Sudan protesters hold prayers outside military headquarters in campaign for civilian rule

Sudanese protesters wave a national flag and chant slogans during an a sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 26 April 2019
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Sudan protesters hold prayers outside military headquarters in campaign for civilian rule

KHARTOUM: Thousands of Sudanese protesters performed the weekly Muslim prayers outside army headquarters on Friday, a day after vast crowd of demonstrators flooded Khartoum to demand the military rulers cede power.
Protesters have massed outside the army complex in central Khartoum since April 6, initially to demand the overthrow of longtime leader Omar Al-Bashir.
But since his ouster by the army on April 11, the protesters have kept up their sit-in, demanding that the military council that took over hand power to a civilian administration.
Despite international support for the protesters, the 10-member council has so far resisted, although three of its members resigned on Wednesday under pressure from the street.
The resignations triggered jubilation among the protesters, who massed in their tens of thousands on Thursday in response to a call from their leaders for a “million-strong” march.
Despite the scorching heat, the protesters were back in numbers on Friday, an AFP correspondent reported.
“Freedom, freedom,” they chanted as prayer leader Sheikh Matter Younis delivered the sermon.
“We will not retreat until we get our main demand of civilian rule,” said Younis, an activist from Sudan’s war-torn western region of Darfur.
He also called for the “symbols” of the old regime to be punished.
“They must face fair and transparent justice, they have to be held accountable,” he said, as the protesters chanted “Blood for blood! We will not accept compensation!.”
Another Darfuri, Harun Adam, said his family lived in Kalma, one of the sprawling camps that are still home to hundreds of thousands of people who were driven from their homes by the Bashir government’s brutal response to the ethnic minority rebellion which erupted in 2003.
“I’m here since April 6,” when the sit-in started, Adam told AFP.
“I’m ready to stay here for a year until we get our main demand, which is a civilian government and that all those who committed crimes be held accountable.”
Behind him crowds chanted “One, two, three, four, we are all Darfur!“
The military council, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, says it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.
Protest leaders have held several rounds of talks with the council and the two sides have agreed to set up a joint committee to chart the way forward but there has so far been no breakthrough.
Washington has thrown its weight behind the protesters.
State Department official Makila James said on Tuesday that Washington supports “the legitimate demand of the people of Sudan for a civilian-led government” and urged all parties to work together to that end.
But at a summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday, African leaders conceded that more time was needed for a transition to civilian rule.
Their statement angered the protesters who held a rally outside the Egyptian embassy on Thursday.
The African Union had taken a strong line setting an end of April deadline for the military council to hand power to civilians or face suspension from the 55-nation bloc.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 9 min 29 sec ago
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.