Khartoum, Jul 8 (AP/UNB) — Sudan's top general says the military council that assumed power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April will be dissolved with the implementation of a power-sharing deal reached with protesters last week.
The military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed last week on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. Both sides say a diplomatic push by the U.S. and its Arab allies was key to ending a weekslong standoff that raised fears of all-out civil war.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the military council, said in televised comments late Sunday that the army would return to its barracks after 21 months, when leadership of the council passes from a military representative to a civilian.
The council will include five civilians representing the protest movement and five military members. An 11th seat will go to a civilian chosen by both sides. The protesters will select a Cabinet of technocrats, and a legislative council is to be formed after three months.
Burhan said the sovereign council would have a veto on Cabinet appointees and the body's decisions. He said the transitional period would be dedicated to advancing peace efforts with rebel groups and overhauling the economy.
Burhan also insisted that the military council did not order the violent dispersal of the main protest camp last month, which killed scores of people and led to the collapse of talks.
"We trust that military council members had nothing to do with what happened in the sit-in dispersal," he said.
As part of the power-sharing agreement, the two sides agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into the deadly crackdown, but the details have yet to be worked out.
Sudanese security forces razed the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on June 3. The deadly clampdown killed at least 128 people, according to protest organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three security forces.
On June 30, the protesters returned to the streets by the tens of thousands to again demand a transition to civilian rule. The rallies were the largest since the uprising began in December.
Dhaka, July 6 (UNB) - Scientists issued a buzzworthy warning to Alabama residents: thousands of wasps are making the state home in what are called perennial yellow jacket nests. And they are freaky.
In 2006, a colony of 15,000 yellow jackets -- the size of a Volkswagen Beetle -- was one of 90 perennial nests located in Alabama that year. Entomologist Charles Ray said something like this may happen again in 2019, reports CNN.
Perennial nest located inside a car in Alabama in June 2006.
Ray's warning was published last month with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, a primary outreach organization on behalf of Alabama A&M University and Auburn University. Ray is also a research fellow in Auburn University's Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.
"These perennial nests may be several feet wide and have many thousands of workers, far more than an average nest," Ray said. "We have found them attached to home exteriors and other places you might not expect to find yellow jackets."
Places like the side of a house, inside a discarded mattress, or even just on the ground in a field.
A perennial nest found inside an discarded mattress.
"The most workers I have counted in a perennial nest is about 15,000 or about 3 to 4 times more than a normal nest," Ray said.
A normal yellow jacket nest can be in the ground or some type of cavity and peaks at 4,000 to 5,000 workers that don't survive the winter. The queens disperse and form new colonies in the spring.
But entomologists believe that milder winters and an abundant food supply allow the wasp colonies to survive and enter spring with larger numbers. The normal cues that cause the queens to disperse don't come -- so these super nests often have multiple queens.
A yellow jacket queen.
Two perennial nests were already found in May, with indications of a third, Ray said. This is several weeks earlier than when the first giant nest was spotted on June 13 in 2006.
"If we are seeing them a month sooner than we did in 2006, I am very concerned that there will be a large number of them in the state," Ray said. "The nests I have seen this year already have more than 10,000 workers and are expanding rapidly."
If homeowners suspect a perennial nest is on their property, they should not touch it.
The perennial yellow jacket nests bear little resemblance to normal colonies.
"While these giant nests often appear less aggressive than smaller colonies," Ray said. "It is important that people do not disturb the nests."
Next, call a professional for help if the nest needs to be removed. It's a task only for a licensed commercial pest control operator.
Khartoum, Jul 6 (AP/UNB) — Sudanese rebel groups have criticized a power-sharing deal between the military and the country's pro-democracy movement aimed at ending weekslong political deadlock.
The protest leaders in the capital, Khartoum, and the ruling military made public an agreement to form a joint government on Friday.
A faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Minnawi, said late Friday a peace deal had to be reached with rebel groups before embarking on the deal's planned transition.
Another faction of the SLM, led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur, slammed the deal as a "betrayal of the revolution."
The SLM — then fighting an insurgency in the Darfur region — split into rival factions in 2004.
Minnawi has joined a political coalition with the protesters, while al-Nur refused to take part in the movement.
Benghazi, Jul 3 (AP/UNB) — An airstrike hit a detention center for migrants in the Libyan capital early Wednesday, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 130, the U.N. mission to the war-torn country said.
The airstrike raises further concerns about the European Union's policy of partnering with Libyan militias to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean, which often leaves them at the mercy of brutal traffickers or stranded in squalid detention centers near the front lines.
It could also lead to greater Western pressure on Khalifa Hifter, a Libyan general whose forces launched an offensive on Tripoli in April. The Tripoli-based government blamed his self-styled Libyan National Army for the airstrike and called for the U.N. support mission in Libya to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate.
A spokesman for Hifter's forces did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment. Local media reported the LNA had launched airstrikes against a militia camp near the detention center.
