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Sudan protest leaders vow civil disobedience over delay to democracy

Protest leaders say the military council is delaying the entire transfer of power. [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 May, 2019

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Protest leaders accuse Sudan's military rulers of delaying the transfer of power to a civilian administration, amid disagreements over the country's new governance structure after president Omar al-Bashir's ouster.
Sudanese protest leaders on Wednesday threatened to launch nationwide civil disobedience after accusing the country's military rulers of delaying the transfer of power to a civilian administration.

Responding to a journalist's question on what steps demonstrators would take after the army expressed reservations over the nature of the power transfer, protest leader Khalid Omar Yousef threatened "escalatory measures".

"The measures of escalation for us are defined - they are continuing with the sit-in, and we are now preparing for a civil disobedience" campaign across the country, he said.

Earlier protest leaders accused Sudan's military rulers of delaying the transfer of power to a civilian administration, amid disagreements over the country's new governance structure after president Omar al-Bashir's ouster.

The two sides are grappling over whether an overall ruling council should have a civilian or military majority.

Last week the Alliance for Freedom and Change protest group handed over its proposals for a civilian structure - including executive and legislative bodies - saying that it eventually wants to rule the country after replacing the generals.

The 10-member military council late on Tuesday said it agreed to the overall proposals but had "many reservations".

The protest leaders accused the military council of delaying the entire transfer of power.

"The military council's response... is moving in the direction of extending the negotiations and not in the direction of a transition" of power, the alliance said in a statement.

The protest movement said the military council was looking to "prolong the negotiations" after the generals took over following the toppling of Bashir on April 11.

The military council said the alliance had remained silent on ensuring that sharia remains the bedrock of Sudanese legislation.

The protest leaders say the generals had "raised irrelevant issues including the language and sources of legislation in a tedious repetition of the biddings of the former regime".

"We call on the military council to reach an agreement to transfer power," they said.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change is made up of several political groups, leaders and activists, many of them looking at a secular Sudan for the future of the country.

'Kidnap the revolution'

Sudanese media and websites have often reported that for the protest leaders the issue of legislation and Islamic law is something that can be discussed later, but they first want a civilian body established in order to govern the country.

The protest movement said the military council is acting in a way that seems to "kidnap the revolution and control its outcome".

"The only choice for our people is comprehensive peaceful resistance until the revolution's demands are achieved."

Thousands of protesters remain encamped outside the sprawling military headquarters in central Khartoum since 6 April.

Initially they gathered there to seek the army's support in ousting Bashir.

But now they continue to hold their sit-in against the army council, demanding that it step down and transfer power to a civilian authority.

The military council and protest leaders have differed on several issues and not just the composition of an overall ruling council.

The military council wanted a two-year transition period as opposed to four years proposed by protest leaders.

The military council also wants declarations of emergencies to be in the hands of a "sovereign" authority and not the cabinet as proposed by protest leaders.

Protest leaders have often called the military rulers the "remnants of the regime" of Omar al-Bashir.

The council also revealed on Tuesday that Sudan's former head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Ghosh, had been put under house arrest.

It was Ghosh who oversaw security agents' sweeping crackdown on protesters before the fall of Bashir.

Protest leaders, however, insist that their key demand remains the same, a full transfer of power to civilians.

"The solution and success of the revolution lies on transfer of power to a full civilian authority," protest leader Mohamed Naji al-Assam said on Tuesday.

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