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Sudan's military dissolves civilian government and arrests leaders

 Sudan's military dissolves civilian government and arrests leaders

Sudan's military dissolves civilian government and arrests leaders

The military on Saturday dissolved Sudan's civilian government and arrested two top civilian politicians, state news agency SUNA reported, a move that comes one day after pro-government forces stormed a rally.

The military said its decision was the result of a constitutional legal review that the armed forces had itself commissioned. Last month the new government was told by the court to probe allegations of election fraud made by opposition parties and courts that sided with the opposition - which refused to be investigated.

Sudan's cabinet on Wednesday dismissed the accusations as "baseless and malicious," but said that military officers who had been designated to investigate the allegations could also investigate the claims of fraud.

On Friday night, pro-government crowds of about 1,000 people stormed the ruling National Congress Party's headquarters and the building of the independent Sennar State University in Sennar province, the latest escalation of clashes over elections and other related issues.

Saturday's announcement gave no reason for the decision to dissolve the civilian government, which President Omar al-Bashir formed last year after prime minister Abdalla Hamdok stepped down for health reasons.

The dissolution was made in a letter signed by Tarek Tarraya, the chief of the military-backed transitional court appointed by the prime minister to investigate charges of fraud and violations of the constitution.

The letter included Mohammed Hamdi Mohamed Bahaa, who is more than 40 years younger than Bashir, the country's de facto ruler for almost 30 years.

Despite a scathing U.N. report on Saturday, which called for the army to hand over power to a civilian government, the current government defended its recent actions as an essential step toward "reviving normal life."

Meanwhile, scores of pro-government protesters marched in Qadarif, south of Khartoum, on Saturday, calling for immediate elections.

The pro-government protesters reportedly walked freely through the city, refusing to stop to pay respects to the victims of Friday's violence.

Prior to Friday night's clashes, thousands of pro-government demonstrators also attended another rally across the border in South Darfur state, which police dispersed.

The pro-government crowd chanted "Let's fight in May," referring to the start of an election season next year. 

There were no major clashes in the capital, but police fired volleys of water cannon on Friday.

On Saturday, at least 300 soldiers also marched in three armored vehicles in central Khartoum, calling for "independence for the southern provinces."

A second burst of gunfire also hit the protest site in an upscale area of the city, killing one protester and injuring two others, the Sudanese Media Center for Human Rights (SMCHRR) said.

The SMHRRR said police fired rubber bullets at dozens of civilians at the protest site.

Journalists, who were not allowed to enter the city due to a state of emergency, said they witnessed armored vehicles set on fire, causing explosions and sending people running from the scene.

Authorities in Khartoum said Saturday they had stopped the military from entering the city center.

However, Hamad Huwair, who is the head of the Popular Salvation Movement, one of the main opposition parties, said they were "facing serious military aggression and will be divided."

In South Darfur state, at least 70 protesters were detained on Saturday, and security forces fired tear gas at thousands of people who demonstrated in support of the protesters, the SMHRR said.

Regional police chief Ali Badawi denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, in the capital's Saba district, a police car patrol blocked and conducted an inspection operation on vehicles carrying the transitional justice commission.

The Sudanese government insisted that the attack "did not reach a critical stage."

"The military is responsible for the events that occurred during the weekend," a provincial security official told AFP, referring to the Saturday violence, "because it lacked control."

But Hawaii said that even though "we are in the process of reintegrating the election campaign to be considered a normal exercise, the referendum, and these (interim) elections cannot be held based on the conditions now."

Demonstrators gathered Saturday as police fired tear gas at them, threatening to disperse them if they failed to disperse, and protesting the disappearance of pro-government protesters

Around 25 people have been arrested and sentenced to heavy jail sentences in the last two weeks in the town of Sarah, but none have been implicated in Friday's violence, police said. ReadMore

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