Sudan’s army calls for unconditional talks with protesters

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Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Himediti, deputy head of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries, sits next to a tribal leader Sidig Wada during a meeting with his supporters in the capital Khartoum on June 18, 2019. (AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba)
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Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (C) shakes hands with Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) in Khartoum on June 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2019
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Sudan’s army calls for unconditional talks with protesters

  • Protest leaders have set conditions for a resumption of talks, including a withdrawal of the military and militias from cities
  • At least 128 people were killed across the country since security forces cleared the sit-in area outside the military’s headquarters

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military council said talks on the transition of power should resume without preconditions, signaling a continued standoff with opposition leaders who launched nighttime demonstrations to push for civilian rule.
Protest leaders have set conditions for a resumption of talks, including a withdrawal of the military and militias from cities, the resumption of Internet service and an international investigation of the violent razing of their sit-in camp on June 3.
Transition talks collapsed over the military’s crackdown.
At least 128 people were killed across the country since security forces cleared the sit-in area outside the military’s headquarters. Authorities offer a lower death toll of 61, including three from security forces.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the council, told health workers in Khartoum on Wednesday that the council did not have preconditions for returning to the negotiating table with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which has represented protesters.
He said neither side should make up-front demands.
“I repeat our invitation to all political forces and the FDFC to come (for talks), and there is no need for preconditions,” he said. “We do not deny their role in the uprising and the popular revolution ..., but the solution should be satisfactory to all Sudanese factions.”
Protest leaders could not be reached immediately for comment.
On Saturday, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association said it would stick to its conditions for the resumption of talks.
Meanwhile, protest leaders launched nighttime protests this week.
Late Wednesday, about 300 protesters, mostly young people, marched in Khartoum’s western district of Abbasiya, waving Sudanese flags and calling for justice for those killed since the sit-in dispersal.
Protesters avoid daytime demonstrations for fear of being quashed by security forces heavily deployed in Khartoum.
The military council has rejected the idea of an international probe and said it had started its own investigation along with another one by prosecutors.
An Ethiopian initiative to resume talks apparently failed to make progress in the deadlock. A top general in the military council pushed back last week against a key demand from the protest leaders to have the majority in a transitional legislative body.
Burhan said that the country cannot remain without a government, more than three months after the military ousted autocratic President Omar Al-Bashir in April.
“We do not want that things (get) out of control,” Burhan said. “Another coup could be carried out because of the country’s impasse.”


Israeli forces surround demolition-threatened Palestinian homes

Updated 22 July 2019
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Israeli forces surround demolition-threatened Palestinian homes

  • Dozens of Israeli police and military began sealing off at least four multi-story buildings in the Sur Baher area south of Jerusalem early Monday
  • Palestinians accuse Israel of using security as a pretext to force them out of the area

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces surrounded a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem early Monday, an AFP journalist saw, ahead of expected demolitions that have drawn international concern.
Dozens of Israeli police and military began sealing off at least four multi-story buildings in the Sur Baher area south of Jerusalem early Monday, the journalist said.
Reporters and activists were prevented from reaching the area and residents and activists were being dragged out.
One man yelled “I want to die here” after being dragged out.
The buildings are close to Israel’s separation barrier which cuts off the occupied West Bank and the Jewish state says they were built without too close to the wall.
Palestinians accuse Israel of using security as a pretext to force them out of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand settlements and roads linking them.
They also point out that most of the buildings are located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the agreements between the Palestinian and Israeli governments.
Ismail Abadiyeh, who lives in one of the buildings under threat with his family, said they would be left homeless.
“We will be on the street,” he told AFP.
On June 18, residents received a 30-day notice from Israeli authorities informing them of their intent to demolish the homes, many of which are still under construction.
According to UN humanitarian affairs agency OCHA, the ruling affects 10 buildings already built or under construction, including around 70 apartments.
The demolitions would see 17 people displaced and another 350 affected, according to the United Nations.
European Union diplomats recently toured the area and the United Nations has called on Israel to abandon the demolition plan.
Residents fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.
It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive construction permits from Israeli authorities in areas under their control, and Palestinians and rights activists say a housing shortage has resulted.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
Israel began construction of the barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.
Palestinians see it as an “apartheid wall.”