Khartoum: Sudanese protest organisers on Friday stepped up calls for a swift transfer of power, saying they will announce an interim ruling council they want to see take over from the military that ousted President Omar Al Bashir after months of street protests against him.
The announcement came as thousands marched toward the main sit-in outside the military headquarters in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the epicenter of the country’s popular uprising against Al Bashir’s autocratic rule of 30 years.
The protesters are demanding that the military, which ousted and arrested Al Bashir last week and set up a military council to run the country for a maximum of two years, give up power immediately.
They say they will not give up their protests until their demands are met.
The Sudanese Professional Association, which has been behind the four months of protests, said it will announce the makeup of a “civilian presidential council” at a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday.
The protesters fear the army, dominated by Al Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.
Al Bashir, whose rule was marred by conflict, civil war and corruption, is also wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committee in the western region of Darfur.
He is currently held in Khartoum’s Koper Prison, notorious for holding political prisoners under Al Bashir.
The former president’s two brothers, as well as a number of his close associates and former government officials have also been taken into custody.
The protesters’ demands include trials for all ranking former government figures for corruption and human rights abuses, as well as disbanding of paramilitary forces Al Bashir used to crack down on insurgency and dissent.
Thousands of people continue to gather at a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum set up April 6.
“They will make us suffer, so that is why we insist that the sit-in continues,” said Abu Bakr Al Awad, 23. “They said they want to stay for two years, we will stay three years.”
Demonstrators have called for an “immediate and unconditional” transfer of power to a four-year civilian government, while the military has said its own transitional council will rule for up to two years until elections can be organised.
The SPA has urged people to join the sit-in and defend it from any attempts by the military to disperse the demonstrators.
That means spending long days under a relentless sun, with temperatures hovering above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
A network of volunteers helps keep the demonstration going, with doctors and nurses staffing clinics set up in the streets surrounding the sit-in.
Al Awad, a recent medical school graduate, has been volunteering since last week, spending most of his time helping patients from the sit-in.
On Tuesday, dozens of protesters suffered from heat exhaustion, and in one clinic a man could be seen receiving an IV drip.
“There is a system in place where those who have, give, and those who don’t have, take,” said Al Awad.
A few tents over from the clinic, a group of women prepare lunch for the crowds. The volunteers pool their money to buy supplies to make food on site for anyone who wants it.
“We don’t want people to go back home,” said Razan Hassan Al Tayeb, 29, who was helping prepare a meal of lentils.
“People come just as they are and they don’t come with anything, so we are trying to make people not go back home hungry or thirsty.”