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Protest leaders to reveal civilian ruling body in Sudan

This press conference at 7:00 pm on Sunday will announce the names of a civilian council,

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Sudanese protesters rally outside the army complex in Sudan's capital Khartoum on April 18, 2019. - Huge crowds of protesters thronged the Sudanese capital Khartoum today, a week after the army's ouster of president Omar al-Bashir, determined to complete their revolution seeking civilian rule. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

Protest leaders Friday announced plans to unveil a civilian body to take over from Sudan’s ruling military council as crowds of demonstrators kept up the pressure outside army headquarters and Washington said it will send an envoy to encourage the transition.

The military council, which took power after ousting Sudan’s longtime leader Omar al-Bashir on April 11, has so far resisted calls from protesters to quickly make way for a civilian adminstration.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the protests, said in a statement that the civilian council members would be named at a news conference at 1700 GMT on Sunday outside the army complex to which foreign diplomats are also invited.

“We are demanding that this civilian council, which will have representatives of the army, replace the military council,” Ahmed al-Rabia, a leader of the umbrella group of unions for doctors, engineers and teachers, told AFP.

Four months after anti-regime protests started, access roads were packed on Friday with crowds flocking to huge square outside army headquarters.

Activists mobilised demonstrators through social media to keep up the pressure for replacing the military council, now led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“Power to civilians, power to civilians,” protesters chanted through Thursday night.

“I won’t leave until Burhan transfers power to a civilian government,” said Wali Aldeen, who has camped outside the complex since the day Bashir was ousted.

Activists have called for large crowds to gather after weekly Muslim prayers, as on previous Fridays.

‘Military out of centre-stage’

Protests first broke out on December 19 in response to the tripling of bread prices, swiftly turning into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s three-decade rule.

After his ouster, protesters demonstrated against General Awad Ibn Ouf who took over as the first head of the military council, insisting he was a tool of the old regime.

Ibn Ouf stepped down in less than 24 hours and was replaced by Burhan, who so far has appeased protesters by lifting a night-time curfew and vowing to “uproot” Bashir’s circle.

The United States on Thursday praised orders by Sudan’s new military leader to free political prisoners and end the curfew as it dispatched Makila James, a deputy assistant secretary of state, on a mission to Khartoum this weekend.

The United States will “calibrate our policies based on our assessment of events”, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, adding however that talks on delisting Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism remained suspended.

“We are encouraged by the decision to release political prisoners and cancel the curfew in Khartoum,” Ortagus said in a statement.

She said that the United States wanted the military council and other armed units to “show restraint, avoid conflict and remain committed to the protection of the Sudanese people.”

“The will of the Sudanese people is clear: it is time to move toward a transitional government that is inclusive and respectful of human rights and the rule of law,” she said.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington’s short-term goal was to “get the military folks out of centre-stage” and “back to being responsible for security, nothing else.”

“Longer term is to make absolutely sure that whichever group is going to be responsible for the transition prepares a transition implementation that will lead to a truly democratic government that will reflect the will of the Sudanese people,” he said.

The official did not specify whom James would meet in Khartoum but said, “the US engages with everyone.”

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East Africa News & Stories

Court in Kenya convicts 3 over involvement in Garissa massacre

The Garissa massacre was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history

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Court in Kenya convicts 3 over Garissa massacre | News Central TV
Suspects Hassan Aden Hassan, Mohamed Ali Abdikar, Rashid Charles Mberesero and Sahal Diriye sit in the dock as they wait for the verdict where they were charged with helping those who carried out the attack on Garissa University in 2015; at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A Nairobi court on Wednesday found three men guilty of abetting Somali jihadists who carried out a 2015 attack on Garissa University in northeast Kenya in which 148 people were killed.

A fourth individual was acquitted, Judge Francis Andayi said, adding that sentencing will be handed down on July 3.

The April 2, 2015 attack was carried out by four gunmen from Al-Shabaab, a Somali jihadist group linked to Al-Qaeda.

Firing their weapons, they stormed the students’ hall of residence at dawn.  

