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Sudan’s opposition rejects Military Council’s election plan

At least 35 people were killed on when security forces stormed a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry

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Sudanese protesters walk past burning tyres during a demonstration in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman

Sudan’s opposition on Tuesday rejected a plan by its military rulers to hold elections within nine months, a day after the worst bout of violence since Omar al-Bashir was ousted as president in April.

At least 35 people were killed on Monday when security forces stormed a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry in central Khartoum, according to doctors linked to the opposition.

The military council that has ruled since Bashir’s overthrow afterwards cancelled all agreements with the main opposition alliance.

But Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) opposition alliance, said an open-ended civil disobedience campaign would continue to try to force the council from power.

The opposition rejected all that Transitional Military Council (TMC) Head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in his statement, Madani says.

“What happened, killing protesters, wounding and humiliation, was a systematic and planned matter to impose repression on the Sudanese people,” he said.

The atmosphere in the capital Khartoum was very tense on Tuesday as many roads were barricaded by protesters, many shops were shut and streets were mostly empty. Security forces were trying to clear the barricades.

Rapid Support Forces vehicles were patrolling the streets in Omdurman, on the other side of the River Nile from Khartoum, and firing into the air.

The leaders of protests that forced Bashir from power after three decades of authoritarian rule in April have demanded preparations for elections during a transitional period led by a civilian administration.

The military council has also been under both domestic and international pressure to hand over power to civilians. It had agreed to a three-year transition period with the DFCF. 

Risk of escalation

The main protest organizers, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), accused the security forces of perpetrating “a massacre” when they raided the camp amid heavy gunfire.

Council spokesman Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi denied this and said security forces were pursuing “unruly elements” who had fled to the protest site and caused chaos.

Sudan has been rocked by unrest since December, when anger over rising bread prices and cash shortages broke into sustained protests that culminated in the armed forces ousting Bashir.

But talks between a coalition of protesters and opposition parties ground to a halt amid deep differences over who will lead a transition to democracy that both sides had agreed will last for three years.

In a televised address in the early hours of Tuesday morning, council leader Burhan said the opposition coalition was equally responsible for the delay in coming to a final agreement.

The council had decided to cancel all agreements with the protest groups and called for elections within nine months, which he said will be organized under regional and international supervision.

“Gaining legitimacy and a mandate does not come but through the ballot box,” Burhan said.

He also announced that a government would immediately be formed to run the country until elections are held.

Burhan also said he regretted the violence and it would be investigated.

The security forces’ operation drew condemnation from Europe, the United States and the African Union.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was clear they had used excessive force on civilians, while British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt called the dispersal “outrageous”.

The European Union urged a speedy transfer of power to civilians. Neighbouring Egypt called for “calm and restraint”, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it hoped that dialogue would prevail in Sudan.

The Soufan Group, a security and intelligence think-tank, warned that the situation could escalate swiftly to more violence.

“There are clear parallels to some of the Arab Spring protests that eventually progressed to full-blown insurgencies, including Syria, where indiscriminate shelling of civilians by the military initially galvanized protest movements that helped launch a broader uprising,” it said in an analysis. 

“There is a real risk that the situation could spiral into full-blown civil war, which would significantly affect the region, with spillover violence impacting the ongoing conflict in Libya.” 

However, Hamid Eltgani Ali, a professor at the American University in Cairo, predicted that the protest movement would succeed in forcing the military to step down. There were two competing visions for Sudan’s future, he told Reuters.

“The vision of hate and division is led by the Janjaweed (militias) and military resisting to preserve their economic interests they enjoyed during Bashir’s rule, while the vision of hope is led by professional associations and syndicates. They want a democratic, open Sudan with a strong developmental vision,” Ali said.

Sudan has been on a U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1993 that denies the country access to financial markets and strangles its economy.

Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was in discussions to remove it from the sponsor of terrorism list when the military stepped in to depose Bashir.

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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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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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North Africa

Sudan: Omar al-Bashir to face trial over corruption allegations

Last month, Sudan’s public prosecutor ordered the questioning of Bashir over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

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Omar al Bashir to face trial over corruption allegations | News Central TV
Ousted Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Sudan’s public prosecutor has charged ousted president Omar al-Bashir of corruption, the official SUNA news agency said on Thursday.

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

“The public prosecutor announces the completion of all investigations in the case brought against the deposed president Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir by anti-corruption prosecutors,” SUNA said.

An unnamed official was quoted by the agency as saying that Bashir is 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 dollars 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 ($7.8 million), $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105 million) during a search at Bashir’s home. 

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

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

Last month, Sudan’s public prosecutor ordered the questioning of Bashir over money-laundering and “financing terrorism”.

In an effort to quell protests that erupted against his rule in December, Bashir had 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 the anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule.

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Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in anti-corruption probe

Abdelmalek Sellal served as Bouteflika’s campaign manager, overseeing the president’s past three successful re-election bids.

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Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in graft probe | News Central TV
Algerian ex-Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal. (Photo by Farouk Batiche / AFP)

Algeria’s former Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal was remanded in custody Thursday after appearing before a judge as part of an anti-corruption investigation, state media reported.

The supreme court decision against the ally of ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika comes a day after another former premier, Ahmed Ouyahia, was also remanded in custody.

Related: Algeria: Bouteflika’s brother, 2 ex-spy bosses arrested

Algeria detains second ex-Prime Minister in corruption probe
A Protester is pushed back by policemen as Algeria’s former prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal is driven to custody at the El Harrach prison in the suburbs of the capital Algiers, on June 13, 2019. -(Photo by – / AFP)

The two politicians are among numerous high-profile figures to be drawn into graft probes since Bouteflika was forced to step down in April following weeks of mass protests.

Sellal served as Bouteflika’s campaign manager, overseeing the president’s past three successful re-election bids. 

He was sacked in March amid mounting public opposition to an attempt to place Bouteflika on the ballot again despite the veteran president’s ailing health.

Related: Algeria finance minister questioned in fraud probe -state TV

On Thursday, private channel, El Bilad broadcast footage of crowds waiting for Sellal’s arrival outside El Harrach prison, in an eastern suburb of the capital, Algiers.

Both Sellal and Ouyahia are being held over cases relating to the misappropriation of public funds, abuse of office and granting undue privileges, according to the official APS news agency.

A former public works minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, also appeared before a supreme court judge on Wednesday and was released under judicial supervision, state media reported.

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