Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Sudan protest leaders form civilian transitional council to pressure military to cede power

Protesters fear the military threatens any gains accrued from overthrowing Omar Al Bashir

A Sudanese protester holds a placard during a protest outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum on April 20, 2019. AFP
A Sudanese protester holds a placard during a protest outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum on April 20, 2019. AFP

Sudan’s protest movement announced it had formed a civilian transitional council on Sunday, hoping to exert more pressure on the ruling military to hand over power after overthrowing long-standing dictator Omar Al Bashir.

"We are ready with a clear plan for a transition with qualified names," Dr Mohammed Al Asam of the Sudanese Professionals Association told AP.

The association is a group of unions that has been leading protests that led to the overthrow and arrest of Mr Al Bashir this month.

But he was replaced by a military council, while protesters continue to demand a swift transition to civilian rule.

Dr Asam, 28, said that the military council was becoming more powerful daily and that “this is dangerous to the revolution".

The protest movement is also calling more members of Mr Al Bashir’s regime to be arrested.

On Friday Sudanese authorities arrested several top members of the former ruling party. The move may have been aimed at bolstering military rulers and appeasing protesters.

The transitional military council also announced that it would retire all eight lieutenants general in the National Intelligence and Security Service through which Mr Al Bashir maintained control.

Opposition groups had demanded that the security agencies be restructured.

Sudan's public prosecutor has begun investigating Mr Al Bashir on charges of money laundering and possession of large sums of foreign currency without legal grounds, a judicial source said.

The source said military intelligence officers who searched Mr Al Bashir's home found suitcases containing more than $351,000 (Dh1.2 million) and €6m (Dh24.7m), and five million Sudanese pounds (Dh385,000).

"The chief public prosecutor ordered the president detained and quickly questioned in preparation to put him on trial," the judicial source told Reuters.

"The public prosecution will question the former president in Kobar prison."

Mr Al Bashir has not been questioned yet, the source said. Two of his brothers have also been detained on allegations of corruption.

Meanwhile, a source in Mr Al Bashir's National Congress Party said authorities had arrested five party officials.

They were acting party head Ahmed Haroun, former first vice president Ali Taha, a former aide to Mr Al Bashir, Awad Al Jaz, secretary general Al Zubair Hassan and former parliamentary speaker Ahmed Al Taher.

The source also said parliamentary speaker Ibrahim Omar and presidential aide Nafie Nafie were under house arrest.

Mr Al Bashir, who is also being sought by the International Criminal Court over allegations of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, was overthrown on April 11 by the military after months of protests against his rule.

His family said this week that he had been moved to the high-security Kobar prison in Khartoum.

Hassan Bashir, a professor of political science at the University of Neelain, said the measures against Mr Al Bashir were intended as a message to other figures associated with his rule that they were not above the law.

"The trial is a step that the military council wants to take to satisfy the protesters by presenting Mr Al Bashir for trial," Mr Bashir said.

Mr Al Bashir survived several armed rebellions, economic crises and attempts by the West to turn him into a pariah during his 30-year rule.

At a protest outside Sudan's Ministry of Defence, which began on April 6, protesters stood besides posters of Mr Al Bashir that called on the ICC to put him on trial.

Protest leaders and the military council will continue to hold talks over transferring power to a civilian administration after a round of negotiations ended on Saturday.

Updated: April 22, 2019 04:20 AM