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Sunday, 25 August 2019

Sudan's military cancels deal with protest groups, calls for elections within 9 months

Reuters , Tuesday 4 Jun 2019
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
File Photo: Head of Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan
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Sudan's ruling military council said on Tuesday it would cancel all agreements with the main opposition coalition and called for elections within nine months following Monday's violent events.
Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that the coalition was equally responsible for the delay in coming to an agreement.
Burhan said that elections would be held within nine months.
A doctors committee close to the protest movement in Sudan reported that 35 people had been killed and more than 100 injured during violence as security forces evacuated a sit-in camp outside the Ministry of Defence in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday morning.
Sudan's public prosecutor has set up a committee to investigate violence at the main protest site outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Khartoum, state news agency SUNA said on late Monday.
The representatives of the protest movement, the Alliance of Freedom and Change (AFC), and the TMC had been negotiating over the issue of civilian-military representation in power during the interim phase following the army's ouster of president Omar Al-Bashir amid mass protests against his 30-year-old rule.
The Transitional Military Council (TMC) had offered to let protesters form a government but insisted on maintaining overall authority during an interim period. Demonstrators want civilians to run the transitional period and lead Sudan's 40 million people to democracy.
When talks between a coalition of protesters and opposition parties have ground to a halt amid deep differences over who will lead a transition to democracy that both sides had agreed will last for three years, protests increased.
Thousands of young men and women have been taking turns to camp outside the Ministry of Defence, a focal point of anti-government protests that started in December.
In a televised address in the early hours of Tuesday morning, TMC leader Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said that the opposition coalition was equally responsible for the delay in coming to a final agreement.
The TMC had decided to cancel all agreements with the protest groups and call for elections within nine months, which he said will be organized under regional and international supervision.
“Gaining legitimacy and a mandate does not come but through the ballot box,” Burhan said.
He also announced that a government would immediately be formed to run the country until elections are held.
Sudan’s opposition rejected the military authorities decision, a prominent opposition figure said.
“We reject all that was stated in (Transitional Military Council Head Abdel Fattah) al-Burhan’s statement,” said Madani Abbas Madani, a leading figure in the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces opposition alliance.
Madani said an open-ended civil disobedience campaign would continue to force the military council from power.
On Monday, The doctors committee reported a "large number of critical casualties and urged the Sudanese people to aid the injured, also called for "urgent support" from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations.
The military council’s spokesman, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, said the raid targeted criminals and that the protesters were safe.
“The protest camp has not been dispersed,” Kabbashi said. “The security forces were trying to disperse unruly (elements) in the Colombia area, near the protest site, and some of these elements fled to the protest site and caused this chaos.”'
The council was still committed to a political settlement and was ready to resume talks on a civilian transition soon, Kabbashi added.
Burhan said he regretted the violence that accompanied what he described as “an operation to clean the Nile Street” and said that the violence will be investigated.
The United States, Britain, African Union, United Nations and the European Union expressed deep concern about the situation and called for restraint and the end of violence. 
* The Story was edited by Ahram Online
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