Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Sudan coup: live updates as army takes power

The military forced out president Omar Al Bashir after three decades and announced its rule over the country

Thousands of Sudanese protesters rallied outside army headquarters late on Friday, despite a night-time curfew imposed by the military after it ousted president Omar Al Bashir following months of demonstrations.

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan has been named the chief of the new military council after the resignation of Sudan’s Defence Minister, Gen Awad ibn Auf.

The army's Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Kamal Abdelmarouf, was also relieved of his position.

Stay with us throughout Saturday for the latest updates on the situation in Sudan.

Mat Nashed: Protesters vow to push on in Khartoum

Profile: Omar Al Bashir

Iconic image: Sudan's 'Nubian Queen' protester

SPA: how an illegal union became the biggest threat to Omar Al Bashir’s reign

Times: UTC+4

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04:25 Saudi Arabia announces Sudan aid package

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it backed steps announced by Sudan's transitional military council and announced an aid package to Sudan that includes wheat, petroleum products, and medicine, Saudi state news agency (SPA) said.

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04:15 UAE welcomes appointment of new transitional military council chief

"The UAE is following with a great interest this defining moment in Sudan's modern history and reiterates full trust in the ability of the Sudanese people and their national army to survive the challenges in a way that ensures stability, prosperity and development for the nation," said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

"The UAE reaffirms its support for the steps taken by Sudan's transitional military council to protect people and property, wishing these steps would ensure security and stability for the sisterly country."

The appointment of Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan as the new head of Sudan's transitional military council represented a "step forward reflecting the ambitions of the brotherly people of Sudan towards security, stability and development," the statement added.

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02:22 Sudanese Professionals Association calls for protests to continue

It said its key demands such as restructuring of the country's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the dissolution of militia forces that operated under Bashir and the arrest of all "corrupt leaders" involved in what it called crimes against citizens had not been met.

"There are clear demands and unless they are met, there is no escape but to publicise full rejection (of the council's moves)," an SPA statement said,

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23:33 Gunshots outside defence ministry were celebratory

Gunfire that was heard outside the defence ministry in Khartoum on Saturday turned out to be celebratory, witnesses said according to Reuters.

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were firing guns to celebrate the promotion of the head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known by his nickname Hemeti, who was appointed deputy head of Sudan's transitional military council.

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22:25 RSF chief appointed deputy head of transitional council

State TV announces that Gen Mohammed Hamdan Daglo – also known by the nickname Hametti – has been appointed deputy head of the transitional military council.

Gen Daglo has built close links to the new head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan since the pair worked together to coordinate Sudan’s deployment to the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen.

The Rapid Support Forces is a paramilitary group that grew out of the Janjaweed militia, which operated in Darfur. The government had denied any wrongdoing by the RSF, despite international claims and the International Criminal Court indictments that say the Janjaweed carried out atrocities in Darfur.

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22:00 Cautious optimism in Khartoum

Basheer Alay, who is also participating in the sit-in, said that he is just relieved that Gen Ibn Auf is gone. In his eyes, Gen Ibn Auf was a central figure to Mr Al Bashir’s regime and his takeover risked sabotaging the uprising.

“I’m becoming more comfortable with the situation right now,” he said. “The quick fall of Ibn Auf was our first victory. Now Sudan is heading in the right direction and we can prepare for real change.”

Sudanese protestors and observers are cautiously optimistic about the future of Sudan now that Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan is heading the country’s transitional military council.

Lt Gen Al Burhan assumed leadership of the transitional council after Gen Awad Ibn Auf – Defense Minister, first vice president and an avowed Islamist – announced his resignation Friday night. The resignation came just one day after he took the helm from long-time President Omar Al Bashir. The news was widely celebrated by Sudanese protestors.

In his first televised speech on Saturday, Lt Gen Al Burhan – the third most senior army general under Mr Al Bashir’s regime – said that the military imposed curfew established the day before would be lifted. He also promised to 'uproot' Mr Al Bashir's regime and release all prisoners that were jailed during the state of emergency, which Al Bashir imposed to deter a popular revolt that eventually deposed him.

