Sudan protesters demand 'immediate' civilian rule

Mohamed At

The Sudanese military has attempted to break up a mass sit-in outside its headquarters in the capital Khartoum.

The military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday after almost four months of protests calling for an end to his nearly 30-year rule.

Protesters have refused to leave until the military hands over power to a civilian-led transition team. Protester Nourhan Mostafa said the sit-in will continue until "the demands the Sudanese revolution are met".

Britain's ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, met the new military council's deputy and stated his "top request was no violence and no attempt to forcibly break the sit in".

The SPA said the resulting transitional government and the armed forces must bring to justice both Bashir and officials from his feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). They demanded the dissolution of Bashir's National Congress Party and said they received affirmation from the TMC that the party will not participate in a transitional government being negotiated.

Amid the celebratory demonstrations, there have also been outbreaks of gunfire between remnants of the old regime and the new military caretakers.

This dialogue needs to be done "credibly and swiftly", it said, adding that Sudan needs a political system that is inclusive and respectful of human rights and the rule of law.

The foreign ministry said military council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was "committed to having a complete civilian government" and urged other nations to back the council in order to achieve "the Sudanese goal of democratic transition".

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The SPA also called for the seizure of the party's assets and the arrest of its prominent figures.

In a communique on Monday, the African Union's Peace and Security Council called for Sudan's military to transfer power to a "transitional civilian-led political authority" within 15 days or face suspension from the AU.

Outside the Defense Ministry on Monday, the protesters, numbering about 5,000 in the morning with more arriving, chanted "Freedom, freedom" and "Revolution, revolution", and appealed to the army to protect them.

The army also established a military council to run the country for a transitional period of two years.

The sit-in outside the compound, which also includes the intelligence headquarters and the presidential residence, began on 6 April after more than three months of protests triggered by a deepening economic crisis.

The military council later held a press conference at which its spokesperson did not respond to the protesters' latest demands.

These Sudanese fighters have been drawn principally from the Rapid Support Forces, a tribal paramilitary group aligned with the Sudanese government and previously known as the Janjaweed.

On Sunday night, the council announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Abu Baker Mustafa as the new head of NISS in a televised announcement in which it also announced the sacking of Khartoum's envoy to Washington Mohamed Atta.

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