‘Infiltrators’ suspected behind shooting dead of 5 protesters, army officer in Sudan

A Sudanese protester holds the national flag with "Civilian Only" written on it in Arabic during a rally outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on May 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019
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‘Infiltrators’ suspected behind shooting dead of 5 protesters, army officer in Sudan

  • Military council says "unidentified infiltrators" could be behind the attacks to provoke violence
  •  Sudan charged ousted president Omar Al-Bashir and others with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters

KHARTOUM: Six people, including an army major, were killed and large number of protesters wounded in clashes in Khartoum late on Monday, Arab media reported.

The violence erupted hours after protest leaders and the ruling generals reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country.

Officials and protest leaders said the officer and a protester were killed at a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where thousands of protesters remain camped for weeks, demanding that the army generals who took power after ousting Bashir step down.

Three soldiers and several protesters and civilians were also wounded when “unidentified elements” fired shots at the Khartoum sit-in, the ruling military council said.

The latest developments came as the prosecutor general’s office said ousted president Omar Al-Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month.

A doctors’ committee linked to the protest movement later said four more protesters had been shot dead, but did not specify if they were actually killed at the sit-in.

The military council said in a late night press conference that it had “noticed some armed infiltrators among the protesters.”

The umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change said Monday’s violence was to “disturb the breakthrough in the negotiations” with army generals as it blamed the bloodshed on the former regime’s militias.

Earlier on Monday, the generals and the protest movement said a breakthrough had been reached in their talks over handing of power to a civilian administration.

“At today’s meeting we agreed on the structure of the authorities and their powers,” Taha Osman, a spokesman for the protest movement, told AFP.

“The authorities are as follows — the sovereign council, the cabinet and the legislative body,” he said.

Osman said another meeting would be held on Tuesday “to discuss the period of transition and the composition of the authorities.”

 

Transition period
The military council confirmed an accord had been reached.
“We agreed on forming the transitional authority on all three levels — the sovereign, the executive and the legislative,” council spokesman Lt. Gen. Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.
“Tomorrow we will continue to discuss the percentage of participation... and the transitional period.”
The generals insist the transitional period should be two years, while protesters want it to be four years.
The crucial talks between the two sides follow a deadlock in negotiations.
The apparent breakthrough came as Sudan’s acting prosecutor general Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said Bashir “and others have been charged for inciting and participating in the killing of demonstrators.”
The charges form part of an investigation into the death of a medic killed during a protest in the capital’s eastern district of Burri, his office said in a statement.
Ninety people were killed in protest-related violence after demonstrations initially erupted in December, the doctors’ committee said last month.
The official death toll is 65.
Mass protests which drove Bashir from office on April 11 are still being held outside the army headquarters, vowing to force the military council to cede power.
Prior to Monday’s talks, dozens of protesters blocked Nile Street, a major avenue in the city, for the second consecutive day, an AFP correspondent reported.
Pressing their demand for a handover to civilian rule, protesters also blocked a road leading to the capital’s northern district of Bahari.
Three protesters were wounded by “live ammunition” when security personnel tried to dismantle blockades put by demonstrators in parts of the capital, the doctors’ committee said.
“We reject using force against the civilians ... we are calling on the military council to take its responsibility in protecting the peaceful protesters,” the Alliance for Freedom and Change said.

New round of talks
Following a deadlock in negotiations, the protest alliance on Saturday said the army generals had invited the movement for a new round of talks.
The generals in earlier talks had proposed the new council be led by the military, while the protest leaders want a majority civilian body.
Late last month, the alliance — which brings together protest organizers, opposition parties and rebel groups — handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transitional government.
But the generals pointed to what they call “many reservations” over the alliance’s roadmap.
They have singled out its silence on the constitutional position of Islamic sharia law, which was the guiding principle of all legislation under Bashir’s rule.
Demonstrators converged on the military complex last month seeking the army’s help in ousting Bashir.
Days later the army ousted the veteran leader, but a 10-member military council took power and demonstrators have kept up their sit-in against the generals.
Although crowds have dwindled during the day due to the scorching heat, protesters gather in their thousands after breaking the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

 

(With AFP)


Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief

Updated 52 min 10 sec ago
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Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief

  • Hundreds of soldiers and officers in uniform gathered for the ceremony in a huge hall in central Addis Ababa

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia held a memorial on Tuesday for the army chief of staff slain with four other senior officials in weekend attacks that posed the biggest threat yet to the prime minister's reforms.
Abiy Ahmed, who survived a grenade attack at a rally in his honour last year, sat in the front row at the memorial and wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief.
Abiy took power 15 months ago and has won widespread international praise for kickstarting political and economic reforms. But his shake-up of the military and intelligence services has earned him powerful enemies at home.
His government is also struggling to contain discontent from Ethiopia's myriad ethnic groups fighting the federal government and each other for greater influence and resources.
The foiled plot to seize control of the northern Amhara region and the assassinations in the national capital Addis Ababa underscored the threat of spiralling violence in Africa's second-most populous nation.
In addition to the killing of the chief of staff in the capital, Amhara state president Ambachew Mekonnen and an adviser were killed in the region's main city Bahir Dar.
The attacks were led by Amhara's head of state security General Asamnew Tsige, who had been openly recruiting fighters for ethnic militias in a state that has become a flashpoint for violence.
Asamnew, the alleged coup plotter, was shot on Monday near Bahir Dar, according to the prime minister's office. He had served nearly a decade in jail for a previous coup plot, but was released as part of an amnesty last year.
RISKS
Hundreds of soldiers and officers in uniform gathered for the ceremony in a huge hall in central Addis Ababa.
Roads in the capital were blocked for the ceremony and security was tight. Access to the internet appeared to be blocked across Ethiopia for the third straight day, users reported.
The coffins of army chief of staff Seare Mekonnen and a retired general, both shot dead on Saturday by Seare's bodyguard in the national capital Addis Ababa, were wheeled into the hall, draped in Ethiopian flags.
Photographs of the men in formal military dress were adorned with yellow roses. Seare will be buried in his home region of Tigray on Wednesday.
At the memorial, the army's deputy chief of staff General Birhanu Jula spoke of the chief of staff's bravery in the guerrilla war against the Communist Derg regime that was toppled in 1991, and of his leadership role in Ethiopia's war against neighbouring Eritrea in the late 1990s.
The weekend killings came as Ethiopia prepares to hold parliamentary elections next year, although the electoral board warned this month that they were behind schedule and that instability could delay polling.
SECURITY FORCES
Ethiopia's ruling coalition, itself a grouping of ethnically-based parties, is facing an unprecedented challenge from strident ethno-nationalist parties, global think-tank Crisis Group said in a briefing note on Tuesday.
Asamnew, who allegedly orchestrated the killings, had been appointed by state authorities as regional security chief in an effort to claw back support from Amharas supporting more his more hardline policies, including expansion of Amhara's borders, the group said.
"The 22 June killings confirm the dangers in handing security portfolios to hardliners like Asamnew who are ready to pander to extreme ethno-nationalists, from whichever of Ethiopia’s ethnicities," the note read.
Ethiopia analysts say the prime minister must tread carefully to restore security. Too strong a response risks derailing his reforms and angering a polarised population. But failure to punish those responsible could see violence could spiral out of control.
Mehari Taddele Maru, an independent Ethiopian analyst, said the government should channel public anger through dialogue, but if ethnic rivalries spread to the federal armed forces, that could destroy the state, he said.