Sudan military says ‘no ambition to hold the reins of power’

THE head of Sudan’s provisional military political council has said that the army has ‘no ambition to hold the reins of power,’ and stressed that ‘we are ready to step down as early as a month if a government is formed.’

Addressing a news conference in the capital, Khartoum, Omar Zein Abideen promised on Friday that the new transitional government will be run by civilians.

Organisers of the months-long demonstrations that triggered the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday urged pro-democracy supporters to protest against a military takeover.

The appeal by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) came as tens of thousands of protesters defied a night-time curfew announced earlier in the day by General Awad Ibn Auf, who was sworn in as the head of a military council that replaced Bashir.

In a Twitter post, the SPA called on protesters to ‘gather now’ and continue a days-long sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum.

‘Stay put and guard your revolution,’ it added. ‘To comply with the curfew is to recognise the clone rescue government.’

Abideen noted that the people who have been ‘proesting and staging sit-ins’ would be the ones to devise solutions to the country’s political, economic and social issues.

On Bashir’s removal, he stressed that the military acted to meet the demands of the people and called for ‘civilised and peaceful dialogue’.

‘The committee plans to begin dialogue with political groups later. We are the protectors of the demands of the people and that is by consensus from the political entities,’ Abideen said.

His remarks came after Sudan’s opposition groups spearheading the months-long protests had called for people to rally after Friday prayers in front of the army’s headquarters.

Abideen warned that the army will have ‘zero tolerance against any violation, and any misdeed to take place in any corner of the country,’ as he highlighted the army’s role in maintaining ‘public order, security and stability’ during this transitional time.

‘We are here to provide an opportunity for the people of Sudan to achieve the change they have been aspiring to attain and to devise their own vision for the leadership,’ he said.

‘Not enough’

Protests broke out in December over steep hike in bread prices and and a deteriorating economic situation in the country.

Since Saturday, thousands of protesters had camped in front of the defence ministry building to demand Bashir’s ouster.

At least 35 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, which have repeatedly tried to disperse the sit-in by force, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said.

It said that at least 13 people were killed when security forces intervened in Thursday’s protests.

Reports from Khartoum, said people have been marching towards the army headquarters despite the military council’s pledge to create a ‘healthy atmosphere’ for people to converse and engage in a peaceful manner.

‘At the moment, these remarks do not seem to be enough,’ said an Aljazeera News reporter.

‘Their [protestors] whole point is that they don’t want anybody from the old regime or the former ruling party to be a part of the transitional council,’ she said.

‘They are part of the old regime – so for the people who are on the streets, and for the thousands who have been staging a sit-in near the army HQ for the past week – it’s more of the same thing,’ she added.

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