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‘Palace coup’ causes concerns from opposition and policy group

Photo taken at the mass sit-in outside of the General Command of the Sudan Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence in Khartoum on Monday. The Sudanese soldiers protected the demonstrators against attempts to disperse the crowd by the security forces (RD)
Photo taken at the mass sit-in outside of the General Command of the Sudan Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence in Khartoum on Monday. The Sudanese soldiers protected the demonstrators against attempts to disperse the crowd by the security forces (RD)

The criticism since the army’s announcement to seize power from Omar Al Bashir and lead Sudan in a transitional period of two years continues to grow. Opposition parties and workers’ unions, the main drivers of the demonstrations, and international policy groups warn that the curfew may undermine people’s efforts to demand real change.

In a statement today, a spokesman of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA, a combination of professions including doctors and teachers) announced they restated the demand for power to be handed immediately to “a transitional civilian government”.

“The SPA has declared its clear position against the military attempt to reproduce the Bashir regime ... [and] sees no alternative other than keeping the struggle against the military coup alive,” it said.

The SPA said that former Minister of Defence Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who heads the military transitional council and was sworn-in as interim president yesterday, “performed a new theatre play”. The group called on Sudanese people to maintain their sit-in in front of the General Command of the Sudan Armed Forces in Sudan, until there has been a “handover of power to a transitional government consisting of civil forces that reflect the forces of the revolution”.

Omar Zain Abideen (SudanTV)

This morning, Omar Zein Abideen, head of the political committee of the council, explained at a press conference that the army has “no ambition to hold the reins of power”, and stressed that “we [the military council, RD] are ready to step down as early as a month if a government is formed.

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

The council also announced that it would not extradite former president Al Bashir to face allegations of genocide at the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he is wanted for genocide and war crimes perpetrated in Darfur. International groups called for his extradition to the ICC in the Hague.

“Support system change, because regime change is insufficient.” - John Prendergast, founder of Enough Project

Curfew ‘undermines protests’

Dr Suliman Baldo (file photo)

“The Enough Project is alarmed by the declaration of a month-long curfew, daily from 10pm to 4am, which we believe is meant to undermine the efforts of the protestors who are insisting on real change,” according to a statement undersigned by director John Prendergast, senior adviser Dr Suliman Baldo, senior adviser Omer Ismail and actor and activist Don Cheadle of the international policy group Enough.

Ismail: “The Sudanese people have sacrificed life and limb for 30 years in order to reach a day when they can enjoy freedom and dignity. This palace coup, which keeps the structure of the Bashir regime in place, is devastating in that light.”

Dr Suliman Baldo said that a transition period to democratic rule should last four instead of the proposed two years: “A transition period is needed to reform all the institutions of the state and rebuild the political parties and civic institutions weakened by 30 years of vicious security attacks and corruption by the regime of President Bashir.”

Sudanese opposition

Co-president of the National Umma Party, Burma Fadlallah Nasir, who himself is a former defence minister, said that Ibn Auf’s was “a disappointment to the hopes and aspirations of the Sudanese people.

“The people have been banned from running the country for the next two years, thus, the rule of the regime would be extended to 32 years,” pointing to the 30-year rule of former president Omar Al Bashir which ended yesterday.

Hamid Ali Nur (file photo)

Hamid Ali Nur, the head of the Sudanese civil society initiative, said that the statement by Lt. Gen. Ibn Auf “is completely rejected by the parties of the Freedom and Change declaration and the people in the sit-in”. The so-called palace coup d'état did not lead to any change on the ground - “especially for youths who were aspiring to a fundamental change in freedom and peace”.

Ali Nur said that Ibn Auf “is one of the greatest criminals who committed crimes against the Sudanese people”, sanctioned by the United States in 2006 for his role in orchestrating the genocidal campaign in Darfur.

The chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party, Omar El Degeir, said he was disappointed by the military leader’s statement. “It is nothing but an attempt to re-produce Al Bashir’s regime. The leadership of the armed forces should have communicated with us to hear our view of the future. Therefore we reject the new government and we will remain on the streets.”

“The announcement represents all the trappings of a successful palace coup that does not respond to the aspirations and demands of the Sudanese people for real change,” the senior advisors to the Enough Project stated today. “The obvious aim of this alleged coup d’etat is to relieve the tremendous pressures demanding the ouster of Bashir and his regime that have been made by the formidable non-violent people’s revolution since mid-December and that intensified in the past week.”

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