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Sudan’s protest leaders and military reach landmark agreement on governing council

The two sides agreed on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military and civilian (presidency)

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Sudan's protest leaders and military reach landmark agreement on governing council
Sudanese protesters celebrate in the streets of Khartoum after ruling generals and protest leaders announced they have reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body on July 5, 2019. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body Friday, in a breakthrough power-sharing accord aimed at ending the country’s months-long political crisis.

The landmark agreement came after two days of talks following the collapse of the previous round of negotiations in May over who should lead the new ruling body — a civilian or soldier.

Related: “Military council is completely responsible for killings” -Sudan protesters

“The two sides agreed on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military and civilian (presidency) for a period of three years or little more,” African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.

Sudan has been rocked by a political crisis since the army ousted longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir in April on the back of widespread protests, with the generals who seized power resisting demonstrators’ demands to hand it over to a civilian administration.

“We want to reassure all political forces and armed movements and all those who took part in the change… that this agreement is all inclusive and does not exclude anyone,” deputy chief of the ruling military council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said in a statement.

Related: Protest leaders call for one-day nationwide civil disobedience in Sudan

Tension between the two sides had further soared after a brutal raid on a longstanding protest camp outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum that killed dozens of demonstrators and wounded hundreds on June 3.

Lebatt did not specify the exact make-up of the new ruling body, but prominent protest leader, Ahmed al-Rabie told reporters that it would comprise six civilians, including five from the protest movement, and five members of the military.

The latest round of talks had resumed Wednesday after intense mediation by Ethiopian and African Union envoys, who had put forward a draft proposal to break the weeks-long deadlock.

Investigation into raid –

The blueprint proposes a three-year transition period, with the president of the new ruling body to be held by the military for the first 18 months and a civilian for the second.

However, it was still unclear if both sides had signed off on the military holding the post first.

Sudan's protest leaders and military reach landmark agreement on governing council

Lebatt, however, said the two sides had agreed to postpone the forming of a new transitional parliament.

Before talks collapsed in May, the generals and protest leaders had agreed on forming a 300-member parliament, with two-thirds of lawmakers to be from the protest movement.

Lebatt said that both sides have now also “agreed to have a detailed, transparent, national, independent investigation into all the regrettable violent incidents that the country faced in recent weeks,” including the June 3 massacre.

Related: Sudan’s protest leaders agree to resume talks with military, lists condition

At least 136 people have been killed across the country since the raid, including more than 100 on June 3, according to doctors close to the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

The health ministry says 78 people have been killed nationwide over the same period, with protest leaders accusing the military of orchestrating and executing the raids.

The ruling military council insists it did not order the violent dispersal of the sit-in.

For weeks, the issue of forming the new ruling body has rocked Sudan, extending the political crisis triggered by the fall of Bashir.

Prior to the start of the latest round of talks on Wednesday, Ethiopian mediator, Mahmoud Drir had said that the thorny issue of the new governing body was “the sole point of disagreement” between the two parties.

Students march for civilian rule –

On Sunday, protest leaders managed to mobilise tens of thousands of supporters in the first mass protest against the generals since the raid.

The mass rally had been seen as a test for the protest leaders’ ability to mobilise crowds after the generals imposed a widespread internet blackout and deployed security forces in the capital’s key squares and districts, its twin city Omdurman and other towns and villages.

On Thursday, hundreds of students from several schools in three towns —  Madani, Gadaref, and Sinnar — staged spontaneous protests chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule”, witnesses said.

Earlier on Thursday, a group of 235 fighters from a faction of a Darfur rebel group that is part of the protest movement was released as decided during the talks.

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Libyan National Army attack Mitiga airport and Zuwara airfield

Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 08, 2019, shows the Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli. - Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Tripoli’s sole functioning airport Mitiga and Zuwara airfield were targeted for the second time in less than 48 hours – the former hit overnight Thursday and the latter on Friday morning.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) reported that three people were wounded in the raids by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar against the two airports under its control.

Airport management at Mitiga reported rocket fire against the runway “as planes took off and landed”. 

The UN-recognised GNA said on Facebook that Haftar’s forces “targeted employees of the airport services company” at Mitiga with Grad missiles, causing shrapnel wounds to two workers and damaging a bus.

Flights were temporarily suspended or rerouted to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of Tripoli.

In the attack against Zuwara airfield, Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.

The Tripoli-based GNA said a member of civil protection was wounded in that attack.

Pro-Haftar forces also “targeted other hangars… located 1.5 kilometres to the east of Abu Kamach”, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari said on Facebook.

The country’s biggest petrochemical complex is located there, near the Tunisian border.

Forces loyal to the GNA and the LNA are embroiled in a stalemate in Tripoli’s southern outskirts after Haftar launched an offensive against the capital in April.

Fighting over the last four months has killed 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, according to the World Health Organization. 

Some 120,000 have been displaced over the same period.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

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North Africa Politics

Libya’s Mitiga International airport reopens after rocket fire attack

Flights from Mitiga airport were suspended for several hours Sunday after rocket fire hit the airport

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Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac at Mitiga International Airport as Flights have resumed

Flights have resumed from the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport as calm returned Monday to the outskirts of Tripoli after a temporary truce was violated the previous day. “Reopening airspace at Mitiga International airport after maintenance and cleaning… so that airlines can renew their flights,” the facility’s management said late Sunday on Facebook.

The Government of National Accord and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar had agreed on a truce for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that began on Sunday. Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts. 

Flights from Mitiga airport were suspended for several hours Sunday after rocket fire hit the airport, a few metres from the runway where planes were parked. Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Pay Attention: Rocket fire hits airport, breaking Eid truce in Libya

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has often been targeted. Haftar’s Libyan National Army and the GNA had Saturday agreed to a UN-sponsored humanitarian truce for Al-Adha, although the GNA listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements.

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack on the airport, in which no casualties or serious damage were reported, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli. Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Pay Attention: Libya’s Mitiga airport reopens after missile attack

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

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North Africa Politics

Rocket fire hits airport, breaking Eid truce in Libya

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.

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Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli. - Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport,

Rocket fire hit the Libyan capital’s only functioning airport Sunday, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said.

Air traffic was suspended “until further notice”, the statement added, alongside photos showing columns of smoke rising from the runway and parked planes. Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts. 

His Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord had on Saturday agreed to a humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha, although the GNA had listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements. 

Pay Attention: Rival forces agree to Eid Al-Adha truce in Libya

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli. “Haftar’s militias have violated the truce twice,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii said.

“The first time targeted a home in Soug al-Jomaa, wounding three civilians, and the second hit Mitiga airport,” he added. Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli’s international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the GNA and has often been targeted. “We have noted the coordinates of the rocket fire from zones controlled by Haftar’s militias south of the capital” and passed them on to the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Mejii said.

Libyan TV channels also reported exchanges of fire around the road to the closed international airport on Sunday. The truce had come after UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian ceasefires, without success.

Pay Attention: Airstrike on migrant centre kills almost 40 in Libya

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced. Libya has been in conflict since an uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

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