Sudan launches probe into protesters’ deaths

A Sudanese protester draped in her country’s national flag chants slogans during a protest in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Sudan launches probe into protesters’ deaths

  • The violence signaled a crackdown across Sudan that led to a breakdown in talks between the protesters and the ruling generals

CAIRO: Sudan’s newly appointed prime minister has launched an independent investigation into June’s deadly crackdown on protesters that killed dozens of people and threatened to crush the country’s pro-democracy uprising.

Protest leaders had demanded the establishment of an international inquiry as part of a subsequent power-sharing agreement with the military, but the generals insisted on a Sudanese-led probe.

According to the protesters, at least 128 people were killed and hundreds wounded when security forces violently dispersed the protesters’ main sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, on June 3. Authorities put the death toll at 87, including 17 inside the sit-in area.

The violence signaled a crackdown across Sudan that led to a breakdown in talks between the protesters and the ruling generals, who ousted leader President Omar Al-Bashir in April amid nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule.

Sudan’s new civilian leader, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said late on Saturday the investigation will be led by a seven-member committee that includes a top judge, an independent figure and two attorneys. The justice, defense and interior ministries will also be represented on the committee.

The probe, which should conclude its work within six months, could seek support from the African Union if needed, said Hamdok, who was headed to New York to attend the UN meetings.

An investigation by Sudanese prosecutors in July said the ruling generals did not order the deadly break-up, but blamed the widely condemned dispersal on paramilitary forces who exceeded their orders.

Prosecutor Fathel-Rahman Said said at the time that security forces were told only to clear a lawless area close to the protest camp, not the sit-in itself.

In the days leading up to the dispersal, the military said the lawless area near the camp had become a haven for “drug dealers and other criminals.”

Troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces however moved to disperse the protest camp on their own initiative, Said added.

He said eight RSF officers, including a major general, have been accused of crimes against humanity. He did not elaborate on how the investigation would proceed against the accused officers.


Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 36 min 16 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”