Sudanese protest organizers step up pressure on military
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudanese protest organizers on Friday stepped up calls for a swift transfer of power, saying they will announce an interim ruling council they want to see take over from the military that ousted President Omar al-Bashir after months of street protests against him.
The announcement came as thousands marched toward the main sit-in outside the military headquarters in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the epicenter of the country’s popular uprising against al-Bashir’s autocratic rule of 30 years.
The protesters are demanding that the military, which ousted and arrested al-Bashir last week and set up a military council to run the country for a maximum of two years, give up power immediately.
They say they will not give up their protests until their demands are met.
The Sudanese Professional Association, which has been behind the four months of protests, said it will announce the makeup of a “civilian presidential council” at a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday.
The protesters fear the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.
Al-Bashir, whose rule was marred by conflict, civil war and corruption, is also wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committee in the western region of Darfur.
He is currently held in Khartoum’s Koper Prison, notorious for holding political prisoners under al-Bashir. The former president’s two brothers, as well as a number of his close associates and former government officials have also been taken into custody.
The protesters’ demands include trials for all ranking former government figures for corruption and human rights abuses, as well as disbanding of paramilitary forces al-Bashir used to crack down on insurgency and dissent.
African and Mideast nations have closely watched the drama unfolding in Sudan. Uganda said this week it may offer al-Bashir asylum should he want it, and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has offered to mediate.
The Sudanese military is also trying to stay neutral in a feud between a bloc of Saudi-led Arab nations and Qatar. The state news agency SUNA said on Thursday that the head of the military council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, fired deputy foreign minister, Badr Eddin Mohammed, over a report about the military refusing to meet Qatari envoys.
Burhan also fired deputy ministers of information and water, Sudan’s official agency SUNA reported on Friday but gave no reasons.