Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

Sudan protesters and military set for showdown over sit in

The military has called for protesters to remove checkpoints to the site and disperse but they have other plans

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

Sudan's army leadership on Monday demanded protesters remove blockades on roads leading to the military headquarters where thousands of demonstrators have camped for days calling on them to step down.

The order came a day after protest leaders suspended talks with the ruling military council about transferring power to a civilian administration – the key demand of demonstrators.

Protesters have massed outside the army complex since April 6, putting up barricades on roads leading to the area as well as checkpoints to frisk people coming to the rally.

"The roads have to be opened immediately to facilitate the movement of trains, and all means of transport in the capital and other states so as to help the movement of essential items," the military council said in a statement.

On Sunday, Sudan's new military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan voiced dissatisfaction with protesters setting up checkpoints and searching those who come to the sit-in.

"It can't continue like this because security is the responsibility of the state," Gen Al Burhan said.

Protesters vowed to remain at the checkpoints they have set up every few metres across the roads leading to the protest site in central Khartoum.

"We will carry on manning the checkpoints as usual," 23-year-old demonstrator Kawthar Hasaballah said. "No one, not even the military council, will remove us from our places."

Longtime leader Omar Al Bashir was topped by the army on April 11 following months of demonstrations. Since then a 10-member military council led by Gen Al Burhan has taken power.

Protesters want the council to be dissolved and to hand power to a transitional civilian government.

A delegation from the military council will also head to Washington for talks on removing Sudan from th American list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"A delegation will travel to the United States this week or next week to discuss removing Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism list," Mr Al Burhan said in his first interview on state television since taking power.

The United States lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo imposed on Sudan in October 2017.

But Washington kept Sudan in it state sponsors of terrorism list along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.

It had included Sudan in the blacklist in 1993 for Khartoum's alleged links with Islamist militants.

Former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan between 1992 and 1996.

Washington, however, has praised the country's new military leader for freeing political prisoners, and on Thursday announced plans to dispatch an envoy to Khartoum to encourage a transition to democracy.

Updated: April 22, 2019 05:08 PM

SHARE

SHARE