Sudan’s judges march for change, seek civilian rule

Judges in Sudan join protests marches calling for civilian rule and an independent judiciary
Sudanese judges, dressed in their robes, attend a demonstration in central Khartoum on April 25, 2019. – Tens of thousands of protesters converged from all directions on Sudan’s army headquarters Thursday after calls for a “million-strong” demonstration to demand the ruling military council cede power. (Photo by – / AFP)

Sudanese judges joined in protests calling for civilian rule for the first time on Thursday April 25th. The march was the first by judges in Sudan since before Bashir took power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989.

A group of 100 Sudanese judges wearing black robes and carrying signs reading “judges for change,” marched from the Supreme Court in Khartoum, towards a sit-in outside the defence ministry, Reuters have reported.

The judges were heard chanting, “Civilian, civilian, protected by the judiciary”, as they marched through central Khartoum.

“We are here to give a message that the judiciary should be independent without any political intervention,” a judge told journalists.

Judges rejected

But some protesters expressed anger at the judges when they arrived at the demonstration, an AFP photographer said.

“Leave, Leave!” protesters shouted, blaming the judges for pro-regime verdicts during Bashir’s rule.

Reiterating that they were on the same side as the protesters, Appeal Court Judge, Abu al-Fattah Mohamed Othman, told reporters, “We demand reform of the judiciary until justice prevails and corruption is prosecuted.”

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“We demand the removal of symbols of the former regime from the judiciary and the dismissal of the head of the judiciary to achieve justice.”

AFP reported that crowds of protesters gathered on Thursday outside Egypt’s embassy and consulate, which were surrounded by riot police.

Several people held banners calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi not to “interfere in our affairs”, after Cairo hosted a summit of African leaders who said more time was needed for a transition to civilian rule in Sudan.

“Blood for blood!”

Hundreds of thousands have converged in Khartoum following calls by the opposition for a million for a million-strong march to “continue to protect our revolution and to ensure that all our demands are achieved”.

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Protester Hayam Kamal said she had returned from the Gulf to take part in the protest.

“I have been living in Saudi Arabia all my life,” she told AFP. “I returned to call for our freedom and better living conditions so that I can come back and live here.”

Many of those rallying chanted “Blood for blood! We will not accept compensation!”, demanding punishment for officials responsible for killings during Bashir’s iron-fisted, three-decade rule.

“All those responsible for the conflicts in Sudan should be tried and brought to justice,” said protester Ismail Jadallah.

Demonstrators arrived at the army headquarters from the states of Jazeera, White Nile and also from Bashir’s hometown Shendi, boosting the ranks of those already camped at the site, many of them for the past several weeks.

The giant rally followed a late-night meeting between the military council and leaders of the protest movement’s umbrella group.

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“We have an agreement on most demands presented in the document of the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman of the military council, told reporters afterwards.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded months of protests against Bashir, described the meeting as a step towards “confidence-building”.

Writing on Twitter, the association said a “joint committee” was being set up to “discuss outstanding disputes” as part of efforts to reach a “comprehensive agreement”.

Siddiq Farouk, a protest leader, said demonstrators were preparing for a general strike if the military council continues to refuse to hand over power.


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