Published: Sat, May 18, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Sudan Military Ban Talks With Opposition for 72 Hours

Sudan Military Ban Talks With Opposition for 72 Hours

Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) is suspending talks with protesters for 72 hours after they broke a deal on de-escalation, the council head said in a televised statement on Thursday.

The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by now deposed president Omar al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role.

"We made a decision to suspend the negotiations over civil rule for 72 hours to help prepare an atmosphere for completing the deal", Burhan said on Thursday, demanding that protesters dismantle roadblocks in Khartoum, open bridges connecting the capital and other regions and "stop provoking security forces".

The United States has consistently called on the military council to transfer power to civilians. Talks have been marred by street violence, with several people wounded.

"Extremely concerned by use of live ammunition by Sudanese security forces against protesters in Khartoum today, with reports of civilian casualties", Irfan Siddiq wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

"The tragic attacks on protesters. were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks", the USA embassy said in a statement.

Protesters allege that members of the paramilitary group the Rapid Support Force were behind the violence.

The two sides have been holding negotiations and after weeks of disagreement, announced on Wednesday they had agreed on the make-up of an interim parliament and a Cabinet for the transitional period, which is to last three years. Protest leaders said it was sparked by security forces trying to remove barricades.

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On Monday after security forces tried to clear some protest sites, at least four people, including three protesters and a military police officer, were killed.

Earlier General Yasser al-Atta, one of the members of the current ruling military council, had vowed to reach a deal by early Thursday that "meets the people's aspirations".

The first six months of the transition would be devoted to reaching peace accords with rebels in war zones including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of Bashir's regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday.

However, the military rulers still appear cagey about surrendering absolute power to the opposition alliance which is demanding a majority in the sovereign council, the citadel of power.

That civilian government would work towards having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period.

Ahmed Rabie, an SPA leader, said "the decision actually came as a surprise" to the opposition and warned that the military is likely making "an attempt to retract what had already been agreed upon".

Some demonstrators expressed caution over the prospects of an agreement that would satisfy their demands for a handover of power to civilians, and for security forces to be held to account for the deaths of demonstrators.

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