New ruling Sudan military council promises civilian Cabinet

CAIRO (AP) – Sudan’s new ruling military council announced last Sunday that it will name a civilian Prime Minister and Cabinet but not a president to help govern the country following the coup that removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

An army spokesman, Lieutenant General Shamseldin Kibashi, also said in televised remarks that the military had begun to overhaul security organisations and would not break up demonstrations that have continued outside the military headquarters since last Thursday’s coup.

The statement came after a second day of meetings between the army and organisers of the months of escalating street protests that led to al-Bashir’s ouster.

The announcement was unlikely to satisfy protesters, who have demanded full civilian rule. Protest organisers have urged the military to “immediately and unconditionally” hand power to a transitional civilian government that would rule for four years.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has spearheaded the protests, also posted a nine-point list of demands last Sunday, including prosecution of those behind the extremist-backed military coup in 1989, dissolution of all pro-government unions, a freeze on the assets of top officials in al-Bashir’s government and dismissal of all top judges and prosecutors.

Sudanese demonstrators march with national flags outside the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. – AP

There was no immediate comment from opposition figures about the military’s announcement.

After last Saturday’s talks, Omer el-Digair, leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, told protesters at a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum that the atmosphere had been “positive”. He said that the talks would focus on submitting the organisers’ demands and transition plan and that they are calling for dissolving al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party.

“We demanded restructuring the current security apparatus,” el-Digair said. “We do not need a security apparatus that detains people and shuts off newspapers.”

The political parties and movements behind the four months of protests said in a joint statement last Saturday that they would remain in the streets until their demands are met. They said a handover to civilian rule would be the “first step toward the fall of the regime”.

After the coup, the army appointed a military council that it said will rule for two years or less while elections are organised.

The military ended al-Bashir’s nearly 30-year reign and placed him under house arrest in the capital. Protesters fear that the military, which is dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.

In separate statements issued last Saturday, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates issued statements in support of Sudan’s transitional military council.

Saudi Arabia said it “stands by the Sudanese people” and called on all Sudanese “to give priority to the national interest” of their country. The UAE urged Sudanese “to work for protecting legitimacy and ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.”

Saudi King Salman ordered an unspecified package of aid for Sudan that includes petroleum products, wheat and medicine.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan was sworn in last Friday as head of the transitional council. He assumed that role after protesters objected to its being led by General Awad ibn Ouf, who was seen as being too close to al-Bashir. The military announced last Sunday that ibn Ouf had retired.

In remarks broadcast on state TV, Burhan said last Saturday that the council has invited “all spectrums of Sudanese people for dialogue”. He also said he was lifting the nighttime curfew imposed last Thursday, which was supposed to have lasted a month, and he declared the immediate release of all those detained and tried during the wave of unrest that began in December last year.