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Sudan’s military council and opposition resume dialogue

May 20 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Sudanese protesters erect a barricade along a street in central Khartoum, Sudan, May 15, 2019 (Reuters)
Sudanese protesters erect a barricade along a street in central Khartoum, Sudan, May 15, 2019 (Reuters)

On Sunday, the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) resumed their negotiations about the handing of power to an interim civilian government. Protesters have removed a number of road blocks in Khartoum.

The two parties discussed the outstanding issues regarding the percentage of representation in the leadership council and the chairmanship, the AFC said a statement later on Sunday.

The members of the AFC, including the Sudanese Professionals Association, a number of opposition parties, and civil society groups, stressed their adherence to a civil leadership council with limited military representation and a civilian chairmanship.

The statement called on all “revolutionaries” in the country to put pressure on the military council to hand power to the people by to continuing the sit-ins in Khartoum and various state capitals.

“Our peaceful sit-in has been and will remain a guarantee for the steadfastness of our revolution and the Sudanese social fabric,” the statement read.

Road blocks

On Wednesday evening, the TMC suspended dialogue with the opposition until the removal of the barricades from the main roads in Khartoum.

In a statement aired on Sudan TV, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, head of the TMC, said that “to prevent the country from sliding into uncontrollable insecurity, the negotiation was suspended for 72 hours until an appropriate climate is created for completion of the agreement, the removal of barricades set up outside the sit-in area, and the opening of railways for trains transporting supplies to the states”.

A week ago, protesters set up new road blocks along major streets in downtown Khartoum, closing traffic on two major bridges over the Blue Nile. In response, militiamen, reportedly belonging to the Rapid Support Forces, attacked them with live ammunition, whips and batons on Monday evening. Four protesters and an army captain were killed.

On Wednesday, paramilitaries again attacked the people at the sit-in. At least 14 people were injured, seven of them sustained bullet wounds.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the driving force behind the uprising in the country, thereupon ordered the barricades to be pulled back to the original limits of the sit-in on April 6, in order to prevent more violence.

On Friday, demonstrators removed the road blocks on a major avenue near the army command. They however warned that the barricades would return if the TMC would not resume talks with the AFC about a civilian-led government.

Railways

The protesters in front of the army command in Khartoum were also blocking the railway to the western and southern parts of the country.

On Saturday, the AFC Field Action Committee and the Sudan Railway Authority-Central Region have reached an agreement about opening the railway in Khartoum for the transport of fuel and other basic commodities needed in other regions in the country.

In a joint statement the same day, both parties announced that in order “to push the political file forward, the AFC, after consultation with the Sudan Railway Authority, decided to open the railway to transport fuel and goods required in the various regions of Sudan, especially the West, from Saturday to Monday from 11 am to 3 pm”.

Negotiation results

On Monday, the AFC and TMC agreed on a three-year transitional period for the transfer of power to an entirely civilian administration, after which general elections will be held.

The interim parliament will be composed of 300 members. The AFC will be represented by 67 percent. The rest of the seats will be drawn from other political parties.

Peace talks with rebel movements in Darfur and the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan states) are to be prioritised during the first six months of the transitional government.

The composition of the new leadership council however is a major obstacle for the talks. The TMC want it to be military-led, while the protesters insist on a civilian cabinet.

A meeting of AU leaders in Cairo on April 23 recommended allowing the junta three months to relinquish power to civilian authority, however at a meeting in Tunis on April 30, the PSC decided on “an additional period of 60 days”.

The EU and USA have also called on the TMC to transfer power to the people, while Sudan's Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt are backing the military junta.


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