With Sudan facing a number of crises, finding a consensus has gained new urgency – but uncertainty remains.
Sudan‘s main protest group has called on its supporters to “protect your revolution” after armed forces loyal to the country’s ruling military council unsuccessfully tried to remove roadblocks put in place around a sit-in being held outside the defence ministry in the capital.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) on Monday urged protesters to continue the now 10-day-long demonstration outside the sprawling complex in Khartoum in a bid to heighten pressure on the military council and force it to hand over power to a civilian government.
“We urge all the people to go immediately to the army headquarters to stop attempts to disperse protesters,” the SPA said in a statement.
Thousands of activists remained camped outside the Khartoum facility overnight after protest leaders issued demands to the military council set up after long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown.
The SPA, which spearheaded the four months of protests leading to al-Bashir’s fall, called on the council “to immediately transfer power to a civilian government”.
It said the resulting transitional government and the armed forces must bring to justice both al-Bashir and officials from his feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).
Activists accuse NISS forces of violently cracking down on protesters, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds more.
The United States, Norway and the United Kingdom, meanwhile, urged the military council and other parties to hold talks over the country’s transition to civilian rule.
In a joint statement by their embassies on Sunday, they warned against any use of violence to break up the protests and said the “legitimate change” the Sudanese people demanded had not taken place.
“It is time for the transitional military council and all other parties to enter into an inclusive dialogue to effect a transition to civilian rule,” they said.
“This must be done credibly and swiftly, with protest leaders, political opposition, civil society organisations, and all relevant elements of society, including women.”
Sudan’s military council on Monday said it was restructuring the council and appointed Colonel General Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed Babakr as army chief of staff.
Colonel General Mohamed Othman al-Hussein was appointed as deputy chief of staff, the council said in a statement.
On Sunday, the council met political leaders and urged them to agree on an “independent figure” to be prime minister, an AFP news agency correspondent at the meeting said.
“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice and democracy,” a council member, Lieutenant General Yasser al-Ata, told members of several political parties.
A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered a list of demands during talks with the council late on Saturday, according to a statement by the Freedom and Change alliance.
But in a press conference later, the council’s spokesperson did not respond to the protesters’ latest demands, although he did announce the appointment of a new intelligence chief of the NISS.
The foreign ministry said the military council’s chief 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”.
On Saturday, al-Burhan vowed to dismantle al-Bashir’s government, lifting a night-time curfew with immediate effect.
He also pledged that individuals implicated in killing protesters would face justice and that protesters detained under a state of emergency imposed by al-Bashir during his final weeks in power would be freed.
Al-Bashir ruled Sudan for 30 years before he was deposed last week following mass protests that have rocked the country since December.
Tens of thousands of people have massed non-stop outside the army headquarters since April 6, initially urging the military to back their demand for al-Bashir’s removal.
But his departure in a coup failed to satisfy the protesters, who have called for justice for al-Bashir-era officials.
The SPA also demanded the confiscation of properties belonging to his National Congress Party and the release of soldiers who sided with their “revolution”.
Late on Sunday, the military council said it has set up a committee to register NCP properties and take control of them.