Sudan protesters call for civilian rule in talks with military leaders

Khartoum: Protest organisers in Sudan say they have presented demands to the country’s new military rulers urging the creation of a civilian government.

Thousands of people remained encamped outside Khartoum’s army headquarters overnight and into Sunday to keep up the pressure on the military council that took power after ousting the veteran leader Omar al-Bashir on Thursday.

A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered their demands during talks late on Saturday, according to a statement by the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella group.

“We will continue … our sit-in until all our demands are met,” said Omar al-Degier, one of the leaders of the alliance. He said these demands included the formation of a fully civilian government.

The umbrella group insists civilian representatives should be accepted on to the military council and that a fully civilian government should be formed to run day-to-day affairs.

A protester who spent the night at the army complex said: “We surely want our demands to be met, but both sides will have to be flexible to reach a deal.”

Sudanese demonstrators march with national flags as they gather during a rally demanding a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy. Photograph: AP

On Saturday the new chief of the military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, vowed to dismantle Bashir’s regime and lifted a night-time curfew with immediate effect.

 Burhan also pledged that individuals implicated in the killing of protesters would face justice and that protesters detained under a state of emergency imposed by Bashir during his final weeks in power would be freed.

He took the oath of office on Friday after his predecessor General Awad Ibn Ouf stepped down little more than 24 hours after ousting Bashir.

Tens of thousands of people have massed outside the army headquarters since 6 April, initially to urge the armed forces to back their demand that Bashir be removed.

Burhan comes with less baggage from Bashir’s deeply unpopular rule than Ibn Ouf, a long-time close aide of the deposed president. But while celebrating the fall of Bashir and then Ibn Ouf, protesters remain cautious.

Degier said their demands included restructuring the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), whose chief Salih Ghosh resigned on Saturday.

Khartoum; Amnesty International urged the military council to examine Ghosh’s actions during a crackdown against protesters in the final weeks of Bashir’s rule.

“It is crucial that Sudan’s new authorities investigate Ghosh’s role in the killings of scores of Sudanese protesters over the past four months,” said Amnesty’s regional director Sarah Jackson.

The newly formed 10-member transitional council contains several faces from Bashir’s regime. On Saturday evening Burhan named the NISS deputy head Jalaluddin Sheikh to the council. He also nominated Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, known as Himeidti, a field commander for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) counter-insurgency unit, which rights groups have accused of abuses in war-torn Darfur.

The regional power-brokers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates voiced backing for the transitional council. Burhan’s nomination “reflects the ambitions of the brotherly people of Sudan for security, stability and development”, the UAE state news agency WAM said.

The Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had promised an aid package. Sudan is part of a UAE- and Saudi-led military coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. That move marked a dramatic shift by Khartoum, aligning itself with the Gulf Arab monarchies and dropping close ties with their arch-rival Iran.

The international criminal court has longstanding arrest warrants against Bashir for suspected war crimes during the regime’s campaign of repression in Darfur, where a decade and a half of conflict has killed 300,000 people. The military council has said it would never extradite Bashir or any other Sudanese citizen.

AlamulKhabar World