Sudanese forces clear protesters with gunfire; talks suspended for 72 hours

Sudanese protesters chant slogans and flash the victory gesture with a national flag at the protest outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on May 14, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

Sudanese forces clear protesters with gunfire; talks suspended for 72 hours

  • The violence has cast a shadow on talks that had appeared on course to reach a deal on forming a joint military-civilian body to run the country for a three-year transition period until presidential elections
  • The violence took place hours before the TMC was due to meet representatives of the umbrella opposition group Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) to try to hammer out a final deal for the transition period

KHARTOUM: At least nine people were wounded on Wednesday when Sudanese forces used live ammunition to clear demonstrators from central Khartoum, a protest group said, and talks on forming a body to lead Sudan to democracy have been suspended for 72 hours.
The violence has cast a shadow on talks that had appeared on course to reach a deal on forming a joint military-civilian body to run the country for a three-year transition period until presidential elections. Both sides traded accusations on who was responsible for the violence.
"We hold the military council responsible for attacking civilians," said Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals' Association (SPA), which spearheaded months of protests that led to the military's removal of President Omar al-Bashir last month.
"They are using the same methods as the previous regime in dealing with rebels," he told Reuters.
But the head of Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, accused the demonstrators of breaking an understanding on de-escalation while talks were under way and said protesters were disrupting life in the capital by blocking roads outside a protest zone agreed upon with the military.
In a televised speech broadcast early on Thursday, Burhan read out a long list of what he described as violations of understandings reached with protest leaders and said the TMC had decided to suspend talks for 72 hours "until a suitable atmosphere is created to complete an agreement."
He said the TMC, which took over after overthrowing and jailing Bashir last month, had decided to remove all barricades put up by demonstrators beyond the area where the protesters had been camping since April 6 outside the Defence Ministry.
Early on Wednesday the military announced a committee to investigate the targeting of protesters after at least four people were killed in violence in Khartoum on Monday.
Weeks of street protests that precipitated the end of Bashir's 30-year rule on April 11 have continued as the opposition demands that the military hand over power to civilians.
A Reuters witness and Sudanese witnesses said that troops in military vehicles using the logo of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fired extensively as they tried to clear demonstrators on al-Mek Nimir Avenue in central Khartoum, near the Foreign Ministry.
The RSF has denied opening fire at demonstrators, state TV reported.
"People were walking towards the barricades and they (security forces) were firing shots at them," a 20-year-old demonstrator, who asked not to be named, said, showing a handful of empty bullet casings and referring to road blocks set up by protesters.
The violence took place hours before the TMC was due to meet representatives of the umbrella opposition group Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) to try to hammer out a final deal for the transition period.
A senior DFCF leader said the TMC has informed them of the suspension of the talks. "No date has been set for the talks to resume," the source told Reuters.
Caution
The two sides, which have held talks for several weeks, announced early on Wednesday they had agreed on the composition of a legislative council and the duration of the transition.
Some demonstrators expressed caution over the prospects of an agreement that would satisfy their demands for a handover of power to civilians, and for security forces to be held to account for the deaths of demonstrators.
"We are still sticking to our plan," said Altaj Blah, a protester in central Khartoum. "The barriers are there and they are not moving until our demands are met."
In the agreement announced early on Wednesday the two sides said the transition would last three years - a compromise between the military council's proposal of two years and the opposition DFCF's preference for four.
The TMC said the DFCF would have two-thirds of the seats on a transitional legislative council while parties outside the alliance would take the rest. Elections would be held at the end of the three-year transition.
On Monday after security forces tried to clear some protest sites, at least four people, including three protesters and a military police officer, were killed in an outburst of violence. They were the first deaths linked to the protests for several weeks.
DFCF members blamed security and paramilitary forces, while also voicing suspicions that groups linked to Bashir might be fomenting unrest to undermine the chances of a political accord. 


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.