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Sudan Army forms transitional council as Bashir “resigns”

Bashir’s resignation remains unclear but reports say the new transitional council is to be led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf

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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir poses for a group photo with members of his new 20-member cabinet as they take oath at the presidential palace in the capital on March 14, 2019. President Bashir swore in a new cabinet on March 14 to tackle the country's economic crisis that has triggered demonstrations against his rule since December. The new cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohamed Tahir Eila is the third such government formed in less than two years, with the previous two sacked by Bashir for failing to revive the dilapidated economy. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP

Khartoum airport closed, regime officials being arrested

Sudan’s strongman president, Omar Al-Bashir has resigned and a transitional council formed by the army, Arab news networks are reporting.

Bashir’s  resignation remains unclear but reports say the new transitional council is to be led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, First Vice President and Defense Minister of Sudan.

Protesters had began jubilating, early Thursday, after state media reported that the army was set to make an “important announcement.” But the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has spearheaded the protests, said they will only accept the handover of power to a civilian transitional government and not one set up by the military. The group said it would reject any changes that do not meet the demands of the public.

“It has fallen, we won,” said protesters who gathered in front of the military headquarters as military vehicles were deployed on key roads and bridges in Khartoum, a Reuters report said.

Sudanese media have reported the closure of Khartoum airport and arrest of former and current officials including Bashir’s former Vice President, Ali Osman Taha and acting head of the National Congress Party Ahmed Haroun including some of Bashir’s personal guards.

“The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it,”

a state television anchor had said, without giving further details early Thursday. The announcement was later made following months of protests against the longtime leader. Thousands of Khartoum residents flooded the area around army headquarters where protesters have held an unprecedented sit-in now since Saturday.

Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling army headquarters complex, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defense ministry. There has been an often festive mood at the sit-in with protesters singing dancing to the tunes of revolutionary songs. Several military vehicles carrying troops entered the compound in the early hours of Thursday, witnesses said.

Witnesses also said many army vehicles carrying troops were deploying in the center of Khartoum early Thursday.

“We call on our people from across the Khartoum capital and the region around to immediately go to the sit-in area and not leave from there until our next statement is issued,” the SPA which has continued to spearhead the nationwide demonstrations said in a release while urging residents of the capital to mass outside army headquarters.

Al-Arabiya network in the United Arab Emirates reports that “Al-Bashir resigned his position with immediate effect.” It also reported that Bashir had wanted to flee the country Wednesday night but was prevented by the army.

Al-Bashir has been highly unpopular amongst western powers, and was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008 for alleged crimes stemming from the genocide in Darfur.

While he remained an unwelcomed political figure in the West, African leaders, however, largely stood behind him, dismissing the charges against him as a witch-hunt and refusing to hand him over for prosecution at The Hague.

He seized power in 1989 as a military general, and has served the longest since the country gained independence in 1956.

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East Africa Politics News & Stories

Bashir to face corruption charges in court next week

The prosecutor general said that Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during those anti-regime demonstrations

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Ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir will appear in court next week to face charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency, the country’s acting prosecutor general told reporters on Saturday.

The announcement came more than two months after the military overthrew Bashir on April 11 following months of nationwide protests against his 30-year iron-fisted rule.

Bashir “will appear in court next week following charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency,” Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said, without specifying the day.

He added that the investigation launched against Bashir for the charges had been completed.

On Thursday, an unnamed Sudanese official was quoted by the official SUNA news agency as saying Bashir was facing charges including “possessing foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth and ordering (the state of) emergency”.

In April, Sudan’s army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that more than $113 million worth of cash in three currencies had been seized from Bashir’s residence.

He said a team of police, army and security agents found seven million euros, $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds. 

Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. 

Sudan suffered high rates of corruption during his rule, ranking 172 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Last month, Ahmed ordered Bashir questioned over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

In an effort to quell protests that erupted against his rule in December, Bashir imposed a nationwide state of emergency on February 22.

In May, the prosecutor general said that Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during those anti-regime demonstrations, which eventually led to his ouster.

