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Sudan Opposition, Military Council Resume Talks

Sudan Opposition, Military Council Resume Talks

Monday, 20 May, 2019 - 18:45
Protesters in Sudan. (Reuters file photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Sudan's ruling military council and the opposition Alliance for Freedom and Chang resumed on Monday talks to finalize the makeup of a new ruling body after overnight negotiations remained deadlocked following a "dispute" over who should lead it.

The two sides launched a round of new talks Sunday evening over the form of the authority to rule Sudan for a three-year transitional period following last month's ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

The military council that replaced him has faced international pressure to install a civilian-led administration -- a key demand of thousands of demonstrators who have spent weeks camped outside Khartoum's army headquarters.

Hours of overnight meetings into the early hours of Monday ended without agreement, but the ruling military council announced the talks would resume again Monday evening at the presidential palace.

A prominent leader of an umbrella protest group who was at the talks said the question of who would head the body had been a key sticking point.

"The dispute over the presidency of the sovereign council" was ongoing, said Satea al-Haj of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which led the nationwide campaign against Bashir.

"The military council is still insisting that the president of the sovereign council should be from the military," he said.

"They are justifying it by saying the country faces security threats."

The protest movement insists that civilians must form the majority of the body's members, a demand backed by major world powers, Haj added.

"The international community and the African Union will not accept to deal with a military government," he said.

"The people also want a civilian government."

Demonstrator Abdelmoneim Seer vowed to continue protesting if the generals stay in power.

"If the military council does not meet all our demands at the next negotiation session... we will continue our sit-ins everywhere" across the country, he said, according to AFP.

The military council had suspended the talks late on Wednesday after two outbreaks of violence around protest sites in Khartoum.

Street protests and a sit-in outside the Defense Ministry have continued since the army ousted and arrested Bashir on April 11.

Demonstrators are calling for a rapid transition to civilian rule, and demanding justice over the deaths of dozens of people killed since protests triggered by an economic crisis and decades of repressive rule spread across Sudan from December 19.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests against Bashir and heads the Alliance for Freedom and Change, has accused the military council of dragging its feet in the talks and has sought to increase pressure on the council by expanding protests.

It also held the council responsible for street violence over the past week in which several protesters were killed and dozens wounded.

The council accused protesters of not respecting an understanding on de-escalation while talks were under way.

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