Sudan: Port Sudan Violence Continues Despite Curfew, Army Presence

A bus burns following violence in Port Sudan

Port Sudan — In Port Sudan, tribal fighting continued for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday despite a full curfew and the arrival of military reinforcements in Red Sea state. The death toll on the fourth day's clashes reached five. 13 others were wounded. A number of houses and shops in the Port Sudan neighbourhoods Um El Gura and El Shuhada went up in flames. Several vehicles were destroyed as well.

The Red Sea state Doctors' Committee reported that the police decided to withdraw from the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital yesterday because of their inability to control the situation and provide protection.

In a statement yesterday, the doctors said that the road leading to the Surgery Hospital was blocked because of "vandalism, fires, and shooting by outlaws".

They hold the state government and security forces responsible for the safety of medical personnel working in all state hospitals, and called for tightening the guarding of hospitals and other health facilities by military forces.

The say the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital should be protected with a security cordon, preventing armed men from entering the wards and searching for patients. Everyone carrying a weapon inside the hospital's campus must be arrested.

Health personnel should be transported to the hospitals by security forces.

Yesterday, the Minister of Interior Affairs, Lt Gen El Tereifi Idris, briefed the Council of Ministers about the tribal violence in Port Sudan and in New Halfa in Kassala, and the security situation in general in eastern Sudan.

During the session, Idris presented an account of the violent events in Port Sudan that started on August 9 with a march of Nuba tribesmen, in protest against the newly appointed civilian governor of South Kordofan, Hamid El Bashir. They submitted a memorandum to the Red Sea state governor.

The protest triggered the throwing of stones and beatings by eastern Sudanese, followed by the use of firearms. The violence resulted in the death of dozens of people, and the burning of homes in the Deim Filib and Dar El Neim neighbourhoods and extended to burning of cars in other neighbourhoods.

The Minister said these events are related to the previous clashes in the city, which ended with the signing of a reconciliation agreement between Nuba and Beni Amer leaders.

Joint forces

In cooperation with the governor, joint military forces and members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira) were sent to support the forces in Red Sea state. Another force, consisting of Rapid Support Forces in 100 vehicles, will arrive soon in the city.

Yesterday, the Council of Ministers discussed the necessity of establishing a commission for eastern Sudan to work on issues of development, stability, and social peace, and the provision of improved basic services to the people.

Information Minister Feisal Mohamed Saleh told reporters after the session that they stressed the importance of following up the work of the committee formed by the Security and Defence Council to address the repeated clashes in eastern Sudan, including New Halfa, the protests against the new civilian governor of Kassala, and achieving a consensus between the political and social components in the region.

The Ministers discussed the causes of the violence, including the political vacuum, the absence of development and employment opportunities, and the dire poverty, in addition to far-going racism in the region.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok ordered the dispatch of Central Reserve Police troops to Red Sea state. He also directed the formation of a committee from the Security and Defence Council to address the political crisis in Kassala regarding the appointment of the new governor, and present its recommendations on Thursday.

The PM also requested the Forces for Freedom and Change Central Council to participate in developing a vision for a political solution to the crisis in eastern Sudan. He called on the political forces with a presence in eastern Sudan "to shoulder their responsibility in cooperation with the authorities to prevent the recurrence of violence, and maintain security and social peace".

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