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Fresh protests in Sudan over military's post-Bashir plan

People celebrate the end of three decades of autocratic rule by President Omar al-Bashir, in Khartoum

People celebrate the end of three decades of autocratic rule by President Omar al-Bashir, in Khartoum

A plan by Sudan's military to take over the country's government is getting a cold reception from protesters and the international community, who want to see the African nation take steps toward democracy.

Sudan's Defense minister announced the takeover on state television Thursday, after the army ousted the country's longtime president, Omar al-Bashir, following months of demonstrations against his 30-year iron-fisted rule.

Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said a transitional military council will run the government for the next two years. He declared a three-month state of emergency, the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of parliament. Earlier, a Sudanese military source told VOA that al-Bashir, 75, has been put under house arrest.

Protesters want civilians in charge

Many protesters, initially excited by the fall of al-Bashir, became angry when they realized Sudan would be under military rule. New demonstrations broke out Thursday afternoon in the capital, Khartoum. One protester, Suha Ahmed, said Bashir opponents will not accept two more years of military rule.

"After 30 years of the rule, we'll still be at a sit-in, until our demands are responded to with a transitional civil government, for a free, democratic, stable Sudan," she told VOA.

"The army announcement was disappointing," said another protester, Mohamed Ali. "Because it didn't fulfill all missions of the revolution, I ask protestors to sit-in in front of army headquarters till the achievement of Sudan's revolution," he said.

Protester Mutaz Mohamed noted that Defense minister Ibn Auf, like al-Bashir, has been accused of war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

“Ibn Awf is wanted by the ICC [International Criminal Court]. How come you replaced a wanted one with another wanted one?" he asked.

The Sudan Professionals Association was one of the key organizers of the recent anti-Bashir protests. Spokeswoman Sarah Abdeljalil, who is based in the United Kingdom, says the SPA is not optimistic about Thursday's events.

"We don’t think that anything has happened that is positive," she told VOA.

"It’s a regression rather than progression. It’s a coup. We have never supported a coup. We were very clear in our statement for the last three to four days that we would never support a coup. We will support a military council that will work in parallel to the civil government in the transitional period."

Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Khartoum on Thursday to celebrate the president's ouster, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans. Later in the day, some protesters denounced the army statement and said they reject the idea of a military-led ruling council.

Sudan's powerful National Security and Intelligence Service said it would release all political detainees throughout the country, according to a report on state media. Witnesses, however, say protesters attacked intelligence buildings in two eastern cities, Port Sudan and Kasala, because releases failed to materialize.

Omar al Bashir

The protests began on December 19, with demonstrators accusing al-Bashir's government of economic mismanagement that has sparked skyrocketing food prices, and fuel and foreign currency shortages.

Al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist coup in 1989, imposed a nationwide state of emergency February 22 in an attempt to suppress the protests after an initial crackdown failed.

The government said weeks ago that 31 people had been killed, but the group Physicians for Human Rights estimates the death toll is at least 60.

Pressure on al-Bashir mounted this week as tens of thousands of protesters held a five-day sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum. On Tuesday, soldiers protected the crowd from riot police, a signal that the army did not support al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with atrocities in the western region of Darfur.

International disapproval

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said "the military takeover is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan."

He urged all parties to remain calm and exercise restraint. The United Nations Security Council is due to hold closed-door talks about the Sudan situation on Friday. Britain's deputy ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Allen, condemned the military's transition plan as inadequate.

"We need to see much faster transition. We need to see civilian rule now. That's what the protesters have been calling for and that is what we need to do," Allen told reporters.

Professor Hassan Hajji, a political science lecturer at the University of Khartoum, said Sudan's next rulers will face some major challenges.

"First we have the economy which has deteriorated in the last year or so. This is the main concern now for most of the Sudanese people, how to meet their minimum needs for the families," said Hajji.

"The other challenge is ... how to bring the military groups in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains and in the Southern Blue Nile to the peace process. How to maintain peace in Sudan is also another challenge for the coming military rule."

Hajji said he doubts the now ex-president will be sent to the ICC for trial.

"In Sudan, a large number of people, they want other ways of settling the grievances that took place in the previous era," he told VOA. "Some people are suggesting that we should follow South Africa's path or the Moroccan, or perhaps Truth and Justice [Commission], where people will try to solve this by traditional Sudanese and African means."

Comments

+1 #1 Jonathan Luyirika 2019-04-12 07:16
Someone is good at librating people ...he is good at slaving them.
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+3 #2 Twebaze Francis 2019-04-12 10:34
You, Sudanese, are doing a great service to your nation. You've already won the first bout so don't let go.

You still have enough energy to throw in heavy punches. Go on and liberate yourselves.

But keep it within the limits of your boarders because it would spread like wild fire if it spilled over into Uganda. That is people power at work.
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+4 #3 Lakwena 2019-04-12 14:06
In other words in the 2 years, the military officers (coup leaders) want to loot the treasury before handing it empty to a civilian leadership.

I am beginning to believe that Africans are cursed people.
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0 #4 Akot 2019-04-12 19:25
Sudanese & international community should know for the last 30 years, it was a 1 man rule with no opposition allowed, while Sudanese went along without preparing for change of leader!

This uprising was sparked by increase of bread price, just as French Green Vest movement was by a few more cents on petrol!

Either Sudanese accept this continued military rule for yet 2 years or ask UN to administer the country & lead them to election!

For once UN would be doing the job it was founded for; help people build good governance, prevent wars...!

The thrist/need for democracy is on but without the leadership; so Sudanese MUST give themselves chance 1 way or another!

Uganda would be in worse situation as there is no alternative to Museveni & the divisive tribalistic system makes any move other than tribal states, impossible!
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0 #5 Akot 2019-04-12 19:31
Twebaze Francis, understood, but,

UNITY of Ugandans won't cause chaos as Museveni has no tribal land to confuse Ugandas from when he is thrown out!

Let's not forget that the only problems Ugandans have is the tribalistic system & them used against one another by Museveni!

Like Amin, Museveni will get away with all eveil acts he did!
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0 #6 Akot 2019-04-12 19:40
Lakwena, agreed, yet,

Now that Sudandes have set the ball rolling, they MUST go up to the end, especially as they now know that people's power through UNITY for common cause is all that is needed to bring change of ruler & came back on streets to ensure Al Bashir left!

There can be no turning back for Sudanese now!

Museveni is the luckiest demon with a docile people serving him in peace till he drops dead of old age in 30 years!

By then, will Uganda still be tribalistically divided & ruled or a reformed republic the way the demo wants?
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0 #7 Akot 2019-04-12 19:58
Jonathan Luyirika, agreed, but,

It's up to Sudanese to continue making their stand as to what they want, even when there is no alternative to Al Bashir who came through military coup, ruled with iron hands for 30 years & allowed no opposition!

But 'people's power' is stronger & Sudanese can continue making their stand, not forgetting they need leadership & all they have had for 30 years is the military establishment while opposition/politicians were silenced!

This can be Uganda, if our people UNITE & throw Museveni out!

But, it's the people that UNITE to bring change & this won't happen in tribally divided Uganda, but when Museveni will be no more, what will Ugandans do?
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0 #8 WADADA roger 2019-04-12 20:55
That is not a fundamental change, its is new wine in old bottles, the army is only containing and averting a volatile situation from getting worse, the new guy has been working with Bashir for all these years, how come he could not advise him to do otherwise.

I want to agree with the call from the rest of the world that the army should involve Civilians in all the decisions and positions of leadership in form of a transition
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