Sudan's military vows to shake up security state amid continued protests

Sudan's military vows to shake up security state amid continued protests
Sudan's military council has announced a raft of concessions intended to appease protesters who are calling for a civilian-led transition
3 min read
15 April, 2019
Sudan's military council pledges to reform the dreaded National Intelligence and Security Service [Getty]

Sudan's military council has announced on Sunday a bundle of concessions intended to appease protesters calling for a civilian-led transition, following the overthrow of longtime-serving President Omar al-Bashir.

Shams Eldin Kabashi, the council's spokesman, pledged to reform the dreaded National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), one of the key demands from the political parties and movements that led the months-long protests.

Activists accuse NISS forces of brutally cracking down on protests as well as violently dismantling a sit-in outside the army headquarters.

NISS' intervention reportedly resulted in the deaths of dozens of protesters and hundreds more being wounded.

Kabashi confirmed that the military body has appointed Lieutenant General Abu Bakr Mustafa to oversee the NISS, following Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh's - known as Salah Gosh - resignation.

The spokesman also announced the removal of General Awad Ibn Auf from his role as defence minister, after the latter had initially taken oath as the head of a military council and announced that the council would rule the country for a two year-transitional period.

Ibn Auf was, however, forced to step down a day later in the wake of mass protests calling for a civilian-led transitional administration.

The general was replaced by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who vowed on Saturday to "uproot [al-Bashir's] regime", free detained protesters and hold talks with all political parties and groups that took part in the protests.

Protesters representatives - consisting of ten members - then submitted their demands list to the military council, calling for, among other demands, an immediate handover of power to a civilian-led administration, restructuring the NISS as well as releasing protesters.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which led the demonstrations, announced on Sunday they will continue protests until a civilian transitional government is formed, as demanded in a statement, dubbed Declaration of Freedom and Change, which was signed by various political and professional groups in January.

The professional body also called for a freeze on the assets of top officials who were taking part in al-Bashir's government, removal of all top judges and prosecutors as well as the arrest of al-Bashir, Gosh and Mohamed Atta, a former NISS head who was nominated as Sudan's envoy to Washington in 2018.

Amid protesters refusal to leave the streets, Sudan's foreign ministry on Sunday urged the international community to back the country's new military rulers to help "democratic transition".

"The ministry of foreign affairs is looking forward to the international community to understand the situation and to support the transitional military council... in order to achieve the Sudanese goal of democratic transition," the ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already announced their backing for Sudan's new junta, announcing that they will send aids to Sudan.

"[Saudi Arabia] declares its support for the steps announced by the [military council] in preserving the lives and property, and stands by the Sudanese people, and hopes that this will achieve security and stability for brotherly Sudan," Saudi state media reported on Sunday.

Critics say that UAE and Saudi support for regional "security" has been used as an excuse to crack down on pro-democracy movements and backing for brutal military dictators, following the Arab Spring.