Sudan protesters say army trying to break up sit-in

The protesters who want the military to hand over power to a civilian administration have been camped out since April 6.

    Sudan's main protest group said on Monday the army was trying to disperse a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum by removing barricades, but witnesses said troops had not moved in.

    Thousands of protesters remain camped outside the army headquarters, almost three weeks after the military and security forces removed former president Omar al-Bashir from power on April 11.

    The pro-democracy protesters want the ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian administration.

    "The military council is a copy cat of the toppled regime. The army is trying to disperse the sit-in by removing the barricades," said the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the group that first launched the protest movement against al-Bashir's regime.

    "We are calling on our people to come immediately to the sit-in area. We are calling on the revolutionaries to protect the barricades and rebuild them." 

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    Witnesses at the sit-in told AFP news agency that protesters were building up some of the makeshift barricades but there was no movement of troops around the area.

    "We are calling on our people across Sudan to show that they reject the attack on the sit-in and attempts to disperse it until we achieve our demand of having a civilian authority," the SPA said.

    The SPA call came after Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi, the spokesman of the ruling military council, said on Monday the military had agreed with protest leaders to open some roads, a railway line and two bridges that lead to, or pass near, the military headquarters.

    But the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella group leading the protest movement, said the announcement was incorrect.

    "We didn't have any agreements on removing the barricades or opening the bridges in our sit-in area in the capital or across the country," the group said late on Monday.

    "We will continue our sit-in until the power is transferred to civilians."

    The military council said putting up barricades and checking people at the protest site threatened public security.

    "There are some attempts that threaten public safety and stability by searching the civilians and vehicles by people who have no legal authority," Kabbashi said in a statement late on Monday.

    "There are also cases of looting of properties, beating of citizens, blocking roads, attacking security forces and preventing trains from carrying essential items needed by the people," he said.

    "Given the responsibility of protecting the citizens, the military council will end these attempts which are against the chant of the revolution of 'peace, justice, freedom'."

    The latest outbursts from both sides came after they presented differing visions for a joint civilian-military council that would pave the way for a civilian administration.

    The military council has so far insisted it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period. 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies