Crowds to flood Khartoum as standoff with military persists

Sudanese protesters chant slogans during a sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on May 1, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 May 2019

Crowds to flood Khartoum as standoff with military persists

  • The two sides have been negotiating the formation of a new transitional government but are divided over the role of the military
  • The African Union gave the military an extension of 60 days to hand over power, noting with "deep regret" that the generals had missed the earlier deadline

KHARTOUM: Sudanese demonstrators are expected to stage a “million-strong” march on Thursday to press for a civilian administration after talks with military rulers hit a snag.
The two sides have agreed on forming a joint civilian-military council to run Sudan but are at odds over its composition.
Protest leaders from the Alliance for Freedom and Change say the army is not serious about handing power to civilians, three weeks after it toppled autocratic president Omar Al-Bashir.
The army, which took over after Bashir’s ouster on April 11, has been pushing for a 10-member council including seven military representatives and three civilians.
The alliance is demanding a council made up of eight civilians and seven generals.
The disagreement prompted the alliance to announce a “million-strong march on May 2 to assert our main demand, which is for civilian rule.”
The call has exacerbated tensions between the two sides.
The military council has warned it will not allow “chaos” and urged protesters to dismantle makeshift barricades they have set up around the main protest site outside army headquarters.
It also demanded protesters open roads and bridges blocked by demonstrators who have camped outside the headquarters for weeks, even after Bashir’s ouster.
Adding to the deepening discord, the military council said six security personnel were killed in clashes with protesters across the country on Monday.

As both sides in the standoff remained intransigent, they held separate news conferences on Tuesday to explain their divergent views.
“The military council is not serious about handing over power to civilians,” said Mohamed Naji Al-Assam, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) spearheading the protests.
“The military council insists that the (joint) council should be military led with civilian representation,” Assam said, adding the army had been seeking to “expand its powers daily.”
In an interview with AFP, Sudan’s main opposition leader Sadiq Al-Mahdi on Wednesday warned protest leaders against provoking the military.
“If we provoke the... armed forces which contributed to the change, we would be asking for trouble,” he said.
The military council’s deputy head Mohammad Hamdan Dagolo has said it is “committed to negotiations but (will allow) no chaos.”
Hamdan, widely knowns as Himeidti, and some of his colleagues spoke of incidents since the protests first broke out in December over the tripling of bread prices, including looting and burning of markets across Sudan.
The spokesman of the military council, Lt. Gen. Shamseddin Al-Kabbashi, said the “armed forces must remain in the sovereign council” because of tensions facing the country.
Sudan’s protests took a new turn on April 6 when thousands of people began setting up a makeshift camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum, urging the military to back them in ousting Bashir.
Five days later, the army took power through a transitional military council, having deposed Bashir.
Since then the 10-member council of generals has resisted calls to step down and demonstrators accused them of being little different from Bashir.
But in a breakthrough on Saturday, the two sides agreed to form a joint civilian-military body to pave the way for a civilian government after lengthy talks.
The protesters have won support from Western governments for their demands.
But a new round of talks with the military council to iron out their differences has yet to be decided.
The African Union on Tuesday gave Sudan’s military rulers another 60 days to hand over power to a civilian authority or face suspension, after an earlier deadline was missed.
 


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”