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The Latest: Sudan protesters want paramilitary force

KHARTOUM, — The Latest on developments in Sudan (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Sudanese protest leaders are demanding the dismantling of a paramilitary unit they hold responsible for the violent crackdown on their rallies that killed more than 100 people this week.

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of political groups representing protesters, said in a statement late Thursday they insist the paramilitary force, known as the Rapid Support Forces, be dissolved and that all its weapons be handed over to the army.

The paramilitary force grew out of the feared Janjaweed militias used in Darfur.

The opposition also renewed its demand that the military immediately hand over power to civilians. The statement came out ahead of the arrival of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Khartoum in an effort to mediate between the Sudanese military and protesters.

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12:20 p.m.

An analyst on Africa says he believes Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister stands a “much better chance” than anyone else in bringing the two sides in Sudan’s crisis together.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is visiting Sudan on Friday and talking to the ruling military as well as the country’s protest leaders.

Awol Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University in Britain, says Abiy “brings a lot to the table, from his own experience of leading a complex transition to a massive amount of positive energy, and the weight of Ethiopia’s power within the region.”

Abiy took power in April 2018 and quickly announced sweeping political and economic reforms. He also has taken the lead in high-profile diplomatic efforts in East Africa.

Awol says that while the Ethiopian leader pledged “non-interference” during a meeting last week with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s ruling military council, his visit to Khartoum on Friday is a reaction to the African Union’s suspension of Sudan from AU activities the day before.

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10:25 a.m.

The U.N. health agency says it’s gravely concerned over the targeting of patients, medical staff and facilities in Sudan during a military crackdown on protesters that killed over 100 people this week.

The World Health Organization says security forces are making “incursions into Khartoum hospitals,” forcing shutdowns of emergency and health services. Five patients and medical workers injured.

Friday’s WHO statement says “these actions represent a total and unacceptable violation of international human rights law and must stop.”

It says tent clinics set up to treat injured protesters have been set on fire and destroyed; medical equipment looted, and health care workers assaulted. Rapes of female health workers have also been reported.

The military launched a crackdown on Monday, dispersing the protest movement’s main sit-in in the capital, Khartoum. A Sudanese medical group says 113 people have been killed in the crackdown.

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10:05 a.m.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is in Sudan to mediate between the ruling military and the country’s protest leaders amid an army crackdown that has killed over 100 people this week.

Ahmed was met by Sudanese generals who in April ousted longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and took over the country.

He will hold talks separately later Friday with the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of political groups demanding the military hand over power to civilian rule.

His visit comes after the African Union, based in Ethiopia, suspended Sudan on Thursday over the deadly crisis.

The military launched a crackdown on Monday, dispersing the protest movement’s main sit-in in the capital, Khartoum.

A Sudanese medical group says 113 people have been killed in the crackdown.

By AP

 

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