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World & Nation

Sudan’s army calls for unconditional talks with protesters

Protest against crackdown on Sudan’s pro-democracy protesters, in Nairobi, Kenya - 19 Jun 2019
A Sudanese woman looks on with a placard during a protest against Sudan’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, in Nairobi, Kenya, June 19, 2019.
(Dai Kurokawa / EPA-EFE / REX )

Sudan’s military council on Wednesday urged opposition leaders to resume negotiations on the transition of power, without preconditions, but the comments could further complicate the already stalled transition process as protest organizers continue their nighttime demonstrations demanding civilian rule.

Negotiations collapsed in the wake of a violent crackdown on a protest camp in the capital Khartoum. At least 128 people have been killed across the country since security forces moved in to clear the sit-in area outside the military’s headquarters on June 3. Authorities offer a lower death toll of 61, including three from security forces.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the council, told a gathering of health workers in Khartoum that the council did not have preconditions for returning to the negotiating table with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which has represented protesters, so neither should the protesters.

“I repeat our invitation to all political forces and the FDFC to come [for talks], and there is no need for preconditions.... We do not deny their role in the uprising and the popular revolution ..., but the solution should be satisfactory to all Sudanese factions,” he said.

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Protests leaders could not be reached immediately for comment. Ahmed Rabie, a protest leader and spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Assn., said Saturday they would stick to their demands of an international probe, resumption of internet service and removal of all military and militias from the cities before talks could resume.

Late on Wednesday, an Associated Press photojournalist saw around 300 protesters, mostly young people, in the streets in Khartoum’s western district of Abbasiya, waving Sudanese flags and calling for justice for those who have been killed since the sit-in dispersal on June 3.

The military council has rejected the idea of an international probe and said it had started its own investigation along with another one by prosecutors.

Meanwhile, an Ethiopian initiative to resume talks apparently failed to make progress in the deadlock.

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A top general in the military council pushed back last week against a key demand from the protest leaders to have the majority in a transitional legislative body. The protest leaders also called for daily nighttime demonstrations and marches on Thursday, saying they feared the military council intended to stay as a dominant power in the transition.

Burhan warned of the possibility of another coup as the country “cannot afford being without a government” more than three months after the military ousted autocratic president Omar Bashir in April.

“We do not want that things [get] out of control. Another coup could be carried out because of the country’s impasse,” he said.

The country’s ruler criticized the sit-in, which was central in Sudan’s uprising because it encouraged the military to step in and remove Bashir.

“The political agenda were visible in the sit-in square. We have seen diplomats, intelligence agencies and suspicious groups. All of them were present in the sit-in,” Burhan said. He did not elaborate.


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