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Sudan Military Council Calls for Unconditional Talks with Opposition

Sudan Military Council Calls for Unconditional Talks with Opposition

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019 - 18:00
Members of the Sudanese alliance of opposition and protest groups wave their national flag during a general strike in Khartoum on May 28. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Sudan’s ruling military council called on Wednesday for the unconditional resumption of negotiations with the opposition on the transition of power following the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the council, told a gathering of health workers in Khartoum that the council did not have preconditions for returning to the negotiating table with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which has represented protesters, so neither should the protesters.

"I repeat our invitation to all political forces and the FDFC to come (for talks), and there is no need for preconditions. ... We do not deny their role in the uprising and the popular revolution ..., but the solution should be satisfactory to all Sudanese factions," he said.

"The country has been without a government for three months... the Sudanese people and foreign policy have been affected by the lack of government," Burhan said. "We don't want the situation to get out of control. We don't want to see another coup."

The military and opposition had been wrangling for weeks over who would control a sovereign council to lead Sudan to elections: civilians or the military.

Negotiations collapsed in the wake of a violent crackdown of a protest camp in the capital Khartoum on June 3. At least 128 people have been killed across the country since security forces moved in to clear the sit-in area outside the military's headquarters. Authorities offer a lower death toll of 61, including three from security forces.

The opposition had called for an international inquiry to be opened into the sit-in dispersal before they would rejoin talks.

There have been no direct talks since the dispersal, but Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union have been trying to mediate between the sides.

The military overthrew and detained Bashir on April 11 after 16 weeks of street protests against his 30-year autocratic rule.

Burhan renewed the military’s denial of its involvement in the dispersal.

“We all know that we pledged to all the Sudanese people that we would not disperse that place and that is a promise we made and we did not lie to anyone,” he said.

Separately, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday demanded that Bashir stand trial for the mass killings perpetrated in Darfur.

"Now is the time for the people of Sudan to choose law over impunity and ensure that the ICC suspects in the Darfur situation finally face justice in a court of law," prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UN security Council.

Bashir appeared in a court in Khartoum on Sunday to hear corruption charges leveled against him. He also faces possible murder charges for the deaths of demonstrators killed during the protests that led to his downfall.

The generals who now rule Sudan have so far ruled out transferring Bashir to the ICC, which accuses him of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The ICC prosecutor said that after the tumultuous events of recent months, Sudan "is now at a crossroads with the opportunity to depart from its previous policy of complete non-cooperation."

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