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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 30th May 2019

Stand-off in Sudan

Blue Lines

Although the first two days of the general strike in Sudan designed to pressure the ruling generals to hand power to civilians have had mixed results, there is no prospect of the protesters giving up. The mass sit-in around the Defence Headquarters in Khartoum continues. The numbers thin out during the day as temperatures pass 40 degrees, but every evening tens of thousands go to the main protest site to take Iftar during Ramadan.

Efforts to extend the protests and barricade more roads have been blocked by the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti'. Now the RSF is increasing the pressure by bringing more troops to the capital and reinforcing its cordon around the protest site.

The junta's deputy leader, Hemeti is its lead voice, arguing that the protesters' intransigence, not the military's, is blocking the transition. In fact, the stalemate is the result of failure to agree which side would have a majority on the proposed sovereign ruling council.

Ideas such as needing a two-thirds majority for major decisions or a rotating chair for the council haven't won support. Hemeti's plan to hold national elections in the current chaotic conditions shows how far the military is from agreeing to a credible transition and reform. That he proposed it after visiting the United Arab Emirates and Egypt suggests the regime's regional sponsors are in no hurry either.

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