Sudan’s main civilian formation on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the head of the military junta, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to allow the formation of a civilian government, citing a “regular retreat” aimed at maintaining the military’s influence in the country.
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FLC), a mainstay of the civilian government ousted by the military in the October 25, 2021 coup, called for “sustaining popular pressure” against the military regime during the sixth day of the sit-in protest takes place in Khartoum and its suburbs.
In the “revolution” that overthrew Omar al-Bashir in 2019, protesters staged a sit-in protest for eight months. The army then toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir and then shared power with politicians aiming to lead the country to its first free elections after 30 years of dictatorship.
General Burhan’s coup d’etat violently changed the situation in October.
His announcement that he would allow politicians to form a government did not convince protesters, who set up new barricades in the capital and its suburbs after his speech on Monday night.
The movement is now spreading to other cities. Yesterday Tuesday hundreds of people started a new sit-in protest 200 kilometers further south, in Wad Madani.
“We will not leave here unless we get a government of politicians,” said one of them, Mahmoud Mirgani.
“Pressure on politicians”
“We started this sit-in protest in response to Burhan the coup plotter’s speech, we want freedom, peace, justice and a government of politicians,” explained one Safa Abdelrahi, a protester.
The FLC considered the general’s speech a “treason” and a means for the military — which has ruled Sudan almost continuously since independence in 1956 — to maintain the upper hand in politics and the economy.
Because General Burhan announced yesterday that in addition to the government of politicians he will head a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, whose powers he did not specify.
“It’s a way for Burhan to stay in power forever,” said a Khartoum protester who spoke on condition of anonymity.
For Holud Hare, a Sudan specialist at Insight Strategy Partners, “Burhan is now shifting the pressure to the people,” as the country is starved of international aid after the coup and faces soaring inflation that has surpassed the 200%.
She adds that the Supreme Council will allow Burhan to “maintain the economic privileges” of the military and paramilitary.
“The whole world in Sudan saw the economy collapse after the coup,” complained one protester, while even today 80% of the state’s resources are not controlled by the finance ministry.
The military’s involvement in the economy is not known, but it owns many businesses.
The army will be freer than the military regime to “reinstate the Islamists” of the Bashir regime who were ousted by the civilian government that was toppled in the October coup, Khair believes.
The protesters want justice for the 114 dead and the thousands injured in the crackdown. But as Hair reports, General Burhan “does not mention at all the issue of judicial or financial restitution” of the victims.
“Burhan should bring to justice all those who killed (protesters) while he is the first among them,” said a protester from Khartoum.
Foreign capitals have been pushing politicians and the military for months to negotiate a return to the democratic transition.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped Burhan’s announcement “will create an opportunity for an agreement,” while calling for “an independent investigation into the violent incidents,” according to a statement issued Tuesday.
The US decided that it is “too early” to assess the consequences of the announcement, as Ned Price pointed out State Department representatives calling on all sides to seek an agreement towards “a government of politicians” with “free and regular elections”.
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