Egypt wrapped up a two-day summit with Sudan’s main protest leaders on Tuesday, its foreign ministry said, days before they are due to sign an agreement paving the way for civilian rule in the country.
The “important meeting” brought together the Alliance for Freedom and Change, Sudan’s umbrella protest movement and the driving force behind the protests since December, and the opposition groups of the Sudan Revolutionary Front.
Its objective was “achieving peace” as the long-awaited deal is inked, the ministry said in a short statement on the discussions.
The constitutional declaration scheduled to be formally signed on August 17 outlines the formation of a transitional civilian government and a parliament to govern for a three-year transition period. The agreement stipulates the formation of a joint civilian-military ruling body.
The results of the Cairo discussions will be presented before the leaders of the powerful alliance in Khartoum, the statement added.
Representatives from both sides initial agreement paving way for a transitional government.
4 Aug 2019
Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders have signed a constitutional declaration that paves the way for a transition to civilian rule, a hard-fought agreement that came after a long period of negotiations following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in the wake of mass protests.
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and Ahmed Rabie, a protest leader, signed the declaration on Sunday at a ceremony in the capital, Khartoum, that was attended by African Union and Ethiopian mediators.
The document builds on a power-sharing deal agreed to last month and provides for a joint civilian-military ruling body to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian government and parliament to govern for a period of a little more than three years until elections can be held.
The signing was met by a wave of applause in the Khartoum hall as representatives from both sides shook hands.
A formal signing in front of foreign dignitaries is due to take place on August 17 in Khartoum. The following day, the generals and protest leaders are expected to announce the composition of the new transitional civilian-majority ruling council.
A new prime minister, appointed by the main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), is expected to be named on August 20, The prime minister will be tasked to form the government in consultation with the FFC. However, the defence and the interior ministers will be appointed by the military council.
The cabinet, which will be named on August 28, and the ruling council will meet together on September 1, sources told Reuters news agency, ahead of the appointment of a legislative assembly in three months.
The deal on a constitutional declaration is the fruit of difficult negotiations between the leaders of mass protests which erupted last December against al-Bashir’s three-decade rule and the generals who eventually overthrew him in April.
The talks had been repeatedly interrupted by deadly violence in Khartoum and other cities against demonstrators who have kept up rallies to press for civilian rule.
Speaking from Doha, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow said the agreement “means Sudan has embarked on the road to that much-desired democracy that people have been protesting for months, and also it is momentous for the African Union which has mediated between the parties in Sudan.
“This is a new thing that’s coming in the continent – a hybrid transitional authority that has both military officials and civilians working together during a period of transition – so there are bound to teething problems, but then again many people in Sudan are still hopeful that they have come this far.”
In late May, the TMC shut down Al Jazeera’s Khartoum bureau and banned its journalists from reporting from the country.
Army ruler says killing of five schoolchildren ‘regrettable and unacceptable’ as protest leaders cancel planned talks.
military ruler has condemned the killing of five schoolchildren at a rally as protest leaders called off planned talks with the generals and thousands of students took to the streets to denounce the latest bout of violence.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling military council, told reporters on Tuesday the killings in the North Kordofan city of El-Obeid was “unacceptable”.
“What happened in El-Obeid is a regrettable and upsetting matter and the killing of peaceful citizens is unacceptable and rejected and a crime that requires immediate and deterrent accountability,” he was quoted as saying by the official SUNA news agency.
Protesters accuse the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by al-Burhan’s deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, of shooting dead the five teenagers at Monday’s rally against shortages of bread and fuel.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF in a statement on Tuesday called on Sudanese authorities “to investigate and hold all perpetrators of violence against children accountable”.
“No child should be buried in their school uniform,” the agency said, adding the students killed were between 15 and 17 years old.
The killings came ahead of planned talks between the ruling Transitional Military Council and protest leaders on the remaining aspects of installing civilian rule following the toppling of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.
The two sides signed a power-sharing agreement on July 17, and were to sit down on Tuesday to discuss the powers of the joint civilian-military ruling council and immunity for generals over previous deadly violence against protesters.
But negotiators for the Forces of Freedom and Change, the umbrella group that represents protest and opposition groups, told AFP news agency that Tuesday’s talks would not take place because they were visiting El-Obeid.
“There will be no negotiation today with the Transitional Military Council as our negotiating team is still in El-Obeid and will return only tonight,” said Satea al-Haj.
Meanwhile, thousands of students – heeding a call for nationwide protests against the El-Obeid “massacre” by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – rallied in Khartoum and other cities to condemn the violence against their fellow students.
