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
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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.


Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

Updated 34 min 58 sec ago
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Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

  • The commander said they will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for their enemies
  • Tensions between Iran and US escalated after Trump restored sanctions

GENEVA: The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills,” a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.
Tensions have spiked between the two countries after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!“
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday that “There will not be any negotiations between Iran and America.”
Keyvan Khosravi was also quoted as saying by the state broadcaster that some officials from several countries have visited Iran recently, “mostly representing the United States.”
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, visited Tehran on Monday.
“Without exception, the message of the power and resistance of the Iranian nation was conveyed to them,” he said.
In Berlin, a German diplomatic source told Reuters that Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.