Thursday 22 August 2019

Sudan military calls snap election after fatal crackdown

The military will move to form an interim government to prepare for elections.

Protesters have been demanding a speedy transition to civilian rule (AP Photo)
Protesters have been demanding a speedy transition to civilian rule (AP Photo)

By Bassam Hatoum and Samy Magdy, Associated Press

Sudan’s ruling military authorities are planning for a snap election within months.

The move comes a day after a pro-democracy sit-in was violently overrun by the military, leaving at least 35 people dead, according to protest organisers.

The move to hold a vote so soon cancels all its agreements with protest leaders, who for months had been camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum as the two sides negotiated over who would run the country after long-time strongman Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

The military council’s head, general Abdel-Fattah Burhan, said the military will move to form an interim government to prepare for elections, which he said would be internationally supervised.

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Violent clashes broke out between the military and protesters (AP Photo)

A written version of his televised speech released in a statement said elections would be held within seven months, however, in the broadcast, he said elections would be within nine months.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters still building up barricades in the suburbs of Khartoum, even as security forces in the city centre were not allowing any access to the former sit-in site, setting up checkpoints around the area.

Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests, said: “We are rejecting what Burhan said. Now, they have proved that they are a military coup.”

He called for the international community and the UN Security Council not to recognise Mr Burhan or the military authorities and put pressure on the generals to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.

The UN Security Council is set to discuss the crackdown in Sudan in a closed-door session requested by the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We have no choice but to continue our protests and civil disobedience until the fall of the military council,” Mr al-Mustafa added.

Mr Burhan has said military leaders would investigate Monday’s violence. He did not mention security forces, but said protests leaders bore blame for the volatile situation because they have been “extending the negotiations and seeking to exclude other political and security forces” from participating in any transitional government, accusations rejected by Mr al-Mustafa.

Activists said the assault appeared to be a co-ordinated move, with other forces attacking similar sit-ins in Khartoum’s sister city of Omdurman and the eastern city of al-Qadarif.

PA Media

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