15 Apr 2019

Sudan crisis: Military council arrests former government members

12:06 pm on 15 April 2019

Sudan's transitional military council has arrested members of the former government and promised not to disperse protesters.

11 April 2019, Sudan, Khartoum: Sudanese demonstrators celebrate the arrest of long-time President Omar al-Bashir by the armed forces,

Demonstrators in Khartoum on 11 April celebrating the arrest of long-time President Omar al-Bashir by the armed forces. Following an announcement that the military would oversee a two-year transitional period, protesters demanded an immediate switch to a civilian government. Photo: AFP

A spokesman also urged the opposition to pick the next prime minister and vowed to implement their choice.

Months of protests in Sudan led to the ouster and arrest of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir on Thursday.

Demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is an immediate move to civilian rule.

A sit-in is continuing outside the defence ministry in the capital Khartoum.

In a press conference on Sunday, spokesman Maj Gen Shams Ad-din Shanto said the military council was "ready to implement" whatever civilian government the opposition parties agreed.

"We won't appoint a PM. They'll choose one," he said, referring to opposition and protest groups.

He also said the army would not remove protesters from their sit-in by force, but called on protesters "to let normal life resume" and stop unauthorised roadblocks.

"Taking up arms will not be tolerated," he added.

The military council also announced a raft of decisions, including:

  • New heads of the army and the police
  • A new head of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)
  • Committees to fight corruption, and to investigate the former ruling party
  • The lifting of all media restrictions and censorship
  • The release of police and security officers detained for supporting protesters
  • A review of diplomatic missions, and the dismissal of the Sudanese ambassador to the US and to Switzerland

What's been happening in Sudan?

Protests against a rise in the cost of living began in December but soon developed into a wider call for the removal of Mr Bashir and his government.

On Thursday the military removed and detained the veteran leader after nearly 30 years in power.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Omar al-Bashir was removed as president on Thursday. Photo: AP

The coup leader, Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, announced the military would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

But demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets regardless, demanding an immediate switch to civilian government.

Mr Ibn Auf himself stood down the next day, as did the feared security chief Gen Salah Gosh.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was then named as head of the transitional military council, to become Sudan's third leader in as many days.

In a televised address on Saturday, Gen Burhan vowed to "uproot the regime", pledging to respect human rights, end a night curfew, release political prisoners immediately, dissolve all provincial governments, try those who had killed demonstrators and tackle corruption.

Demonstrators outside the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum demand a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy.

Demonstrators outside the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum demand a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy. Photo: AP

But the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, said the council's response "did not achieve any of the demands of the people" and urged protests to continue.

Among its demands are the restructuring of state security, the arrest of "corrupt leaders" and the dissolution of militias that operated under former President Bashir.

The whereabouts of Sudan's former leader is currently unknown, but the coup leaders said he was in a secure place.

Mr Bashir has been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

But the military council has said it will not extradite him, although he could well be put on trial in Sudan.

Mr Bashir's National Congress Party on Saturday called his overthrow unconstitutional, and demanded that the military council release the party's imprisoned members.

Maj-Gen Shanto said that the former ruling party would have no part in the civilian transitional government but could field candidates in the next elections.