Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

Sudan's Transitional Military Council agreed with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces opposition alliance that the country's transition period will last three years. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

KHARTOUM: Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration, even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished.
The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by now deposed president Omar Al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role.
Talks between the two sides resumed earlier in the week but were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum.
The two sides announced early Wednesday after nearly 12 hours of negotiations that they had reached an agreement on the transition period.
“We agreed on a transitional period of three years,” Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta, a member of the military council told reporters.
Atta said a final agreement on the sharing of power, including the forming of the next ruling body — the sovereign council — will be signed with the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, within a day.
“We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people’s aspirations,” Atta said.
He said of the transition period, the first six months will be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the country’s war zones like Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Protester Mohamed Abdullah told AFP that he was happy the way the negotiations had turned out so far.
“We will wait for tomorrow’s talks, but my only question is ‘Who will guarantee this agreement with the military council?’,” he said as thousands of demonstrators gathered for another sit-in overnight.

The army generals had initially insisted on a two-year transition period, while the protest leaders wanted four years.
Key negotiations however remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which will replace the existing ruling body made up solely of generals.
The generals say this should be military led while protest leaders want it to be majority civilian.
After the forming of the sovereign council, a new transitional civilian government will be formed to run the country’s day-to-day affairs and would work toward having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period.
Atta said that during the transition period parliament will be composed of 300 members, of which 67 percent will be from the Alliance for Freedom and Change and the rest will be from other political groups.
The Alliance for Freedom and Change meanwhile said the shootings on Monday were an attempt to “disturb the breakthrough” in talks.
On Tuesday, the United States blamed the army itself for the deaths.
They “were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks,” the US embassy said on its Facebook page.
“The decision for security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,” it said.

Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of Bashir’s regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday.
“We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday because it’s their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,” Mohamed Naji Al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters.
The latest round of talks which opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten “escalatory measures” to secure their central demand of civilian rule.
The issue has kept thousands of protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since Bashir’s overthrow.
The sit-in has become the focal point for the protest movement, overtaking the near daily protests that had been held across Sudan while the veteran president remained in power.
But on Tuesday protesters in the capital’s twin city Omdurman also vented their anger on the streets.
Protesters gathered in the Abbassiya and Al-Arbaa districts, just across the Nile from the capital, with many chanting slogans against the military council, witnesses told AFP.
“Protect your homeland or prepare to die!” the protesters chanted.
 


Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

Updated 17 min 31 sec ago
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Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

  • Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV
  • The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, one of his lawyers said, a day after he collapsed in court and died.

“He was buried in Medinat Nasr, in eastern Cairo, with his family present. The funeral prayer was said in Tora prison hospital” where he was declared dead on Monday, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, 67, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

In Istanbul on Tuesday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, mourning former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and some chanting slogans blaming Cairo authorities for his death.

* With AFP