Sudan activists call for protest to disband old ruling party

The transitional government began talks with the rebels earlier this month. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Sudan activists call for protest to disband old ruling party

  • The transitional government has previously said it would postpone appointing the governors and the legislative body till achieving peace with the country’s rebel groups

CAIRO:  Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets throughout Sudan on Monday to call for disbanding former President Omar al-Bashir's party, the political organ he used to control the country during his 30 years of autocratic rule before being ousted in April.
Separately, Sudan's transitional government and a main rebel faction signed a political declaration amid peace negotiations that began last week, taking a new step toward ending the country's yearslong civil wars. The two sides also renewed a nationwide cease-fire for three months.
The protests in Khartoum and other parts of the country coincided with the anniversary of an uprising in 1964. That push ended six years of military rule in Sudan following a wave of riots and strikes.
Sudan's current transitional government came to power after a similar campaign of mass unrest, which eventually led the military to overthrow al-Bashir. The country is now ruled by a joint military-civilian administration, which must navigate a delicate path toward eventual democratic elections in just over three years.
Monday's protests renewed demands to step up an independent investigation into the deadly break-up of a protest sit-in camp in June, which resulted in dozens of causalities among the protesters.
Police blocked off main streets Monday leading to the presidential palace and the military's headquarters in Khartoum — the site of June's deadly dispersal — ahead of the marches, according to Asil Abdu, an activist and a resident of the capital.
A statement by the police warned against "creating a state of chaos," which it said could lead to "unfavorable consequences."
Videos circulated online show protesters marching in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman. Protests also broke out in other cities such as Atbara, the northern transport hub where the uprising began in December.
The protesters demanding al-Bashir's National Congress Party be disbanded were called for by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which spearheaded the uprising against the former president.
The SPA has called for the appointment of regional governors and the formation of a legislative body. Creating that interim parliament was part of an August power-sharing agreement signed between the pro-democracy protesters and the country's powerful military.
The transitional government had previously said it would postpone appointing the governors and the legislative body until after achieving peace with the country's rebel groups. That would be a crucial step, since the transitional government is looking to slash military spending in order to revive the battered economy. The uprising against al-Bashir initially began against economic issues, but escalated into calls for his downfall.
Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of the Sovereign Council and a government negotiator, said Monday that they had agreed on the agenda for the negotiations with the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups from the western Darfur region.
The talks are taking place in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which itself gained independence from the north in 2011 after years of fighting.
The transitional authorities have set a six-month deadline for making peace with the rebel groups.


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 16 min 14 sec ago

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.