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Sudan: army suspends talks with protesters

Despite an agreement reached earlier in the day announcing the transfer of power to civilians in three years, the dialogue is again bogging down between the people and the Transitional Military Council that succeeded Omar al-Bashir.

Relations are bogging down again in Sudan between the people and the ruling Military Council, which suspended Wednesday talks with the people. At the heart of the conflict, the political transition after former head of state Omar al-Bashir was pushed to the exit by the Sudanese . The military council is calling for the dismantling of roadblocks erected by protesters outside the main sit-in in Khartoum, in front of army headquarters, according to leaders of the protest.

The dams and barricades erected in recent days by protesters in major avenues of the capital caused Monday and Wednesday friction between police and protesters. Five civilians and one soldier were shot dead Monday and at least eight were wounded on Wednesday when law enforcement officers attempted to dismantle the barricades, witnesses said. The Alliance for Freedom and Change (ALC), spearhead of the protest , and Washington blamed the violence on the army, but the military council said they were the result of “infiltrators” seeking to derail the political process.

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“The Military Council has suspended the discussions. They asked us to dismantle dams in parts of the capital, “said Rachid al-Sayed, ALC spokesman. “The military council told us that the protesters must return to the main sit-in” where protesters have been camping since April 6, according to the same source. Another protest leader Ahmed al-Rabie confirmed the request for suspension of the military. “The Military Council has contacted us to say that it will resume discussions only after the dismantling of the roadblocks,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Rachid al-Sayed, however, confirmed that he had reached an agreement with the Military Council over a three-year political transition period, after which a transfer of power to civilians will take place. The Council and the LAC were supposed to negotiate on Wednesday night the final points of this agreement on the institutions of the transition period, namely the composition of a Sovereign Council. This body, a cabinet and a legislature should prepare the country during the transition period. It would consist of 300 members, 67% of whom are from the ALC. The rest of the seats would be reserved for representatives of political forces not affiliated to this alliance.

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One of the leaders of the protest, Khaled Omar Youssef, downplayed the role of the Sovereign Council, insisting that the country will have a strong government. “The cabinet will have full powers and will be formed by the ALC,” he told AFP, adding that the alliance could appeal to technocrats. “Only the Ministry of Defense and the Interior will go to the military.” Khaled Omar Youssef stressed the need for a Sovereign Council composed mainly of civilians, while the generals want it to be dominated by the military.

This agreement found between the two parties gave hope for a possible return to calm of the situation since the fall of Omar-el-Béchir on April 11th. The army then seized the power at the head of which it placed a Military Transitional Council led by General Awad Ibn Ouf. But the next day, he, too, gave up power pushed to the exit by the street as the deposed president, 24 hours instead. Following Awad Ibn Uf, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a former army general of number three, began by giving some concessions to the Sudanese by lifting the curfew and announcing the release of the arrested protesters. But on April 22, the talks were suspended and the protest leaders called for intensification of demonstrations in front of army headquarters. Two days later, the Military Council, however, announced an “agreement” on “most of the demands” of the protesters despite a huge demonstration in Khartoum the next day, to the sound of revolutionary songs.
On Wednesday, the negotiations seem once again bogged down as both parties camp on their positions.

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