‘Infiltrators’ suspected behind shooting dead of 5 protesters, army officer in Sudan

A Sudanese protester holds the national flag with "Civilian Only" written on it in Arabic during a rally outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on May 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

‘Infiltrators’ suspected behind shooting dead of 5 protesters, army officer in Sudan

  • Military council says "unidentified infiltrators" could be behind the attacks to provoke violence
  •  Sudan charged ousted president Omar Al-Bashir and others with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters

KHARTOUM: Six people, including an army major, were killed and large number of protesters wounded in clashes in Khartoum late on Monday, Arab media reported.

The violence erupted hours after protest leaders and the ruling generals reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country.

Officials and protest leaders said the officer and a protester were killed at a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where thousands of protesters remain camped for weeks, demanding that the army generals who took power after ousting Bashir step down.

Three soldiers and several protesters and civilians were also wounded when “unidentified elements” fired shots at the Khartoum sit-in, the ruling military council said.

The latest developments came as the prosecutor general’s office said ousted president Omar Al-Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month.

A doctors’ committee linked to the protest movement later said four more protesters had been shot dead, but did not specify if they were actually killed at the sit-in.

The military council said in a late night press conference that it had “noticed some armed infiltrators among the protesters.”

The umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change said Monday’s violence was to “disturb the breakthrough in the negotiations” with army generals as it blamed the bloodshed on the former regime’s militias.

Earlier on Monday, the generals and the protest movement said a breakthrough had been reached in their talks over handing of power to a civilian administration.

“At today’s meeting we agreed on the structure of the authorities and their powers,” Taha Osman, a spokesman for the protest movement, told AFP.

“The authorities are as follows — the sovereign council, the cabinet and the legislative body,” he said.

Osman said another meeting would be held on Tuesday “to discuss the period of transition and the composition of the authorities.”

 

Transition period
The military council confirmed an accord had been reached.
“We agreed on forming the transitional authority on all three levels — the sovereign, the executive and the legislative,” council spokesman Lt. Gen. Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.
“Tomorrow we will continue to discuss the percentage of participation... and the transitional period.”
The generals insist the transitional period should be two years, while protesters want it to be four years.
The crucial talks between the two sides follow a deadlock in negotiations.
The apparent breakthrough came as Sudan’s acting prosecutor general Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said Bashir “and others have been charged for inciting and participating in the killing of demonstrators.”
The charges form part of an investigation into the death of a medic killed during a protest in the capital’s eastern district of Burri, his office said in a statement.
Ninety people were killed in protest-related violence after demonstrations initially erupted in December, the doctors’ committee said last month.
The official death toll is 65.
Mass protests which drove Bashir from office on April 11 are still being held outside the army headquarters, vowing to force the military council to cede power.
Prior to Monday’s talks, dozens of protesters blocked Nile Street, a major avenue in the city, for the second consecutive day, an AFP correspondent reported.
Pressing their demand for a handover to civilian rule, protesters also blocked a road leading to the capital’s northern district of Bahari.
Three protesters were wounded by “live ammunition” when security personnel tried to dismantle blockades put by demonstrators in parts of the capital, the doctors’ committee said.
“We reject using force against the civilians ... we are calling on the military council to take its responsibility in protecting the peaceful protesters,” the Alliance for Freedom and Change said.

New round of talks
Following a deadlock in negotiations, the protest alliance on Saturday said the army generals had invited the movement for a new round of talks.
The generals in earlier talks had proposed the new council be led by the military, while the protest leaders want a majority civilian body.
Late last month, the alliance — which brings together protest organizers, opposition parties and rebel groups — handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transitional government.
But the generals pointed to what they call “many reservations” over the alliance’s roadmap.
They have singled out its silence on the constitutional position of Islamic sharia law, which was the guiding principle of all legislation under Bashir’s rule.
Demonstrators converged on the military complex last month seeking the army’s help in ousting Bashir.
Days later the army ousted the veteran leader, but a 10-member military council took power and demonstrators have kept up their sit-in against the generals.
Although crowds have dwindled during the day due to the scorching heat, protesters gather in their thousands after breaking the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

 

(With AFP)


US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

Updated 59 min 1 sec ago

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

  • The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians
  • The move is the latest by the Trump administration seen as favoring the Israeli position over the Palestinians

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians who say the settlements are the main barrier to their future state.

The shift in US policy follows the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem last year, a move seen as undermining Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city as a future capital.

Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank - which Israel captured during a 1967 war - had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.

“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

In 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before opening the embassy in the city. US policy had previously been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

In March, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

Trump's move might have been designed to help Netanyahu as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

*With Reuters