Sudan’s new transitional leader promises civilian government and to ‘uproot’ Bashir regime

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The new head of Sudan's military transitional council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman making a televised address on Saturday. (Screengrab from Sudan TV
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Salah Gosh submitted his resignation to Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan on Saturday. (AFP/File)
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Sudan's General Abdelfattah Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is sworn-in as the appointed deputy of Sudan's transitional military council, standing before the head of transitional council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman (R) in Khartoum on April 13, 2019 in this still image taken from video. (Sudan TV/ReutersTV via REUTERS)
Updated 14 April 2019

Sudan’s new transitional leader promises civilian government and to ‘uproot’ Bashir regime

  • Sudan's security and intelligence chief steps down after defense minister's resignation
  • General Burhan cancels curfew ordered by his predecessor and orders release of all prisoners jailed under emergency laws imposed by Al-Bashir

KHARTOUM/CAIRO: Sudan’s new military ruler held talks on Saturday with opposition leaders about forming a temporary civilian government, promising to “uproot” deposed president Omar Al-Bashir’s regime, in a bid to placate demonstrators demanding civilian rule. 

Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan said the transition could take up to two years but protesters demanded more rapid change.

Protest organizers had earlier on Saturday urged people to keep marching to demand a civilian government after the defense minister and the intelligence chief stepped down. 

Sudanese political parties and movements behind nearly four months of anti-government protests met with the country's military on Saturday, activists and the military said, holding the first talks since the army forced Al-Bashir from power two days ago.

In his first televised address, Burhan canceled a curfew ordered by his predecessor and ordered the release of all prisoners jailed under emergency laws imposed by Al-Bashir.

“I announce the restructuring of state institutions according to the law and pledge to fight corruption and uproot the regime and its symbols,” Burhan said, a day after he was sworn in to head Sudan’s new ruling military council.

The head of Sudan's rapid support forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo known by his nickname Hemeti, was appointed deputy of Sudan's transitional military council, Sudanese state TV said on Saturday.

The channel showed footage of Hemeti being sworn in as well as the new appointed members of the military transitional council.

Sudanese demonstrators celebrate near the Defense Ministry in Khartoum on  April 13, 2019 after Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the country's transitional ruling military council. (REUTERS)

Career soldier Burhan took the helm of Sudan’s transitional military council on Friday when his predecessor General Awad Ibn Auf — a close aide of Al-Bashir — quit after little more than 24 hours in power.

Burhan was the third most senior general in the Sudanese armed forces and is little known in public life. As head of Sudan’s ground forces he oversaw Sudanese troops fighting in the Arab coalition to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.

Burhan pledged Saturday that individuals implicated in killing protesters would face justice.

His initial announcements indicated he wanted to show the tens of thousands of protesters on the streets that he is not part of the regime’s old guard and was genuinely committed to reform.

He also accepted the resignation of the head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Abdallah Mohammed Salih — widely known as Salih Ghosh — the military council announced.

Salih Ghosh had overseen a sweeping crackdown against protesters in four months of mass demonstrations that led to the army’s toppling of Bashir on Thursday.

Events have moved rapidly since Al-Bashir was deposed on Thursday after mass protests. 

Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf took over as head of the transitional military council, but quit on Friday, after less than a day and was replaced by Burhan. 

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Khartoum overnight after Ibn Auf's resignation. Thousands of protesters waved flags and illuminated mobile phones in the darkness and drivers hooted car horns. People chanted: "The second has fallen!" a reference to Ibn Auf and Bashir, witnesses said.

Salah Gosh, also resigned on Saturday. He was once the most influential people in the country after Al-Bashir and protesters blamed him for the killing of demonstrators. 

As head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Gosh led a violent crackdown by NISS agents on protesters taking part in four months of mass demonstrations that led to the toppling of Al-Bashir. Dozens of protesters were killed and thousands of activists, opposition leaders and journalists arrested. Sixteen people were killed in live fire in Khartoum alone in the two days before Al-Bashir was deposed.

Young Sudanese rally to celebrate outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on April 13, 2019 after Sudan's new military ruler announced the end of a curfew and the release of political prisoners. (AFP / Ebrahim Hamid)

The military council under Ibn Auf had said it would not extradite Bashir to face accusations of genocide at the international war crimes court. Instead he might go on trial in Sudan.

