Sudan protesters seeking civilian rule meet with army

Sudan protesters seeking civilian rule meet with army
FILE - Sudanese civil society activists from the protest movement hold a press conference in the capital Khartoum, April 24, 2019. On Saturday, protest organizers met with the military to discuss forming a transitional government.


The organizers of the protests that drove Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir from power said they met Saturday with the ruling military council for talks on forming a transitional government.

The protesters had agreed on Wednesday to resume talks with the military after a temporary break. The announcement to set up a joint committee to tackle political disputes was followed by the resignation of three members of the military council, whom the opposition had accused of being too close to al-Bashir.

The protesters fear the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him. They also fear Islamists and other factions close to the deposed leader, who is now jailed in the capital, Khartoum, will be granted a role in the transition.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded four months of escalating demonstrations that led the military to remove al-Bashir from power April 11, is demanding a civilian government. They have proposed that a sovereign council, which would include “limited” army representation, hand over full powers to civilians during a four-year transitional period.

Army leaders have called for a two-year transition during which the generals would retain sovereign power and give only executive authorities to civilians.

The military also agreed on Wednesday to recognize the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition groups led by the SPA, as the uprising’s only legitimate representative, in a move widely seen as a victory for the protesters.

The council has met with a wide range of political parties about the transition, including those formerly close to al-Bashir. Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, the spokesman for the council, said late Friday that it had completed a review of proposals. He did not elaborate.

The opposition has meanwhile vowed to continue protests, centered on a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

The Umma party of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leading opposition figure, said the protesters will not break up the sit-in until there is a full transfer of power to civilians.

The SPA says around 100 people have been killed by security forces since December, when a failing economy and a spike in prices sparked the first protests.

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