Saudi Arabia Backs Sudanese Military Council, Vows Aid Package


Organizers of the protests in Sudan that forced longtime President Omar al-Bashir from office held a second day of talks Sunday with the ruling military council after urging the military to "immediately and unconditionally" hand power to a transitional civilian government that would rule for four years.

The main group organiser, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), said in a statement that the council's response was not satisfactory and called for protests to continue. He was arrested the following year on suspicion of involvement in a coup attempt but was later pardoned by al-Bashir, who appointed him intelligence chief in February 2018.

On Friday, a spokesman for the military council said the army was not seeking power and Sudan's future would be decided by the protesters - but said the army would maintain public order and disturbances would not be tolerated.

But the military council has said it would never extradite Bashir or any other Sudanese citizen.

"Himeidti told him about the measures taken by the military council to preserve the security and stability of the country", SUNA reported.

"The steps taken by the army on Thursday, April 11, take the side of the people for the sake of freedom, peace and justice", the ministry said, echoing one of the protesters' slogans.

Sudanese police said late Friday that the 16 were killed by "stray bullets", and that at least 20 people were wounded at rallies and sit-ins across the country.

He also nominated Mohammad Hamdan Daglo - known as Himeidti - a field commander for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) counter-insurgency unit, which rights groups have accused of abuses in war-torn Darfur.

On Saturday, the military council's new chief General Burhan vowed to dismantle Bashir's regime, lifting a night-time curfew with immediate effect.

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Burhan, who previously served as the general inspector of the armed forces, had met with the protesters in the streets after al-Bashir's ouster and listened to their demands.

Burhan comes with less baggage from Bashir's deeply unpopular rule than Ibn Ouf, a former defence minister and long-time close aide of the deposed president.

Protesters in Khartoum celebrated his departure.

The statement added that Abu Dhabi hopes that all political, factional, popular and military leaders in Sudan will work to protect legitimacy and ensure a peaceful transfer of power for a better future for the nation and unity of the people.

Speaking on television, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan announced the restructuring of state institutions, the end of a night curfew and the release of political prisoners.

The newly formed 10-member transitional council contains several faces from Bashir's regime.

"President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has directed to communicate with Sudan's transitional military council to explore the prospects of accelerating aid for the brotherly people of Sudan".

His initial announcements indicated he wanted to show the tens of thousands of protesters on the streets that he is not part of the regime's old guard and was genuinely committed to reform.

Saudi Arabia has extended support to the military council and is sending aid including petroleum products, wheat and medicine, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.