Sudanese protesters maintain pressure on military regime

The protesters won a major victory on Wednesday when three generals who were part of the Transitional Military Council resigned

April 27, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Sudan protests
The resignation of the three generals from the Transitional Military Council, comes as protesters across the country have been pressuring for civilian takeover of the government (Photo: AP)

Three top generals of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, which assumed power after the ousting of Omar al-Bashir from presidency on April 11, resigned late on Wednesday, bowing to demands by protesters.

These generals include Omar Zain al-Abideen, who headed the TMC’s political committee – the body whose negotiations with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DCFC) regarding transfer of power to civilian authorities broke down on Sunday evening.

Lieutenant-General Jalal al-Deen al-Sheikh and Lieutenant-General Al-Tayeb Babakr Ali Fadeel are the other two generals. All three were accused by the protesters of being ‘islamists’ and guilty of orchestrating a crackdown on protesters whose almost four-months long mass-demonstrations compelled the army to remove al-Bashir from presidency.

The resignation came after the TMC met with DCFC on Wednesday evening in order to reopen the negotiations, as the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) called for a “march of millions” to the army headquarters. The SPA, along with a number of other opposition parties, constitute the DCFC.

Responding positively to the TMC’s call for meeting, the SPA said that the DCFC “decided to respond to the invitation and listen with an open mind to what the president of the military council will propose, asserting that our desire is the peaceful transfer to a transitional civilian authority that reflects the forces of the revolution.”

At this meeting, the deadlock which had ended the previous meeting on Sunday was broken, and both parties agreed on broad steps to carry forward the process of transfer of power. The following day, after the resignation of the three generals, whose sacking the civilian opposition had called for, the DCFC commended the positive developments.

In light of “these developments and the agreement reached on the next steps with the Transitional Military Council.. [The DCFC] decided to postpone the announcement of the names of their nominees for the Transitional Civil Authority.”

The announcement of nominees was originally scheduled for Sunday evening at the press conference after the meeting. However, as the meeting ended in a deadlock, the DCFC decided not to make the announcement at the time, and instead called for a continuation of the sit-in demonstration. The protesters have been occupying the streets around the army headquarters and the defense ministry since April 6.

Further postponement of the announcement after breaking the deadlock on the Wednesday evening was, DCFC explained, in order to “reach a comprehensive and complete agreement with the Transitional Military Council paving the way for the declaration of all levels of the Transitional Civil Authority (TCA)”.

The struggle against military council is yet to be over

In the meantime, however, the TMC, on Thursday, announced that it will hold “sovereign authority only, while the head of the Cabinet, the civilian government and all the executive authority will be completely civilian.” Citing unnamed opposition sources, Sudan Tribune reported that apart from this arrangement, two other options were explored at the the meeting between TMC and DCFC.

One of them was creation of “a civilian sovereignty council while the military will transform their council into a security and defense council entrusted with the declaration of war and the sovereign issues concerned with army, security and police. The third option is to form a mixed sovereignty council including the military and civilians with broader powers, regardless of who heads the council, whether it is Abdel Fattah al-Burhan or another candidate.”

The Sudanese Communist Party – one of key forces within the DCFC which spearheaded the uprising – while welcoming the progress in the negotiations, nevertheless stated that “the insistence of the Transitional Military Council to carry out acts of sovereignty confirms its coup d’état. The TMC must yield power and negotiate with the Civilian Sovereign Council on how to represent the regular forces within the institutions of the transition period.”

There is strong sense among the masses that maintaining a strong pressure through mass-demonstrations is an imperative for advancing the process of power transfer, and that any easing of pressure on the TMC will open space for a reaction which might reverse the gains.

In response to SPA’s call, hundreds of thousands assembled outside the army headquarters in Khartoum to take part in the demonstrations, notwithstanding the resignations of the three Islamist generals.

Hundreds among them marched from there to the Egyptian embassy. There, they held another demonstration in a protest against the country’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s attempts to intervene in favor of the regime.

At the demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum, the protesters shouted slogans like, “Tell Sisi this is Sudan. Your authority ends at Aswan,” referring to the border city.

Another march was taken out by about a hundred judges who marched from Supreme Court to the sit-in. Wearing black robes and holding placards that read “Judges for Change”, the judges, in solidarity with the demand for transfer of power, chanted “Civilian, Civilian, protected by judiciary.” A number of other marches were also held in town and cities of other states, including the civil-war torn Darfur.

On Friday, social media accounts of protesters on the ground in Khartoum indicate that the size of the mass-demonstrations before army HQ has further swelled in numbers on as more Sudanese, travelling to Khartoum from across the country, joined the sit-in in large numbers.