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Sudan military 'trying to steal the revolution'

Tom Allinson
April 12, 2019

Sudanese opposition groups have dismissed the military council as "playing games" after it backpedaled on a two-year transition. With army loyalties split, the division could prove dangerous.

Protesters in Khartoum
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Kheir

Sudanese protesters and opposition groups on Friday voiced anger at the military council that deposed President Omar al-Bashir a day earlier.

The coalition behind the "Declaration of Freedom and Change" reiterated its demands for a civilian government and dismissed the interim military council's pledge that it would not permanently rule the East African country.

"They are trying to steal the revolution," Khalid Omer, Secretary General of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, told DW. "If you want to engage in genuine dialogue you wouldn't suspend the constitution, order a state of emergency, impose a curfew and dissolve all constitutional institutions," he said.

The military announced Friday that it was there to "arrive at solutions acceptable and agreeable to the people." None of the politicians and activists involved in the 16-week demonstrations who spoke to DW said they had been contacted by the council.

Omer said that if the council intended to respond to protesters, they would have spoken to the negotiation delegation that the opposition had put forward before the coup.

Political head of the military council, Omar Zeinalabdin, said the generals were "not greedy for power."

"We are protectors of the demands of the people and that is by consensus from the political entities," he said.

Read moreSudan military council says won't extradite al-Bashir

United and defiant despite curfew

Thousands of protesters stayed out at a sit-in in front of Khartoum's army headquarters overnight into Friday in unified defiance of the council's curfew.

Women's rights activist Tahani Abbas told DW that Sudanese Christians offered protection and supplied water while Muslims prayed.

Abbas said women had been out in the streets since the protests started to challenge family laws that curtailed women's rights.

Activist Alaa Salah brought the world's attention to womens' roles in the movement after one of her Tweets spread on the social media platform.

Sara Abdelgalil from the Sudanese Professionals Association said even more people had arrived at the protests in defiance of curfews. Despite the increase in numbers, ranking soldiers refused to enforce the military council's orders.

"The middle and lower ranks are not pleased with the statement, are not pleased with the council themselves," Abdelgalil told DW. "The problem is the senior officers who are pro regime are part of the military council," she said.

Read more: Rights group slams Sudan's use of 'lethal force' on protesters

Dangerous divisions

Khalid Omer said the military council was creating dangerous divisions by pitting lower army ranks sympathetic to protesters against them.

"What they are doing now, they are putting the army itself in danger of division and it's a very deep division," Omer said.

Those divisions, according to some analysts, will be decisive.

"This is a security sector which Bashir kept deliberately fragmented and divided," Murithi Mutiga from the International Crisis Group told DW.

Mutiga said it was vital to monitor whether those forces that "have different loyalties, will remain united."

"The key question is will the military opt to negotiate with the civilian leaders of the protest movement or will they choose repression," he said.

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