Sudan opposition decries suspension of talks

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Sudan’s opposition alliance said the ruling military council’s 72-hour suspension of talks was a “regrettable” setback to efforts to forge a new democratic era following the overthrow of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir.

Describing protesters as “increasingly angry”, the alliance issued its condemnation after some of the worst violence in weeks in central Khartoum.

On Wednesday at least nine people were wounded by troops firing live ammunition to clear demonstrators. On Monday, at least four people were killed when security forces tried to clear protest sites – the first deaths linked to the Khartoum upheaval in several weeks.

In a televised speech, the head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the council decided to suspend talks for 72 hours “until a suitable atmosphere is created to complete an agreement”.

Burhan said protesters were disrupting life in the capital by blocking roads outside an agreed protest zone.

Protesters sought to expand their presence beyond a sit-in outside the defence ministry that remains the centre of opposition demonstrations.

On Thursday, Reuters witnessed protesters near Khartoum University manning a road block on Nile Street outside the zone.

The opposition alliance, known as the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), said that the military council’s suspension of talks ignored demonstrators’ feelings.

“The suspension of negotiations is regrettable and ignores the reality of revolutionaries who are increasingly angry as a result of the bloodshed and the souls lost,” the alliance said in a statement.

MONTHS OF DEMONSTRATIONS

It promised to maintain sit-in protests outside the Defence Ministry and across the country.

The sit-in, the culmination of months of demonstrations, was not halted after the army removed Bashir from power on April 11.

The violence cast a shadow on talks that had appeared on course to reach a deal in forming a joint military-civilian body to run the country for a three-year transition period until presidential elections.

Protester, Rayan al-Hadi (25) said she would follow instructions of protest leaders if they decided barriers should be taken down. She was personally in favour of keeping them up on Nile Street.

“When we closed the street, we had a vision for escalation and we don’t want to relinquish it,” Hadi said.

“The people are divided, for and against removing barriers.”