Year on, Amnesty urges Sudan deliver on protesters’ demands

CAIRO (AP) — Amnesty International yesterday urged Sudan’s new transitional government to deliver on popular demands for sweeping change as the country marked the first anniversary of mass protests that led to the ouster of former president and long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

A year ago, the first rally was held in Sudan to protest the soaring cost of bread, marking the beginning of a pro-democracy movement that convulsed the large African country.

That led, in April, to the extraordinary toppling by the country’s military of al-Bashir, and ultimately to the creation of a joint military-civilian Sovereign Council that has committed to rebuilding the country and promises elections in three years.

To mark the anniversary, activists have organised protests in cities across the country.

“The transitional authorities must honour the commitments they made to restore the rule of law and protect human rights,” Amnesty’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Seif Magango said in a statement. “The Sudanese people deserve nothing less”.

The global rights group said Sudan’s new government has shown positive signs of progress during its fragile transition to democracy, citing the repeal of a decades-old moral policing law and dissolution of the former ruling party — moves that have helped the Sovereign Council distance itself from al-Bashir’s disgraced rule.

Over the weekend, a court in Sudan convicted al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption, sentencing him to two years in a minimum security lock-up. The image of the former dictator in a defendant’s cage “sent a strong message, on live TV for all of Sudan to see, that we are on the route toward justice,” said spokeswoman for the protest organisers Sarah Abdel-Jaleel.

File photo shows ruling party headquarters in Atbara, Sudan on fire. PHOTO: AP