On Sunday, Sudanese protest leaders suspended talks with military rulers after the army reneged on their demand for an immediate transfer to civilian rule. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is spearheading the protests, had said it would unveil its own civilian council by Sunday night.
However, by nightfall and with no clear indication from the military council of the planned power handover, it became obvious to them and the thousands of protestors who were waiting outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum (army headquarters) that the planned power transfer to the civilian council would not happen.
The sea of protesters was not fazed by this shocking turn of events. Instead, they continued to sing and dance, holding their mobile phones aloft, as the flashlights on their devices created a sea of light and speakers churned out nationalist songs.
High! High! Sudan is up high," they chanted.Our revolution is civilian and protected by the people," they vowed.'Power to the people'
The protest leaders have been adamant on naming a civilian body to take over from the ruling council which assumed power after ousting longstanding President Omar al Bashir on April 11.
Protest leaders say the civilian council would form a transitional government to rule Sudan for a four-year term, followed by elections.
Expressing their dissatisfaction by the turn of events, Mohamed al Amin, a spokesman for the protest movement stated:
We are suspending our talks with the military council. We call for escalating and continuing the demonstrations until the demands are met. We are treating the military council as an extension of the regime."
Wagdi Saleh, a leading figure of the protest movement, blamed the military rulers for the delayed unveiling of a civilian council. According to Saleh, "the military council had shown its dark side" during the talks on Saturday and does not seem keen on transferring power.
On Saturday, protest leaders and the military rulers held talks about a power handover and had initially agreed to continue discussions. The two sides have since then struggled to agree on the shape and form of the type of civilian leadership.
The chief of the council's political committee told our delegation that they are still considering our demand among 100 other demands from other political parties," he said.
It is important to note that the military council has made some concessions to the protesters by agreeing to demands such as detaining Omar al Bashir and releasing many political prisoners and demonstrators.
The new military ruler General Abdel Fattah al Burhan on Sunday confirmed that cash worth over 113 million dollars had been seized from deposed president Omar al Bashir's residence. He said a team of police, army and security agents found a cash haul including seven million euros ($7.8 million), three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000) and five billion Sudanese pounds ($ 5 billion) during a search at Bashir's home.
What we want from them (the military) is a timetable to hand over power, so things don't drag on," said Ahmed al Rabia, a leader of the umbrella group of unions for doctors, engineers and teachers.
Earlier Sunday General Burhan vowed he was committed to handing power to the people and pledged to respond to the demonstrators' demands within a week. In his first interview on state television since taking power, he said:
The council is committed to give power to (the) people. The military council is only in place to enable a smooth transition."
He has not hidden his displeasure with the protesters who are erecting roadblocks. Protesters have set up their own make-shift checkpoints to frisk people who come to the protest site where they have been encamped since before Bashir's ouster. In a hard-hitting statement, General Burhan stated:
I condemn the blocking of roads and searching people without authority," he told senior army officers, according to the military council. "It can't continue like this because security is the responsibility of the state."
Madani Abbas Madani, a spokesman for Alliance for Freedom and Change, said late on Sunday a "sovereign council, a government and a legislative body" would be announced "within days" by protest leaders.
Header Image: Sudanese Protestors use their mobile phone flashlights for light as they stage an anti-government protest outside army headquarters in Khartoum.
Header Image Credit: Reuters