Sudan army rulers admit dispersing sit-in

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Sudan’s ruling military council Thursday for the first time admitted it had ordered the June 3 dispersal of a Khartoum protest sit-in that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

“The military council decided to disperse the sit-in and a plan was made... but we regret that some mistakes happened,” spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.

He said the military would not allow any further protest camps to be set up near armed forces sites after the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum was cleared.

Kabbashi said the findings of an investigation into the events of June 3 would be released on Saturday. Thousands of protesters had held a round-the-clock sit-in outside the army complex since April 6, initially seeking the army’s help to oust longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

The army toppled Bashir on April 11 but since then the ruling generals have resisted calls to hand over power to a civil administration.

Demonstrators continued with the sit-in even as they held negotiations with the generals over the form of a new governing body. The talks collapsed in May over the question of whether the body should have a civilian or military head. That was followed by a bloody crackdown on the sit-in.

A doctors’ committee linked to the protest movement says about 120 people have been killed since June 3, while the health ministry has put the death toll for that day at 61.

The two sides have now agreed to resume talks, following mediation by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. But protest leaders have insisted on certain conditions, including removing an internet blockade imposed since the crackdown.

Kabbashi welcomed Ethiopian mediation, but said that “whatever has to do with social media, we find it dangerous and we will not allow it so long as we see it as a threat to national security”.

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