Sudan protest leaders, rebels end rift over power deal

A Sudanese protester waves the national flag in the capital Khartoum's Green Square on July 18, 2019, during a rally to honour comrades killed in the months-long protest movement that has rocked the country. (AFP )
Updated 25 July 2019

Sudan protest leaders, rebels end rift over power deal

  • The protest leaders and generals are still to sign what is called the “Constitutional Declaration” to thrash out some outstanding issues

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protest leaders and their rebel partners have ended their differences over a power-sharing deal signed with the country’s military rulers, vowing to work jointly for peace, a leading protest group said Thursday.
On July 17, the umbrella protest movement signed a power-sharing accord with Sudan’s ruling generals that provides for a transitional civilian administration, the key demand of demonstrators.
But three armed groups who are members of the protest movement had objected to the deal, saying it failed to address peace in the war zones of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
A group of protest leaders then flew to Addis Ababa for talks with the rebels, and after days of intense negotiations they reached an agreement that was announced on Thursday.
“This agreement has discussed the fundamental roots of war... and aims to reach a comprehensive peace accord with all armed groups,” the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) said on its Facebook page.
“The agreement paves the way for establishing comprehensive peace urgently once the transitional process for a civilian government begins.”
The SPA said the “Addis Ababa Declaration” aims to “speed up the forming of the transitional civilian government.”
It said the three armed groups in the Sudan Revolutionary Front have “reconciled with the Alliance for Freedom and Change on the transitional government and connected peace-related issues with the process of transition.”
The rebel groups also confirmed the differences they had with the protest leaders had ended.
“I think with this agreement we will be united, we will be stronger,” rebel delegate Nuraddayim Taha told AFP in Addis Ababa.
“This is the first time that such an agreement is linked to issues of democracy and peace. For us, this is the first time in history that an agreement will address the root causes of the conflicts in Sudan.”
The rebel groups had been fighting government forces of now ousted president Omar Al-Bashir for years in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the three conflicts and millions displaced, with hundreds of thousands still living in sprawling camps.
The protest leaders and generals are still to sign what is called the “Constitutional Declaration” to thrash out some outstanding issues, including justice for demonstrators killed during months of protests.
The rebel groups had demanded that the “Constitutional Declaration” specify that peace negotiations would be a top priority for the new government.
Once a peace deal is finalized, sources said the rebel groups want their representatives to be part of the transitional government.
It is still unclear whether this demand had been addressed in the agreement reached between the two sides.
The rebels had also called for the extradition from Sudan of those accused of crimes by the Hague-based International Criminal Court, including Bashir.
Bashir is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his alleged role in the conflict in Darfur that erupted in 2003.
The ruling generals have steadfastly refused to hand over Bashir to the ICC.


Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

Updated 57 min 46 sec ago

Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

  • A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset
  • The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign

JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Israeli motorists protested in Jerusalem on Tuesday against a proposed measure to curtail public demonstrations during the current nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and scores of people also demonstrated in a square outside the building as lawmakers debated a measure that would effectively clamp down on the weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his Jerusalem residence.
The demonstrations in central Jerusalem have drawn thousands each week for the past several months, the largest sustained protests against Netanyahu in nearly a decade. Many of the cars in Tuesday’s motorcade were festooned with Israeli or black flags, one of the symbols of the protest movement.
The Israeli government imposed a second countrywide lockdown ahead of the Jewish High Holidays earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Protests have been permitted, but influential ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have fumed over restrictions on prayers while the mass demonstrations have kept up.
The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign, saying he is unfit to serve while on trial for corruption charges and accusing him of bungling his management of the coronavirus crisis and economic damage it has caused.
Netanyahu has said the protests must end due to public health concerns. But protesters say he is using the crisis as a pretext to muzzle them.
Israel announced the lockdown earlier this month and tightened it last week in response to one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks. The measures have closed schools, malls, restaurants and hundreds of businesses.
The lockdown was initially slated to be lifted on Oct. 11, after the three-week autumn holiday season, but in a radio interview on Tuesday, Israel’s health minister said the nationwide shutdown would likely be extended.
“There is no scenario that in another 10 days we will lift everything and say ‘it’s all over, everything is ok,’” Yuli Edelstein told Israel Radio. He said the Health Ministry was prepared for the possibility of a surge in new cases, and that “reopening of the economy and our lives will be gradual and slow.”
Israel, a country of 9 million people, has recorded over 233,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,500 deaths from the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to the Health Ministry. The ministry said Tuesday the country has for the first time surpassed the US, one of the world’s worst hit countries, in per capita daily coronavirus deaths.
While Israel garnered praise for its swift response to the arrival of the pandemic in the spring, the country reopened its economy too quickly in May and infections have skyrocketed since then.