Sudan Military 'Trying to Steal the Revolution'

Le Lit-Gen Abdel Fattah El Burhan Abdel Rahman a

Sudanese opposition groups have dismissed the military council as "playing games" after it backpedaled on a two-year transition. With army loyalties split, the division could prove dangerous.

Sudanese protesters and opposition groups voiced their anger on Friday at the military council who deposed Sudan's Omar al-Bashir in a coup two days before.

The coalition behind the "Declaration of Freedom and Change" reiterated its demands for a civilian government and rejected a pledge by the interim military council that it would not permanently rule the East African country.

"They are trying to steal the revolution," Khalid Omer, Secretary General of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, told DW. "If you want to engage in genuine dialogue you wouldn't suspend the constitution, order a state of emergency, impose a curfew and dissolve all constitutional institutions," he said.

The military announced Friday that it was there to "arrive at solutions acceptable and agreeable to the people," but none of the politicians and activists involved in the 16-week demonstrations that DW spoke to had been contacted.

Omer said if the council intended to respond to the protesters, they would have spoken to the negotiation delegation that the opposition had put forward before the coup.

Political head of the military council, Omar Zeinalabdin, responded late Friday that they were "not greedy for power."

"We are protectors of the demands of the people and that is by consensus from the political entities," he said.

United and defiant despite curfew

Thousands of protesters stayed out at a sit-in in front of Khartoum's army headquarters overnight into Friday in unified defiance of the council's curfew.

Women's rights activist Tahani Abbas told DW that Sudanese Christians offered protection and supplied water while Muslims prayed.

Abbas said women had been out in the street from the start of the movement to challenge public order and family laws that have seen women's rights curtailed under al-Bashir's 30-year rule.

Activist Alaa Salah brought the world's attention to womens' roles in the movement after a tweet of hers became iconic.

Sara Abdelgalil from the Sudanese Professionals Association said that while even more people had arrived at the protests in defiance of curfews, ranking soldiers refused to enforce the military council's orders.

"The middle and lower ranks are not pleased with the statement, are not pleased with the council themselves," Abdelgalil told DW. "The problem is the senior officers who are pro regime are part of the military council," she said.

Dangerous divisions

Khalid Omer said that while one militia, the Rapid Support Forces, which was previously loyal to al-Bashir's regime, had publicly backed the protests, the military council was creating dangerous divisions by pitting lower army ranks sympathetic to protesters against them.

"What they are doing now, they are putting the army itself in danger of division and it's a very deep division," Omer said.

Those divisions, according to some analysts, will be decisive.

"This is a security sector which Bashir kept deliberately fragmented and divided," Murithi Mutiga from the International Crisis Group told DW.

Mutiga said it was vital to monitor whether those forces that "have different loyalties, will remain united."

"The key question is will the military opt to negotiate with the civilian leaders of the protest movement or will they choose repression," he said.

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