Military council and opposition wrangle over Sudan’s future

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Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition forces appeared to be on a collision course amid deepening differences over demands for civilian rule after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted.

The TMC warned against people blocking roads and limiting movement of citizens, signalling a possible move against protesters camping outside the Defence Ministry and blocking  roads in downtown Khartoum.

The council said it was unacceptable some young people were acting as police and security services, in violation of the law, a reference to youths who searched protesters at the sit-in.

“We request citizens to help clear these negative features impacting the lives of citizens and the security of the country,” the TMC said in a statement, adding roads and access ways for public transport would “be open immediately”.

The TMC and the opposition have traded threats since Sunday.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), main organiser of the protests, said it would suspend talks with the Council.

“We have decided to opt for escalation with the military council, not to recognise its legitimacy and to continue the sit-in and escalate protests on the streets,” Mohamed al-Amin Abdel-Aziz of the SPA told crowds.

DEMANDING CIVILIAN RULE

The opposition, led by the umbrella Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change including the SPA, insists on a swift handover of power to civilians.

They said a civilian transitional council with military representation should be set up to run Sudan for a transition the TMC has said could last up to two years.

The SPA called for sweeping changes to end a violent crackdown on dissent, purge corruption and cronyism and ease an economic crisis that worsened during the last years of Bashir’s 30-year rule.

The military council, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, issued a series of decisions aimed at satisfying some demands.

Burhan said Bashir is now at Khartoum’s high-security Kobar prison. Family sources said last week he was moved there.

Several top members of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party have been arrested and the TMC said it would retire all eight officers ranked lieutenant general in the feared National Intelligence and Security Service.

A series of anti-corruption and anti-graft measures have also been announced.

Protesters kept up the sit-in outside the ministry compound, which also houses the presidential residence, since Bashir was removed on April 11. Led by the SPA, they demonstrated in large numbers.

TMC head Burhan told state TV the formation of a joint military-civilian council was being considered. “The issue has been put forward for discussion and a vision has yet to be reached,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to send Sudan $3 billion worth of aid, a lifeline to the country’s new military leaders.