In Sudan, protests continue as talks over transfer of power to civilian authorities break down

Negotiations between the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, which represents the civilians protesters, and the Transitional Military Council collapsed on Sunday, after which protesters were called upon to continue their demonstrations

April 23, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
The protesters are unhappy over the military refusing to hand over power to civilian authorities. Photo: AFP

In Sudan, negotiations between the representatives of the civilian protesters and the Transitional Military Council to effect a transition of power to the former have broken down.

This was announced by members of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) at a sit-in demonstration

At the press conference held on the night of April 21, the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), which represents the civilian forces, announced the decision. The press conference was held before tens of thousands of people who had remained at the sit-in demonstration before the general command of the armed forces in Khartoum

Accusing the council of being “insincere”, this umbrella organization called for the continuation of mass-demonstrations until the junta transfers power to the civilian forces.

The DFCF consists of multiple opposition parties and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is made up of representatives from multiple organizations of doctors, lawyers, trade unions etc. It was hoping to finalize the details of the transfer of power ahead of the press conference. These authorities, as per the DFCF declaration, were set to form a transitional government for four years before holding an election.

Within this period, the transitional government was to be tasked with bringing an end to the ongoing civil war by engaging with the numerous armed rebel groups, with punishing those members of the ousted Omar al-Bashir’s regime who have perpetrated atrocities against human rights, and with taking appropriate measures to resolve the economic crisis which has lead to shortages of basic commodities, including bread. However, this transitional government, which was envisioned to take charge of the country after the removal of Bashir did not transpire.

On April 11, following almost four months of unrelenting mass-demonstrations, the army was finally compelled to remove Bashir from office. In the preceding days, hundreds of thousands had gathered before its general command in Khartoum, and large sections of soldiers and junior officers sided with the demonstrators.

On the night before the military ousted Bashir, the president had told the army, “You have 48 hours to get rid of everyone in front of the General Command,” revealed senior journalist, Osman Mirghani, editor-in-chief of the El Tayyar newspaper.

Addressing the sit-in demonstration on the evening of April 18, he said the leaders of the military council currently ruling the country had told him that Bashir, citing the 8th century Maliki doctrine, had told the army that a leader was allowed “to kill 30% of his people, and some hardliners even say 50%.”

It was, he said, following this instruction to massacre by Bashir that the army leadership decided to oust Bashir. However, while celebrations were underway in the streets across Sudan after the military took their side, the army announced that it would be ruling the country for a period of two years, following which elections would be held.

This marked the beginning of a new tussle between the civilian forces – who were demanding an immediate transfer of power – and the military council, which was headed by Awad Ibn Auf, who was the defense minister under Bashir’s regime.

Outraged to see another member of the ruling elite taking the reins, the protesters refused to disperse until power was handed over to the civilian authorities who had led the uprising. This forced Awad Ibn Auf to resign to “preserve unity” of the armed forces. Lieutenant general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the general inspector of the armed forces, who had previously engaged with the protesters, took over.

The SPA termed this a “triumph of the will of the masses” but called for a “total strike until the full transfer of power” to the civilian forces. Another massive march by protesters, defying the night-time curfew, forced al-Burhan, on April 14, to withdraw the curfew.

The military council also ordered the arrest of al-Bashir and his brothers, as well as raids on al-Bashir’s house which led to the recovery of USD 351 million, Euroas 6.7, British pounds 5.2 million and 5 billion worth of Sudanese pounds, which at the time was worth about USD 105 million.

The civilian forces welcomed these raids but kept up the pressure on the transfer of power. It  was this pressure that forced the negotiations on April 21. In the aftermath, protests are set to continue until the Sudanese people achieve their goals,