Full story: Cautious optimism in Sudan as new head of transition vows civilian rule

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21:10 Sudan's turmoil presents a new set of problems for Egypt

Decades of fraught relations meant that when the news broke that Omar Al Bashir’s 30-year rule was over, Egypt warmly welcomed the new administration. But instability next door is an ongoing concern in Cairo already watching an offensive on Tripoli by Libya’s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Read Hamza Hendawi’s full story on the view from Cairo

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17:42 Civilian government to be established in Sudan, says new head of military council

In his first televised address, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, the new head of Sudan's transitional military council, said on Saturday that a civilian government would be established after consultations with opposition forces and promised that the transitional period would last for a maximum of two years.

Lt Gen Al Burhan said he was cancelling a night curfew ordered by his predecessor and ordered the release of all prisoners jailed under emergency laws by ousted President Omar Al Bashir.

The alliance of opposition groups, the Freedom and Change Deceleration Forces, have agreed to with transitional military council.

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16:07 The National's editorial: A deeply precarious moment for Sudan

A formidable task now lies ahead of Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan. He faces the challenge of uniting a fractious country crippled by economic crisis, where poverty is rife and the cost of basic commodities has soared, leading to a shortage of flour and fuel. Yet there is hope on the faces of the tens of thousands of people who continue to mass outside military headquarters in Khartoum, demanding a transition to civilian rule.

Read it in full here

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15:55 Who are Sudan's military leaders?

The military's move against Omar Al Bashir was the final straw for the president's three-decade rule, here are the profiles of the men at the top.

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15:30 Pictures: Protests in Khartoum

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15:00 Head of feared intelligence service resigns

Sudan's security and intelligence chief, Salah Gosh, has resigned, according to Sudanese TV reports. Mr Gosh was head of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) which Mr Al Bashir used to try to suppress the protests calling for the president to step down. Protesters accused the NISS of brutal tactics such as cutting female protesters’ hair, threatening detained female protesters with rape and reportedly torturing prisoners to reveal the names of protest leadership. “The police in uniform are restrained compared to NISS forces,” said one protester who spoke to The National.

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11:57 Appeals for economic aid

As Sudan's political landscape shifts, the economy is slipping further into crisis, with shortages of essential items like flour and fuel.

The IMF's forecasts for this year are of real GDP shrinking by 2.3 per cent, while consumer prices will soar by 49.6 per cent.

"We want your donations as we have some economic issues," the head of the military council's political committee, Lieutenant General Omar Zain Al Abideen, told Arab and African diplomats in a televised meeting, citing "a shortage of essential items like flour and fuel".

Read more

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11:45 United States faces a new set of challenges after Bashir's ousting

Omar Al Bashir was not a friend and at critical moments undermined Washington's interests, but the United States' dilemna in Sudan is now in seeking a civilian transition while at the same time acknowledging its limited leverage and not alienating the military leadership, writes Joyce Karam.

Experts argue that a post-Bashir transition that would guarantee “continuity and stability” may be Washington’s best bet despite the Trump administration’s lavish talk about “democratic elections" and "respect of human rights” in Sudan.

Read the full analysis here.

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11:27 Will Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan meet Sudan protesters' demands?

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan became the third leader of Sudan in three days after Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down after protesters demanded a "transitional civilian government" following President Omar Al Bashir's ousting on Thursday.

The military council said earlier that it expected a pre-election transition to last two years at most or much less if chaos was avoided.

Gen Ibn Auf also announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution, as well as the nighttime curfew from 10pm to 4am. Those steps were criticised as heavy-handed by protest groups which demanded uicker and more substantial change.

"What happened is a step in the right direction and is a bow to the will of the masses, and we have become closer to victory," said Rashid Saeed, a spokesman for the main protest group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA).

Lt Gen Al Burhan, the new head of the transitional military council, was the inspector general of the Sudanese armed forces and its third most senior general. He is little known in public life.

He was the head of Sudan’s ground forces, a role in which he oversaw Sudanese troops who fought in the Saudi-led Yemen war. He has close ties to senior Gulf military officials as he was responsible for coordinating Sudan's military involvement in the war.

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10:10 'We toppled two presidents in two days'

Celebrations in Khartoum continued into Saturday morning after the resignation of Awad Ibn Auf, who stepped down a day after taking power from Omar Al Bashir.

Crowds of protesters waving flags chanted "we toppled two presidents in two days".

"We have done it, we have done it," shouted young men and women as they drove across Khartoum after Gen Ibn Auf announced his resignation on state television.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan has been appointed the new leader of Sudan's transitional council. 
Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan has been appointed the new leader of Sudan's transitional council. 

Gen Ibn Auf appointed Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan his successor. Protest organisers however warned Lt Gen Burhan that if he failed to transfer powers to a civilian transitional government he would face their fury too.

They called on Lt Gen Al Burhan to reverse decisions announced by Gen Ibn Auf such as cancelling the suspension of the constitution and also implored him to end the state of emergency and curfews.

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09:51 Awad Ibn Auf: the Bashir veteran who held Sudan power for a day

Awad Ibn Auf. AFP
Awad Ibn Auf. AFP

Seconds after Vice President Awad Ibn Auf announced that he would head Sudan’s military transitional government, protesters erupted in anger. The statement was broadcast over state radio on Thursday, hours after Omar Al Bashir reportedly "stepped down" after months of protests. On Friday, the military announced that Gen Ibn Auf had been replaced.

Read Mat Nashed's profile here

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03.15 Protesters celebrate resignation of Awad Ibn Auf

News of the change in military council leadership sparked joyful celebrations by many thousands in the streets of Khartoum as people chanted, "The second has fallen!" in reference to Bashir, witnesses said.

"What happened is a step in the right direction and is a bow to the will of the masses, and we have become closer to victory," Rashid Saeed, a spokesman for the main protest group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), told Reuters.

"We are committed to our demands that we submitted to the army," he said. "We call on the masses to stay on the streets until all the demands are met."

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01.50 Sudan Police: 16 dead in protests

Sixteen people have been killed by "live ammunition" in Khartoum during ongoing protests over the past two days, Sudan's police said.

"Sixteen people died and 20 were wounded by live ammunition" as the capital saw massive gatherings during the past two days, police spokesman General Hashim Abdelrahim told AFP.

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00.01 Awad Ibn Auf steps down as transitional council leader

Awad Ibn Auf, the Sudanese Defence Minister, stepped down on Friday evening. EPA
Awad Ibn Auf, the Sudanese Defence Minister, stepped down on Friday evening. EPA

Sudan's Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced in a televised address that he is stepping down as head of the country's transitional military council, just 24 hours after assuming the position.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan will be the new head of the transitional military council.

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21.49 Protesters prepare to defy curfew once more, vow to topple new military rulers

Demonstrators in their thousands bedded down for the evening outside army headquarters in Khartoum, chanting "it will fall again, it will fall again", witnesses said.

Dressed in white traditional clothes, men and women, headed to the military complex where protesters have massed for seven straight days. "We did it once, we can do it again," said a protester, who has been at the site of the ongoing demonstration since Tuesday night. He planned to spend another night in a row there.

Thousands took part in Friday prayers outside the gates in the searing heat, supported by Coptic Christians, who served food and drinks to worshippers ahead of their prayers.

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20.06 Military Council requests 'all political forces' to nominate delegates

The council has asked each political party to nominate two people to take part in discussions on the nation's future by Saturday at 8 am.

Once all letters have been received, a date for transition talks will be set, it announced.

The council, which is now running Sudan under Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, said it expects a pre-election transition period it announced on Thursday to last two years at most, or much less if chaos can be avoided.

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18:55 Sudan's army 'not greedy for power'

The head of the political committee of the transitional military council has a message for protesters on the streets of Khartoum demanding change.

"We are the protectors of the demands of the people and that is by consensus from the political entities," said Omar Zeinalabdin.

"We are not greedy for power."

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17:58 'Hundreds of thousands' protest outside defence ministry

Hundreds of thousands of protesters remain on the streets of Khartoum surrounding Sudan's defence ministry, according to Reuters.

Demonstrators have been warned by military coup leaders that there will be "zero tolerance" for disturbances.

A Sudanese demonstrator chants slogans as he protests against the army's announcement that President Omar Al Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, near Defence Ministry in Khartoum. Reuters
A Sudanese demonstrator chants slogans as he protests against the army's announcement that President Omar Al Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, near Defence Ministry in Khartoum. Reuters

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17:24 Sudanese airspace reopens

Sudan's airspace has reopened following a 24-hour closure, according to flight tracking site FlightRadar24.

