Demonstrators gather in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, Friday, April 12, 2019. The Sudanese protest movement has rejected the military’s declaration that it has no ambitions to hold the reins of power for long after ousting the president of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir. (AP Photo)

US diplomat wants ‘credible’ probe into Sudan crackdown

Calls for investigation into Sudanese military’s violent dispersal of a protest camp in the capital recently

The top U.S. diplomat to Africa said there must be an “independent and credible” investigation into the Sudanese military’s violent dispersal of a protest camp in the capital earlier this month, and the ruling military council said it would announce the findings of its own investigation on Saturday.

Sudan’s security forces violently swept away a camp in Khartoum on June 3 where demonstrators had been holding a sit-in, with over 100 people killed and hundreds wounded since then, according protest organizers. Authorities have offered a lower death toll: 61, including three security forces.

ALSO READ: South Sudan’s hunger crisis drives students from classes

The violent beak-up marked a turn in the standoff between the protesters and the military, which removed autocratic President Omar al-Bashir from power in April after a months-long popular uprising against his 30-year rule.

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the deadly break-up of the sit-in outside the military’s headquarters “constituted a 180 degree turn in the way events were going with murder, rape, pillaging, by members of the Security Forces.

“Events were moving forward in such a favourable direction after 35 years of tragedy for Sudan. And then without any expectation, on June 3rd, the world changed,” he said.

Sudan’s chief prosecutor Saturday rejected the idea of any outside investigation.

The U.S. diplomat spoke late Friday upon his arrival in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa after a two-day visit to Sudan where he met with the ruling generals, protesters and victims of the crackdown, whose accounts were “harrowing and very persuasive.”

Protest organizers called for an internationally backed probe into the crackdown. But the ruling military council, which acknowledged that security forces committed violations, strongly rejected the idea. It said it had set up its own investigation and it would announce its findings on Saturday, vowing to hold those responsible accountable.

Nagy said the head of the military council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, “was adamant that there will be accountability” and that “we certainly hope that there will be such an investigation.”

Nagy said the U.S. has been supporting mediation efforts by the African Union and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to resume negations between the military council and protesters, who are represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of political groups.

“Both of the mediators are eminently qualified. … We continue to believe very strongly in this mediation and we are absolutely supportive both,” Nagy said.

The U.S. diplomat declined to outline possible measures Washington might take if the situation worsens. But he warned of negative scenarios as both the military council and protest leaders “absolutely distrust each other.”

“We could end up with the type of chaos that exists in Libya or Somalia and the last thing Egypt wants is another Libya on its southern border. The last thing Ethiopia wants is another Somalia on its northwestern border,” he said.

In the wake of the sit-in dispersal, negotiations between the military and protesters were called off and the FDFC held a three-day general strike and a campaign of civil disobedience. They also announced a package of conditions to be met before resuming talks, which included the formation of an international commission to investigate the killings of protesters, restored internet services, adherence to previous deals struck before the breakdown in talks and the return of paramilitary troops to their barracks.

The protesters ended their strike amid mediation efforts by the Ethiopian leader, who declared earlier this week that talks would be resumed “soon.”

Also on Saturday, Sudan’s chief prosecutor rejected the idea of an international investigation into the crackdown but sought to distance his office from the deadly break-up of the sit-in. Al-Waleed Mahmoud’s comments came two days after military council spokesman Gen. Shams Eddin Kabashi said the council had discussed dispersing the protesters with top judicial officials.

Mahmoud said he did not discuss dispersing the protesters in the meeting.

“We did not discuss the sit-in break-up. We just discussed arranging the Colombia area,” he said in a press conference in Khartoum, referring to a problematic area near the sit-in.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud said former president al-Bashir would face trial on corruption accusations next week.

In May, al-Bashir was charged with involvement in killing protesters and incitement to kill protesters during the uprising that started in December, initially over economic shortages but which later turned into calls for his ouster. The military toppled him on April 11.

The ousted president also is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s, but the military has said it would not extradite him to The Hague.

Hussein Mallah And Samy Magdy, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP arrest man in stolen vehicle, seize handgun

Vehicle was reported stolen from Duncan on July 18

Premier John Horgan hints at daylight saving changes after record-breaking survey response

B.C.’s largest public consultation saw more than 220,000 residents respond to time change survey

Victoria Police issue warning after man left dangling from raised Johnson Street Bridge

A man bypassed safety measures and became stranded as the bridge lifted

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Opposition to gravel quarry in Highlands gains traction

Impact on drinking water a major concern

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Most Read