Sudan protesters reject army coup, demand civilian govt
April 11 2019 11:23 PM
People are seen in the streets after televised statement by Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn
People are seen in the streets after televised statement by Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf in Khartoum


Opposition groups in Sudan rejected a military coup on Thursday and called for continued protests, hours after long-time President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown and arrested.

"We reject the statement of this regime's detractors," the umbrella opposition group Declaration of Freedom and Change said in a statement.

The coup and installation of a military transitional council did not represent change, the group said, speaking on behalf of the Sudanese Professionals Association and other opposition outfits that played a key role in staging anti-government protests.

"(We) call on our great people to maintain their courageous sit-in in front of the army headquarters and the rest of the regions to stay on the streets in all the cities of Sudan," the statement said.

At around 8pm (1800 GMT) there were still thousands of protesters camped out in front of military headquarters, despite an approaching curfew.

Earlier, Awad Ibn Auf, the defence minister and vice president, announced that the military had ousted al-Bashir following months of nationwide street protests.

Al-Bashir, who was in power for 30 years and is wanted by the International Criminal Court, had been taken to "a safe place," Ibn Auf said in an address to the nation.

The minister declared the formation of a military council for a two-year transitional period, the cancellation of the constitution, and a three-month state of emergency.

All of the government's institutions, including the two chambers of parliament, had been dissolved, Ibn Auf said.

He added that Sudan's judiciary and public prosecution would continue to function and that the country would soon prepare for "free and fair" elections.

"The Sudanese people suffered so much under the regime," the minister added.

The military had closed Sudan's airspace and the nation's borders for 24 hours and imposed a month-long curfew from 10pm to 4am, Ibn Auf said.

Many Sudanese protesters reacted to the coup with apprehension and disappointment.

"This is a shocking moment for Sudanese people who protested against this corrupt regime. They just replace bad officials with worse," 22-year-old student Marwan Abdu told said on the streets of Khartoum.

"When we took to the streets, we wanted real change, not fake one," Abdu added.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International called on the military to respect the rights of Sudanese citizens, saying it was "alarmed by the raft of emergency measures announced today."

Others were slightly more optimistic.

"To me, this is the first step, and we need to stay in front of the army HQ until the second step, which is to remove all the faces of the old regime," said Mohamed Taha, a 33-year-old political activist.

Following a six-day sit-in at the army headquarters and president's residence in the capital Khartoum, thousands of Sudanese had poured onto the streets on Thursday morning in early celebration of what they hoped was the end of Bashir's presidency.

Protesters were dancing and singing patriotic songs, with some shouting, "New era, new nation!"

State-run news agency SUNA reported that political prisoners were on Thursday being released from jails across the country.

When initially peaceful protests turned bloody in recent days, with a Sudanese doctors' organisation reporting 21 deaths, the United States and Britain called on Sudan's authorities to respond to the demands of the demonstrators.

Thursday, the European Commission also called on all parties to refrain from violence.

"We call for a peaceful, credible, legitimate and inclusive political process that takes into account the wishes of the Sudanese population and the need for political and economic reforms," the commission's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement. Page 3

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