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Sudan military junta: ‘Sit-in has become a threat to the country’

June 2 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Map of sit-in Khartoum, April 2019 (BBC)
Map of sit-in Khartoum, April 2019 (BBC)

According to Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) the sit-in in front of the Sudanese army command in Khartoum has become “a threat to the country and its protesters”.

Last week, TMC military spokesman Lt Gen Shamseldin El Kabbashi accused “bandits among the protestors” at the sit-in of seizing a vehicle belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia. Legal action would be taken against “the outlaws” at the sit-in.

Observers consider these statements as a prelude to “a strong intervention by the authorities to disband the sit-in near the Ministry of Defence”.

On Thursday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned the staff of foreign embassies, missions, and organisations not to visit the sit-in area in Khartoum.

In a circular sent to embassies and international institutions, the Ministry said that members of embassies, foreign missions and international organisations are not allowed to visit the sit-in and gatherings under bridges, or attend demonstrations and protests because of “the current conditions in the country”.

Several foreign diplomats have visited the sit-in during the past weeks.

‘Intruders’

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) has advised the protestors “to abide by the borders of the sit-in, defined on April 6, and to keep away from bullets fired by military outlaws”. The people should take care to guard the entrances to the area in order “to prevent intruders”.

The professionals expressed their sadness about the violence in the area under the Blue Nile Bridge, which claimed the life of a protestor and wounded seven others on Thursday.

They hold the TMC “fully responsible for these events”.

Joint security committees

The imam who led the prayers at the Khartoum sit-in on Friday, demanded in his sermon the formation of joint security committees consisting of both protestors and regular forces, to secure the protest area, identify rioters, and “stop the bloodshed in the neighbourhood of the sit-in”.

He also urged the new political leaders “to stop talking about trivial matters and unite to rebuild the homeland, restore the Rule of Law, and establish a new civilian-led government”.

Shooting

After the ousting of President Omar Al Bashir on April 11, the people at the sit-in that was set-up five days before, stayed at the area in order to pressure the new military rulers to hand over power to a civilian-led government. Protestors erected barricades in the periphery of the sit-in preventing vehicles but also trains to proceed.

The demands of the commander of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and TMC deputy-head Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan (aka Hemeti) to remove the roadblocks were met with jeers. Yet, on May 13, RSF troops opened fire at protestors near the sit-in. Four people were instantly killed and more than 200 others were injured, 77 of them sustained bullet wounds. Two of them succumbed to their injuries some days later.

Three days later, at least 14 protestors were injured during attempts of the RSF to dismantle the barricades in the vicinity of the sit-in. In the weeks that followed, more protestors or passers-by were shot dead by RSF militiamen. The most recent victims are a young man who was killed by live bullets on Thursday. The day before, a pregnant tea seller died, and others were wounded by stray bullets on Nile Street.

Talks

Negotiations between the TMC and the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) about the transition to a civilian-led government stalled in end May. After first insisting on a Sovereign Council with a military president, the TMC then rejected the idea of a council with an even number of civilians and military figures.

After organising a very successful general strike last week, the AFC threatens now to resort to more civil disobedience actions if the military junta does not respond to their demands for the transfer of power to civilians.


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