Saudi Arabia, UAE to send Sh300b in aid to Sudan

Sudanese gather during a protest outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 21, 2019. [AFP]
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)said on Sunday they had agreed to send Sudan Sh300 billion ($3 billion ) worth of aid, throwing a lifeline to the country’s new military leaders after protests led to the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir.

The two Gulf Arab countries will deposit Sh50 billion ($500 million) with the Sudanese Central Bank and send the rest in the form of food, medicine and petroleum products, their state news agencies said in parallel statements.

The aid comes amid wrangling between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and protesters and opposition groups who are demanding that civilians lead a two-year transitional period.

The protesters who have kept up a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry since Bashir was removed on April 11.

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They have demonstrated in large numbers over the past three days, pressing for a rapid handover to civilian rule.

TMC head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told state TV that the formation of a joint military-civilian council - one of the activists’ demands - was being considered. “The issue has been put forward for discussion and a vision has yet to be reached,” he said.

“The role of the military council complements the uprising and the blessed revolution,” said Burhan, adding that the TMC was committed to handing power over to the people.

But a coalition of protesters and opposition groups said the TMC was not serious about handing over power to civilians, describing the council as an “extension of the old regime”.

“We have decided to opt for escalation with the military council, not to recognise its legitimacy and to continue the sit-in and escalate the protests on the streets,” Mohamed al-Amin Abdel-Aziz, of the Sudanese Professional Association, told one of the largest crowds outside the defence ministry.

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Burhan also confirmed for the first time that Bashir and a number of former officials, including presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie, acting party head Ahmed Haroun and former first vice president Ali Osman Taha, are being held at a high-security prison in Khartoum.

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