Two Sudanese rebel leaders were arrested early on Saturday, opposition sources said, shortly after meeting visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is trying to mediate in a crisis threatening a transition to democracy.
Abiy had on Friday urged Sudan’s military rulers and civilian opposition to exercise “bravery” in trying to agree steps towards democracy after the worst bloodshed since the overthrow in April of President Omar al-Bashir.
The Ethiopian premier visited days after Sudanese forces stormed a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum where demonstrators were demanding civilian rule. Dozens of people have been killed since Monday.
While no breakthrough was announced at the end of Abiy’s one-day visit, an aide to the Ethiopian prime minister said the talks went well and that Abiy would be returning to Sudan soon.
The ruling Transitional Military Council thanked Ethiopia on Saturday for its mediation efforts, state news agency SUNA said.
The TMC expressed its “openness and keenness to negotiate to reach satisfactory understandings that will lead to a national consensus…, leading to the establishment of a democratic transition,” SUNA said.
Opposition leaders arrested
However, two opposition figures who were at Friday’s meeting with Abiy said Ismail Jallab, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and the armed group’s spokesman Mubarak Ardol were detained a few hours later.
Abiy offered to mediate after the opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance’s talks with the TMC over who will lead a transition period before elections had ground to a halt, then collapsed altogether after the raid on the protest camp.
Opposition medics say 113 people were killed in the storming of the camp and subsequent security crackdown. The government has put the week’s death toll at 61, including three members of the security services.
On Wednesday, SPLM-N deputy head Yasir Arman was detained by security services at his house in Khartoum, the organisation said. He had returned from exile after Bashir was toppled by the military, 30 years after he took power in a bloodless coup.
Arman had been sentenced to death in absentia for his part in a rebellion against Bashir’s government that started in the Sudanese state of Blue Nile in 2011.
The arrest of Jallab and Ardol came hours after Mohammad Esmat, another DFCF member, was taken into custody after he met with Abiy.
There was no immediate comment from the TMC on the reported arrests.
“This amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively rejects the Ethiopian prime minister’s mediation effort,” Khalid Omar Yousef, a DFCF leader, told Reuters after Esmat’s arrest.
Yousef said that Abiy had proposed setting up a transitional council comprised of eight civilians and seven military officers with a rotating presidency.
The opposition demanded that the military rulers take responsibility for the bloodshed, allow an international investigation into the violence and free political prisoners, Yousef added. The Sudanese opposition would not agree to any deal before all of its conditions are met, he said.
The SPLM-N includes many fighters who sided with South Sudanese rebels in decades of civil war fuelled by ethnicity, oil and ideology that ended in a 2005 peace deal.
But they were left inside Sudan when that agreement paved the way to the secession of South Sudan in 2011.
Sudan gets new defence minister
Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council said.
Sudan has sworn in new defence minister, Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, two months after the death of the former defence chief, General Jamal al-Din Omar who died while in neighbouring South Sudan for peace talks with the country’s main rebel groups.
Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council.
The new defence chief came out of retirement to take the position.
His appointment comes a year after long-time autocrat Omar Bashir was toppled in mass protests in April 2019.
“We will work side by side doing our best… to achieve the goals of the constitutional declaration,” the official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim as saying after he was sworn in.
The swearing-in came amid tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia over a cross-border attack allegedly conducted by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military.
Since August last year a transitional government, comprised of civilians and military officials, has taken over the reins of power in Sudan after political factions adopted a constitutional declaration.
The declaration paved the way for the new government to steer the country to civilian rule during a three-year transition.
But the transition has been fragile with the government facing major challenges, including soaring inflation, a huge public debt, tribal clashes and efforts to forge peace with rebels.
Tunisia to reopen borders, airspace on June 27
Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.
Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh has announced that the country will reopen its land, air and sea borders from June 27.
He also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.
Fakhfakh made the announcement after a meeting with the national commission to combat coronavirus on Monday.
Tunisia has reported 1,084 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, a Xinxua news agency report said.
The North African country has received support from various countries including China.
On April 16, China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia’s Ministry of National Defense, including facemasks, test kits and medical protective googles.
Egypt, France plan to end terrorism in Libya
Both countries showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have discussed the development of several regional issues, including the situation in Libya.
During a phone call on Saturday, Macron said he is keen to exchange views with Sisi over these issues as Cairo plays a key political role in the region, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.
For his part, Sisi affirmed Egypt’s firm position towards the Libyan crisis based on restoring Libyan national state institutions, ending the spread of criminal groups and terrorist militias.
He added that Egypt also gives top priority to combating terrorism, achieving stability and security and putting an end to illegal foreign interventions in Libya, a Xinhua news agency report said.
The two presidents agreed to intensify their coordination in the coming period, stressing the necessity to end the Libyan crisis by reaching a political solution that paves the way for the return of security and stability in the country, the spokesman said.
They showed support for international endeavors as well as implementing the results of the Berlin process to end the conflict in Libya.
Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Libyan conflict escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.
While Egypt supports Haftar’s LNA that seeks to take over Tripoli, Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA.