Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

On the streets of Khartoum, protesters vow to push on

With the military taking charge, those calling for change see little progress as Omar Al Bashir leaves

Sudanese protestors vow to continue demonstrating after the military forced Omar Al Bashir from power and announced its rule over the country.

After hours of anticipation following news that Mr Al Bashir “stepped down,” Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed ibn Auf – who was appointed Vice President two months ago – announced on state television that he will head a military transitional government for the next two years. He said that all political prisoners would be released and stated that a curfew would be imposed from 6 PM to 4 AM.

Thousands of protesters rallied outside army headquarters late on Thursday in defiance of the night-time curfew. There were no initial reports of a response by the military.

Mr Auf was previously sanctioned by the United States for enabling a genocide in Darfur which started in 2003. More than 350,000 people were slaughtered by state-backed militias known then as the Janjaweed.

“[There are] no services, no life, and the regime would repeat lies and false promises and implement their heavy-handed security solution to the people,” Mr Auf said in his address. “The security committee needs to apologize for all the bloodshed they have caused,” he added.

Mr Auf’s statement didn’t appease the hundreds of thousands of protestors camping out for the sixth day in front of the army headquarters in Khartoum. Sayda Elsir, a demonstrator in the sit-in, said that everyone around her was outraged when they heard the announcement.

“We all yelled ‘just fall down’ after the statement finished,” she said. “Nobody is happy.”

Amal Al Zein, a human rights lawyer who has defended political detainees since the 1980s, said that she was only relieved that her 26-year-old son Waddah Awad was released from prison, but added that she is devastated that Sudan is still ruled by an autocratic regime. Her son appeared to feel the same way. After he was released, he headed straight to the sit-in to continue protesting.

“We don’t see any real change today,” Ms Al Zein told The National. “Omar Al Bashir was a military general and now he is being replaced with another general.

“All Sudanese people will continue to stay in the sit-in,” she added. “The problem isn’t just the president. The problem is the entire system.”

Raphael, another protestor, who declined to give his last name for fear of reprisal, said that he fears that Sudan will remain an autocratic regime unless power is handed over to a civilian government immediately.

"Sudanese want a civilian transitional government, not a military or Islamic one,” he told The National.

Mr Auf’s announcement also appears to have divided the army. Sudanese activists sent footage to The National, showing lower rank soldiers protesting with civilians at the sit-in.

Sudanese human right defenders in Egypt – many of whom have been attacked by Sudanese security services since seeking refuge – also said that they won’t return to Sudan unless the military hands over power to a civilian government.

One Sudanese exile from Darfur, who asked not to disclose his name, said that he believes his people will continue protesting since nothing has changed.

“[The new government] is the same dictator regime,” he told The National. “We are not believing what [Auf] said. The revolution will continue until it brings real change.”

Updated: April 12, 2019 04:31 PM

SHARE

SHARE