KHARTOUM. – The African Union Peace and Security Council on Monday gave the Sudanese military 15 days to hand over the country to civilian rule or it will suspend “the participation of Sudan in all AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order.”
The AU echoed the protesters’ demands, calling the military intervention a “coup d’etat, which (the PSC) strongly condemns.” The PSC said Sudan must aim to hold “free, fair and transparent elections” as soon as possible.
The African Union body, which has 55 member states, added that “a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan.”
“(The Union) strongly condemns and totally rejects the seizure of power by the Sudanese military and its plan to lead the transition for two years,” the AU PSC said in its communique.
Sudan has been in turmoil for months, with protesters demanding that former president Omar al-Bashir be removed from power. On April 11, the military deposed al-Bashir but protests persist as the public demands democratic rule.
Meanwhile, the main protest group behind the movement to topple al-Bashir has issued a stark ultimatum to the now ruling military transitional council – disband and hand over to a civilian administration or face sustained demonstrations.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) piled pressure on the military commanders who have taken over, issuing a long list of demands for deeper and faster change to end repression and a ruinous economic crisis.
If their demands were not met, the group would press on with protests and not join a future transitional government, Ahmed Al Rabie, an SPA member said.
A new interim civilian body should be given full executive powers, with the armed forces having representation, and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that took over last week should be dissolved, the SPA said.
“If our demand for the formation of a civilian transitional council with military representation is not met, we will not be part of the executive authority, the cabinet, and we will continue the mass escalation and the sit-ins to fulfil our demands,” Al Rabie said.
In a related development, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday became the first foreign leader to meet with members of the ruling military council and pledged his support for the neighbouring country.
“The Transitional Military Council has met many demands of the protesters, but some of the demands of the protesters need time to answer,” said General Jalal Eldin Alshaik, a member of the council, after the meeting.
“We are already in the process of choosing a prime minister for a civilian government,” he added.
“So we are initiating this even before having this session with the African Union. This is our conviction and this is also the way forward to peace, but also, we respect it and we are committed to the decision of the Peace and Security Council.”
Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, the new head of the military transition council, received phone calls from the Saudi king, UAE president, Qatari emir, Ethiopian prime minister and South Sudanese president, SUNA said on Monday. They discussed “this delicate and historic stage” and their concern for the security and stability of the country, SUNA said.
The SPA issued its demands hours after protesters blocked an attempt to break up the now iconic sit-in outside the Defence Ministry in central Khartoum. Formed a week before al-Bashir was finally forced from office by the military, the camp has endured after the president stepped down last Thursday.
Troops had gathered on three sides of the sit-in and tractors were preparing to remove stone and metal barriers, but protesters joined hands and formed rings around the sit-in area to prevent them.
Some of the most prominent SPA leaders, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s and were detained until after Al Bashir’s ouster, spoke at the news conference on Tuesday.
SPA representatives also renewed calls for the head of the judiciary and his deputies and public prosecutor to be removed. They demanded the dissolution of Al Bashir’s National Congress Party and said they received affirmation from the military council that the party will not participate in a transitional government.
The SPA also called for the seizure of the party’s assets and the arrest of its prominent figures. It demanded the dissolution of paramilitary groups that were loyal to the old government, and of the National Intelligence and Security Service’s (NISS) operations authority, and called for an end to Sudan’s press law and the public order law, which the SPA has said restricts freedoms. – Al Arabiya/The National (UAE)/HR