Scores attend Friday prayers outside the army headquarters in Khartoum as they demand that a military council makes way for civilian rule after the ousting of Omar al-Bashir
Khartoum (AFP) - Sudanese protestors vowed Friday to chase out the country’s new army rulers, as a military council appealed for foreign economic aid ahead of an “important announcement” by its chief.
“We want your donations, as we have some economic issues,” the head of the military council’s political committee, Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abdin, told Arab and African diplomats in a televised meeting.
He denied that Thursday’s ousting of iron-fisted ruler Omar al-Bashir after months of protests was a military coup, vowing there would be a civilian government.
“The role of the military council is to protect the security and stability of the country,” Abdin said.
“This is not a military coup, but taking the side of the people.”
Tens of thousands of people again swelled the crowds outside the army headquarters on Friday, demanding the military make way for a civilian government.
Many were preparing to defy a night-time curfew for the second time.
The head of Sudan’s new ruling military council, General Awad Ibn Ouf, sworn in late Thursday, was also to deliver a speech to the nation “soon”, state television said.
The demonstrations against Bashir’s 30-year rule first erupted in December, triggered by a tripling of the bread prices in one of the world’s most impoverished countries.
Thousands of men and women, dressed in white, again braved the searing Sudanese heat on Friday to offer prayers outside the sprawling army complex which has become a focus point of the protests since Saturday.
The imam is draped in the Sudanese flag as he leads Friday prayers at the army sit-in
The imam leading the prayers was draped in the Sudanese flag.
Hussein Mohamed, an elderly man from Omdurman, said he was attending the protest for the first time in response to a call to hold Friday prayers there.
“It is too, too hot but I’m impressed by what our young men and women are doing here,” he said. “I’ll surely come again.”
- ‘Transition may be shorter’-
Bashir, who took charge in the northeast African country in a 1989 military coup, remained in custody Friday, but Abdin said the council would never extradite him or any other Sudanese citizen.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants against Bashir for suspected genocide and war crimes.
The military council had announced a two-year transition period, but Sudan’s UN envoy told the Security Council in New York that this could be shortened “depending on developments on the ground and agreements between stakeholders”.
Abdin said the council would “open dialogue with political parties” and that there “will be a civilian government and we will not intervene in its composition”.
Chronology of main developments in Sudan leading to the end of President Omar al-Bashir's 30-year rule on April 11.
Protesters have defied repeated deadly attempts by riot police and the feared intelligence services to crush their movement.
But when Bashir’s overthrow was finally announced on Thursday in an address to the nation by Ibn Ouf, it was met not with joy but anger.
Protest leaders dismissed the transitional military council as the “same old faces” from a regime which led the country into multiple conflicts, worsening poverty and ever-widening social inequality.
Thursday’s announcement meant “we have not achieved anything”, said one protester, who gave his name only as Adel.
Protests outside Khartoum's army headquarters are now in their seventh day
“We will not stop our revolution. We are calling for the regime to step down, not only Bashir.”
Analysts said Bashir’s overthrow in a “palace coup” made the transition to democracy in Sudan a more distant prospect.
“Ironically, the prospects for democratic transition may be more remote than when Bashir was in power, as there’s no centre of power with which to negotiate,” said Alex de Waal, a Sudan specialist at Tufts University.
“The power struggle within the security cabal that took power yesterday is just beginning,” de Waal said.
“Bashir had kept their rivalries and ambitions in check; his removal brings in its wake an unregulated uncertainty.”
- Calls for restraint -
Protesters at the sit-in said their quarrel was with the commanders who had led the coup, not the rank and file.
Sudanese anti-regime protesters outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum hold up a banner calling for "Freedom, Peace and Justice"
“This is now our square. We have taken it and won’t leave until victory is achieved,” said one protester who gave his name as Abu Obeida.
“We broke the curfew. We will continue doing it until we have a civilian transitional government.”
Multiple world powers have made calls for a peaceful transition.
Washington urged the military council “to exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government”.
The European Union urged the army to carry out a “swift” handover to civilian rule.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that a two-year transition overseen by the military “is not the answer.”
“We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership,” Hunt said.
The African Union however decried Bashir’s military overthrow, saying it was “not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people”.