FILE PHOTO: Sudanese demonstrators protest against the army’s announcement that President Omar al-Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, near Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
April 14, 2019
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s main protest group demanded the immediate handover of power to a civilian transitional government on Sunday, saying it would keep up the street demonstrations which ousted former President Omar al-Bashir last week to achieve its aims.
Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) called for the establishment of a transitional council which would be protected by the armed forces, adding it would exert “all forms of peaceful pressure to achieve the objectives of the revolution”.
The head of the military council that replaced Bashir, who was ousted on Thursday after three decades in power, has said a civilian government will be formed after talks with the opposition in Sudan.
A sit-in in the Sudanese capital, which began on April 6, was the culmination of a protest movement that began nearly four months ago, triggered by a worsening economic crisis.
Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman called a meeting on Sunday which was largely attended by unknown politicians and parliamentarians who are known to be loyal to Bashir’s party, a Reuters witness said.
It did not include SPA and the other main opposition parties, which together make up a group known as the Forces for Freedom and Change.
“We were not invited to this meeting … we will submit our suggestions for the government to the military council,” a spokesman for SPA told Reuters.
Lieutenant General Yasser Atta, a member of the military council, said they had hoped the opposition would come together to choose an independent candidate for prime minister, while another member of the council said they would give the opposition one week to submit their suggestions.
“DEFEND THE REVOLUTION”
Several thousand protesters continued a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry and for the first time state television showed footage of people marching and chanting in the streets, while a TV presenter congratulated their “revolution”.
SPA, which had demanded that civilians be included on the transitional military council and for Bashir’s close associates to leave, called for the arrest of prominent National Intelligence and Security Service generals, including its former head Salah Gosh, and for the removal of the prosecutor general.
It also called for the arrest of Bashir, whom the army has said it has already detained.
Up to four thousand people were still camped out on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, slightly fewer than on previous days, with some people returning to work for the first time in days.
After deadly clashes at the sit-in last week, the atmosphere was relaxed, with soldiers drinking tea and chatting with protesters.
“We are at our sit-in until we hear the response from the army to the … demands. We will defend the revolution from hijacking,” Mouawiya Mubarak, a 21-year-old student, said.
“Our demands are clear and have not yet been achieved, why would we go home? Our sit-in is the most powerful weapon in our hands,” the SPA said in a tweet.
Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, who announced Bashir’s ouster and arrest, stepped down after just one day as head of the military council on Friday.
Burhan, the new head of the council, has said the transition period will last for a maximum of two years.
(Writing by Aidan Lewis and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Alexander Smith)