Spiraling Fires

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Tribal clashes in southern Sudan killed hundreds of people this week, as the African country continues to deal with a political crisis and civil conflict, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Fighting erupted earlier this month in the Blue Nile province over a land dispute, pitting the Hausa tribe against the Berta people. The violence escalated last week in the town of Wad el-Mahi on the border with Ethiopia, which resulted in the death of at least 220 people, including women and children.

That fueled protesters in the region to take to the streets of the provincial capital.

On Monday, Sudan’s military government said it had replaced the province’s commander and launched a fact-finding mission to investigate the clashes.

The unrest comes ahead of the first anniversary of Sudan’s military coup that ended the nation’s short-lived transition to democracy.

Following the ousting of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan had been ruled by a transitional government comprised of civilian and military leaders.

However, that government came to an end last October after the army removed the civilian leaders in a coup. The military’s takeover prompted mass protests demanding the return of a civilian government.

Pro-democracy groups criticized the junta’s response to recent tribal clashes, saying the military government has failed to protect ethnic groups in the province. They also called for anti-coup demonstrations on Tuesday across Sudan to mark the coup’s anniversary.

Even so, the military and Sudan’s pro-democracy movement have made progress in internationally backed talks in recent weeks. The two sides are working on efforts toward setting up a civilian-led government to be in charge through elections, which are to be held within 24 months.

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