- The protests were ignited by the move by the Sudanese prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, to sack the provincial governor, Saleh Ammar from the Bani Amer tribe.
- Ammar's appointment as governor of the eastern state of Kassala, dating back to July 22, immediately aroused the ire of people from the local Beja tribe.
- Currently, in remote areas of Sudan, such as Darfur, most people live in camps for displaced persons and refugees.
At least eight people were killed and scores injured after a demonstration in Kassala, in eastern Sudan, degenerated into clashes. The protests were ignited by the move by the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, to sack the provincial governor, Saleh Ammar from the Bani Amer tribe.
The violence resulted in the deaths of eight people, including one from the local security forces, as revealed by Faisal Mohamed Saleh, Sudanese Information Minister, in his address to news reporters.
“Clashes took place on Thursday between protesters and a joint force in Kassala which resulted in the killing of eight people including a member of the joint force,” said the minister.
He added that due to the conflict, Sudan’s central government had consequently declared a three days state of emergency in the Kassala state.
The dismissal of Ammar, decided on Tuesday, had already triggered heavy demonstrations in Port Sudan and in nearby Suakin. According to reports by local doctors, at least six people had been killed and another 20 injured. On the night of Wednesday, a curfew was consequently imposed in the two port cities of the Red Sea.
Ammar’s appointment as governor of the eastern state of Kassala, dating back to July 22, immediately aroused the ire of people from the local Beja tribe, the other great tribe in the region. At the end of August, three people lost their lives and another ten were injured in the clashes that ensued as a result of the said appointment.
Since then, tensions have remained high. The demonstrations on Thursday, organized to express dissent towards Ammar’s dismissal, had however been approved by the State Security Committee. It is not yet clear, therefore, how the protests turned into violent clashes between the demonstrators and the very security forces that approved them in the first place.
Last week, members of the Beja tribe blocked the docks of Port Sudan, the country’s economic lifeline, to protest against the peace agreement signed on 3 October in Juba between the rebel groups and the government.
The pact, which includes a section on the eastern region of Kassala, was rejected by the Beja because they fear that their tribe may be under-represented in regional legislative and executive bodies, to the benefit of the Beni Amr tribe.
The agreement reached in Juba covered a number of thorny issues for the Sudanese government, such as land ownership and compensation to rebels in matters of wealth and power sharing, as well as the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Sudan’s transitional government was formed to bring to an end the ongoing conflicts in the country and to meet the demands of citizens, eager for a political change after years of authoritarian rule.
In this context, Hamdok was sworn in on August 21, 2019, as leader of the new government, promising to restore stability at the national level, resolve the economic crisis and ensure lasting peace.
Currently, in remote areas of Sudan, such as Darfur, most people live in camps for displaced persons and refugees. In addition, internal disputes remain unresolved because the Arab militias are still present and have control over the lands they managed to seize.