Defiant Sudan protesters seek army talks

10 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters on Monday sought talks with the army on forming a transitional government, as thousands braved a deadly crackdown by security agents for a third day to urge the military to back them, reports AFP.

The east African country has been rocked by more than three months of protests that erupted over a hike in bread prices before transforming into nationwide demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir’s iron-fisted 30-year rule. At the biggest rally so far, thousands of protesters have since Saturday been camped out around the army headquarters in Khartoum which also houses Bashir’s residence and the defence ministry.

They are calling on the military to protect them and to back calls for Bashir to resign. “When the army is here, we have no fear,” protesters flashing victory signs chanted as military vehicles with soldiers fanned out around the complex, onlookers said.

Riot police have fired tear gas at the protesters, but they have failed to dislodge them.

Officials say 38 people have died in protest-related violence since December.

Interior Minister Bushara Juma said seven protesters died on Saturday when forces tried to disperse them and 15 were wounded along with 42 members of the security forces. In all, 2,496 protesters were arrested.

Defence Minister General Awad Ibnouf vowed to preserve the security and stability of Sudan.

“Sudan’s armed forces understand the reasons for the demonstrations and is not against the demands and aspirations of the citizens, but it will not allow the country to fall into chaos,” Ibnouf told the top brass at a meeting, according to the official SUNA news agency.

“History will not forgive if the armed forces let the country lose its security.”

The group spearheading the protests on Monday appealed to the army for talks on forming a transitional government. “We call on the Sudanese armed forces to talk directly with the Alliance for Freedom and Change for facilitating the peaceful process of forming a transitional government,” said Omar el-Digeir, a senior member of the group.