Sudan military and opposition move closer in transition talks

Reuters , Thursday 1 Aug 2019

File Photo: Deputy Head of Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and opposition alliance signed coalition's leader Ahmad al-Rabiah shake hands after signing a political accord as part of a power-sharing deal aimed at leading the country to democracy following three decades of autocratic rule in Khartoum, Sudan July 17, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)

Opposition leaders said on Thursday they had resolved major sticking points in talks with Sudan's military rulers, bringing them closer to a deal on forming a new transitional government after the ousting of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan has been gripped by months of political turmoil and street protests that climaxed in the army overthrowing Bashir in April. Opposition groups kept up their demonstrations, demanding the army hand over to civilians.

Despite signing a deal in July which secured a three-year transition period and a joint sovereign council with a rotating leadership, talks over the wording of a constitutional declaration on the changes have stumbled.

"The agreement is really now just around the corner," Satea al-Hajj, a leader in the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition of opposition groups, said in a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday.

Negotiations were set to restart later on Thursday, the spokesman for the military council said.

The opposition had demanded that members of the sovereign council should not be granted blanket immunity from prosecution for past crimes, but FFC leaders said on Thursday they had agreed that they could be granted only 'procedural immunity' - meaning top officials could be tried with the permission of two-thirds of the legislative council.

Bouts of violence

The opposition leaders said both sides also agreed another key point, reaffirming that the parties included in the FFC would have 67% of the legislative council while the rest will be granted to other opposition and political groups.

Sudan's ruling military council did not immediately confirm the details of the agreements.

Sporadic bouts of violence have delayed negotiations in the past, and the Sudanese Professionals Association, the main protest group and a leading voice in the FFC, called for mass demonstrations on Thursday in response to this week's killings.

A senior Sudanese army commander said a security force assigned to guard a bank was responsible for killing children protesting in El-Obeid, southwest of Khartoum, on Monday, the official SUNA news agency reported on Thursday. The bank guards were a government security force.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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