Sudan’s principal protest group has demanded the immediate formation of a civilian-led government to replace the country’s new ruling military council, warning that the demonstrators’ “revolution” faces threat from “the remnants of the regime” of deposed leader Omar al-Bashir.
Fearing that the core of the old establishment is far from gone, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) on Monday reiterated its call for the military council to be dissolved and substituted by a civilian one that will only include “limited” army representation.
The umbrella organisation, which spearheaded the months of protests that precipitated al-Bashir’s removal, also demanded the sacking of Sudan’s prosecutor general and judiciary head, as well as the disbanding of the former president’s National Congress Party (NCP).
“The objectives of the revolution cannot be achieved totally and completely in the face of the backstage manipulations by the remnants of the regime,” SPA member Taha Osman told reporters in the capital, Khartoum.
“The key demand is the formation of a civil council to guarantee that the revolution is safeguarded and all the goals are achieved.”
‘Protect your revolution’
On April 11, after nearly four months of the popular uprising, a military takeover ended al-Bashir’s 30-year authoritarian rule. In a televised address to the nation, Sudan’s then-Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, announced that al-Bashir – who had seized power himself in a 1989 coup – had been arrested and taken to a “safe” location.
But the protesters’ elation quickly turned to anger as Ibn Auf, a long-time al-Bashir loyalist, announced the establishment of a two-year transitional military council and later was sworn in as its head.
Defying a newly imposed curfew, the demonstrators continued taking to the streets, denouncing Ibn Auf’s statement as a “farce”. Barely 24 hours later, the military council was forced to appoint its second leader in two days, with Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan replacing Ibn Auf.
Since then, negotiations have taken place between the council and protest organisers, who on Saturday submitted a list of demands to Sudan’s military rulers.
The military council is yet to formally respond to those demands, which include the transfer of power to a civilian-headed transitional authority for a period of four years, at the end of which elections will be held.
It has, however, made a number of moves in an apparent bid to appease the protesters, including the lifting of the nighttime curfew.
Al-Burhan has also vowed to restructure state institutions and “uproot the [Bashir] regime and its symbols” – but has also said that the transition to civilian rule could take up to two years.
Concessions fail to appease protesters
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Khartoum, said the recent concessions by Sudan’s military rulers had failed to win over protesters, many of whom remain distrustful of the higher echelons of the country’s armed forces due to their historical links to al-Bashir’s former administration.
“Remember, we are talking about a regime that has been deep-rooted in power for 30 years, so the SPA and other powers behind this protest know … that the top ranks of the military, those who have staged this coup, will not easily give up the power that the military used to have in Sudan,” Vall said.
“Some of the military leaders are very close to the former regime and the protesters want to make sure that anyone who has links with the former regime … [and] with the former NCP have to leave the stage and that new powers and a new Sudan should emerge,” he added.
The SPA’s press conference came just hours after it called on protesters to safeguard the “revolution” in the wake of a failed attempt by security forces to remove roadblocks put in place around a sit-in being held outside a vast complex housing the Sudanese military headquarters and defence ministry in Khartoum.
“We urge all the people to go immediately to the army headquarters to stop attempts to disperse protesters,” the SPA said in a statement.