The SPA, which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, also called on all schools in North Kordofan state to suspend classes.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia, said there was a lot of anger and condemnation on the streets of the capital, Khartoum, because of the renewed violence in El-Obeid.
“But [the protesters] are also condemning the silence of the opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change… The protesters are saying these talks have not wielded any results and they’ve been going on for three months.
“People are saying at the moment negotiations are not the way and that what the opposition should focus on is demanding justice and accountability.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a prominent protest leader called for the talks to be suspended.
“We cannot sit at the negotiating table with those allowing the killing of revolutionaries,” Siddig Youssef said in a statement.
Doctors linked to the protest movement say more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December, when demonstrations first erupted against al-Bashir. More than 100 were killed during and after an RSF raid on a sit-in outside the military headquarters on June 3, they said.
But a joint investigation by prosecutors and the ruling military council concluded just 17 people were killed on June 3, with a total of 87 deaths between that day and June 10.
Protest leaders rejected the findings, saying the inquiry exonerated the military council and gave a far lower death toll than their own.
The investigation “was commissioned by the military council … [but] the military council itself is accused in this case”, SPA said.
Death toll given by senior investigator appointed by public prosecutor is higher than previous official figures.
27 July, 2019
An investigation has found “rogue” military personnel were responsible for killing dozens of Sudanese protesters in the worst violence since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.
The violent break-up of a protest site by security forces in Khartoum last month left 87 people dead and 168 wounded, a higher death toll than previous official estimates, a chief investigator said.
Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said on Saturday some members of the security forces opened fire at protesters demanding the military cede power.
He told a news conference three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point for protests that led to al-Bashir’s removal on April 11.
An order was also issued to whip demonstrators, he added.
The committee found members of the joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square … and fired heavily and randomly”, leading to the killing and wounding of dozens.
The health ministry previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics said 127 people were killed and 400 wounded in the dispersal.
“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.
“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area.”
Crimes against humanity
Ismail al-Taj, an opposition representative, told a news conference the investigative committee “was formed not establish the truth, but to conceal the truth” and he questioned the new death toll.
“Reality says that there are closer to 130 martyrs,” AL-Taj said, adding the committee relied on health ministry records, which he said were inaccurate.
The opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change is currently negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.
Saeed gave the ranks and initials of officers he said had been charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give their full names.
A brigadier general, referred to only as AAM, mobilised a riot force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.
The committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although the US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped, he said.
Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer-turned-President al-Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.
Published: 12:25 BST, 29 July 2019 | Updated: 12:25 BST, 29 July 2019
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo Monday, the powerful Sudanese military General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, whose forces have been accused of carrying out a brutal crackdown on protesters.
In his first official visit to the Egyptian capital, the deputy chief of Sudan’s military council widely known as Hemeti, “presented the latest developments on the current situation in Sudan”, the Egyptian presidency said.
Sisi, the former general turned president, reiterated Egypt’s “strategic support” in maintaining “the stability and security” of its neighbour Sudan, the presidency added.
Cairo has been a steadfast ally of Khartoum’s military leaders after long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled on April 11 after months of protests.
Hemeti, commander of the Rapid Support Forces – the feared paramilitary group accused of war crimes in Darfur under Bashir – has also shored up support from Gulf allies, meeting with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in May.
Triggered in December with the tripling of the price of bread, the protests in Sudan quickly transformed into a challenge to the Bashir regime, in power for 30 years.
Demonstrations continued after his ouster to demand civilian rule.
On June 3, at least 127 protesters were killed and scores wounded in a raid on a sit-in at the epicentre of the demonstrations, according to doctors linked to the protest movement.
A joint probe by prosecutors and Sudan’s ruling military council showed that security forces, including an RSF general, took part in the raid on the protest camp — despite having no orders from their superiors to do so.
Hemeti has consistently denied that his men were involved in the crackdown, which triggered international outrage.
The general’s meeting with Sisi comes a day after Sudanese police fired tear gas at scores of protesters demanding an independent probe into the June raid.
On July 17, Sudanese protesters and ruling generals signed a power-sharing deal that aims to form a joint civilian-military ruling body which in turn would install civilian rule.
Talks are to resume Tuesday to iron out remaining issues between the two sides.
Published: 12:15 BST, 29 July 2019 | Updated: 12:15 BST, 29 July 2019
Five protesters including four students were shot dead and several wounded at a rally in a town in central Sudan on Monday, a doctors committee linked to the protest movement said.
“Five martyrs succumbed to direct wounds from sniper bullets during a peaceful rally in Al-Obeid,” the committee said in a statement.
The reason for the rally was not immediately clear but it came as protest leaders and the ruling generals prepare to resume talks in Khartoum on Tuesday.
The two sides are to meet to resolve remaining issues concerning the transfer of power from the ruling military council to a new civilian administration.
The generals and protest leaders agreed on July 17 to form a new joint civilian-military governing body that would install an overall civilian rule in the country.
That is the main demand of a nationwide protest movement that led to the April ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir and has since demanded that the military council which took his place cede power to civilians.
24 July, 2019 .General Hashim Abdel Muttalib Ahmed and several officers arrested after coup attempt this month, state media reports.
Sudan’s military said it has arrested a number of senior officers in connection with the coup attempt earlier this month, the state news agency said.
The military council, that took over the country after overthrowing longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April, said it arrested at least 16 active and retired military officers over an attempted coup on July 11.
The military “revealed a coup attempt involving General Hashim Abdel Muttalib Ahmed, head of the joint chiefs of staff, and several high-ranking officers from the armed forces and the National Intelligence and Security Service, along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party”, SUNA said on Wednesday.
“They have been detained and investigations with them are going on so that they can be tried.”
Talks between the military and Sudan’s pro-democracy movement have dragged out over the final and crucial part of a power-sharing deal for the nation’s transitional period.
“The failed coup attempt’s goal was to abort the people’s glorious revolution and to return the former National Congress regime to power, and to disrupt the path before the expected political solution that aims to establish a civilian state,” SUNA cited the military as saying.
Since April, Ahmed had appeared loyal to General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling military council, and only last week visited Egypt with a top-level Sudanese delegation.
Ahmed was appointed chief of staff just days after Bashir’s removal following months of street protests against the president’s 30-year rule.
Sudan’s ruling generals and pro-democracy factions have yet to sign the second and final part of the power-sharing deal.
They signed a political declaration that outlines the deal last week, after agreeing on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organised.
Both sides say a diplomatic push by the United States and its Arab allies was key to ending the weeks-long standoff between the military and the protesters that raised fears of an all-out civil war.
The second, more contentious part of the power-sharing deal, the so-called “constitutional agreement”, is meant to specify the division of powers during the transitional period. But that part has now stalled.
Leaders of the pro-democracy movement, known as the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, have been meeting in Ethiopia with leaders of the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Sudanese rebel groups who are also part of the movement.
The Revolutionary Front had rejected the power-sharing deal, arguing it fails to meet their demands for peace.
KHARTOUM — A Sudanese civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody, a doctors committee linked to the country’s protest movement said Sunday.
The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the doctors committee said in a statement.
The detainee “passed away on July 20, 2019, from torture while in detention at the NISS office in Dilling,” the statement said without elaborating on the circumstances of his arrest.
“NISS continues to torture and claim innocent civilian lives illegally without facing any consequences.”
Officers of NISS were not immediately available for comment.
Rights groups and activists had regularly accused NISS agents of cracking down on dissidents and restricting freedoms during the regime of veteran leader Omar Al Bashir who was ousted in April.
It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December.
Dozens were killed and hundreds of protesters, activists and opposition leaders were arrested during the months-long campaign that led to Bashir’s overthrow and subsequent demonstrations calling for civilian rule.
Last week a power-sharing deal was inked between the protest leaders and the ruling generals who seized power after ousting Bashir.
More talks between the two sides to thrash out some pending issues have been suspended following differences within the protest movement itself over the power-sharing deal.
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) have many comments on and objections to the draft text of the Constitutional Declaration that was handed over on Friday to the parties negotiating an agreement on a transitional period.
In a statement, the FFC (formerly known as Alliance for Freedom and Change/AFC) said the document is being studied by its members.
The Sudanese Professionals Association said the draft text is not final and is not ready to be signed in its current form. In a press release the SPA said that it had started to study the document on Friday evening, in order to make amendments and formulate objections to parts of the draft.
On Sunday, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of leftist opposition parties) announced fundamental reservations about the Constitutional Declaration submitted by the African Union and Ethiopian mediators.
The statement said that the proposed Constitutional Declaration does not establish a real transitional civilian authority and is not in line with the Declaration for Freedom and Change.
The NCF confirmed its full commitment to the previous agreement with the military junta, which was included in the resolution of the African Peace and Security Council No. 854. It said both parties must commit itself to what has been agreed in earlier negotiations.
The Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) rejected the draft agreement, saying it does not meet the aspirations of the people, nor does it help to dismantle the totalitarian regime.
The party said in a statement that the agreement would mean that all laws restricting freedoms would stay in place, just as the repressive institutions that played a major role in the dismantling of the Khartoum sit-in on June 3. The draft agreement would not help to find solutions for the civil wars in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile either. It may even aggravate the wars and provoke separatist tendencies since the former regime would in fact continue and that regime committed many crimes in those regions, the Communist Party of Sudan fears.
The CPoS said the draft agreement would not change anything concerning the international and regional agreements made by the previous regime, like staying in the Arab alliance that is fighting in the war in Yemen.
Darfur Bar Association
The Darfur Bar Association commented that “the emergence of self-ambitions” characterises the way the FFC negotiates with the TMC. It denounced the failure of the FFC to restore constitutional rule of law.
The lawyers said in a statement that the negotiations about the division of power between the TMC and the FFC swept the FFC away from searching for justice for the victims of the violent disbanding of the sit-in at the army command on June 3 by the military junta. The lawyers affirmed they were fully committed to support the FFC.
JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Days after Muslim leaders in Egypt came to his apartment to warn him to return to Islam, a Sudanese Christian in Cairo received a death threat by phone last week, he said.
Having fled Sudan after authorities tortured and threatened to kill him if he refused to return to Islam, Al Hadi Izzalden Shareef Osman said he has had to change apartments once again in the face of fresh threats.
On May 27 he received a phone call from someone speaking in Sudanese Arabic threatening to kill him, he said.
“You are infidel and fuel for hell,” the called told him, according to Osman.
It was one of several threats he received in the past month. He recognized the voice as one of the Muslim clerics, both Sudanese and Egyptian, who knocked on his apartment door the previous week, Osman said.
Living in hiding after death threats began last year by radical Muslims monitoring his movements in Egypt, Osman said he was terrified when he opened the door to find the five Muslim clerics ordering him to renounce Christ and return to Islam or face consequences.
“They kept telling me to go mosque, but I refused,” Osman told Morning Star News. “I was afraid and had to relocate from the apartment to another location.”
In a country where at least 2 million Sudanese migrants, including thousands of refugees, already face racial discrimination and resentment from Egyptians embittered by a cracked economy, Osman said his life is in danger for having become a Christian.
The 40-year-old Osman applied for asylum on grounds of religious persecution with the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees when he arrived in Egypt, without success.
“There is no response from UNHCR, and they seem to be unwilling to protect me from this danger,” Osman said. “Egypt is no longer safe for me. I want to relocate elsewhere, I am tired of these threats.”
After unknown persons on Aug. 15, 2018 raided his apartment and seized his passport, he went into hiding, he said. Osman was not at home at the time of the theft and reported it to police.
He had left Khartoum in April 2014 after police from Sudan’s Criminal Investigation Department accused him of apostasy, punishable by death in Sudan. National police arrested him from the streets of Khartoum, covered his eyes with a cloth and took him into secret detention, where they tortured him for three weeks, he said.
Osman said he was suspended from the ceiling while agents poured cold water on him, leaving his left hand permanently damaged.
Ordered to report to their offices daily, Osman said he was repeatedly arrested and tortured in efforts to get him to return to Islam but refused, telling agents he would rather die as a Christian then live as a Muslim. He fled after he was threatened with death if he did not return to Islam, he said.
Osman had begun to examine the Koran in 2005, at the age of 27, after reading about Jesus in the Bible. After studying the Bible, he put his faith in Christ, and by 2007, his family and friends began abandoning him after noting he had stopped fasting during Ramadan and saying Islamic prayers, he said.
Osman worked odd jobs living with Sudanese friends, but when they discovered that he was a Christian, they ordered him to leave, he said. In December 2016, he was baptized in the Episcopal Church in Egypt.
Osman said Sudanese Muslims friends who first took him in told Egyptian Muslims that he had left Islam.
The tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Egypt live among the more than 2 million – possibly 4 million – Sudanese who have fled military and political conflict and economic woes in Sudan. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reports many migrants from Sudan are actually refugees but see little hope in applying for asylum.
Osman’s plight has deepened as Christians in Sudan are hopeful for a more sympathetic government following the April 11 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir as president. The military forced out Bashir, an Islamist and Arab supremacist in power for 30 years, following protests that began on Dec. 19.
Churches joined the opposition after Bashir’s departure and are hopeful for a civilian government that does away with sharia (Islamic law) as the legal framework.
Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, while Egypt ranked 16th