The Sudanese army is set to make important announcements on the fate of President Omar ak- Bashir this morning following the continued anti-government protests. State Tv reports.
The Sudanese army will make an “important statement soon,” state television and radio announced on Thursday morning, as thousands of protesters camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum demanding the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir.
“The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it,” a television anchor said.
State media offered no further details, as the rally outside the army complex entered its sixth day. A Reuters reporter said military vehicles were deployed on key roads in the capital.
As people waited for further word, state television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest. “People are coming in droves,” said one onlooker.
The news of an announcement from the army came as analysts warned Sudan could descend into anarchy if its political crisis is not resolved peacefully and rival factions within the security establishment fight for power.
The country, one of Africa’s biggest and most strategically important, has been paralysed by months of protests against the 30-year rule of its autocratic president, Omar al-Bashir.
Since Saturday, thousands of people have camped on a crossroads in the centre of the capital, Khartoum, calling for Bashir to step down.
Attempts by security forces to break up the demonstration have – including five soldiers, who organisers said were defending the protesters – and injured more than 150.
The area of the main protest in Khartoum has expanded slightly since the weekend, witnesses said. Makeshift medical facilities and water distribution points have been set up while protesters have organised cleaning patrols to sweep away rubbish. There have also been reports of protests elsewhere in the country of 40 million people, including Port Sudan in the north-east.
“These kinds of anti-government demonstrations are not new, but this time a much wider swath of society is involved … including professional classes who for decades were either driven overseas or co-opted [by the regime],” said Zach Vertin, an analyst at the Brookings Institution thinktank and author of a new book on Sudan and South Sudan.
Jehanne Henry, an expert on Sudan with Human Rights Watch, said the current round of protests had been boosted by “a greater mobilisation across the board”.
Another new factor is the apparent split within the security forces. Some elements within the military appear to bOn Tuesday, demonstrators were seen hoisting soldiers on their shoulders while others joyfully saluted soldiers in armoured vehicles.
“This is an obvious endorsement that is better understood as a co-opting of the protest movement,” said Magdi el-Gizouli, an analyst with the Rift Valley Institute. “The events of April 6 and 7 have rehabilitated the moral standing of the army and affirmed its political weight.”
There have been reports of senior police commanders and militia leaders pledging not to harm the protesters, though it is unclear if these have been officially endorsed.
Protest leaders have called on the army to help resolve the crisis, possibly by taking temporary control of the government.
“Sudanese always believe that transition should come through the military. All are mindful of what instability could cause. Any chaos could have a very high cost,” said Saif al Din Abdelrahman, a Sudanese economist and expert, in Nairobi, Kenya.e siding with demonstrators against armed militia loyal to Bashir and the feared intelligence services. “This is unprecedented. We are in a new landscape now,” said Vertin.
The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) since they began camping outside the complex on April 6, protest organisers say.
But for the first time on Tuesday night they did not face any “threat” from security agents, said a protester who requested anonymity for security reasons.
That came after 11 people, including six members of the security forces, were killed on Tuesday during demonstrations in the capital, government spokesman Hassan Ismail told the official SUNA news agency.
Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence since demonstrations first erupted in December.
“I hope our revolution will achieve its goal,” said Alaa Salah, dubbed the protest movement’s “Nubian queen”, referring to an ancient name for Sudan, after a video clip went viral of her conducting chants with demonstrators outside the army headquarters.
Earlier this week, the US, Britain and Norway for the first time threw their weight behind the protesters.
“The time has come for the Sudanese authorities to respond to these popular demands in a serious” way, the countries’ Khartoum embassies said in a statement.
“The Sudanese authorities must now respond and deliver a credible plan for this political transition.”
Sudan, along with Iran, Syria and North Korea, is on Washington’s blacklist of state sponsors of “terrorism”.
Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide, came to power in a 1989 coup. He remains one of the longest serving presidents in Africa.
Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party said plans to hold a rally backing the president on Thursday had been postponed.