North African country of Sudan on lockdown as military – opposition crisis escalates

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Sudan’s military offered to hold talks with opposition groups on Wednesday without conditions, two days after a crackdown on  protesters in central Khartoum left at least 60 people dead, prompting the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway to issue a warning that peace was in jeopardy in the north African country.

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan made the offer to protesters after violence erupted in Khartoum following the army’s decision to cancel all deals with the opposition.

“We in the military council, extend our hands to negotiations without shackles except the interests of the homeland,” al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s ruling military council, said on state TV.

Local and International media quoted medics linked to the opposition as saying on Wednesday that at least 60 people were gunned down by Sudanese soldiers on Monday when troops stormed a protest camp in Khartoum. 

It was the worst outbreak of violence since the army ousted president Omar al-Bashir in April following months of mass protests against his rule.

According to western news agency Reuters, “the raid marked a pivotal moment in the development of post-Bashir Sudan – a rift between the powerful military leaders and the opposition groups who had been haggling for weeks over who should lead the transition to democracy”.

Reuters said several streets in other parts of the capital were blocked by demonstrators on Wednesday even as gunfire rang out in the distance.

The African Union dispatched an envoy to Khartoum for talks with all sides, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, said in a tweet.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom condemned the latest violence in Sudan, warning that the transitional military council in the north African country has put the transition process and peace in jeopardy.

Sudan has been in turmoil before and after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April following months of street protests.

Mr. al-Bashir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989, ruled what was until 2011 Africa’s largest country with an iron fist. Street protests forced him to step down in April.

The Transitional Military Council seized power and promised to organize elections and return authority to a civilian government.

However, in recent weeks, the military council has seemed to be consolidating power with no intention to relinquish it.

In a statement on Tuesday, the governments of the U.S., UK and Norway, known as Troika, said the violent attacks in Sudan on June 3 resulted in the killing and injuring of many peaceful civilian protesters.

“By ordering these attacks, the Transitional Military Council has put the transition process and peace in Sudan in jeopardy,” the three governments said, adding that “we call for an agreed transfer of power to a civilian-led government as demanded by the people of Sudan”.

“We welcome the statement of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and support the important role of the AU in solving the crisis in Sudan, including its demand for an immediate handover to a civilian-led government”.

The Troika also expressed its serious concern over the TMC’s announcement that it will cease negotiations with the Forces for Freedom and Change, retract all previous agreements with them on formation of an interim government, and will hold elections within nine months”.

“The people of Sudan deserve an orderly transition, led by civilians, that can establish the conditions for free and fair elections, rather than have rushed elections imposed by the TMC’s security forces”.

Meanwhile, Sudanese authorities have denied that more than a hundred people have been killed in an attempt by the security forces to crush pro-democracy protests with Sudan’s health ministry putting the number of people who’d died at no more than forty-six, according to British network, the BBC.

Mudawi Ibrahim, one of Sudan’s best known human rights activists, told the BBC that the military had no choice but to hand over power to civilians.


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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: [email protected]

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