Sudanese protest leaders on Wednesday turned down an offer by the ruling military council for talks and demanded justice for a crackdown that doctors said has left 108 people dead.
Security forces moved in to brutally disperse a protest sit-in on Monday.
The Rapid Support Forces, paramilitaries said by rights groups to have their origins in the Janjaweed militias accused of abuses during the 16-year-old conflict in Darfur, are thought to have been largely behind the crackdown.
The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors close to the protest movement said on Wednesday that at least 108 people had been killed in the crackdown, including 40, whose bodies were recovered from the Nile, and more than 500 wounded.
Sudan has been controlled by a military council since it ousted veteran president, Omar al-Bashir in April after protesters demanded an end to his authoritarian rule before agreeing a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.
On Wednesday, however, Burhan said those in “the military council open our arms to negotiate with no restriction”, an offer that the protest leaders were quick to reject.
“The Sudanese people are not open for talks,” said Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which spearheaded protests that led to the ouster of Bashir.
“The Sudanese people are not open to this TMC (Transitional Military Council) that kills people and we need justice and accountability before talks about any political process,” he told AFP.
Farid said both the SPA and umbrella protest group, the Alliance for Freedom and Change would “continue using all non-violent tools and civil disobedience in resisting the TMC”.
The rejection came after the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused of carrying out the deadly crackdown insisted the country would not be allowed to slip into “chaos”.
“We will not allow chaos… we must impose the authority of the state through law,” Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the military council, told his forces in a televised address.
‘Bloody massacre’ –
Hospitals in Khartoum said they were struggling to cope with the number of wounded after security forces on Monday raided a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters.
“The situation is very difficult. Most of the hospitals have taken in more casualties than they have capacity for,” a doctor who works at two hospitals in the city told AFP.
“There’s a shortage of medical staff, a shortage of blood,” said the doctor, who asked not to be named.
“Among the wounded there are still people in a serious condition and I expect the number of deaths to rise.”
‘Total civil disobedience’ –
There was a heavy security presence as worshippers in some neighbourhoods came out to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.
In Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, security forces were seen patrolling in machine-gun mounted trucks.
Protest leaders have called on their supporters to take part in “total civil disobedience” to topple the military council.
On Wednesday, hundreds of residents of north Khartoum blocked off streets with rocks, and waited by them in silence, a witness told AFP.
In the distance, gunfire was heard.
The United Nations said late Wednesday it was relocating some of its staff away from Khartoum, while Britain warned its citizens against all but essential travel and decided to pull non-essential staff from its embassy.
International condemnation –
The Sudanese Doctors Union accused security forces of attacks on hospitals and staff across the country, and alleged some women had been raped in an area of the capital without giving details of how the group had learned of the assaults.
A push for the UN Security Council to condemn the killing of civilians and call on the military and protesters to work together was blocked by China, which was backed by Russia, during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
Eight European countries instead issued their own joint statement criticising “the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians”.
The US called on the military rulers to “desist from violence” and urged talks with protesters to resume.
Amnesty International called on the African Union and the UN to “take immediate action to hold the perpetrators of this violence accountable”.
The British ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, called for an end to the internet outages that have plagued the country since the crackdown.
“In these critical times it is essential that everyone can communicate, particularly to urge messages of keeping things calm and peaceful,” he tweeted.
Top US envoy, David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, underlined the importance of a transition to a civilian-led government in a phone call with the Saudi deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman, the State Department said.
Saudi Arabia, a key backer of the military rulers, called for a resumption of “dialogue between the various parties of Sudan”.
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.