Sudan minister appeals to youth as protests continue

Angry demonstrators light a fire during a protest calling for the ouster of President Omar Al-Bashir in Khartoum. (Reuters/File)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Sudan minister appeals to youth as protests continue

  • Recent events “showed the need to reshape political entities, parties and armed movements,” said the defense minister

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s defense minister said on Monday that young people caught up in recent turmoil had “reasonable ambition,” the second apparently conciliatory gesture in three days from a senior government figure.

Students, activists and other protesters frustrated with economic hardships have held almost daily demonstrations across Sudan since Dec. 19, mounting the most sustained challenge to President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decades in power.

Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf did not directly address the protesters’ concerns, but said the situation in the country showed a schism between young and old.

That, he added, “requires intergenerational communication and fair solutions to youth problems and realizing their reasonable ambition.”

Recent events “showed the need to reshape political entities, parties and armed movements of the political scene with a different mindset than before,” he said during a briefing with military officers, according to a ministry statement.

The minister did not spell out what kind of reshaping should take place and there was no immediate response from opposition parties, which have backed the demonstrations.

Police dispersed dozens of protesters in the Shambat neighborhood of Khartoum on Monday and dozens more across the Nile in Omdurman, the capital’s twin city, witnesses said.

People have taken to the streets across Sudan, frustrated with price hikes and shortages in cash, bread, petrol and other essentials, calling for Al-Bashir to go. Many have echoed slogans used in the Muslim world’s “Arab Spring” uprisings.

Rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed during clashes with security services, while the government puts the death toll at 30, including two security personnel.

Al-Bashir has shown no sign of being prepared to concede any power and has blamed the protests on foreign agents, challenging his rivals to seek power through the ballot box.

But Prime Minister Moataz Moussa on Saturday appeared to soften the official stance on the protests, describing demonstrators’ calls for better living conditions as “legitimate.” 


US-backed SDF hand Iraqi, foreign Daesh fighters to Iraq

Updated 22 min 4 sec ago
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US-backed SDF hand Iraqi, foreign Daesh fighters to Iraq

  • The handover was the first of several under an agreement brokered to handover a total of 502 fighters
  • News of the handover came as US-backed forces were readying for an assault on the militant group’s final enclave in eastern Syria

BAGHDAD: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) handed over more than 150 Iraqi and other foreign Daesh fighters to Iraq on Thursday.
The handover was the first of several, two Iraqi military sources told Reuters, under an agreement brokered to handover a total of 502 fighters.
“The majority of the fighters are Iraqi,” said a military colonel whose unit is stationed at the Syrian border. “But we have a few foreigners.”
The mayor of Iraqi border town Al-Qaim, Ahmed Al-Mahallawi, said some fighters’ families were also transferred.
“Early this morning, 10 trucks loaded with Daesh fighters and their families were handed over by SDF forces to the Iraqi army,” he said.
“The majority of them are Iraqis and the convoy was under maximum security protection headed to the Jazeera and Badiya military headquarters.” Both bases are located in Anbar province.
The SDF and the US-backed coalition could not immediately be reached for comment.
News of the handover came as US-backed forces were readying for an assault on the militant group’s final enclave in eastern Syria. The last civilians are expected to be evacuated on Thursday, to clear the way for the assault, the SDF said.
Around 800 of foreign extremist fighters who joined Daesh, including many Iraqis, are being held in Syria by the SDF, the group said. More than 2,000 family members are also in camps, with dozens more arriving each day.
Their fate has become more pressing in recent days as US-backed fighters planned their assault to capture the last remnants of the group’s self-styled caliphate.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said Iraq was carefully monitoring the situation at its Syrian border amid concerns that the remaining Daesh fighters could stream across the border.
The militant group still poses a threat in Iraq and some western officials believe that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, may still be hiding there.