The shutdown, which began on Thursday afternoon, had forced a number of flights already in the air to reroute or turn back.

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16:57 Sudanese forces leader offers apology

The head of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces has apologised for taking part in the military council, Al Arabiya reports. The force led by Mohammed Hamdan Daglo is a part of the National Intelligence Security Services that Mr Al Bashir used to suppress protests. According to Sky News Arabia, the commander said his force would remain part of the armed forces and would work for national unity and respect for human rights.

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16:00 Fans fuelled ‘Alaa Saleh’ twitter account

Alaa Salah, a Sudanese woman propelled to internet fame earlier this week after clips went viral of her leading powerful protest chants against President Omar al-Bashir, attends a demonstration in front of the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 10, 2019. In the clips and photos, the elegant Salah stands atop a car wearing a long white headscarf and skirt as she sings and works the crowd, her golden full-moon earings reflecting light from the fading sunset and a sea of camera phones surrounding her. Dubbed online as "Kandaka", or Nubian queen, she has become a symbol of the protests which she says have traditionally had a female backbone in Sudan. / AFP / -
Alaa Salah, a Sudanese woman propelled to internet fame earlier this week after clips went viral of her leading powerful protest chants against President Omar al-Bashir, attends a demonstration in front of the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 10, 2019. In the clips and photos, the elegant Salah stands atop a car wearing a long white headscarf and skirt as she sings and works the crowd, her golden full-moon earings reflecting light from the fading sunset and a sea of camera phones surrounding her. Dubbed online as "Kandaka", or Nubian queen, she has become a symbol of the protests which she says have traditionally had a female backbone in Sudan. / AFP / -

A Twitter account claiming to belong to the young Sudanese protester Alaa Saleh, dubbed "Karnaka", or Nubian queen, garnered around 50,000 followers after a photo of her leading protests in Khartoum went viral earlier the week.

The account is in fact run by fans, who have been removing claims of any links to the protester.

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15:45 Protest leaders reject military's statements

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the umbrella group which is spearheading the demonstrations, is reported by Sky News Arabia to have rejected the statements by the military council.

The body described the press conference held earlier on Friday as "one of the methods or deception and absurdity" by the army.

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14:50 Friday’s announcements by Sudan’s military council

Here’s a summary of what was announced today by General Omar Zein Abedeen, head of the council’s political committee:

  • The military will rule for a “maximum” of two years but he claimed that under the right conditions would step aside after even one month.
  • Omar Al Bashir will not be extradited to face justice at the International Criminal Court but will be tried in Khartoum. Handing over Al Bashir would be "an ugly mark on Sudan”.
  • Bringing an end to Al Bashir’s rule "was not a coup" but a response to the people's demands.
  • The army wants only to "guide the country forward" and act as a "tool for change" rather than to rule for longer than a “maximum” of two years. He said of the protesters who had called for change: "We came for you."

You can read the full story here

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14:00 Military council will not hand over Bashir to international justice

The head of the political committee said that former president Omar Al Bashir will not be handed over to the International Criminal Court, where he is indicted for suspected war crimes in Darfur. However he might be tried in Sudan, he added.

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13:45 Civilians to be invited to join transitional government

The head of the political committee of Sudan's new ruling military council said a transitional government will include civilians. Members of Omar Al Bashir's National Congress Party will also be allowed to compete in eventual elections.

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13:20 Military council gives hope to protesters

Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum, a spokesman for the military council appeared to offer an olive branch to protesters when he conceded that the army might hand over power in less than the two-year period stated on Thursday.

"Two years is the maximum," he said. "If within a month Sudan is able to manage itself without any chaos, we are willing to step aside."

He said that the council's role was to oversee security and create the environment in which the Sudanese people will be able to be governed "according to their will".

The council "will not force anything on the people" and wants to create an atmosphere for peaceful dialogue.

