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Military council does not aspire ‘to hold reins of power’ in Sudan

April 12 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Sudan's defence minister, head of the military transitional council and now interim president of Sudan, Lt Gen Ahmed Awad Ahmed Ibn Auf yesterday (file photo)
Sudan's defence minister, head of the military transitional council and now interim president of Sudan, Lt Gen Ahmed Awad Ahmed Ibn Auf yesterday (file photo)

(UPDATE 18:00) On Friday morning the head of the political committee of the newly established military transitional council said that the army has “no ambition to hold the reins of power”, and stressed that “we are ready to step down as early as a month if a government is formed”.

Omar Zein Abideen made the announcement during a press conference this morning, claiming that the two-year transition period can be as short as one month if managed “without chaos” amid demands for a civilian-led government.

“We guarantee the new government will be run by the civilians without the military,” he said.

He added that the military acted to remove President Omar Al Bashir after 30 years in power and several months of civil demonstrations and strikes against his rule and the ongoing shortages in fuel, bread, medicines and cash, in order to meet the demands of the people. He called for “civilised and peaceful dialogue” to address the economic and political issues facing the country.

“The committee plans to begin dialogue with political groups later. We are the protectors of the demands of the people and that is by consensus from the political entities,” Abideen said.

Past night, thousands of people in Khartoum defied the newly imposed curfew by the military council, as it became clear that yesterday’s military takeover did not lead to a civilian-led government. The mass demonstration lasted well past curfew on Thursday night and Friday morning while it was not clear whether the army would take action against the protesters.

His remarks came after Sudan's opposition groups spearheading the months-long protests had called for people to rally after Friday prayers.

Today, reports from Khartoum indicate that no other protest marches and strikes that characterised the past four months of nationwide protests against Al Bashir’s regime have taken place in the past 24 hours. All people are asked to join the sit-in outside the military headquarters which has turned out to be difficult to disperse for security forces.

AU condemns military takeover

In addition, the African Union has condemned the military takeover, saying it was not an appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people.

“Military take over is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people,” chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in the statement today. He added that the AU Peace and Security Council will “meet swiftly” to make appropriate decisions.

Demonstrations

For the first time in decades, Sudanese citizens have been taking to the streets for months to protest and strike against the regime of former president Omar Al Bashir and the lingering shortages of food, gas and medicines. During the past four months of public uprising, the Sudanese security service and riot police have been quick to disperse and arrest men and women participating in the demonstrations – often shooting, beating or using tear gas against civilians.

Hundreds of people have been detained so far, and starting March, demonstrators can be brought to Emergency Courts for violating the newly established Emergency Orders. In addition to the violent practices by the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) and security forces, peaceful demonstrators have had to face countless arrests, tear gas attacks in hospitals, emergency courts that sentence demonstrators to prison sentences and fines, social media blockades, and far-reaching censorship that prevent journalists from reporting about the, sometimes deadly, demonstrations.

Since a sit-in started outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on Saturday April 6, 35 people reportedly died from action by security forces and 'shadow battalions' (armed men in plain clothes).

(Source: Al Jazeera, Radio Dabanga)


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