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US calls for civilian rule in Sudan after Hamdok quits as premier

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The United States has urged Sudanese leaders to ensure civilian rule and end violence against protesters after Abdalla Hamdok resigned as prime minister, throwing a transition towards elections deeper into uncertainty.

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“After PM Hamdok’s resignation, Sudanese leaders should set aside differences, find consensus and ensure continued civilian rule,” the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs said in a tweet.

Hamdok, an economist and former United Nations official widely respected by the international community, had served as prime minister under a military-civilian power sharing deal that followed the overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

The military dissolved his government in a coup in October, but he returned a month later under a deal that tasked him with forming a government of technocrats ahead of elections in 2023.

Hamdok announced on Sunday that he was resigning after being unable to forge a consensus to bring the transition forward. He called for dialogue to reach a new agreement for the transition.

Reaction on social media in Sudan was divided, with some saddened by the loss of a leader who they said stood out for his wisdom. Others, still angry with Hamdok for returning after the coup, expressed their resolve to end military rule.

Jibril Ibrahim, a former rebel leader who served as finance minister under Hamdok but expressed support for the military before the coup, called his resignation “regrettable”.

“Our nation needs political compromise today more than ever to navigate safely through these turbulent times. There is a room to accommodate everyone.”

Hamdok’s resignation came hours after the latest round of mass rallies against the military. At least 57 civilians have been killed as security forces have moved to contain or disperse demonstrations since the Oct. 25 coup, according to medics aligned with the protest movement. Further protests are planned for Tuesday.

Hamdok had been a key partner for the international community as Sudan sought to emerge from decades of isolation and sanctions under Bashir and to end an economic crisis, with Western backing.

The US State Department said any new appointments should follow the power sharing deal struck in 2019.

“Sudan’s next PM and cabinet should be appointed in line with the constitutional declaration to meet the people’s goals of freedom, peace, and justice,” it said. “Violence against protesters must cease.”

Read more:

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Stampede at Liberian church gathering kills 29

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A stampede has killed at least 29 people at a religious event in the suburbs of the Liberian capital Monrovia, police said on Thursday.

Those who died from the incident include 11 children and a pregnant woman.

The bodies have been taken to the morgue of Redemption Hospital, close to where the incident occurred in a beach area called New Kru Town.

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The stampede erupted when a gang of thugs armed with knives attacked some of the hundreds attending the ceremony at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, police spokesman Moses Carter told The Associated Press.

One person has been arrested, he said.

Local media said it was a Christian prayer gathering, known in Liberia as a “crusade,” held in a football field.

Witness Emmanuel Gray, 26, told AFP he heard “heavy noise” towards the end and saw several dead bodies.

Street gangs have become an increasing problem in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years, according to residents.

President George Weah was expected to visit the scene Thursday, according to Liberian media reports.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is an impoverished country that is still recovering after back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, as well as the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

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US approves ballistic requests to ship US weapons to Ukraine

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The US has approved requests by Baltic nations to ship US-made weapons to Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, officials said Thursday.

A State Department official in Berlin, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken was holding talks on Ukraine, said the US was “expediting authorized transfers of US-origin equipment from other allies.”

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“European allies have what they need to move forward on additional security assistance (to) Ukraine in the coming days and weeks,” the official said.

A source familiar with the authorisations said the approval was for urgent requests by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to assist Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic.

The exact amounts and types of weapons were not specified, but the Baltic nations’ arsenals include Javelins, portable missiles capable of destroying tanks.

Tens of thousands of Russian troops, along with tanks and artillery, have been deployed near the Ukrainian border since late last year, rattling the three Baltic nations, which are members of NATO.

President Joe Biden’s administration since last year has approved $650 million in weapons to Ukraine, $200 million of it last month amid fears of war.

While the Biden administration boasts that the shipments are the most ever by the US, Ukraine has voiced hope for military supplies as quickly as possible, with shipments from nearby countries especially valuable.

Britain has also rushed to support Ukraine, announcing on Monday that it was sending anti-tank weapons.

Read more:

Explainer: What are US military options to help Ukraine if Russia invades

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Ukrainian president thanks US for help during ‘difficult time’

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Bomb blast in Pakistan’s Lahore kills two, injures 16

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At least two people were killed and 16 injured Thursday by a bomb blast in a busy shopping district of the Pakistani city of Lahore, police said.

“Initial investigations show that it was a time-controlled device on a motorbike which was the cause of the blast,” Rana Arif, spokesman for Lahore police, told AFP.

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