Mediators call on Sudan generals, protesters to resume talks Wednesday

Sudanese shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians in Khartoum, Sudan, June 30, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 02 July 2019

Mediators call on Sudan generals, protesters to resume talks Wednesday

  • The mediators have come up with a compromise to resolve the crisis that has rocked Sudan for months

KHARTOUM: African Union and Ethiopian mediators said they have invited Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders to resume talks Wednesday on creating a new governing body for the country.
“We have invited the two parties for a meeting tomorrow, and we have fixed for them a time and place,” said African Union envoy Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt at a joint press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Mahmoud Dirir.
Negotiations between the generals and protest leaders collapsed in May over the make-up of the governing body and who should lead it — a civilian or soldier.
The mediators have come up with a compromise to resolve the crisis that has rocked Sudan for months, following the military ouster of longtime leader Omar Al-Bashir in April after widespread protest.
“The document has been presented to the two parties and they considered it as a good base for negotiations,” Lebatt said, without detailing where talks would take place.
But Ethiopian envoy Dirir cautioned that there remained “one point where opinions are conflicting” over the governing body.
Tensions remain high between the two sides following a June 3 crackdown by men in military fatigues on a protest camp which left dozens dead.
On Sunday tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied against the ruling generals, urging them to hand power to a civilian administration.


Coronavirus cases soar as Israel prepares tighter measures

Updated 3 min 23 sec ago

Coronavirus cases soar as Israel prepares tighter measures

  • Israel, a country of some 9 million people, now has one of the world’s highest rates of coronavirus on a per capita basis
  • The government reopened the economy too quickly, and a new outbreak has quickly spread throughout the summer

JERUSALEM: Israel on Wednesday reported a new record level of daily cases of the coronavirus, shortly before government officials were to meet to discuss tightening a new nationwide lockdown.
The Health Ministry reported 6,861 new cases on Wednesday as a raging outbreak showed no signs of slowing. Israel, a country of some 9 million people, now has one of the world’s highest rates of coronavirus on a per capita basis, and health officials say hospitals are quickly approaching capacity.
The government last week imposed a nationwide lockdown that closed schools, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. The coronavirus Cabinet was to meet later in the day to discuss further tightening the restrictions.
Ahead of the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that in light of the rapid spread of the virus, he would seek a “a broad general closure and significant tightening of restrictions immediately,” including the closure of large parts of the economy, his office said.
Israel won international praise for its handling of the outbreak last spring, moving quickly to seal its borders and impose a lockdown that appeared to contain the virus. But the government reopened the economy too quickly, and a new outbreak has quickly spread throughout the summer. The economy, meanwhile, has not recovered from a serious downturn caused by the first lockdown, and the new lockdown has led to a new wave of layoffs.
A new poll released Wednesday by the Israel Democracy Institute, a respected think tank, found that only 27% of Israelis trust Netanyahu to lead the country’s effort against COVID-19. That compares with 57.5% who trusted him in early April. The survey interviewed 754 adults and had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
The Health Ministry has instructed hospitals to delay non-essential surgeries and to open additional coronavirus wards as the number of serious cases continues to rise.
Beyond further limiting economic activity, officials have been discussing shuttering synagogues and clamping down on protests — both of which risk sparking a public backlash.
The limits would come at a time when Israeli Jews are celebrating the High Holidays and when weekly demonstrations have been held against Netanyahu and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The ongoing protests have bitterly divided the country, with religious leaders saying their public is being unfairly targeted by restrictions on public prayer while Netanyahu’s opponents continue to hold large public demonstration. Demonstrators say Netanyahu’s supporters are using the outbreak as an excuse to muzzle their democratic right to protest.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch said restrictions would have to be tightened in the near future.
“Educational institutions will be closed, the economy will be limited to essential work, synagogues will have no indoor prayers, with arrangements for outdoor prayer, and demonstrations will be allowed without protesters traveling between cities,” he told Channel 12 TV. “Everyone will demonstrate where he wants, will pray where he wants and will stay at home. That is what is required now.”