September 18, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Signs of a diplomatic standoff between Khartoum and London have unfolded following a phone conversation in which Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, reacted angrily to a request by his UK counterpart, William Hague, for beefing up security around the British embassy in Khartoum for fears of renewed protests over a film mocking Islam’s prophet Mohammed.
- FILE PHOTO - Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti (R) shakes hands with his British counterpart William Hague
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) reported on Tuesday that Hague phoned Karti and requested the Sudanese government to increase security around Western diplomatic missions in the capital Khartoum, citing concerns over the safety of UK embassy staff after Sudanese demonstrators targeted embassy premises during protests against the film last week.
Thousands of Sudanese protesters demonstrated on Friday, 14 September, outside the British and German embassies on Al-Baladiya Street in downtown Khartoum as well as outside the U.S. embassy in Suba suburb against the film, “Innocence of Muslims” which was made in the U.S. but has no known links to Germany or UK.
The protesters set fire on the German embassy and later attacked the adjacent British embassy after German diplomats fled to it. Two protesters died during confrontation with police outside the U.S. embassy.
In comments following the event, William Hague suggested that Sudanese police neglected to protect the embassy. "Sudanese police attended the scene, but demonstrators were able to break down a perimeter wall and cause minor damage to the compound.”
Eye witnesses of the demonstrations on Al-Baladiya Street said that the Sudanese police even helped the protesters to climb the walls of the German embassy.
Responding to Hague’s request and concerns over the phone, Karti said he does not accept to take lessons or reminders from anyone about the duty of the Sudanese state in protecting diplomatic mission. Karti also asked Hague to keep his country out of this affair since it is not involved.
Karti pointed out that a number of Sudanese protesters were killed and more than 50 policemen were injured as Khartoum adhered to its duty in protecting diplomatic missions.
Sudan’s top diplomat reminded his UK counterpart, according to SUNA, that Friday’s demonstrations originally targeted the German embassy but it was attempts by the guards of the British embassy to fire teargas on the protesters that provoked them. Karti stressed that the protesters avoided attacking the British embassy.
Sudan declined a request from the U.S. to send Marines soldiers to protect the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. The U.S. state department later ordered the departure of 20 diplomats out of Sudan.