The airstrike targeted the detention center in Tripoli's Tajoura neighborhood. Health Ministry spokesman Malek Merset posted photos of migrants being taken in ambulances to hospitals. Footage circulating online and said to be from inside the migrant detention center showed blood and body parts mixed with rubble and migrants' belongings.
The airstrike hit a workshop housing weapons and vehicles and an adjacent hangar where around 150 migrants were being held, mostly Sudanese and Moroccans, according to two migrants who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
The migrants said three or four survived unharmed and about 20 were wounded. They said the remainder were killed, indicating the final death toll could be much higher.
The U.N. refugee agency in Libya condemned the airstrike on the detention center, which houses a total of 616 migrants and refugees, and called for an immediate end to efforts to return migrants to Libya.
UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley noted that the agency had warned less than two months ago that anyone inside the Tajoura detention center was at risk of being caught in the fighting around Tripoli. Then, an airstrike that hit nearby wounded two migrants. Yaxley said UNHCR is sending medical teams to the site after the latest airstrike.
The head of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also condemned the strike. He called for an independent investigation and said those responsible for the "horrific crime" should be held to account.
The LNA launched an offensive against the weak Tripoli-based government in April. Hifter's forces control much of Libya's east and south but were dealt a significant blow last week when militias allied with the Tripoli government reclaimed the strategic town of Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the capital. Gharyan had been a key LNA supply route.
Many camps for militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government are in Tajoura, east of the city center, and Hifter's forces have targeted such camps with airstrikes in recent weeks. The LNA said Monday it had begun an air campaign on rival forces in Tripoli after it lost control of Gharyan.
His forces include the remnants of Gadhafi's army as well as tribal fighters and ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafists. They appear more like a regular army than their adversaries, with uniforms and a clear chain of command.
Hifter's forces boast MiG fighter jets supplied by neighboring Egypt, as well as drones, attack helicopters and mine-resistant vehicles. It was not immediately clear what munitions were used in the airstrike early Wednesday.
Oded Berkowitz, a security analyst focused on the Libyan conflict, said Hifter's LNA flies "a handful of obsolete aircraft" that are "in poor condition." He said it has received spare parts from Egypt and possibly Russia, as well as decommissioned aircraft from both countries.
"Egypt and the UAE have been conducting air operations on behalf of the LNA, but there are no indications that the UAE transferred aircraft to the LNA," he said.
The fighting for Tripoli has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death.
Hifter says he is determined to restore stability to the North African country. He is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia while his rivals, mainly Islamists, are supported by Turkey and Qatar.
His campaign against Islamic militants across Libya since 2014 won him growing international support from world leaders who say they are concerned that Libya has turned into a haven for armed groups and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe.
His opponents, however, view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.
At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya that are run by militias accused of torture and other abuses. Most of the migrants were apprehended by European Union-funded and -trained Libyan coast guards while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
The detention centers have limited food and other supplies for the migrants, who made often-arduous journeys at the mercy of abusive traffickers who hold them for ransom money from families back home.
The U.N. refugee agency has said that more than 3,000 migrants are in danger because they are held in detention centers close to the front lines between Hifter's forces and the militias allied with the Tripoli government.
Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the 2011 ouster and killing of Gadhafi, when the North African nation was thrown into chaos, armed militias proliferated and central authority fell apart.
Khartoum, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Sudanese activists said Monday that at least 11 people were killed in clashes with security forces during mass demonstrations demanding a transition to civilian rule.
Tens of thousands of Sudanese flooded the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and other areas on Sunday in the biggest protests since security forces cleared a sit-in last month. They called for the military to hand over power to civilians following the coup that ousted longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.
Nazim Sirraj, a prominent activist, told The Associated Press on Monday that four bodies were found next to a school in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum. The four were shot dead in an area where security forces had barred protesters from marching toward a hospital and had fired tear gas to disperse them, he said.
Sirraj said the total death toll was 11, including one killed in the city of Atbara, a railway hub north of Khartoum and the birthplace of the December uprising that eventually led to al-Bashir's ouster.
The Sudan Doctors Committee, the medical arm of the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which has spearheaded the demonstrations, confirmed the death toll.
Authorities said late Sunday that at least seven people were killed and nearly 200 wounded, including 27 wounded by bullets during the demonstrations.
The ruling military council blamed protest leaders for the deaths after they diverted the routes of their marches.
Lt. Gen. Gamal Omar, a member of the council, said in a statement that it was regrettable that the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters, diverted marches toward the presidential palace and the military headquarters.
He said security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters, who hurled stones at them.
He said the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces arrested "elements" who fired at security forces in Omdurman, killing two people and wounding three RSF members. Omar said over two dozen security forces were wounded across the county.
Protest leader Mohammed al-Asam said they would continue in their "revolutionary acts" till the military hands over power to civilians.
"The military council has only one option, which is to respond to demands of the Sudanese people," he said in a video clip posted on the SPA Facebook late Sunday.
The protests came amid a weekslong standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders. Talks between the two sides over a power-sharing agreement collapsed when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum on June 3.
The ensuing clampdown resulted in at least 128 people killed across Sudan, according to protest organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three security forces.