of negotiations between protest leaders and the military, talks broke down in mid-May.
Witnesses say the subsequent assault on the sit-in was led by the RSF, who have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed travelled to Sudan on Friday in a bid to revive negotiations, holding separate meetings with the two sides after which he called for a “quick” democratic transition.
Ethiopia plans ban on motorbikes in Addis Ababa to curb crime spree
“Exceptions will be made to those conducting licensed businesses with motorcycles.” -Addis Ababa Mayor
Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa plans to ban motorcycles in the city from July in a bid to curb a spree of muggings and robberies, local authorities said on Wednesday.
Addis Ababa mayor, Takele Uma said motorbikes had been used in recent crimes and the city would prohibit them from July 7 though people using bikes for business may be exempt.
“Exceptions will be made to those conducting licensed businesses with motorcycles as well as those who use motorcycles as postal carriers and motorcycles affiliated to embassies,” the mayor told reporters.
Addis Ababa, a city of an estimated five million, is generally considered safe for residents and foreigners. But a growing number of violent crimes involving suspects on motorbikes or in cars has caused recent alarms.
The mayor said the proposed ban came after a study of criminal activities in the city found a significant number were carried out using motorcycles.
Takele said the Addis Ababa municipal administration will also impose a ban on trips by most freight vehicles in the city during daytime to alleviate traffic congestion in the capital.
Two police officers killed in attack on police station in Niger
It is the closest attack to the city yet in a long-running insurgency by suspected jihadists.
Two policemen were killed late Tuesday when gunmen attacked a police station on the northern edge of the Niger capital Niamey, a security official said.
It is the closest attack to the city yet in a long-running insurgency by suspected jihadists.
“The toll is two dead and four wounded, two of them serious,” the security source said Wednesday.
“We heard gunfire coming from the station at 11:00 pm (22:00 GMT),” a witness told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The police station is at the northern entrance to the city, on the highway from Ouallam, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.
Police investigators were on the scene on Wednesday morning, a reporter saw.
Niger, a large state in the heart of the Sahel region, is grappling with attacks by jihadist groups in the west of the country, and raids by Boko Haram Islamists in the south, near the border with Nigeria.
Eighty-eight civilians were killed by Boko Haram in March alone, and more than 18,000 villagers forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.
On June 8, a US military vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device as it entered a firing range near Ouallam for a joint training exercise.
Niger hosts an estimated 800 US troops, the largest American deployment in Africa.
The scale of the US presence came to light in October 2018, when four US and five Nigerien troops were killed in an ambush by fighters affiliated to the so-called Islamic State group.
Security is tight in Niamey, with high-profile deployment of the military and police checkpoints on the highways into town.
The city is due to host a summit of the African Union (AU) on July 7 and 8.
Morsi gains popularity after death, supporters confer martyr status
Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”.
Unpopular in power and deposed after huge protests, Egypt’s ex-president Mohamed Morsi could be humanised in the eyes of many Egyptians after his death in court Monday.
“It is sad, from a strictly human point of view”, a trader in central Cairo said of the former head of state, who had been imprisoned since his 2013 fall from power, and was buried on Tuesday.
“He was old and ill. Whatever one thinks of the political situation, his death while the court was in-session shows that those who judged him were not good people”, the trader said, on condition of anonymity.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt and he was appealing a 2015 death sentence, making both the man and his organisation extremely sensitive topics in the country.
While Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”, Egyptian authorities appear keen to avoid a wave of empathy from citizens, who largely favoured the uprising that deposed him.
His rapid burial on Tuesday morning took place extremely discreetly and under heavy surveillance, while the public and the press were forbidden from attending.
‘Death symbolically important’ –
Morsi came to power in 2012 in elections that took place the year after a popular uprising that deposed president Hosni Mubarak, who had headed an authoritarian regime for three decades.
Spurred on by mass demonstrations against Morsi’s own rule, the army ousted him on July 3, 2013 and Egypt declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation”.
Ever since, the government has cracked down heavily on opponents, especially on members of the Islamist organisation.
The official narrative, regularly broadcast by Egyptian TV channels — which are all behind the regime — is that the Brotherhood are “terrorists” who harm the country’s interests.
Since Morsi’s death was announced, some channels have hosted “experts” denouncing the “violence” and “lies” perpetrated by the group.
On Tuesday morning, pro-government newspapers only briefly mentioned Morsi’s death, without referencing his status as a former president.
TV channels devoted most of their airtime to a visit by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — Morsi’s former defence minister, who ultimately toppled him before being elected head of state in 2014 — to Belarus.
“As a president, Mohamed Morsi was not very popular among Egyptians — in fact he was unpopular, he was seen as uncharismatic, indecisive, very unsteady,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
But “his death in a courtroom will humanise him in the eyes of many Egyptians” who do not support the Brotherhood, Gerges added.
While Morsi was not a great leader for the Brotherhood, “his death will be symbolically important” and could drive radical elements of the group to take up arms against the authorities, Gerges said.
Since its founding in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has faced numerous waves of repression by Egyptian governments, which have been dominated by the military since 1952.
Morsi’s death adds to a long list of what the Brotherhood call martyrs, including the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna, who was assassinated in 1949 by Egypt’s secret police.
Another key figure, Sayyed Qotb — one of the movement’s main ideologues and an inspiration behind its radicalism — was executed in August 1966 by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime, which fiercely repressed the Brotherhood.
But for Zack Gold, an analyst at the CNA research centre in the United States, it is “unlikely Morsi’s death will result in any immediate rise in the security threat to Egypt”.
Jihadist movements — sympathetic or not to the Brotherhood — are already very active in Egypt, particularly the Islamic State group in North Sinai, the Middle East security expert said.
Since 2013, hundreds of Egyptian soldiers, police and also civilians have been killed in attacks.
“In the long term, it would be concerning if the government pre-emptively arrested large numbers out of concern for street protests or other outbursts in the wake of Morsi’s death,” Gold said.
Conditions in Egypt’s prisons “have a track record of radicalising individuals”, he noted.
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