Sudanese Pressure Military as Mystery Gunmen Menace Sit-In

Mohammed Alamin
Sudanese Pressure Military as Mystery Gunmen Menace Sit-In

(Bloomberg) -- Sudanese pro-democracy protesters maintained their sit-in at army headquarters to demand civilian rule, as soldiers quashed attempts by mystery gunmen to disperse the long-running demonstration that helped oust President Omar al-Bashir.

Over Tuesday night, gunfire rocked one side of the sprawling protest site in the capital, Khartoum, and witnesses said they saw troops apprehend a small group of masked men with firearms. “I asked some soldiers about their identity and they told me this is a group of snipers belonging to the old regime,” said one protester, Yassir Awad.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and Wednesday saw further marches organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association, a coalition that’s played a leading role in the uprising.

Sudan, where al-Bashir was ousted last week after four months of protests, is seeing a standoff between protesters and a transitional military council that says it may govern the oil-producing African country for as long as two years. Demonstrators say the new rulers are stalwarts of al-Bashir’s 30-year reign and root-and-branch change is essential.

The 75-year-old, who himself led a coup in 1989, became the second regional leader after Algeria’s military-backed president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to leave office this month in the face of nationwide protests. The events have stirred echoes of the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked the region from 2011.

Bashir in Prison

The local Akhir Lahza newspaper reported Wednesday that the former president, who’s wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, had been moved to Kober prison in Khartoum. Amnesty International called for al-Bashir to be immediately handed over to the Hague-based court for due process to be followed.

Uganda’s government said it would provide al-Bashir asylum if he applied because of his role mediating a peace deal for South Sudan, a newspaper there said.

The main South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, returned to Khartoum early Wednesday after attending a spiritual retreat at the Vatican, where Pope Francis urged him and President Salva Kiir to respect the latest accord to end a five-year civil war. Al-Bashir helped broker the pact, and some observers are concerned over what his ouster will mean for its enactment.

Sudan’s rulers also ordered the central bank to freeze suspect transactions or withdrawals of funds. The council has already confiscated assets belonging to al-Bashir’s National Congress Party.

(Updates with Amnesty comment in paragraph after Bashir in Prison subheadline.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mohammed Alamin in Khartoum at malamin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.net, Michael Gunn

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