Sudan army ruler seeks to resume talks with protest leaders

2019-06-20 09:51

Sudan's army ruler on Wednesday called on protest leaders to resume talks on the transfer of power without any conditions, as tension between the two sides persists after the bloody dispersal of demonstrators.

Dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds wounded on June 3 when a weeks-long protest camp was violently dispersed by gunmen in military fatigues, who stormed the site shooting and beating demonstrators outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.

The raid came after the collapse of earlier negotiations between the ruling generals and protest leaders in which they were unable to agree on who should lead a new governing body - a civilian or soldier.

READ: Sudan army ruler calls on protest leaders to hold unconditional talks

The generals, who seized power after the army ousted long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir on April 11, have resisted calls to hand power to civilians as demanded by the protesters.

Bashir was ousted after initial protests that erupted six months ago on December 19 over the tripling of bread prices morphed into a nationwide movement against his three-decades of iron-fisted rule.

Talks

But on Wednesday, Sudan's army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the ruling military council was ready to hold talks with the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and other political groups without any pre-conditions.

"We are calling on the Alliance for Freedom and Change and all political powers to come and sit without any conditions... we need a solution that satisfies all people," Burhan said in a speech in Khartoum broadcast on state television.

"The country has been without a government for three months... the Sudanese people and foreign policy have been affected by the lack of government," Burhan said.

"We don't want the situation to get out of control. We don't want to see another coup," he said.

The generals said last week that more than one coup attempt had been planned against the ruling military council since it took power, but they were thwarted and two groups of officers had been taken into custody.

As tensions between the two sides soared after the June 3 crackdown, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led mediation efforts that saw protest leaders agree to resume talks but under certain conditions.

Protest leaders insist an internet blackout imposed after they launched a civil disobedience campaign this month be brought to an end.

They are also seeking an international probe into the killings and the acceptance of all earlier agreements reached in previous negotiations with the generals prior to the crackdown.

Before the talks were suspended and the protest crackdown happened, the generals and protest leaders had agreed on a three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament dominated by lawmakers from the protesters' umbrella group.

Protesters and rights groups say the brutal crackdown was carried out by the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy chief of the ruling military council.

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Read more on:    sudan  |  east africa
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