A large number of Sudanese protesters will participate in a march in Khartoum on Thursday to press the army to hand over power to civilians following conflicts with the ruling military council.
The two parties agreed on the principle of forming an integrated council composed of both military and civilian representatives to run the country. However, they still disagree on the composition of the council as the military wants the council to consist of 10 seats seven of which are for military representatives while three are for civilians.
The protesters, however, want the Joint Council to consist of 15 seats with a civilian majority and only seven seats for military representatives. The Coalition for Freedom and Change, which organises the protests, believes that the army is “not serious” about handing over power to civilians although three weeks have elapsed after President Omar Al-Bashir was toppled.
The coalition called for a “million march” to demand civil administration after differences with the ruling military council over the composition of the joint council. The call for demonstrations has exacerbated tension between the two sides.
The military council warned that it would not allow “chaos”, urging protesters to dismantle temporary barriers they had erected around the main protest site outside Khartoum’s army headquarters.
Protesters were also requested to reopen the roads and bridges, outside the headquarters, which they had closed for weeks, even after President Omar Al-Bashir was dismissed.
Further aggravating the conflict, the military council announced that six of its members had been killed in clashes with protesters across the country.
“The Transitional Military Council is not serious about handing over power to civilians, and insists that the joint sovereign council be military with minor representation of civilians,” stated Mohammad Naji El-Asam, a leader in the Alliance for Freedom and Change.
He stressed that “the ruling military council is extending its powers daily,” calling on the international community to support the choices of the Sudanese people.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, leader of the Sudanese opposition Umma Party, Sadeq Al-Mahdi, warned the leaders of the protests not to provoke the members of the transitional military council further, adding that they will hand over power to the civil administration soon as demanded by demonstrators.
“We must not provoke the military council by trying to deprive it of its legitimacy or its significant role in the revolution,” Al-Mahdi added. “We should not challenge them in a way that may push them to prove themselves differently.” In turn, Vice President of the Military Council, Mohammad Hamdan Daklo, nicknamed Hamidati, said that the military council “is committed to negotiations, but will not allow chaos.”
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Shamsuddin Al-Kabbashi explained that “because of the tensions that are hitting the country, the armed forces must remain in the sovereign council.” Protests in Sudan took a different turn when thousands of demonstrators began gathering in front of the army headquarters in the capital, on April 6, demanding the armed forces to support them in overthrowing Al-Bashir. Five days later, the army seized power through establishing a transitional military council and ousted Al-Bashir after months of protests that started against the backdrop of rising bread prices.
Since then, the Council has rejected calls to hand over power, prompting demonstrators to accuse the council’s members of being no better than Al-Bashir. As a step forward, the two sides agreed, on Saturday, to form a joint military-civilian apparatus to pave the way for a civilian government. Western governments adopted the protesters’ demands, while Gulf Arab states backed the military council, and African nations called for providing it with more time before handing over power to civilians. On the other side, the African Union gave the Sudanese military council an additional 60 day- deadline to hand over power to a civilian body; otherwise, it would suspend Sudan’s membership in the union.