Saudis, UAE express support for military rule in Sudan

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
ISTANBUL
Published 15.04.2019 00:14

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have issued statements in support of Sudan's transitional military council after mass protests forced longtime President Omar al-Bashir from power.

Saudi Arabia says it "stands by the Sudanese people" and calls on all Sudanese "to give priority to the national interest" of their country. The UAE called on the Sudanese "to work for protecting legitimacy and ensuring a peaceful transfer of power." Saudi King Salman ordered an unspecified package of aid for Sudan that includes petroleum products, wheat and medicine. In separate statements issued late Saturday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE specifically expressed support for Sudan's transitional council formed by the military. The UAE said it welcomed the swearing-in of Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan on Friday as head of that council.

Sudan is part of a UAE and Saudi-led military coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. That marked a dramatic shift by Khartoum, which aligned itself with the Gulf Arab monarchies at the expense of close ties with their arch-rival Iran.

However, popular uprisings have continued to sweep through the country as anger has mounted at the military rule. Sudanese protest organizers presented demands including the creation of a civilian government in talks with the country's new military rulers late Saturday, the group spearheading demonstrations said. Thousands remained encamped outside the army headquarters in the capital overnight to keep up the pressure on a military council that took power after ousting veteran leader al-Bashir on Thursday.

A 10-member delegation representing the protesters held talks with the military council and delivered their demands on Saturday, according to a statement by the umbrella group leading the protests, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

One of the alliance's leaders, Omar al-Degier, said in the statement that the demands include restructuring the country's feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), whose chief Salih Ghosh has resigned following the ouster of Bashir.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change insists that civilian representatives should be accepted onto the military council, and that a fully civilian government should be formed to run daily administration.

"We surely want our demands to be met, but both sides will have to be flexible to reach a deal," said a protester who spent the night at the army complex.

On Saturday, the chief of the military council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan vowed to dismantle Bashir's regime, and he lifted a nighttime curfew with immediate effect. Burhan also pledged that individuals implicated in killing protesters would face justice and that protesters detained under a recent state of emergency would be freed. Burhan took the oath of office on Friday after his predecessor General Awad Ibn Ouf stepped down, just a day after the ouster of Bashir.

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