Late on Thursday night tens of thousands of protesters defied a night time curfew announced earlier in the day by General Awad Ibn Auf, who was sworn in as the head of a military council that replaced Omar al-Bashir in Sudan.
Al-Bashir came into power in 1989 in a military coup and ruled the country for thirty years. After four months of resistance, dozens of deaths at the hands of security forces, and defiant calls for revolution Al-Bashir stepped down. Brief, jubilant celebrations erupted outside the military headquarters in Khartoum where huge throngs of protesters had massed.
The euphoria quickly soured when the protesters realized who had replaced Mr. al-Bashir.
Lt. Gen. Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, the defense minister and a confidant of Mr. al-Bashir addressed the country about the change of power, and the arrest of al-Bashir.
General Ibn Auf, like Mr. al-Bashir, had been accused of perpetrating war crimes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
As he laid out his terms: the release of political prisoners, but also a two-year transition steered by a military council, the suspension of Sudan’s Constitution, the dissolution of government and curfews starting at 10 p.m. that night the country erupted in anger.
New cries rang out. “We do not replace a thief with a thief,” some chanted.
There were immediately calls for people to stay in the street and guard the revolution, to push it forward, and to renounce the new military regime.
The coming days, weeks, and months will prove to be pivotal. The military regime has several options, all of which will lead to minimal societal change, or potentially a further expansion of the dictatorial capacity of the regime.
During the Arab Spring several protest movements, like Sudan now, forced the rulers out of power but were not prepared to expand and consolidate revolutionary gains.
The insurrectionary moment, with tremendous suffering and joy, once again succeeded in deposing a despot. But now the movement must deal with the counter-revolution and all that entails.