Protests in Sudan
Days of decision in Khartoum: Is the protest movement going against the military? Or is Sudan's “deep state” getting the upper hand?
KHARTOUM taz | The ruling military council in Sudan says it has agreed with the opposition to reopen the bridges and streets blocked in Khartoum for weeks by permanent demonstrators. But the sit-in on the square in front of Army headquarters, the central place of protest, can go on.
The opposition refuses to vacate unless there is agreement on whether or not civilians or military leaders should have the upper hand in the planned interim government – the “Presidential Council,” which has been agreed in principle by both sides.
“The composition of the Presidential Council is extremely important. He will have the greatest power and can fire a future Cabinet. It's an important step, “says Amal Bashir, a 33-year-old microbiologist at the University Hospital of the Sudanese capital, while waiting with colleagues for the generator to restart.
The sit-in has been blocking one of Khartoum's main arteries since 6 April. Student Bashir is regularly annoyed at the congestion it has caused, but he believes pressure on the military should not be allowed to falter: “We should play it safe so our efforts were not in vain. I have little faith in the security forces after thirty years of repression. “
During the day, the hard core of the protesters usually sits in the hot, sun-drenched square. As soon as it gets cooler in the evening, large crowds arrive. In a country where there is little or no public entertainment, the walk to the square is both an outing and a protest.
It is a place to listen to speeches and music, to buy a snack, but above all to sing slogans that contain a high degree of humor.
20-year-old Reem Abubaker is studying in Malaysia and is back home for two months. Together with her older sister she can be found daily at the demonstration. “I think it's my contribution to our revolution, but I do it for myself too. If a civilian government emerges here during my vacation, I will not leave. Then I will continue my studies here and help build a new Sudan. “
“It's easy to network against an enemy. But it is much harder when this enemy is gone. “
However, the road to a new Sudan is still far, emphasizes Mariam al-Saddiq, Vice-President of the political opposition Ummat. She is one of the half-dozen negotiators who negotiate on behalf of the opposition with the military council.
“The Council of Ministers consists of seven members and they all want to be in the Presidential Council. We want to have at least eight opposition representatives in the Presidential Council, “she explains. However, the military council only wants to allow three opposition members in the presidential council.
It is noteworthy that al-Saddiq praises the soldiers, while it was the army that deposed their father Sadiq al-Mahdi as Prime Minister in 1989 and brought the now defunct dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir to power.
“The soldiers chose our side against Bashir,” she explains. “They refused to execute his order to forcefully remove the demonstrators. That's why they should certainly be part of the Presidential Council. “
In the large green gold-leafed armchair in the huge conference room of her party in Omdurman, twin city of Khartoum on the other bank of the Nile, the opposition appears small. “The Presidential Council is important, but another great task awaits us to remove the 'deep state', the invisible and influential elite of the former regime.”
However, the mostly young demonstrators have little faith in the existing opposition parties. Al-Saddiq believes that the umbrella organization of the professional groups SPA, which holds the leadership in the protests, has built bridges between political parties and the population.
One party that has the confidence of young people is the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), which emerged from banned student organizations. Her secretary-general Khalid Omer Yousif has been detained several times.
He stresses how important it is now that the opponents of the Bashir system can not be split: “It is easy to network together against an enemy. But it is much harder when this enemy is gone. There is more that separates us than what unites us. I can not stress enough how important a lasting unity is. “
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