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Sudan Military, Opposition Agree To Lead Transition From Autocratic Rule: Claims Sources

The military council has previously suggested that Bashir would be tried in Sudan, where the public prosecutor has begun investigating him, according to a judicial source.

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Protesters
Sudanese protesters arrive to join the sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, April 27, 2019. VOA

Sudan’s military rulers and opposition agreed in principle Saturday to the formation of a joint body to lead a transition from 30 years of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir, but not on the new council’s makeup, two sources said.

The two sides were holding their first formal discussions as opposition groups and protesters push for a rapid handover to civilian rule following Bashir’s fall earlier this month.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC), which ousted and arrested Bashir after months of protests, has said it will rule for up to two years ahead of elections.

Anti-Bashir opposition groups and protesters who have kept up a sit-in outside the Defense Ministry want a civilian-led transitional council with military representation.

They continued their thousands-strong demonstration Saturday evening.

Sudanese protesters gather under a tent to protect themselves from the sun as they sit-in outside the defense ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, April 25, 2019.
Sudanese protesters gather under a tent to protect themselves from the sun as they sit-in outside the defense ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, April 25, 2019.VOA

“I came to support the sit-in for a civilian government because the army ruled Sudan since 52 years ago and the result is nothing,” said Nour el-Dayem Gaafar, a 23-year-old student from South Darfur state who had traveled by bus to the capital.

Opposition groups and activists are represented by an umbrella group called the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, which held two meetings with the TMC Saturday. Both sides expressed optimism after an initial session around the middle of the day.

After a second, evening session, the sources said there was agreement over the formation of a joint council, but not over how many seats either side should have.

The TMC has arrested some former officials, announced anti-corruption measures and promised to give executive authority to a civilian government. But it has signaled that ultimate authority would remain in its hands, leaving protesters frustrated.

Members of the Sudanese military sit atop a pickup as protesters rally outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, April 27, 2019.
Members of the Sudanese military sit atop a pickup as protesters rally outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, April 27, 2019. VOA

‘Half a revolution’

“Half a revolution is the perishing of a nation,” said Osman Abadi, a 26-year-old sit-in security supervisor draped in a Sudanese flag, who said he was staying even if negotiations between TMC and the opposition failed.

Bashir was overthrown after 16 weeks of protests triggered by a deepening economic crisis. He is being held along with other former officials at Khartoum’s Kobar prison.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Bashir for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, charges he denies.

On Saturday Sadiq al-Mahdi, the veteran leader of Sudan’s opposition Umma Party, which is part of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, said he thought Sudan should join the court.

“Now I have no objection to responding to its demands, and it’s necessary immediately to join (the ICC), but this position has to be coordinated with the military council,” Mahdi told reporters.

The military council has previously suggested that Bashir would be tried in Sudan, where the public prosecutor has begun investigating him, according to a judicial source.

Raid condemned

Separately, the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces condemned a reported raid on a meeting of the Popular Congress Party, which was allied to Bashir before turning against him.

Also Read: Churches Across Sri Lanka Remain Close, People Celebrate Mass in Their Homes Through TV Broadcast

The alliance said in a statement that though the party bore responsibility for what had happened over the past 30 years, there was “no place for the exclusion of rights by force in the nation that our fearless revolutionaries are working to promote.”

State TV reported that more than 140 people were evacuated from the hall where the meeting took place and more than 60 had suffered minor injuries. (VOA)

Next Story

Central American Countries Rally to Protest For Conservation of Forests

Indigenous Groups Rally to Protect Latin America's Threatened Forests

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Conservation of forests
The coalition of governments, indigenous people, green groups and others announced a plan to protect 10 million hectares of forests. Pixabay

Central American countries are teaming up to conserve the region’s five great forests as part of a regional climate action plan released at U.N. climate talks in Madrid this week, the alliance behind the effort said.

The coalition of governments, indigenous people, green groups and others announced a plan to protect 10 million hectares of forests and degraded land inside those forests — an area roughly the size of Guatemala — by 2030.

In the last 15 years, three of the forests have been reduced by almost one-quarter in size, with illegal cattle ranching responsible for more than 90% of recent deforestation, it said.

