Sudan: Protesters distrust new junta, sustain protests

Demonstrators in Sudan’s capital have rejected the military effort to break up their ongoing protest, and are demanding civilian leadership instead of an army-led transitional government.

Protesters on Monday said troops tried to clear their ongoing sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

But the protesters, who have camped out since the military announced the removal of longtime president Omar al-Bashir last Thursday, refused to move.

The protesters are demanding a quicker move to civilian rule in Sudan than the military’s announced two-year transition to an elected government.

Many are skeptical that the military will hand over power.

The military’s transitional leadership has changed twice since it said Bashir had been placed under house arrest following four months of popular demonstrations.

The military council on Monday appointed Hashem Abdel Muttalib as army chief of staff, and said the move was aimed at changing the military. Hashem was appointed by Bashir in February as vice-chief of army staff.

Some protesters and analysts have questioned whether the military is being truthful when it says Bashir was toppled and arrested. But others, like political analyst Mutasim Ahmed, say the coup was real.

He says trust in the military has won over trust in politics inside the armed forces.The military has considered the situation, says Ahmed, and that’s what lead to the big sit-in and the success of it.

The military council now in charge said Bashir had ordered troops to disperse the sit-in “at whatever cost,” but the military refused.

The protests were triggered in December by food and fuel shortages that saw the price of bread skyrocket.When security forces tried to disperse the protest at army headquarters, troops blocked them, an event that signaled Bashir had lost military support.

But protesters remain unconvinced that the military is fully on their side.

Monday, the main protest organizers, the Sudanese Professionals Association, called for more people to join the demonstrations and the demands for civilian rule.

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