US envoy heads to Sudan to call for halt to attacks on civilians

Khartoum: A top US diplomat will head to Sudan this week to urge an end to a bloody crackdown on protesters, Washington said on Monday, as a nationwide civil disobedience campaign challenged the African country’s ruling military council.
Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, plans to meet both members of the military leadership and protest leaders in Khartoum, the State Department said.
He is to leave on the trip on Wednesday and also visit Ethiopia to discuss the Sudan crisis with the regional power as well as the African Union.
“He will call for a cessation of attacks against civilians and urge parties to work towards creating an enabling environment” for talks to resume, the State Department statement said.
Protesters who been camped outside the army headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum to demand the military council hand over power to civilian rule have been brutally dispersed since early last week in a crackdown that left dozens dead.
The death toll is as high as 118, according to a doctors’ committee linked to the protesters. The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide, 49 of them from “live ammunition” in Khartoum.
Late Monday the military council said several members of regular security forces had been arrested in connection with the killings, state media reported, adding that the council said those arrested would face justice.
The military council in April toppled longtime president Omar al Bashir after months of protests against his 30-year-rule.
Various negotiations have taken place with the council to persuade it to step aside for a civilian administration, but they have since stalled.
A Sudanese rebel leader, Yasir Arman, who had arrived in Khartoum late last month to take part in the talks said Monday he and two comrades had been forcibly deported from Sudan to neighbouring South Sudan.
“I was deported against my will… I have been deported from my country,” he told an AFP reporter at a hotel after arriving in South Sudan’s capital Juba. Arman said on Twitter he had been deported by “military helicopter”. — AFP