CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese prosecutors on Saturday said the country’s ruling generals did not order the deadly break-up of a protest camp last month, and blamed paramilitary forces for the widely condemned dispersal.
Prosecutor Fathel-Rahman Said announced that eight officers from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces had exceeded their orders when they led RSF troops to clear a pro-democracy sit-in on June 3 in the capital, Khartoum. He did not elaborate on how the investigation would proceed against the accused officers.
He said security forces were told to clear a lawless area close to the sit-in, not to raze the protest camp, which was the symbol of the uprising that led to the military ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.
The opposition Sudanese Congress party, which is part of the protest movement, disputed the prosecutors’ conclusion. It said in a statement that security forces moved on June 3 to disperse several sit-ins across the country at the same time, meaning that the break-up was carried out based on a “political decision” made by the authorities.
Said, who heads a committee investigating the dispersal, said that the officers, including a major general, have been accused of crimes against humanity. The prosecutor said a week-long crackdown in Khartoum killed at least 87 people, including 17 inside the sit-in area. He said the investigation found there were no rapes during the break-up.
A press conference was scheduled for later Saturday by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has been spearheading the protests since December.
Earlier this month, the military council and the pro-democracy movement had reached a power-sharing agreement, including a timetable for a transition to civilian rule. The deal would establish a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized.
But leaders of the movement have said they don’t want any political parties taking part in the transitional government, insisting that the upcoming transitional government be made up of experts and technocrats.
Hundreds of Sudanese took to the streets Thursday in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country to support this demand.