On 11 April, it was announced that a transitional military council had assumed control in Sudan and that Omar al-Bashir, who had held the office of President for three decades, was being held in a safe place. The transitional military council has said it will govern Sudan for a two-year transitional period after which it promises presidential elections. Sudan’s constitution has been suspended, its parliament has been dissolved, and a three-month state of emergency has been declared.
Despite al-Bashir's removal, the Sudanese Professionals Association, which is one of the main organisers of the protests, has called for a continued sit-in outside the Defence Ministry. This is to demand a return to constitutional and civilian Government. In an attempt to placate the protestors, the initial appointment of the Minister of Defence as head of the transitional military council was withdrawn over the weekend, replaced by another senior military figure. Negotiations between protestors and the military are continuing and the situation on the ground remains dynamic.
Events continue to evolve and my officials are monitoring developments, through the Irish Embassy in Nairobi, which has responsibility for Sudan, and through our membership of the European Union. Officials from my Department visited Sudan earlier this month on a UN organised visit, a key element of Ireland's chairing of the donor group supporting the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator.
The political changes of the past week follow five months of demonstrations, triggered initially by spiralling costs of living. These protests took on renewed emphasis earlier this month, coinciding with the 34th anniversary of a bloodless coup against a former President, Jaafar Nimeiri.
In attempts over the past months to suppress and disperse protests, Sudanese security forces have used tear gas, stun grenades and live bullets. The use of violence against demonstrators has been widely condemned.
On 11 April, European Union High Representative, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement complementing a statement by the chairperson of the African Union Commission which highlighted that a military council does not provide the answers and breached the principles of the African Union Charter. High Representative Mogherini said that only a credible and inclusive political process can meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people and lead to the political and economic reforms Sudan needs. That can only be achieved through a swift handover to a civilian transitional government. In that process, she called on all concerned to exercise calm and the utmost restraint. I fully endorse her statement.