Connect with us

North Africa

‘State of terror’ reigns in Khartoum, residents fear for post-massacre tensions

Apart from an alarming presence of military forces in Khartoum, internet blackouts continued to beset the city.

News Central

Published

on

'State of terror' reigns in Khartoum, residents fear for post-massacre tensions
Members of Sudan's security forces patrol the town of Omdurman, just across the Nile from the capital Khartoum. (Photo by - / AFP)

Heavily armed paramilitaries roamed the Sudanese capital Thursday, forcing fearful residents to hide indoors after a crackdown on protesters that authorities admitted had left dozens dead and prompted the African Union to suspend Khartoum.

Members of the Rapid Support Forces, who rights groups say have their origins in the Janjaweed militias of Darfur, deployed on the streets in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and rocket launchers, witnesses said.

“We’re living in a state of terror because of sporadic gunfire,” a resident of south Khartoum told reporters.

He said he was “afraid for (his) children to go out in the street”.


This map of Khartoum shows the areas in the capital city of Sudan, where dozens have been killed so far during a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by special forces attached to the country’s military.

As international condemnation mounted, a health ministry official told reporters that “the death toll across the country had risen to 61,” including 52 killed by “live ammunition” in Khartoum.

But it denied doctors’ claims that more than 100 people had been killed in the crackdown on protesters that began with a raid on a long-running sit-in outside the army headquarters on Monday.

The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108.

The committee, which is part of the protest movement and relies on medics on the ground for its information, warned the figure could rise.

The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule, but thousands of demonstrators had remained camped out in front of the army headquarters calling for the generals to cede power to civilians.

Despite several initial breakthroughs, talks between the ruling military council that took power after Bashir’s ouster and protest leaders collapsed over who should head a new governing body.

‘Feeling of terror’ –

Some life had returned to the streets of the capital on Thursday, with limited public transport operating and only a few cars on the roads.

A small number of shops and restaurants were open on the second day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

But in Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, a resident said there was a “feeling of terror” about “many military vehicles with all these weapons”. 

Members of Sudan’s security forces patrol as Muslim worshippers attend Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Omdurman, just across the Nile from the capital Khartoum. (Photo by – / AFP)

“We hope that this situation will end quickly so normal life resumes,” he told reporters.

At Khartoum’s airport, relatives of travellers stayed late into the night waiting to see if their flights would arrive, following a slew of cancellations over the past few days.

Internet blackouts continued to beset the city.

The African Union suspended Sudan, “until the effective establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis”, it said on Twitter.

The AU had urged the ruling generals to ensure a smooth transition of power, but the brutal crackdown to disperse protesters saw pressure mount on it to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

The European Union said it joined the AU in calling for “an immediate end to violence and a credible enquiry into the criminal events of the last days”.

France called for the “resumption of dialogue” between the military committee and the opposition so that an “inclusive agreement is quickly found”.

‘Extreme caution’ –

The United Nations and the British embassy announced they were pulling non-essential staff and their families from Sudan, and the United States warned its citizens to exercise “extreme caution” amid the ongoing uncertainty.

Despite the heavy presence of security forces on Khartoum’s main streets, the groups that spearheaded the demonstrations against Bashir made a fresh call on Thursday for civil disobedience.

“The revolution continues and our people are victorious despite the terrorism and violence of the militias,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that initially launched the anti-Bashir campaign, posted on Twitter.

It urged an “indefinite strike and civil disobedience,” warning against calls for violence.

In the northern suburb of Bahri, smaller roads were blocked by protesters putting up makeshift barricades made from rocks, bricks and tree trunks.

The protesters blamed the bloody crackdown on the “militias” of the military council.

The Rapid Support Forces have been singled out by protesters.

Some residents seemed wary of the heavy deployment of paramilitaries in the streets of the capital.

RSF commander, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as “Himediti,” said he was on the side of the “revolutionaries” but warned he would not “allow chaos,” referring specifically to the barricades put up in some neighbourhoods.

The ruling Military Council issued a statement hitting out at the “campaign organised on social media aimed at spreading lies and fabricating accusations”.

It said the RSF “refused to carry out the orders of the former regime to expel demonstrators from the sit-in by force”.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Africa News & Updates

Morsi gains popularity after death, supporters confer martyr status

Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”.

News Central

Published

on

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
A portrait of former President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi as people attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

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.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
People attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 19, 2019. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

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.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

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.

Radicalisation –

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.

Continue Reading

North Africa

Algeria’s army chief describes military opponents as ‘enemies of Algeria’

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Published

on

Algeria's army chief describes military opponents as 'enemies of Algeria'
Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah, chief of Staff of the Algerian Armed Forces and Vice-minister of Defence. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Algeria’s Military chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, has regarded those who oppose the military as enemies of the country, as the country’s protest movement persistently demand the removal of the ruling elite that has been in power for years.

“Those who are knowingly trying to circumvent… terms of the constitution, do they realise what it means to suppress all state institutions?” he asked in a speech.

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Related: Students in Algeria protest against army chief

“It is unthinkable to proceed in the name of the people with the destruction of the achievements of the Algerian people, that is to say… the constitution.’’

Demonstrations similar to the ones that led to the removal of Bouteflika have carried on, with protesters demanding an end to the current regime and the establishment of independent institutions.

An election which was previously planned for July 4 was later postponed by authorities, without a new date being announced.

Related: Presidential elections cannot hold July 4, Algeria’s constitutional council says

On Monday, Algeria’s top businessman Ali Haddad, who was a key supporter of Bouteflika, was jailed for six months for possessing two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

Last week, two former prime ministers were detained by a judge.

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

The judiciary must “bring to justice all the corrupt regardless of their function or their social rank”, Gaid Salah said.

“The fight against corruption knows no limit and no exception will be made to anyone… it’s time to clean up our country,” he added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Newsletter

Trending