The Sudanese army is expected to make “an important announcement”, state media said on Thursday, after months of protests against longtime President Omar al-Bashir. “The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it,” a television anchor said, without giving further details.
The protests, which erupted in December, have become the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s three decades of rule. Thursday marked the sixth day of a defiant sit-in outside the military’s headquarters, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defence ministry. Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights thronging the sprawling complex, singing and dancing to revolutionary songs. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reporting from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum said there was a heavy security presence on the city’s main roads.
“There are a lot of military trucks around the capital and around the main streets of the city. Most roads have been blocked especially those leading to the army HQ. There are a few roads opened for the protesters who have been participating in the sit-in,” Morgan said. “People are extremely happy even before the army made any announcement. People are celebrating and pouring in to the sit-in area. Protesters are saying they are very confident that Bashir will resign,” Morgan added.
The group spearheading the nationwide demonstrations urged residents of the capital to mass outside army headquarters. “We call on our people from across the Khartoum capital and the region around to immediately go to the sit-in area and not leave from there until our next statement is issued,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said.
The group also said they will not accept a military government to succeed President Bashir. Protesters at the sit-in told Al Jazeera they feel their calls for have been heard. “We finally win this battle, we struggled a lot and we suffered a lot but every thing suppose to have an end” Fathia Imam 45 a tea seller told Jazeera at the square of the sit-in.
Abdul Galil Ahmed, a 28-year-old activists, said he is worried some of President Bashir’s close allies could remain in office. “We are worried about the future and the fate of our uprising because we doubt the regime would be toppled as whole,” Ahmed told Al Jazeera.
Witnesses said army soldiers arrested two snipers near the military headquarters on Thursday. Observers say although it remains unclear what the armed forces will announce, it appears as though the army has decided to support the protesters.
Mahjoob Zweiri, professor of Middle East history at Qatar University told Al Jazeera: “During the past 10 days, it was obvious that there was a shift in the movement in Sudan. This shift started with the military changing its own course towards the demands of the people. “Over the last 24 hours, the demands and the number of participants [in the protests]increased, putting pressure on the military institution as a whole and making the army feel the need to take action.”
Ahmed Soliman, a researcher at the Africa Programme at Chatham House told Al Jazeera that while he expects the army to announce the end of Bashir’s 30-year-rule within the next few hours, fears remain that the movement may be co-opted by the security forces or internal factions within the armed forces. “Bashir has spent the last 30 years working to insulate his regime and there is a deep web we’ve seen unravel over the past few months. He [Bashir] has created multiple security forces, militias and has an extremely powerful intelligence and security service which we’ve seen trying to infiltrate these mass protests.” “We will have a clearer indication of what will happen when the statement is made.”