Protesters Vow to Break Army's Grip as Sudan Talks Falter
Flashing the victory sign and chanting revolutionary slogans, Sudanese protesters camped outside the military headquarters are determined to install civilian rule even as talks between their leaders and army generals have faltered.
"Young people have sacrificed themselves to overthrow a 30-year-old regime, and that should be protected," Wafaa al-Tayeb said as she stood among a group of demonstrators spending a yet another night at the sit-in outside the military complex in central Khartoum.
Thousands of men and women have held an around-the-clock sit-in at the site since April 6, initially to seek the military's support in toppling longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and later to remove the generals who seized power after his ouster.
Although the number of protesters has dwindled during the day since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, crowds swell at night when demonstrators gather after breaking the dawn-to-dusk fast.
But more than a month since Bashir was overthrown, their determination and enthusiasm has not waned even though the protest leaders have been unable to reach a deal with the military on forming a new governing body that would replace the generals.
A new round of talks that started late on Sunday faltered last night as a deadlock remained over the make-up of the new body and who should lead it.
"After getting rid of the greatest dictator in Africa, the millions of people here will never accept that the military imposes its rule," Tayeb said.
"Yes or no," she asks the cheering crowd, which immediately voices its approval.
Protester Hind Mohamed said she expects talks with the army generals to last a long time.
"The negotiations will not end in a day. Problems are inevitable. The important thing is that the final agreement meets our expectations," she said.
- 'Foreign interference' -
The protesters have accused regional powers of trying to influence the outcome of their uprising.
"The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have put pressure on Abdel Fattah al-Burhan because these Gulf states want to implement their political will as they did in Egypt," said Rafeei Ibrahim, an economics graduate, referring to the general who heads the present ruling military council.
Experts say the Saudis, Emiratis and Egyptians have thrown their weight behind Burhan to ensure a military-led governing body is formed.
For some authorities around the region, a possible repeat of the 2011 uprisings that roiled Egypt and the wider Arab world is a frightening prospect.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already announced a $3-billion aid package to Sudan, which some say will help the generals to keep their grip on the northeast African country.
"We are certain that the street, the sit-in, will win in the negotiations, whether it takes a month, two months or a year," said Ibrahim, carrying a bag on his back.
"We are hopeful, we are millions and we have real ambitions for the future of Sudan," he said as groups of men and women chanted "Freedom, peace, justice" -- the catchcry of the protest movement that brought down Bashir.
A short distance away from the sit-in, Nour Galil could be heard cheering as he watched a game of volleyball.
"Of course there is frustration but there is hope too for a better future, that people will live well and free," said Galil, 30, who does several odd jobs to make a living.