Sudan army agree to share power with civilians

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Protesters rallying outside the Armed Forces Square in Khartoum on April 28, 2019 call for the release of a prisoner detained in recent demonstrations. (AP Photos/Salih Basheer)
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A protester carries a Sudanese flag as they chant against military rule and demand the prosecution of former officials, at the Armed Forces Square, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday April 28, 2019. Sudanese protest leaders held talks with the ruling military council on Sunday after the military condemned an attack on an Islamist party close to President Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power and jailed earlier this month. (AP Photos/Salih Basheer)
Updated 29 April 2019

Sudan army agree to share power with civilians

  • Activists say the new council could be a 15-member body, with eight civilians and seven army generals
  • The joint civilian-military council will be the overall ruling body

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters Sunday welcomed a breakthrough in talks with army rulers who agreed to form a joint civilian-military council, paving the way for a civilian administration as demanded by demonstrators.
Saturday’s agreement would replace the existing 10-member military council that took power after the army ousted veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir on April 11 amid massive protests.
“What happened yesterday is a step to have a civilian authority,” said Mohamed Amin, one of thousands of demonstrators who have been camped for weeks outside headquarters.
“We are happy by the progress in the talks, but we are still waiting for the composing of the council and the civilian government.”
The joint civilian-military council will be the overall ruling body, while a new transitional civilian government is expected to be formed to run the day to day affairs of the country, a key demand of protesters.
That civilian government will work toward having the first post-Bashir elections.
“When we have a civilian government, then we can say our country is on the right track,” said Amin.
The demonstrators said they will pursue their sit-in until a civilian administration is set up.
“Last night’s agreement is a step forward in the stability of our country. But I don’t think we will leave the sit-in until we achieve our demand of a civilian government,” said protester Sawsan Bashir.
Protest leader Ahmed Al-Rabia confirmed to AFP the decision of forming a joint council.
“We are now in consultation about what percentage of the council should be represented by civilians and how much by the military,” said Rabia, who is involved in talks.
Activists say the new council could be a 15-member body, with eight civilians and seven army generals.
The decision to have a joint council came after hours-long talks on Saturday, the first such by a joint committee representing the current ruling military leadership and protesters.
Bashir was ousted by the army after months of protests against his three-decade rule.
Thousands of demonstrators, braving volleys of tear gas fired by security forces, reached the sprawling military headquarters on April 6, demanding that the army support those opposing Bashir.
Five days later, the army toppled Bashir but then took power into its own hands through a 10-member transitional military council.
Protest leaders had previously held several rounds of inconclusive talks with the military council since Bashir was ousted.
The military council has so far insisted that it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.
Western governments have expressed support for protesters’ demands, but Sudan’s key Gulf Arab lenders have backed the military council, while African states have called for more time for the army to hand over to civilians.
Buses bringing protesters kept arriving Saturday at the protest site, with hundreds of protesters coming from the eastern province of Kassala, an AFP photographer said.
As the joint committee met on Saturday, top opposition leader and former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi told reporters Sudan should “immediately” join the International Criminal Court.
Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based tribunal for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the conflict in Darfur, but the 75-year-old has repeatedly denied the charges against him.
The war in Darfur erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of social and political marginalization.
The United Nations says about 300,000 people have died in the conflict, with another 2.5 million displaced, many of them still living in miserable camps across the western region of the country.
Protest group spokesman Amjad Farid told reporters that Bashir and other regime figures could be tried in Sudan.
“We are not seeking retaliatory measures against them, but we want to rebuild our justice system to hold them accountable for their crimes,” he said.
Mahdi, who was forced from office by Bashir in a 1989 coup, said the army’s ouster of Bashir was “not a military coup.”
But he warned that Bashir cronies were still clinging on to power despite the upheaval.
“The toppled regime might still try to do a coup,” he said without elaborating.

Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019

Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province


BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.