At least seven killed, dozens injured as protesters descend on Khartoum presidential palace

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Five protesters were killed on Sunday during mass demonstrations that rocked the country as tens of thousands of people protested against the ruling generals. (AFP)
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Sudanese protesters shout slogans as they march during a demonstration against the military council, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2019

At least seven killed, dozens injured as protesters descend on Khartoum presidential palace

  • Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan’s capital
  • The demonstrations came amid a weeks-long standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders

KHARTOUM: At least seven protesters were killed on Sunday, and dozens others injured, during mass demonstrations that rocked the country as tens of thousands of people protested against the ruling generals, doctors' committee linked to the protest movement said.

"The death of four martyrs in the city of Omdurman on the road of our victorious revolution brings the number of martyrs to five" in Sunday's protests, the committee said, after it reported earlier that a protester was shot dead in the town of Atbara.

"There are several seriously wounded by the bullets of the military council militias in hospitals of the capital and the provinces," it added.

It came as a protester's group called for a march on Sudan’s presidential palace despite a heavy security deployment as thousands of demonstrators rallied against the generals in a mass rally demanding civilian rule.

“We call on our revolutionary people in the capital to go to the republican palace... to seek justice for the martyrs and for an unconditional transfer of power to civilians,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement on Twitter.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan’s capital and elsewhere in the country to reiterate their call for civilian rule, nearly three months after the army forced out the autocrat Omar Al-Bashir.

The demonstrations came amid a weeks-long standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders. Talks between the two sides over a power-sharing agreement collapsed earlier this month when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum.

The marches, the first since the June 3 crackdown, also mark the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought Al-Bashir to power in 1989, toppling Sudan's last elected government. The military removed Al-Bashir in April amid mass protests against his rule.

The crowds gathered at several points across the capital and its sister city of Omdurman before marching toward the homes of those killed since the uprising began.

"This is a very important day for the Sudanese people," protester Hamdi Karamallah said.

The protest movement erupted in December, triggered by an economic crisis. The protesters remained in the streets after al-Bashir was overthrown and jailed, fearing that the military would cling to power or preserve much of his regime.

On Sunday, protesters chanted anti-military slogans like "Burhan's council, just fall", according to video clips circulated online. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan is head of the military council.

Video clips showed protesters running away from security forces in the streets of Khartoum and seeking shelter from clouds of tear gas.

On a highway leading to Khartoum's international airport, a convoy of troops and riot police allowed some demonstrators to pass through as they headed toward the house of a protester who was killed earlier this month.


Change needed in Lebanon after Beirut blast, says German foreign minister

Updated 30 min 4 sec ago

Change needed in Lebanon after Beirut blast, says German foreign minister

  • Maas gave a check for over 1 million euro to the Lebanese Red Cross
  • It is part of 20 million euros in humanitarian aid from Germany

BEIRUT: Germany’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Lebanon needed a government that can fight corruption and enact reforms as he toured Beirut port, scene of the devastating explosion that has triggered protests and led the government to resign.
Last week’s blast at a warehouse storing highly-explosive material for years killed at least 171 people, injured some 6,000 and damaged swathes of the Mediterranean city, compounding a deep economic and financial crisis.
“It is impossible that things go on as before,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. “The international community is ready to invest but needs securities for these investments. It is important to have a government that fights the corruption.”
“Many in Europe have a lot of interest for this country. They want to know that there are economic reforms and good governance. Whoever takes over responsibility in Lebanon has a lot to do.”
Maas gave a check for over 1 million euro to the Lebanese Red Cross, part of 20 million euros in humanitarian aid from Germany.
International humanitarian assistance has poured in but foreign countries have made clear they will not write blank cheques to a state viewed by its own people as deeply corrupt. Donors are seeking enactment of long-demanded reforms in return for financial assistance to pull Lebanon from economic meltdown.
The resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government has plunged Lebanon into deeper uncertainty. Its talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout had already been put on hold over a row between the government, banks and politicians about the scale of vast financial losses.
Sitting amid the debris, Lebanese expressed their frustration at the state for abandoning them in their desperate efforts to rebuild homes and businesses wrecked in the blast.
“Who knows what will happen. How will we get back to business,” said Antoinne Matta, 74, whose safe and lock store was heavily damaged by the blast. Five employees were wounded.
“We in Lebanon are used to the government not doing anything.”
Unrest has erupted with Lebanese calling for the wholesale removal of a ruling class they brand as responsible for the country’s woes. The financial crisis has ravaged the currency, paralyzed banks and sent prices soaring.
Officials have said the blast could have caused losses of $15 billion, a bill Lebanon cannot pay, given the depths of the financial crisis that has seen people frozen out of their savings accounts since October amid dollar scarcity.
The central bank has instructed local banks to extend interest-free dollar loans to individuals and businesses for essential repairs, and that it would in turn provide those financial institutions with the funding.
Bandali Gharabi, whose photo studio was destroyed, said that so far local authorities had only give him a compensation sheet to fill out. He does not know if the bank will provide financial assistance because he already has a car loan.
“Everything is gone,” he said. “I just want someone to rebuild my shop.”
President Michel Aoun has promised a swift and transparent investigation into the blast at a warehouse where authorities say more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored for years without safety measures. He has said the probe would look into whether it was negligence, an accident or external factors.
Reuters reported that Aoun and Diab were warned in July about the warehoused ammonium nitrate, according to documents and senior security sources.
The presidency did not respond to requests for comment about the warning letter.
An emergency donor conference raised pledges of nearly 253 million euros ($298 million) for immediate humanitarian relief.
Volunteers and construction workers with bulldozers were still clearing wreckage from neighborhoods more than a week after the blast. Rows of destroyed cars were still parked in front of damaged stores and demolished buildings.
Nagy Massoud, 70, was sitting on the balcony when the blast gutted his apartment. He was saved by a wooden door that protected him from flying debris. A stove injured his wife.
His pension is frozen in a bank account he cannot access due to capital controls prompted by the economic crisis.
“Where is the government,” he said, looking around his shattered apartment.