Ahmed also said on Saturday that 41 other charges against “symbols of the ousted regime” were under investigation. 

He did not name the others accused but said most of the charges were related to the “possession of land”.

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North Africa Politics

Opposition leader in Sudan calls for investigation into crackdown

The protest movement has also called for an international probe, something rejected by the military council

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Opposition leader in Sudan calls for investigation into crackdown

Sudan’s veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi called on Friday for an “objective” international investigation into last week’s deadly crackdown on protesters, after the ruling military council rejected such a probe.

Mahdi’s call was backed by top US envoy Tibor Nagy, who urged an “independent and credible” investigation into the June 3 killings.

Thousands of protesters who had camped outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum for weeks were dispersed in an operation which left dozens dead.

The crackdown followed the collapse of talks between protest leaders and generals, following the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir.

The generals had repeatedly pledged they would not disperse the sit-in, but on Thursday admitted that “mistakes” had been made.

Mahdi, speaking after attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, condemned the operation.

“The protest’s dispersal was wrong. There should be an independent international investigation into it,” he told AFP. 

“It’s important that the probe is objective and not biased in favour of the authorities.”

Mahdi’s elected government was toppled in a 1989 coup led by Bashir, who then ruled for three decades before being ousted in April following mass protests.

‘Independent and credible’

Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, also called for an investigation.

“The USA believe very strongly there has to be an investigation which is independent and credible which will hold accountable those committing the egregious events,” he said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, after a two-day visit to Khartoum.

Along with the newly-appointed US special envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth, Nagy met with military council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Thursday.

The June 3 crackdown left about 120 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to doctors linked to protesters, while the health ministry put the death toll at 61.

The protest movement has also called for an international probe, something rejected by the military council.

“We do not accept an international investigating committee. We are a sovereign state,” council spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters late Thursday.

Expressing “regret” over the crackdown, Kabbashi said the plan had been to clear an area close to the sit-in — but “excesses happened”.

He said the military is carrying out its own inquiry, whose findings are to be released on Saturday.

‘Harsh and unacceptable’

On Friday, worshippers at the mosque linked to Mahdi’s National Umma Party appeared frustrated with the generals’ version of the crackdown.

“The way the sit-in was dispersed was harsh and unacceptable,” said Salim Gebril, a university professor and member of the National Umma Party. 

“They (the military rulers) keep saying they are looking forward to reaching an agreement (with the protest leaders) but their tone sounded as if they may take another route.”

Another worshipper, Abdelrahman Amir al-Tom, found the military council’s statement to be “extremely disappointing”. 

Protest leaders and generals have now agreed to resume talks after mediation led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mahdi believes the mediation “may have a positive impact,” and may help both sides overcome the differences.

“In the end, the military council cannot rule, that is clear, and civilian forces cannot talk about a future without the participation of the military council,” the former premier said.

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Africa News & Updates

Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi

According to Sisi, Egypt is supporting “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives.”

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Egypt will always support Haftar’s army forces -Sisi | News Central TV
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said yesterday, that Egypt will always support the Libyan troops loyal to the General Khalifa Haftar.

Following his meeting with the Libyan parliament speaker Aqilah Saleh in Cairo the Egyptian capital, Sisi said, “Egypt’s position on supporting the Libyan National Army in its campaign to eliminate terrorist groups across Libya will never change.”

Saleh is currently on an indefinite visit to Cairo where he is holding meetings with Egyptian officials.

Sisi noted that his country was supporting what he described as “the legitimacy of Libya represented in the country’s House of Representatives,” stressing that the will of Libyans “must be respected.”

During a meeting in Tunisia on Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia called for “an immediate ceasefire,” adding that there was “no military solution to the crisis in Libya.”

In April, Haftar forces launched a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar’s campaign has, thus far, failed to achieve its primary objective, even after several weeks of fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli. Nevertheless, Haftar’s forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

Libya has witnessed serious political unrest since 2011 when long-time leader, Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Two rival seats of power have since emerged in the country, the Tripoli-based GNA, which enjoys UN recognition, and the other one on the eastern part of the country, which is affiliated to Haftar.

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