They first separated the victims according to their religion, letting Muslims go but keeping and then killing the others, most of whom were Christians.

It was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

Andayi said the three — Kenyans Mohamed Ali Abikar, Hassan Aden Hassan and Rashid Charles Mberesero, a Tanzanian — “were members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group whose members carried out the attack”.

Prosecutors had proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that they were involved in a conspiracy for “committing a terrorist act,” he said.

A fourth person, Sahal Diriye Hussein, was acquitted. In January, the court also acquitted a university guard who was accused of taking pictures during the assault — an allegation for which no evidence had been produced, the judge found.

During the trial, prosecutors placed 22 witnesses on the stand, most of them student survivors.

They also showed evidence that the three had been in contact with the gunmen, especially by telephone.

Mberesero, the Tanzanian, had been also been seen on the university campus three days before the attack, and on the day of the attack itself had been found under a bed in the hall of residence and was unable to explain why he was there, prosecutors said.

The three convictions are the first to result from a long-running investigation and prosecution.

All four gunmen were killed by security forces. The operation’s suspected ringleader, Mohamed Mohamud, also named “Kuno,” a former professor at a Koranic school in Garissa, was killed in southwestern Somalia in 2016.

The Shabaab said he had been killed by “US crusaders”.

Ruthless jihadists –

The Shabaab were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM.

They nevertheless control vast rural areas and remain the key threat to peace in Somalia. 

The group is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu but also regularly carries out attacks in neighbouring Kenya, which has troops in Somalia as part of AMISOM.

In September 2013, the Shabaab claimed responsibility for a dramatic raid on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people over a four-day siege.

In June-July 2014 around 100 people were killed in raids in the coastal Lamu region in Kenya’s northeast, home of a once-popular tourist island.

In January 2016, the Shabaab overran a Kenyan army outpost at El-Adde in southern Somalia. Some estimates say that as many as 180 soldiers died.

And on January 15 this year, 21 people were killed and 28 injured when five Shabaab gunmen attacked the DusitD2 hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

The security response to Garissa was strongly criticised by many Kenyans. 

It took 16 hours for a special anti-terror unit to bring the attack to an end, their deployment slowed by a senior police officer who had commandeered the force’s plane for a family excursion.

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East Africa News & Stories

United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion.” -McCarter

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United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country
(File photo)

Kenyans who have been implicated in corruption will not be granted entry into the United States, Ambassador Kyle McCarter has announced.

Speaking in Nairobi on Saturday, McCarter also said that their children and kin will not be allowed to travel or study in the US.

While speaking during the Junior Achievement Organization 100 year’s celebration, McCarter said that it is quite unfortunate that top government officials went unpunished after embezzling billions of shillings, while ordinary Kenyans are jailed over petty offenses.

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion. We deal with thieves in a very brutal way, not even according to the law,” said McCarter.

“Somehow, we tolerate the theft of billions in Kenya. If we stop tolerating thievery, Kenya will be a shining star for democracy and prosperity in Africa.”

The ambassador further said that corruption prevents the country from achieving its development goals, including President Uhuru’s big four agenda.

“The cost of this is the same cost ironically as the Big Four. It could become a reality if we got rid of thievery.”

McCarter assured that Kenyan authorities had the full support of the US government in the fight against graft.

He also decried the high level of unemployment in the country and the slow growth of Kenya’s economy.

“We have a group of young people that are bitter and if we do not do anything, other people will employ them to harm,” McCarter added. 

US ambassador Kyle McCarter has been outspoken in his condemnation of what he has called “thievery”.

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North Africa

Turkey’s Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed

“Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene.” -Erdogan

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Turkey's Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed in court and later died, did not die of natural causes but that he was killed.

Erdogan, while giving a speech in Istanbul, cited as evidence that the deposed Egyptian president allegedly “flailed” in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody came to his assistance.

On Wednesday, the Turkish president said: “Unfortunately, Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene. Morsi did not (die) naturally, he was killed.”

Erdogan said his country would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi’s death. He also called on the Islamic Cooperation Organization to “take the necessary action” over the death of Morsi.

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