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Protests continue in Sudan with demands of ‘immediate’ civilian rule

Tens of thousands of people have massed non-stop outside the army headquarters since April 6

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Sudan
Sudanese demonstrators gather near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum

Sudanese protesters on Sunday demanded the country’s military rulers “immediately” hand power over to a civilian government that should then bring ousted leader Omar al-Bashir to justice.

Thousands remained encamped outside Khartoum’s army headquarters to keep up pressure on a military council that took power after ousting Bashir on Thursday.

The organisation which spearheaded the protests against Bashir, the Sudanese Professionals Association, called on the council “to immediately transfer power to a civilian government”.

The SPA also demanded the next “transitional government and the armed forces bring Bashir and all the chiefs of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)… to justice”.

“The Sudanese Professionals Association calls on its supporters to continue with the sit-in until the revolution achieves its demands,” it added.

The military council later held a press conference at which its spokesman did not respond to the protesters’ latest demands. Instead it announced the appointment of a new intelligence chief.

Earlier the military council met with political parties and urged them to agree on an “independent figure” to be prime minister, an AFP correspondent present at the meeting said.

“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice and democracy,” a council member, Lieutenant General Yasser al-Ata, told several political parties, urging them to agree on the figures to sit in civilian government.

The protesters have insisted civilian representatives must join the military council.

A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered their demands during talks with the council late Saturday, according to a statement by the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group spearheading the rallies.

The foreign ministry urged the international community to back the military council “to achieve the Sudanese goal of democratic transition”.

It said council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was “committed to having a complete civilian government and the role of the council will be to maintain the sovereignty of the country”.

Talks between protest leaders and Sudan’s new rulers were followed Sunday by a meeting between Washington’s top envoy to Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, and the military council’s deputy.

Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known as Himeidti, told Koutsis “about the measures taken by the military council to preserve the security and stability of the country,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

Himeidti is a field commander for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) counter-insurgency unit, which rights groups have accused of abuses in the war-torn Darfur region.

Burhan talks the talk

On Saturday, the military council’s new chief General Burhan vowed to dismantle Bashir’s regime, lifting a night-time curfew with immediate effect.

He also pledged that individuals implicated in killing protesters would face justice and that protesters detained under a state of emergency imposed by Bashir during his final weeks in power would be freed.

Burhan took the oath of office on Friday after his predecessor General Awad Ibn Ouf stepped down little more than 24 hours after Bashir’s ouster.

Tens of thousands of people have massed non-stop outside the army headquarters since April 6, initially to urge the military to back their demand that Bashir be removed.

Burhan comes with less baggage from Bashir’s deeply unpopular rule than Ibn Ouf, a former defence minister and long-time close aide of the deposed president.

But while celebrating the fall of both men in quick succession, protesters remain cautious.

Protest leaders say their demands include restructuring the country’s feared NISS agency, whose chief Salih Ghosh resigned on Saturday.

On Sunday night, the council announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Abu Baker Mustafa as the new head of NISS in a televised announcement in which it also announced the sacking of Khartoum’s envoy to Washington.

Gulf states voice support

The newly formed 10-member transitional council contains several faces from Bashir’s regime.

On Saturday evening, the new military ruler named NISS deputy head Jalaluddin Sheikh to the council, with Himeidti as its deputy head.

“Himeidti was part of the crimes that happened previously, but at least now he is on the side of the people,” said Mohamed, a protester outside the army headquarters who gave only his first name for security reasons.

Key regional power-brokers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have voiced support for the transitional council.

Burhan’s nomination “reflects the ambitions of the brotherly people of Sudan for security, stability and development”, UAE state news agency WAM said.

Saudi Arabia has promised an aid package, the Saudi Press Agency reported Saturday.

Sudan is part of a UAE and Saudi-led military coalition fighting Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.

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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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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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