It has rejected opposition demands for his extradition to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading protests to demand a civilian government, called on Saturday for more demonstrations.  “We assert that our revolution is continuing and will not retreat or deviate from its path until we achieve ... our people’s legitimate demands of handing over power to a civilian government,” it said.

"We assert that our revolution is continuing and will not retreat or deviate from its path until we achieve ... our people's legitimate demands of handing over power to a civilian government," it said.

Al-Bashir, 75, seized power in a 1989 military coup.

The protests against him escalated last Saturday when thousands of demonstrators, apparently bolstered by change in Algeria following similar protests, marched towards the Defense Ministry in Khartoum to deliver a memorandum demanding the military side with them.

Demonstrators have been camping outside the compound since then to push for a handover of power, in a 16-week long demonstration brought on by rising food costs, high unemployment and increasing repression.

At least 16 people were killed and 20 injured by stray bullets at protests and sit-ins on Thursday and Friday, a police spokesman said. Government buildings and private property were also attacked, spokesman Hashem Ali added. He asked citizens to help ensure safety and public order.


(With Reuters, AFP)

Media blitz as Palestinians oppose ‘Deal of the Century’

Updated 33 min 33 sec ago

Media blitz as Palestinians oppose ‘Deal of the Century’

  • A number of Palestinian officials talked to a number of media outlets in an attempt to counter the US narrative

AMMAN: Palestinian officials, activists and the public at large stood unusually united on Tuesday in their opposition to the US-led, economic-based Israeli-Palestinian peace effort. They launched a wide-ranging public and media blitz in protest against the start of the two-day Peace to Prosperity economic workshop in Bahrain.

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem told Arab News that watching Jared Kushner make his opening speech at the workshop about the so-called “Deal of the Century” reminded him of the financial machinations of Wall Street.

“I saw a salesman trying to push a particular product, talking about numbers and opportunities without the slightest interest in the fact that he was talking about our lives and our situation,” he said.

Milhem and other Palestinian officials talked to a number of media outlets in an attempt to counter the US narrative. President Mahmoud Abbas, who presides over a divided authority that is in perpetual financial crisis and depends on donor nations, invited members of the Foreign Press Association to his Ramallah headquarters. “We need the money and, really, we need assistance,” he told them. “But before everything, there is a political solution.”

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh appeared on the Christiane Amanpour program on CNN International and wrote a column for the Washington Post headlined “Palestinians want freedom not Trump administration bribes.”

After Kushner’s speech, political analyst Lamis Andoni said that Palestinians are being asked to accept that if the prison conditions under which they live are to improve, the occupation
will continue. The US proposal is designed to silence Palestinians by giving them enough to survive, while giving a minority the chance to get rich, he said. “It didn’t work before and will not work now,” he added.

Husam Zulmot, head of the Palestine mission in the UK and former head of the Washington DC mission, said: “Palestine is not for sale.” He described Kushner’s plan as “deceptive” and “disingenuous,” arguing that it does not address the core issue: the occupation.

In Nablus, the deputy head of Fatah, Mahmoud Aloul, issued a stern warning to Arab participants in the Bahrain workshop: “We tell our brothers that they have stabbed us in the back and your intervention in our cause has gone overboard and we will not allow that.” He qualified this by adding: “The US and Israel will continue to be our enemy but we will not consider you enemies; we will leave you to your own people and hope that your hibernation will not last long.”

The Palestinian Al Quds daily newspaper ran the front page headline “Opposition to the Deal of the Century hold protests throughout the homeland and the diaspora,” with a photo of the demonstrations in Ramallah covering the rest of the front page. It also published a two-page supplement quoting politicians from a number of movements, including Fatah and Hamas, along with analysts and pundits, all criticizing the Manama workshop.

Hani Elmasri, the head of the Masarat think tank in Ramallah. wrote an article in which he said that the “Trump deal will not succeed without a Palestinian cover, and will fail sooner or later, but while the plan has not succeed in liquidating Palestinian nationalism it has succeeded in stressing the facts of the occupation and made the possibility of a Palestinian struggle much more difficult. This means that it is not enough for Palestinians to reject this plan but they need to respond with a holistic strategy that must be political, economic and has to be a struggle by the people on all levels.”