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Sudanese army accused of 'dirty political games' as talks fail

Protests continued last night as talks were in progress (Getty)

Date of publication: 21 May, 2019

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Talks between the Sudanese military and protesters ended in deadlock on Tuesday as the army refused to meet opposition demands for a civilian-majority on a new ruling body.

Sudanese army rulers and opposition groups representing protesters on Tuesday failed to reach an agreement, yet again, on the make-up of a new ruling body as negotiations hit deadlock on whether a civilian or soldier should preside over it.

The two sides launched a round of new talks late Sunday over the sovereign council to rule Sudan for a three-year transitional period following last month's ouster of autocratic President 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.

Late on Monday the military council and the protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change met again at the presidential palace to finalise the proposed ruling body but they were unable to clinch a deal.

Neither side said when talks would resume, but one of the protest leaders Siddiq Yousef told reporters that "the negotiations are suspended between us and the Transitional Military Council until there is a breakthrough".

The ruling military council did not say if talks had been suspended.

"The main point of dispute that remains is concerning the share of representatives of the military and the civilians in the council and who will be the head of the new body," a joint statement issued by the generals and protest alliance said after talks ended around midnight.

Satea al-Haj, a prominent leader of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, said Tuesday that the military council has insisted that the president of the sovereign council should be from the military and has "conclusively" rejected a civilian leader.

"They are justifying it by saying the country faces security threats," he earlier said.

Another Alliance leader, Mohammed Naji Al-Asam, told The New Arab that his movement would not back down from their demand for a majority of seats on the ruling council saying that the alliance would continue its sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum and protests activities around the country.  

'Dirty political game'

Generals and protest leaders have already agreed on some key issues, including a three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament dominated by lawmakers from the protesters' umbrella group.

The new sovereign council is expected to form a transitional civilian government ahead of the first post-Bashir elections.

But observers say the body may turn out to be only symbolic, with real power resting in the office of the prime minister and the cabinet.

An agreement on the new council's make-up had been expected last week.

But the generals suspended the negotiations for 72 hours, demanding that protesters remove roadblocks they had erected on several Khartoum avenues before any negotiations could proceed.

A government paramilitary force attempted to remove the barricades on Wednesday last week, leading to clashes in which 14 protesters were injured.

Protesters later removed the barricades, but have warned that they will build them again unless the generals transfer power to civilians.

The generals have allowed protesters to continue with their sit-in at the army complex.

Demonstrators began their sit-in against Bashir on 6 April, but refused to move after his ouster by the military, vowing instead to stay until a civilian government was installed.

Protesters accuse the generals of clinging to power and ignoring their demands.

"A dirty political game is being played by the military council," said Mustafa Sadiq, who spent the night at the army complex.

The protesters' umbrella group on Monday urged demonstrators to be patient.

"Victory is just a matter of patience and it is getting close," the Alliance for Freedom and Change said.

Protester Ahmed Nagdi said the Sudanese people had waited already "for decades".

"It is time to achieve our goals."

 

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