turmoil in sudan
July 27, 2019

An investigation into the violent breakups of protests in Khartoum last month found "rogue" military responsible for 87 deaths, but Sudan's opposition movement — which is demanding demanding the military cede power to civilians — is not satisfied.

Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said on Saturday that some members of the security forces fired on protesters in violation of orders. The committee found the security forces "exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square" before they "fired heavily and randomly." Saeed described the forces who fired as "outlaws."

The death toll provided by the investigation falls in between the health ministry's previously reported total of 61 and the opposition medics' report of 127 deaths.

The opposition is not buying the "outlaw" narrative or the new death toll, however. Ismail al-Taj, an opposition representative, told a news conference that the committee "was formed not to establish the truth, but to conceal the truth." The committee also had not uncovered any incidents of rape, Al Jazeera reports, despite U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights citing local medics who said women had their clothes torn off and were raped.

The opposition forces and the ruling military council which replaced former president Omar Al-Bashir after decades of autocratic rule are currently negotiating an agreement for a three-year transition to elections. Read more at Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell

June 30, 2019

Tens of thousands of protesters returned to the streets in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan on Sunday to call for civilian rule in the country while marching toward the homes of those killed since the uprising began.

Sudanese police have reportedly fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, while the Sudan Doctors Committee said a protester was shot dead in the city of Atbara.

The demonstrations come amid a weeks-long standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders, who are at odds over how the country should transition to democracy after the military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir following months-long protests against his rule.

Talks between the two sides collapsed earlier in June when security forces violently stormed a protest camp, resulting in a high number of civilian casualties. The military council on Friday, though, said it was open to resuming negotiations.

Prior to the protests, the military council said it was not opposed to the march, but would hold the opposition responsible for any violence or loss of life. Security forces were patrolling the streets and reportedly raided a press conference held by the opposition in the lead up to the gathering. Tim O'Donnell

June 29, 2019

Sudan's ruling military council said on Friday that a proposal submitted by the African Union and Ethiopia is suitable for resuming talks on a transition to democracy with Sudan's opposition coalition.

The proposal reportedly addresses a major sticking point in negotiations: balance of power. It provides for a sovereign council consisting of seven civilians and seven members of the military that would oversee the transition. One additional seat would be reserved for an independent member. The makeup of a legislative council, though, would only be decided after the agreement was signed. The new proposal is reportedly similar to one the opposition had previously endorsed.

The AU and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Amed have been trying to broker an agreement between the opposition and the military who have been at odds ever since the military removed long-time former President Omar Al-Bashir from power following months of civilian protests. The two sides have been unable to agree to terms on a transition of power and the enmity has worsened after Sudanese security forces violently stormed a protest camp earlier in June, resulting in a high number of civilian deaths.

Activists in Sudan have called for a million-strong march on Sunday to revive street pressure on the military council as part of an effort to force the council to cede power to civilians, Reuters reports. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

June 19, 2019

Sudan's ruling military council on Wednesday said that it is once again ready to continue talks with the country's opposition alliance.

Sudan has been mired in a struggle to transition to democracy after the military ousted longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April after 16 weeks of protests.

The negotiations between the military council and the civilian opposition collapsed following a violent dispersal of a protest camp in Khartoum earlier in June. Protesters said more than 100 people were killed, while authorities said the number of deaths was 61. The opposition alliance has said it refuses to engage with the military council until the initiation of an international inquiry into the violence, but the council is nevertheless trying to persuade them to meet without any preconditions.

"The solution must be satisfactory for all the Sudanese people," Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in his statement directed at the opposition. "We pledge to you and pledge to the people that we will not accept any solution that excludes any faction of the Sudanese people." Burhan also reiterated the council's stance that they did not order the dispersal. Instead, the say that a campaign against criminals using an area near the camp "strayed from its course," Reuters reports. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

June 15, 2019

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, on Friday called for an "independent and credible" investigation into the violence waged by Sudan's paramilitary security forces when they stormed a protest camp in the country's capital, Khartoum, earlier in June, The Associated Press reports.

Sudan's ruling military council, which recently ousted former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir, said it plans to announce the findings of its own investigation on Saturday. Protest organizers say over 100 people were killed by the security forces, while state authorities said the death toll was 61.

Nagy's stance echoes that of the protesters, who are hoping for an internationally-backed probe into the crackdown. The military council, which admitted that it ordered the dispersal of the sit-in, rejected that idea, as did Sudan's chief prosecutor.

Nagy added that he supports the mediation efforts by the African Union and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but did not say whether Washington would take any measures if the situation worsens. Tim O'Donnell

June 9, 2019

The crackdown against Sudan's anti-government protesters continued on Sunday when police fired tear gas and live ammunition into a crowd taking part in a civil disobedience campaign in the country's capital, Khartoum.

At least four people have been killed, an opposition-aligned doctors' committee, who blamed paramilitary forces for the deaths, said. The protesters reportedly created makeshift roadblocks in the city's northern Bahari district in an attempt to make it as difficult as possible for the military to govern Sudan before riot police stepped in to disperse them, BBC reports.

The opposition also said that a number of Sudan's bank, airport, and electricity workers were arrested before a strike against the Transitional Military Council, while the Sudanese Professionals Association says employees are being threatened by authorities to go into work rather than take part in the strike. On Friday and Saturday, three leaders of the opposition were arrested after meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is serving as a mediator between the military and the protesters.

This stage of the civil disobedience campaign comes on the heels of violence last week when paramilitary forces stormed a protest camp in Khartoum. Sudanese doctors said the violence resulted in over 100 deaths, though the country's health ministry said 61 people were killed. Tim O'Donnell

June 8, 2019

Despite accepting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a mediator in recently-stalled talks with the military, two of Sudan's opposition leaders were arrested by security forces Friday and early on Saturday.

Opposition politician Mohamed Esmat and Ismail Jalab, a leader of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, met with Amed on Friday, only to face arrest shortly after at the hands of Sudan's security forces, Al Jazeera reports. The two men are leading members of the Freedom and Change alliance, a coalition of opposition groups in the country that are in the midst of months-long anti-government protests. It is not clear where the two men are being held.

Sudan is currently governed by a Transitional Military Council, but negotiations between protesters and the council have stalled after paramilitary forces stormed a protest camp on Monday, which the opposition says resulted in 108 deaths; Al Jazeera reports another source said 61 people died.

While the military council has said they want to negotiate with the opposition with the goal of eventually forming a civilian government, Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher at Harvard University, told Al Jazeera that the arrests show the council "is not really serious" about sitting down with the opposition, even with Amed stepping in as mediator. "This could not have been more blatant in the eye of the opposition and it certainly paralyzes any effort to move forward in negotiations," Reeves said, referring to the arrests. Read more at Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell

June 5, 2019

Sudan's opposition is doubling down on its commitment to disengage from talks with the transitional military council after the bodies of 40 more people killed when paramilitary security forces stormed a protest camp in the country's capital, Khartoum, on Monday were found in the Nile River. The total number of deaths has now reached 101, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said on Wednesday.

The military council had originally canceled negotiations with the protest movement after the raid on the camp and the opposition's rejection of elections in nine months, but in response to an international outcry over the violence, they put talks back on the table. The opposition would not budge, however.

"Today the council invited us to dialogue and at the same time it is imposing fear on citizens in the streets," Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the Freedom and Change alliance, told Reuters. Another leader of the alliance, Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa said the military council's call for talks was "not serious" and the protesters will continue to practice civil disobedience. Tim O'Donnell

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