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Sudan rivals agree to new talks as strike ends: mediator

Protest leaders agreed to end the campaign of civil disobedience [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2019

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An Ethiopian mediator has said that protest leaders and Sudan's military junta will resume talks after a nationwide strike concluded on Tuesday.
Sudanese protest leaders have agreed to end a campaign of civil disobedience launched after a deadly crackdown on demonstrators and to resume talks with Sudan's ruling generals, an Ethiopian mediator said on Tuesday.

The apparent breakthrough, which the ruling military council had yet to confirm, came as a top US diplomat prepared to embark on a mission to press the generals to halt the crackdown on protesters demanding civilian rule.

Sudan has been led by a military junta since it toppled autocratic president Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

Following Bashir's removal, protesters camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks to demand civilian rule, before security and paramilitary forces dispersed them in a June 3 crackdown that killed dozens.

The protest movement launched a campaign of civil disobedience on Sunday, and most businesses stayed closed and residents hunkered indoors for the next three days.

It had threatened to pile even more pressure on the generals by releasing a list of members for a new ruling body - the key point of dispute between the two sides.

But they agreed to end the campaign and return to talks, said an envoy of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"The Alliance for Freedom and Change agreed to end the civil disobedience (campaign) from today," Mahmoud Drir, who has been mediating between the two sides since Ahmed visited Khartoum last week.

"Both sides have also agreed to resume talks soon," he told reporters.

The protest movement itself said in a statement that it was calling on people "to resume work from Wednesday".

Protest leaders have vowed to name a new ruling body to replace the generals.

Read more: Is Sudan facing a counterrevolution?

"The Alliance for Freedom and Change will reveal its sovereign council and a prime minister in an announcement to be made at a suitable time," the Sudanese Professionals Association, a key member of the umbrella protest movement, said late on Monday.

The civil disobedience campaign was launched after a week of deadly violence in the capital Khartoum.  

Paramilitary and security forces on Monday stormed a 58-day-long peaceful sit-in, reportedly beating and shooting at unarmed protesters, raping doctors and throwing tens of dead bodies into the river Nile.

At least 118 people were killed and hundreds injured in the massacre and ongoing crackdown, according to the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CCSD).

Activists have reported arrests and beatings of opposition activists as paramilitary militias roam the streets, dismantling barricades set up by demonstrators to shield their neighbourhoods from more violence.

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