22 Apr 2019

Sudan protesters refuse to recognise military transitional council

11:22 am on 22 April 2019

Sudanese protest leaders have vowed to escalate demonstrations to confront the country's military rulers, as part of a widening campaign to push for the transfer of power to civilians.

Sudanese protesters gather as they shout slogans and wawe national flags during a protest outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 21, 2019.

Sudanese protesters gather as they shout slogans and wave national flags during a protest outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum. Photo: OZAN KOSE / AFP

Addressing a rally outside the Defence Ministry in central Khartoum, a protest leader said that demonstrators no longer recognised the Transitional Military Council that assumed power after the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir last week.

A coalition of protesters and opposition groups earlier said it was suspending contacts with the political committee of the military rulers' Transitional Military Council, accusing it of being composed of "remnants" of the ousted regime.

"Our dealings with the political committee had been positive but it deals with us in the same old manner, which prompted us to suspend dealings with it," a leader of the group, known as Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, said.

The protests have occupied the space outside the country's Defence Ministry since 6 April - leading up to and continuing after Mr Bashir's arrest - and have demonstrated in large numbers over the past three days, pressing for a rapid handover to civilian rule.

However, the military has been relatively obsequious with the leader of the coup against Mr Bashir having stood down and the military has said it will put in place whatever civilian government and whichever prime minister opposition groups agree.

The Transitional Military Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told state TV that the council was committed to handing over power to the people

"The issue has been put forward for discussion and a vision has yet to be reached," he said.

"The role of the military council complements the uprising and the blessed revolution.

A grab from a broadcast on Sudan TV on April 13, 2019 shows Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman, new chief of Sudan's ruling military council, in the capital Khartoum.

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman, new chief of Sudan's ruling military council, appears on Sudan TV. Photo: AFP PHOTO / HO / SUDAN TV

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed on Sunday to send $3 billion worth of aid to the country, throwing a lifeline to the TMC.

The two Gulf Arab countries will deposit $500 million with the Sudanese central bank and send the rest in the form of food, medicine and petroleum products, their state news agencies said in parallel statements.

Mr Burhan also confirmed for the first time that Bashir and a number of former officials, including presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie, acting party head Ahmed Haroun and former first vice president Ali Osman Taha, were being held at a high-security prison in Khartoum North.

Mr Bashir had been under house arrest at his home - where a large hoard of cash was found - and other members of his former government have also since been arrested.

Wider protests have however been ongoing in the country since December, originally sparked by a rise in the cost of living.

Analysts have blamed the crisis on economic mismanagement, corruption, and the impact of US sanctions, as well as the loss of oil revenue when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - APRIL 21: Sudanese demonstrators gather in front of military headquarters during a demonstration after The Sudanese Professionals Association's (SPA) call, demanding a civilian transition government, in Khartoum, Sudan on April 21, 2019.

Photo: AFP / Mahmoud Hjaj / Anadolu Agency

Over the last few years, Sudan's cash-short government expanded money supply to cover the cost of expensive subsidies on fuel, wheat and pharmaceuticals, causing annual inflation of 73 percent and the Sudanese pound to plunge against the US dollar.

The US lifted some trade and economic sanctions against Sudan in October 2017, but the country remained on its list of countries it considers to sponsors of terrorism.

Mr Burhan said a committee could travel to the US for discussions about lifting Sudan from the list by next week. Washington has said Sudan will not be removed from the list as long as the military is in power.

- Reuters

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