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12:50 International reaction to the end of the Bashir era

Here’s a round-up of earlier reaction to the coup on Thursday:

  • A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the UN continued to call for member states to abide by warrants issued by the International Criminal Court.
  • Egypt expressed its "complete support" for Sudan's people and the army in the political transition to follow the removal of Omar Al Bashir. Cairo voiced its full belief in "the ability of the brotherly Sudanese people and their loyal national army to overcome the challenges of this critical stage to achieve stability, prosperity and development", a Foreign Ministry statement said.
  • US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino called developments in Sudan a “historic moment”, but said the two-year transition put in place by the military was too long and the process “should happen sooner"
  • British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that “brave people have called for change, but it must be real change. A military council ruling for two years is not the answer.”

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12:25 UN human rights chief issues statement

Sudanese authorities should release people held for peacefully protesting and investigate the use of force against demonstrations since December, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.

"This is a very critical, volatile moment for Sudan and there is deep uncertainty and unease about the future," Ms Bachelet said, adding that the authorities must refrain from using force against peaceful protesters.

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11:30 Meeting with Arab and foreign diplomats

Sky News Arabia has just tweeted that the President of Sudan's Transitional Military Council has instructed the Military Political Committee to meet with Arab and foreign diplomats accredited in Khartoum this evening.

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10:55 Pope's gesture to South Sudan rivals

The secession of southern Sudan in 2011, to become the world's newest country, fuelled the economic woes of the north and was quickly followed by civil war.

At the Vatican on Thursday, Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in an act of humility to encourage them to strengthen the country's faltering peace process.

"I express my heartfelt hope that hostilities will finally cease, that the armistice will be respected, that political and ethnic divisions will be surmounted, and that there will be a lasting peace for the common good of all those citizens who dream of beginning to build the nation," he said.

Pope Francis has closed a two-day retreat with South Sudan authorities at the Vatican with an unprecedented act of respect, kneeling down and kissing the feet of the African leaders. Vatican Media via AP
Pope Francis has closed a two-day retreat with South Sudan authorities at the Vatican with an unprecedented act of respect, kneeling down and kissing the feet of the African leaders. Vatican Media via AP

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10:25 Sudan's new rulers to address the country

The military council is due to make further announcements later this morning.

On Thursday the Defence Minister, Ahmed Ibn Auf, a general who is head of the council, spoke on national television and radio and announced:

  • Former president Omar Al Bashir arrested
  • Two-year transitional period under military council
  • Closure of Sudanese airspace and all ports for 24 hours
  • Dissolution of the constitution
  • State of emergency for three months
  • Release of all political prisoners
  • Curfew between 10pm and 4am local time

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10:10 Sudan's economy 'the final straw' that broke Bashir

Hamza Hendawi reports that it was Sudan's economic crisis that ultimately led to the end of Omar Al Bashir's 30-year rule.

"The economy was the final straw that broke the back of the regime, which lost its legitimacy years ago but survived because the opposition was too fractured and weak to remove him," said Hany Raslan, an expert on Sudan from Egypt's Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

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10:00 Sudanese airspace remains closed

The country's airspace will remain closed at least until Friday afternoon.

Sudan's new military rulers on Thursday announced the closure of its airspace for 24 hours, forcing a number of flights already in the air to reroute or turn back before later flights were cancelled. They included Emirates flight EK 733, which had already departed Dubai for Khartoum when it received notice about the closure.

A number of carriers fly directly between Khartoum International Airport and cities in the UAE, including FlyDubai, Etihad Airways, Sudan Airways and Air Arabia.

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09:40 Statement from Federica Mogherini

The EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini has issued the following statement on the situation in Sudan:

For months, the people of Sudan have peacefully and with determination called for change.

As underlined by the Chairperson of African Union Commission in his statement today, a military council does not provide the answers and breaches the principles of the African Union Charter.

Only a credible and inclusive political process can meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people and lead to the political and economic reforms the country needs.

That can only be achieved through a swift handover to a civilian transitional government. In that process, all must exercise calm and utmost restraint.

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07:30 No action against protesters

There were no initial reports overnight of any action by the Sudanese armed forces against the protesters who defied the curfew in the capital Khartoum.

Thousands turned out again, this time demanding a swift return to civilian rule rather than the two-year governance by the new military council that was announced on Thursday.

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Updated: April 14, 2019 07:25 AM

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