Saudi Arabia, UAE urge new talks in Sudan as death toll rises to 100

Bricks are laid by protesters to block a street in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to stop military vehicles from driving through the area on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 06 June 2019

Saudi Arabia, UAE urge new talks in Sudan as death toll rises to 100

  • Death toll in the Sudanese military’s crackdown has risen to 100
  • Saudi Arabia expressed its condolences to the families of those killed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE raised concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Sudan and urged all Sudanese parties to resume talks.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it was concerned about new violence in Sudan and urged a resumption of talks between military rulers and protesters demanding a civilian government.

The Saudi statement came as Sudanese opposition representatives rejected an offer of renewed dialogue from the Transitional Military Council, and the death toll from Monday’s attack on the protesters’ sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum rose to 100 when 40 bodies were found in the Nile River.

“The government of Saudi Arabia has followed with great concern the developments in the brotherly Republic of Sudan, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries,” Saudi Arabia said.

“The Kingdom affirms the importance of resuming the dialogue between the various parties in Sudan to fulfill the aspirations of the brotherly Sudanese people.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said they hope talks will resume between the Sudanese parties in a statement on Thursday.
"The UAE hopes that wisdom, voice of reason and constructive dialogue would prevail between all Sudanese parties, in a way that guarantees security and stability of Sudan, helps spare its people the scourge of evil, safeguard its gains and ensure its unity,” the statement said.

The paramilitary commander accused of ordering Monday’s massacre said the law must be upheld. “We will not allow chaos ... we must impose the authority of the state through law,” said Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Himedti, deputy chief of the military council and head of the Rapid Support Forces.

The general criticized makeshift barricades erected across streets by demonstrators with the aim of blocking access for the security forces, but he said the military council had launched “an urgent and transparent investigation” into Monday’s violence. “Any person who crossed boundaries has to be punished,” he said.

The military council has controlled Sudan since ousting President Omar Al-Bashir in April after months of protests. It has ditched an agreement for a three-year transition period to a civilian administration and is now pushing for an election in nine months.

On Wednesday, however, the council appeared to soften its position, and offered an unconditional resumption of talks with opposition groups. “We in the military council open our arms to negotiate with no restriction but the national interest to continue building a legitimate power that reflects the aspirations of the Sudanese revolution in every way,” said its head, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

Sudan’s alliance of protesters and opposition groups said the military could not be trusted, and rejected the offer. “Today the council invited us to dialogue and at the same time it is imposing fear on citizens in the streets,” said spokesman Madani Abbas Madani.

The atmosphere in Khartoum remained tense on Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking streets in several districts.

Most shops were shuttered on what would usually have been a bustling Eid holiday. There were minor protests outside mosques after Eid prayers but no significant clashes with security forces.

The United Nations said late Wednesday it was relocating some of its staff away from Khartoum, while Britain warned its citizens against all but essential travel to Khartoum and decided to pull non-essential staff from its embassy.

*With AFP


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.