Ruling military council in Sudan rejects demand for immediate civilian government

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Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they gather near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 14, 2019. (AFP / Ahmed Mustafa)
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Sudanese demonstrators gather near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 14, 2019, demanding the country's military rulers "immediately" hand power over to a civilian government that should then bring ousted leader Omar al-Bashir to justice. (AFP / Ahmed Mustafa)
Updated 15 April 2019

Ruling military council in Sudan rejects demand for immediate civilian government

  • The protesters have insisted civilian representatives must join the military council
  • The army has appointed a military council that it says will rule for two years or less while elections are being organized

KHARTOUM/CAIRO: Sudan’s new military rulers on Sunday rejected a demand by protest leaders to hand over power immediately to a civilian government that will bring deposed leader Omar Al-Bashir to justice.

Thousands of protesters remained camped outside army headquarters in Khartoum to keep up pressure on the transitional military council that took power after ousting Bashir on Thursday.

As the protesters made their demands, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain pledged their support for the transitional council in bringing stability to Sudan. Riyadh also announced a package of humanitarian aid, including petroleum products, wheat and medicines.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which is organizing and leading the protests, called on the military council “to immediately transfer power to a civilian government.”

It also urged the next “transitional government and the armed forces to bring Bashir and all the chiefs of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)... to justice.

“The Sudanese Professionals Association calls on its supporters to continue with the sit-in until the revolution achieves its demands.”

The political parties and movements behind the four months of protests said in a joint statement late on Saturday that they will remain in the streets until their demands are met. They said the handover to civilian rule would be the “first step toward the fall of the regime.”

The army has appointed a military council that it says will rule for two years or less while elections are being organized. The council met with a delegation of protest organizers on Saturday.

Omer El-Digair, leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, told the protests outside the military headquarters in Khartoum after Saturday’s meeting that the atmosphere was “positive.”

“We demanded restructuring the current security apparatus,” he said. “We do not need a security apparatus that detains people and shuts off newspapers.”

The political parties and movements behind the four months of protests said in a joint statement late on Saturday that they will remain in the streets until their demands are met. They said the handover to civilian rule would be the “first step toward the fall of the regime.”

The army has appointed a military council that it says will rule for two years or less while elections are being organized. The council met with a delegation of protest organizers on Saturday.

The military overthrew Al-Bashir on Thursday, ending his nearly 30-year reign and placing him under house arrest in the capital, Khartoum. The protesters fear that the military, which is dominated by Al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.

However, the military council stuck to its previous insistence that handing over power could take up to two years, although it was committed to doing so.

The council was “keen on maintaining international and regional relations with countries who have Sudan’s best interests at heart,” the foreign ministry said. It urged the international community to back the military council “to achieve the Sudanese goal of democratic transition.”

The council chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan was “committed to having a complete civilian government and the role of the council will be to maintain the sovereignty of the country,” the ministry said.

Earlier the military council met political parties and urged them to agree on an independent figure to be prime minister. 

“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice and democracy,” said a council member, Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Ata.

The protesters have insisted civilian representatives must join the military council.

Talks between protest leaders and the council were followed on Sunday by a meeting between Washington’s top envoy to Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, and the military council’s deputy leader, Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known as Himeidti.

Himeidti is a field commander for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) counter-insurgency unit.

The protesters have modeled their movement on the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 that swept leaders from power in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. They have incorporated many of its slogans, and established a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum earlier this month.

Those uprisings left a mixed legacy, with only Tunisia emerging as a democracy. In Egypt, the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013 and authorities have since cracked down hard on dissent. Yemen slid into civil war, and Libya is on the verge of another major conflict as militias fight for control of the capital, Tripoli.


UAE eases limits on foreign ownership to attract investors

Updated 24 November 2020

UAE eases limits on foreign ownership to attract investors

  • Earlier this month, the UAE also announced a series of reforms to its Islamic legal code
  • The reforms allow foreign entrepreneurs and investors to set up their own companies without involving local shareholders

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has relaxed and removed a range of limits on foreign ownership of companies, state-run media reported Monday, in the country’s latest bid to boost its global status and attract foreign investors.
Earlier this month, the UAE announced a series of reforms to its Islamic legal code, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, improving protections for women and loosening restrictions on alcohol consumption.
The dramatic changes come as the UAE has spent billions of dollars preparing to host some 25 million visitors for the World Expo, which was pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic.
The UAE also expects Israelis to join the legions of foreigners who have opened up businesses and bought apartments in the coastal cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi following a breakthrough US-brokered normalization deal between the countries.
Dubai in particular, which was teetering on the brink of an economic downturn before the pandemic thanks to a weak real estate market, is eager for the influx of capital and travelers. COVID-19 has battered its economy, which draws largely from the tourism, hospitality and aviation industries.
The presidential decree that alters the corporate law helps the UAE “strengthen its leading position regionally and globally as an attractive destination for projects and companies,” state-run WAM news agency reported.
The reforms allow foreign entrepreneurs and investors to set up their own companies without involving local shareholders, the agency said.
That’s a welcome development for the country’s many expatriates who long had their ownership capped at 49 percent in firms outside free zones.
Other legal amendments remove quotas requiring that Emiratis hold the majority of board positions and serve as chairs for onshore companies. Companies that want to be publicly traded will be able to sell up to 70 percent of their shares instead of the current 30 percent limit.
The amendments will certainly diminish the appeal of 45 “free” zones across the UAE, where those wanting to avoid local-hiring quotas and retain full foreign ownership would set up shop.