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Sudan’s death toll rises, protesters reject military’s call for fresh talks

Protest leaders have also rejected announced plans for an election and demands justice for those killed

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Sudan's death toll rises, protesters reject military's call for fresh talks
Photo: AFP

Sudanese protest leaders on Wednesday turned down an offer by the ruling military council for talks and demanded justice for a crackdown that doctors said has left 108 people dead.

Security forces moved in to brutally disperse a protest sit-in on Monday.

The Rapid Support Forces, paramilitaries said by rights groups to have their origins in the Janjaweed militias accused of abuses during the 16-year-old conflict in Darfur, are thought to have been largely behind the crackdown.

The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors close to the protest movement said on Wednesday that at least 108 people had been killed in the crackdown, including 40, whose bodies were recovered from the Nile, and more than 500 wounded.

Sudan has been controlled by a military council since it ousted veteran president, Omar al-Bashir in April after protesters demanded an end to his authoritarian rule before agreeing a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.

But army ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said following the crackdown that the agreement had been ditched and an election would take place within nine months -a plan rejected by demonstrators.

On Wednesday, however, Burhan said those in “the military council open our arms to negotiate with no restriction”, an offer that the protest leaders were quick to reject.

“The Sudanese people are not open for talks,” said Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which spearheaded protests that led to the ouster of Bashir.

“The Sudanese people are not open to this TMC (Transitional Military Council) that kills people and we need justice and accountability before talks about any political process,” he told AFP.

Farid said both the SPA and umbrella protest group, the Alliance for Freedom and Change would “continue using all non-violent tools and civil disobedience in resisting the TMC”.

The rejection came after the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused of carrying out the deadly crackdown insisted the country would not be allowed to slip into “chaos”.

“We will not allow chaos… we must impose the authority of the state through law,” Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the military council, told his forces in a televised address.

‘Bloody massacre’ –

(Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Hospitals in Khartoum said they were struggling to cope with the number of wounded after security forces on Monday raided a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters.

“The situation is very difficult. Most of the hospitals have taken in more casualties than they have capacity for,” a doctor who works at two hospitals in the city told AFP.

“There’s a shortage of medical staff, a shortage of blood,” said the doctor, who asked not to be named.

“Among the wounded there are still people in a serious condition and I expect the number of deaths to rise.”

‘Total civil disobedience’ –

There was a heavy security presence as worshippers in some neighbourhoods came out to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.

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 on June 5, 2019 in Omdurman, just across the Nile from the capital Khartoum. (Photo by – / AFP)

In Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, security forces were seen patrolling in machine-gun mounted trucks.

Protest leaders have called on their supporters to take part in “total civil disobedience” to topple the military council.

On Wednesday, hundreds of residents of north Khartoum blocked off streets with rocks, and waited by them in silence, a witness told AFP.

In the distance, gunfire was heard.

The United Nations said late Wednesday it was relocating some of its staff away from Khartoum, while Britain warned its citizens against all but essential travel and decided to pull non-essential staff from its embassy.

International condemnation –

The Sudanese Doctors Union accused security forces of attacks on hospitals and staff across the country, and alleged some women had been raped in an area of the capital without giving details of how the group had learned of the assaults.

A push for the UN Security Council to condemn the killing of civilians and call on the military and protesters to work together was blocked by China, which was backed by Russia, during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

Eight European countries instead issued their own joint statement criticising “the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians”.

The US called on the military rulers to “desist from violence” and urged talks with protesters to resume.

Amnesty International called on the African Union and the UN to “take immediate action to hold the perpetrators of this violence accountable”.

The British ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, called for an end to the internet outages that have plagued the country since the crackdown.

“In these critical times it is essential that everyone can communicate, particularly to urge messages of keeping things calm and peaceful,” he tweeted.

Top US envoy, David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, underlined the importance of a transition to a civilian-led government in a phone call with the Saudi deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman, the State Department said.

Saudi Arabia, a key backer of the military rulers, called for a resumption of “dialogue between the various parties of Sudan”.

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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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Africa News & Updates

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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