Military transition does not satisfy Sudanese: Mass sit-in continues
Past night, thousands of people in Khartoum defied the newly imposed curfew by the military council, which was established by the army yesterday to replace President Omar Al Bashir after 30 years in power and months of civil uprising. The sit-in has continued today and increased in size.
Demonstrators who had earlier started a sit-in outside the army’s headquarters and the Ministry of Defence in the capital city, decided to keep-up their sit-in 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.
The statement by Minister of Defence and Vice-President Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf on Sudanese state television on Thursday afternoon, announcing the arrest of former president Al Bashir, had initially drawn enthusiastic response from the demonstrators.
But after several hours people decided to re-launch the demonstrations, this time to reject the military coup that placed Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf as interim head of the country. People called and chanted to continue the revolution while out on the streets; on social media such asTwitter the hashtag ‘Not fallen yet’ emerged.
“To comply with the curfew is to recognise the clone rescue government.” - Sudanese Professionals Association
Ibn Auf also announced to lead a military transitional council for the period of two years in the run-up to elections and the imposition of a month-long curfew.
Despite the curfew the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) late on Thursday called on protesters to “gather now” and continue the days-long sit-in outside the military’s general command in Khartoum to continue making demands for a transitional government on their own terms. “Stay put and guard your revolution,” it added. “To comply with the curfew is to recognise the clone rescue government.”
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.
On social media demonstrators are seen gathering in front of the Ministry of Defence while others brought musical instruments to entertain the crowds, including violin players and a man wearing a military uniform playing the saxophone. Speeches, as seen in the picture, are being held at the sit-in on Friday.
Social media blockade lifted
The estimates are unconfirmed but various sources reported that there were several millions of people out on the street in Khartoum yesterday, on a population of over six million people in the city, to celebrate the fall of the leader after 30 years.
Access to Twitter, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have been restored in Sudan on Thursday 11 according to new network measurement data, internet observary Netblocks.org reported. The platforms had been blocked on Sunday, a day after the sit-in at the Ministry of Defence started by protesters calling for a peaceful transition of power.
The blockades were followed by a brief national power outages disabling some 45% of telecommunications across Sudan later in the day, as the government appeared to resort to increasingly severe tactics to suppress dissent.
Now, “Canar Telecom (Kanartel), Zain-SDN, and Sudatel have restored access to the services, while the situation remains intermittent with MTN. Online platforms have been used extensively by protesters, journalists and ordinary citizens, who have continued to get online using VPN circumvention tools despite the restrictions,” Netblocks.org reports.
Previously, Sudan had disrupted social media for 68 consecutive days, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp outages beginning 21 December and lasting until February 26.
Demonstrations continued as well in the states of South Kordofan, North and Central Darfur on Thursday. In Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan state, festivities followed the declaration of the statement of the army. However, like in Khartoum, “the joyous signs quickly turned into a demonstration calling for the overthrow of the [transitional] regime and to continue the struggle after it became clear that the Minister of Defence led the coup against the president,” an activist in Kadugli reported to Radio Dabanga.
“The coup is a re-production of the Islamic Movement,” he said. “We do not recognise this coup or recognize Ibn Auf and we will continue demonstrations and sit-ins today after Friday prayers.”
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