Sudanese protestors repeat demands for civilian government

After the ouster of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, demonstrators are calling for the military to relinquish power to a civilian government.

Sudanese protesters have welcomed the "positive steps" taken by the ruling military council, which held talks with opposition leaders over the weekend and released some political prisoners.

Attempts to disperse protestors

The praise came despite a brief incident on Monday in which activists said soldiers attempted to disperse the ongoing protest sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, but eventually backed off.

Last week, Sudan's military ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir following four months of street protests against his rule, then appointed a military council that it says will rule for two years or less while elections are organized.

Demonstrators fear that the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.

Demands for a civilian government

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which is behind the protests, repeated its key demands at a press conference in Khartoum, saying the military must immediately give power to a transitional civilian government that would rule for four years.

"The trust is in the street," said prominent activist Mohammed Naji al-Asam, referring to the ongoing sit-in. The SPA also called on the international community to support civilian rule.

The African Union meanwhile gave Sudan's military 15 days to hand over power to a "civilian-led political authority" or face suspension from the union's activities. It said a civilian authority should hold elections "as quickly as possible."

Earlier in the day, the SPA urged people into the streets, saying "There is an attempt to break up the sit-in. We appeal to everyone to head to the area to protect your revolution and gains."

There were no clashes and no one was hurt in the attempted dispersal, but the incident renewed concerns that the military could renege on its promises not to use force against the peaceful demonstrators. Previous attempts to break up the sit-in before al-Bashir's ouster last Thursday killed dozens of people.

Military to name civilian prime minister

Also Monday, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the transitional military council, announced an overhaul of the military leadership and appointed a new chief of staff, according to a military statement.

A military spokesman said Sunday it will name a civilian prime minister and Cabinet — but not a president — to help govern the country. The announcement was unlikely to satisfy the protesters. Lt. Gen. Shamseldin Kibashi said in televised remarks that the military had begun to overhaul the security apparatus and wouldn't break up the demonstrations outside the military headquarters.

Since his ouster, al-Bashir — president for nearly 30 years — has been under house arrest in Khartoum. The military said he was removed from power in response to the demands of the people.

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16 April 2019, 14:38