Sudan protest leaders to unveil interim civilian council


Sudanprotest leaders on Friday announced plans to unveil a civilian body to take over from the country’s ruling military council as crowds of demonstrators kept up the pressure outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum.

The military council, which took power afteroverthrowing Sudan’s longtime leader Omar al-Bashiron April 11, has so far resisted calls from protesters to quickly make way for a civilian administration.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the months-long protests, said in astatementthat the civilian council members would be named at a news conference at 17:00 GMT on Sunday outside the army complex to which foreign diplomats are also invited.

“We are demanding that this civilian council, which will have representatives of the army, replace the military council,” Ahmed al-Rabia, a leader of the umbrella group of unions for doctors, engineers and teachers, told the AFP news agency.

The latest announcement comes after the group on Thursday outlined the structure of the potential transitional government.

The SPA said the new transitional government should be made up of a presidential council tasked with carrying out the functions of the state, a council of ministers and a transitional civil statutory council.

‘Reluctant to hand over power’

“The transitional military council is reluctant to hand over power. It appears that they lack solid political will to respond to the demands of the protesters on the ground,” Ahmed Adam, a Sudanese lawyer and research associate at SOAS University of London, told Al Jazeera.

“The political civilian forces are still discussing the way to respond to this complicated transitional process. The expectations of the people are very high. People are so eager to see change. The military are counting on the divisions among the people on the streets to stay in power,” Adam added.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reporting from the Sudanese capital said there was disagreement over the length of the transitional period.

“Some political parties want one-year transitional period. The military council wants two-year period while others including the Sudanese Professional Association are saying they want a transitional period of up to four years,” Morgan said.

Four months after anti-governmentprotestsstarted, access roads were packed on Friday with crowds flocking to the huge square outside army headquarters.

Activists mobilised demonstrators throughsocial mediato keep up the pressure for replacing the military council, now led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“Power to civilians, power to civilians,” protesters chanted through Thursday night.

“I won’t leave until al-Burhan transfers power to a civilian government,” said Wali Aldeen, who has camped outside the complex since the day al-Bashir was overthrown.

Vowing to ‘uproot’ al-Bashir’s circle

Activists have called for large crowds to gather after weekly Muslim prayers, as on previous Fridays.

Protests first broke out on December 19 in response to the tripling of bread prices, swiftly turning into nationwide rallies against al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.

After his overthrow, protesters demonstrated against GeneralAhmed Awad Ibn Aufwho took over as the first head of the military council, insisting he was a tool of the old regime.

Ibn Auf stepped down in less than 24 hours and was replaced by al-Burhan, who so far has appeased protesters by lifting a night-time curfew and vowing to “uproot” al-Bashir’s circle.

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday praised orders by Sudan’s new military leader to free political prisoners and end the curfew as it dispatched Makila James, a deputy assistant secretary of state, on a mission to Khartoum this weekend.

The US will “calibrate our policies based on our assessment of events”, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, adding, however, that talks on delisting Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism remained suspended.

“We are encouraged by the decision to release political prisoners and cancel the curfew in Khartoum,” Ortagus said in a statement.

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