Sudan’s army ruler vows to hand ‘power to the people’

Sudanese protesters tap the rails of a bridge with stones during a protest near the military headquarters in Khartoum on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019

Sudan’s army ruler vows to hand ‘power to the people’

  • Team to visit US to seek the country’s removal from terror list

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military leader vowed Sunday the army was committed to handing power to the people, as a protesters’ deadline for unveiling a rival civilian council loomed.
New army ruler Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan also pledged to respond to demonstrators’ demands within a week.
The northeast African nation is one of the world’s most impoverished countries and faces an acute foreign currency shortage — a key factor which helped trigger nationwide protests against longtime leader Omar Al-Bashir.
Bashir was ousted on April 11 after three decades of rule, when the military deposed him bowing to weeks of mass protests which began in mid-December.
A military council has been put in place for a planned two-year transition period, but despite talks with protesters the two sides have struggled to agree on the shape and form of a civilian leadership.
“The council is committed to give power to (the) people,” Burhan insisted, in his first interview on state television since taking power. He also said that a delegation would travel to Washington soon to seek Sudan’s removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), at the forefront of the campaign, has defiantly said it will unveil its own civilian council later Sunday, and thousands have gathered outside the army headquarters in Khartoum ahead of the 1700 GMT announcement.
“We are waiting for the announcement today,” Romaysaa Omar, one of the protesters at the sit-in area, told AFP.
“All Sudanese people are in favor of the council to be announced by the SPA.”
Whistling and waving Sudanese flags, dozens of demonstrators were sitting on a bridge at the site, rhythmically banging stones against metal.
On Saturday, protest leaders and the military rulers held talks about a power handover and agreed to continue discussions.
“We clarified our main demand, which is the transfer of power to civilian authorities,” Siddiq Yousef, a senior member of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella group leading the protest movement, told state television after Saturday’s talks.
“We agreed to continue negotiations to reach a solution that satisfies both the sides, so that the transfer of power will happen in a peaceful way.”
Since Bashir was ousted by the army, the military rulers have resisted calls to transfer power to a civilian body.
“What we want from them is a timetable to hand over power, so things don’t drag on,” said Ahmed Al-Rabia, a leader of the umbrella group of unions for doctors, engineers and teachers.
He said mounting pressure from the street and from the international community was expected to make the military council cede power in “two to three weeks.”
“We are done with the easy part. We want to remove the entire regime,” said Rabia.
On Sunday, the Alliance for Freedom and Change said it will continue with the sit-in “until all our demands are met.”
Protest leaders say the civilian council would form a transitional government to rule Sudan for a four-year term, followed by
elections.
“All we hope for is to be ruled by civilians and get rid of the military rule,” said protester Ehsan Abdallah.
On Sunday Riyadh and Abu Dhabi pledged to inject $500 million into the Sudanese central bank and $2.5 billion to help provide food, medicine and petroleum products, the official Saudi Press Agency said without specifying if the money is a gift or a loan.The Sudanese pound surged on the black market on Sunday, trading at 45 to the dollar against 72 last week.
The military council has made some concessions to the protesters by agreeing to demands such as detaining Bashir and releasing many political prisoners and demonstrators.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 18 August 2019

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”