The Sudan Professionals Association suspended talks with the Transitional Military Council this week, accusing the latter of upholding the former regime and ignoring the wishes of the people. A mediation committee between the military and the Association has been set up and the Military Council has made a commitment not to attack the on-going protesters, Sudan Professionals Association (SPA) Spokesperson Mohammed Amin Abdelaziz told Ayin.
“Our Sudanese revolution is passing through a dangerous juncture,” a translated statement on 22 April by the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA) said. “The remnants of the regime and the opponents of our glorious revolution are trying to reproduce the old system with the same faces so that our objectives are lost.”
The objectives of ordinary Sudanese citizens, under the leadership of trade unions and civil society groups that make up the SPA, would seem unbelievable four months ago. But the unbelievable happened whereby skyrocketing inflation and 30 years of misrule induced nationwide strikes that eventually toppled the regime’s top leadership, including former president Omar Al-Bashir. The SPA crafted the Declaration of Freedom and Change whereby a large consortium of opposition parties and civil society groups signed, creating an umbrella opposition group, the Forces for Freedom and Change. This loose opposition coalition has called for a transitional government to take over from the former ruling National Congress Party.
The end, however, is not in sight and the protests are ongoing.
After Bashir’s overthrow, protesters continued to demonstrate against his replacement, General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who took over as the first head of the military transitional council, insisting he was a tool of the former regime. In less than 24 hours Ibn Auf stepped down and a new transitional military council head, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took over.
But on Monday the Forces for Freedom and Change suspended all communication with General Burhan and the Transitional Military Council after the latter tried to convince them to hold off from announcing their nominees for the transitional government. Another stumbling block between the two parties are disputes over whether the transitional power should be purely military or a mixture of civilian and military representation.
The Transitional Military Council has made some capitulations, including the arrest of several former regime leaders, confiscation of their properties, and declaring the dismantlement of some of the security services. “The role of the military council is complimentary to the blessed uprising to hand power over to the people,” the Military Council chief Al-Burhan said in a speech on Sunday. “If the political forces agree, we will hand [power] over tomorrow if necessary.”
The protesters under the Freedom and Change Forces, however, remain wary of these claims and doubt the military council’s sincerity to hand over power.
“We will return to the resistance work schedules with the continued sit-in of cities and states,” declared another SPA spokesperson, a young doctor named Mohammed Naji al-Asam. “The current stage is more difficult and needs more strength and steadfastness because we face new faces of the former regime.”
Facing new faces of the old faces
The political committee that makes up the Transitional Military Council are comprised of former members of the ousted president Bashir’s regime, the SPA said. “These [military council members] are those who stood against the protests until the last moment before the fall of the deposed Bashir and the disintegration of his regime,” an SPA statement said. “This military council political committee is comprised of members who are figures from the previous regime, its head, Omar Zain Elabdin, was the head of the National Congress Party within the army.” The military council head himself, Abdel fattah Al-Burhan, was the commander of the ground forces of the Sudanese army and oversaw Sudanese troops fighting for Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni war. The deputy head of the military council, Mohammed Hamdan Daglo (popularly known as “Hemeti”) is the leader of the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia that took direct orders from Bashir, terrorizing citizenry and rebels alike in the vast western Darfur region and Nuba Mountains. Another prominent member of the military council, Lieutenant-General Jalal al-Sheikh, was formerly the deputy director of the National Intelligence and Security Service and likely played a key role in the brutal counter measures made by security forces against the demonstrations.
The sit-in continues and expands
Doubting the sincerity of the military council, the protesters have dug in and remain at the sit-in site outside the army headquarters and former president’s residence. While many thought the sit-in protest would gradually dissipate, it has only increased in numbers –with many emanating from the further marginalized areas of the country, eyewitnesses told Ayin. Dozens of loudspeakers, posters, banners and platforms with exhibitions from Sudanese remain scattered across the protest sit-in site. Many of the exhibition spaces provide victims of the former regime a platform to air out their experiences, including from the war-torn regions of Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. “The supporters of the former regime must come to this square to see the extent of the violations they have committed against the Sudanese people,” says one of the protesters at the sit-in, Ezra Abdel-Azim. “We will hold them all accountable, we will not forgive and we will not forget, we will continue our sit-in until the achievement of our goals is complete.”
The marginalized people from Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile and eastern regions of Sudan must play an integral role in the transition government in order to see real change, says Dr. Hamid Ali, an Economics professor and political analyst at the American University in Cairo.
SPA Spokesperson Amin says there have been recent consultations between the Forces for Freedom and Change and several of the armed movement leaders to garner their views on how to shape the transitional government and eventually achieve peace.
But Ali is sceptical and fears the same central ethnic cliques that make up both the former government and opposition will remain in power, excluding key voices from the periphery. “The changes that have taken place so far are superficial,” Ali says, “real change is yet to come and does not come from the centre (Khartoum) but from the marginalised areas –-the victims of [the former government] who were killed and whose blood was shed, they are the ones who feel the most pain and must be part of the bigger solution.”