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Sudan’s military council, opposition agree on 3-year transition period

A final agreement on the sharing of power will be signed with the protest movement, within a day.

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Sudanese protestors celebrate after an agreement was reached with the military council to form a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration, in Khartoum

Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration, even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished.

The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by now deposed president Omar al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role.

Talks between the two sides resumed earlier in the week but were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum. 

The two sides announced early Wednesday after nearly 12 hours of negotiations that they had reached an agreement on the transition period.

“We agreed on a transitional period of three years,” Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council told reporters.

Atta said a final agreement on the sharing of power, including the forming of the next ruling body — the sovereign council —  will be signed with the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, within a day.

“We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people’s aspirations,” Atta said.

He said of the transition period, the first six months will be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the country’s war zones like Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Protester Mohamed Abdullah told AFP that he was happy the way the negotiations had turned out so far.

“We will wait for tomorrow’s talks, but my only question is ‘Who will guarantee this agreement with the military council?’,” he said as thousands of demonstrators gathered for another sit-in overnight.

US blames army rulers

The army generals had initially insisted on a two-year transition period, while the protest leaders wanted four years.

Key negotiations however remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which will replace the existing ruling body made up solely of generals. 

The generals say this should be military led while protest leaders want it to be majority civilian.

After the forming of the sovereign council, a new transitional civilian government will be formed to run the country’s day-to-day affairs and would work towards having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period.

Atta said that during the transition period parliament will be composed of 300 members, of which 67 percent will be from the Alliance for Freedom and Change and the rest will be from other political groups.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change meanwhile said the shootings on Monday were an attempt to “disturb the breakthrough” in talks.

On Tuesday, the United States blamed the army itself for the deaths.

They “were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks”, the US embassy said on its Facebook page.

“The decision for security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,” it said.

‘Protect your homeland’

Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of Bashir’s regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday.

“We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday because it’s their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,” Mohamed Naji al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters.

The latest round of talks which opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten “escalatory measures” to secure their central demand of civilian rule.

The issue has kept thousands of protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since Bashir’s overthrow.

The sit-in has become the focal point for the protest movement, overtaking the near daily protests that had been held across Sudan while the veteran president remained in power.

But on Tuesday protesters in the capital’s twin city Omdurman also vented their anger on the streets. 

Protesters gathered in the Abbassiya and Al-Arbaa districts, just across the Nile from the capital, with many chanting slogans against the military council, witnesses told AFP.

“Protect your homeland or prepare to die!” the protesters chanted. 

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Central Africa News

DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

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UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

Read also: Zuma to testify at South Africa’s graft probe

Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

Read also: GNA announces a new political plan, promises elections in Libya

None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

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North Africa Politics

Libya’s GNA suspect new military escalation by Haftar-led forces

Videos circulated on social media in recent days show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards Tripoli.

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Photo credit: AFP

Libya’s UN-recognised government said Saturday it feared forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar were prepping a new “military escalation” in their months-long push to take Tripoli.

Deadly fighting has rocked the capital’s outskirts since Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to take the city from the Government of National Accord.

The GNA said on its Facebook page it was “concerned over reports, confirmed by the UN and the media, on preparations for a new military escalation”.

The United Nations mission in Libya said in a tweet Saturday that it was “doing its outmost with all local and foreign actors to avoid military escalation and to ensure protection of civilians”.

Videos circulated on social media in recent days, some by a pro-Haftar television channel, show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards the south of the capital. The footage could not be independently verified.

Haftar’s campaign to wrestle Tripoli from pro-GNA forces has left nearly 1,093 people dead, including 106 civilians, and over 5,750 wounded, according to the UN’s World Health Organization.

The fighting has also forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. 

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Politics

Campaign against corruption begins in Zambia

We can’t have few people that are getting rich and the majority are poor. – Laura Miti

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Campaign against corruption in government begins in Zambia

Hundreds of people wearing yellow T-shirts rallied on Saturday in Zambia’s capital Lusaka – to kick start a campaign against corruption in President Edgar Lungu’s government.

The protesters – led by prominent anti-graft activists Laura Miti and musician Pilato (also known as Chama Fumba) – picketed outside the parliament, singing anti-government songs and waving yellow cards.

“This is just the beginning of our yellow card campaigns,” Miti, who is the leader of a non-profit organisation Alliance for Community Action, told the jubilant crowd.

“We will not accept the country to be destroyed while we watch. 

“We can’t have few people that are getting rich and the majority are poor. This country is rich but the problem is how it is governed,”  she said.

She claimed that some ministers owned more than 40 houses each while most Zambians live in squalor. 

Demonstrators carried placards denouncing poor standards of education and plans to reintroduce deputy ministerial posts through a constitutional amendment.

“We are saying to (president) Lungu we are tired,” said Miti.

Both Miti and Pilato were arrested last year for picketing outside parliament over the procurement of 42 fire engines at a cost of $1 million each, seen as emblematic of the corruption fostered by Lungu.

During the protest on Saturday, Pilato warned: “if we refuse to defend Zambia today, there won’t be Zambia tomorrow”.

Lungu became president in 2015 after the death of President Michael Sata and was re-elected in 2016, but his administration has been dogged by accusations of graft.

In January 2018, foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba resigned in protest, citing “swelling” corruption in government ranks “perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution.”

The former minister for social services, Emerine Kabanshi, is due in court next month for corruption charges over allegations that led Britain to suspend aid to Zambia last year.

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