US calls Sudan military crackdown devastating, urges independent investigation

By PAUL SCHEMM | The Washington Post | Published: June 14, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The top U.S. diplomat for Africa pushed Friday for Sudan to carry out an "independent and credible" investigation into a June 3 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that left scores dead.

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy described the attack on a long-running sit-in near the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, as "just devastating."

Medical organizations linked to the protesters put the toll at at least 118, while the military-led transitional government has acknowledged that at least 60 were killed when security forces cleared the square.

"We believe very strongly there has to be an independent, credible investigation to figure out what exactly happened, why it happened, who gave the orders, how many victims there were," Nagy told journalists in Ethiopia after his trip to Sudan.

The Transitional Military Council acknowledged late Thursday that it had given the order for the sit-in to be cleared and admitted that some excesses had taken place. It said that a number of officers had been arrested. The council said it was carrying out its own investigation and would announce the results Saturday, rejecting an international role.

Nagy, however, said that "when governments investigate themselves there tends to be a lot of skepticism," and that an independent investigation was important because of the "whole concept of impunity."

"We have seen other countries where the military enjoy impunity and literally get away with murder and we have to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.

He declined to specify what further measures the United States might take and said that the main U.S. focus is to support the mediation between the protesters and the TMC by representatives from the African Union and neighboring Ethiopia.

He said that the degree of distrust between the two sides since the bloody crackdown has stymied direct talks.

The military council took power April 11 after deposing longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir after months of pro-democracy protests.

The protests continued afterward as people pushed for a civilian-led government, and several rounds of talks took place with the military before the June 3 attack.

"There were women raped, there were break ins, pillaging, beatings, (it was) terrible," said Nagy, who also talked with some of the victims, including an American citizen.

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