Measures planned to safeguard the forests include bolstering agencies that look after protected areas, tracing beef to verify it has been legally produced, cracking down on cross-border cattle trafficking, helping ranchers find other ways to earn a living, and reforesting land where trees have been cut down.

Jeremy Radachowsky, regional director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a partner in the project, said financing would come from multiple sources, including Central American countries, donor governments and a dedicated fund that will be created for indigenous and community forests.

The five forests, spanning from Mexico to Colombia, are key to curbing climate change as they sequester carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels that would otherwise heat up the planet.

Spain Climate Talks
People shout slogans during a march organized by the Fridays for Future international movement of school students outside of the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid, Spain. VOA

“Nearly 50% of the carbon in Mesoamerica is stored in the five great forests,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica’s environment minister, adding he hoped they would not be fragmented by deforestation.

The forests also provide habitat for wildlife such as the jaguar and scarlet macaw, the alliance said. The initiative aims to ensure no species go extinct.

The forests include the Maya Forest in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize; the Moskitia in Nicaragua and Honduras; the Indio Maiz-Tortuguero in Nicaragua and Costa Rica; the Talamanca region in Costa Rica and Panama; and the Darien in Panama and Colombia.

They provide water, clean air, food security and other natural resources to 5 million people, the alliance said, noting that indigenous and local communities manage nearly half of the forest area.

Candido Mezua  of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, said it was sad to see the forests of the Amazon burning — and the impact that was having on indigenous people.

“In Mesoamerica, we have our five forests. They still exist. We can still protect them, and even expand them,” he said in a statement.

Amazon summit 

Amazon indigenous leaders, meanwhile, said this week they would host a world summit in Ecuador next August aimed at protecting the Amazon rainforest and other ecosystems in “response to the environmental crisis in the basin and abroad”.

Leaders representing 20 indigenous groups from Ecuador and Peru also called for global support to stop oil drilling and mining in the Amazon “Sacred Headwaters” region, an ecosystem rich in biodiversity that spans 30 million hectares in the two countries.

Deforestation in Brazil’s huge tract of Amazon rainforest rose to its highest level in over a decade this year, government data showed in November.

The data confirmed a sharp increase in deforestation under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which is considering permitting commercial agriculture and mining on native reserves.

Risks to Brazil’s forests drew global concern in August when fires raged through the Amazon.

Scientists link the fires to deforestation, with people and companies cutting down the forest for timber and then setting fire to the remains to clear the land for ranching or farming.

Forests
In the last 15 years, three of the forests have been reduced by almost one-quarter in size, with illegal cattle ranching. Pixabay

Gregorio Mirabal, general coordinator of COICA, the biggest indigenous federation in the Amazon, said new ways were needed of dealing with threats to the Amazon, including the “devastating effects” of climate change.

At the U.N. climate conference, states “are making decisions for companies and not for the people”, he said.

“The inability of our governments to solve this (climate) crisis is calling us to do this ourselves, hand in hand with the youth and any others in goodwill who want to join,” he added.

Many indigenous groups are opposed to credits for forest protection being included in carbon trading markets, arguing it would damage their sacred lands and livelihoods, as governments haggle over new rules for those markets at the Madrid talks.

“We do not allow the commodification of nature or that it has a price. For us nature is of value as itself. It is our Mother Earth,” Mirabal said.

According to the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative, which works on forest issues, up to 65% of the world’s land is communally held by indigenous peoples and local communities and contains 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

But only 10% of those groups’ land rights have been legally recognized, it said.

“The local cultures and indigenous peoples are the ones that have best preserved nature, and we do not believe that solutions can exist without us,” said Mirabal.

Indigenous groups — officially represented at the U.N. conference for the first time — have pushed for language on protecting their rights to be included in the text on carbon market rules that is under negotiation in Madrid.

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But it is not in the latest draft as the talks near an end.

Indonesian indigenous activist Ghazali Ohorella said the rules should ensure safeguards for forest people’s land and rights, as well as a complaints mechanism and opportunities for them to participate in decisions on carbon offsetting schemes. “If not, it will create so much trouble further down the line,” he told journalists at the talks. (VOA)