Sudan talks deadlocked

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Sudan’s main protest group called for a general strike, saying two late night negotiation sessions with the military failed to reach a deal on leading the country after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir.

An alliance of protest and opposition organisations is demanding civilians head a new Sovereign Council meant to oversee a three-year transition to democracy.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) protest group said the army was still insisting on directing the transition and a military majority on the council.

“Civilian power means the structure is fully civilian with a civilian majority in all parts,” the SPA said in a statement. It said members should mobilise for a strike, without giving a date.

The impasse hit hopes of a quick recovery from the political turmoil that ended Bashir’s three-decade rule on April 11.

Britain, the United States and Norway, working together on Sudan, urged all parties to end uncertainty and build consensus, warning against any outcome without a civilian-led government.

“This will complicate international engagement and make it harder for our countries to work with the new authorities and support Sudan’s economic development,” they said in a statement.

Bashir, the former Islamist general under whose rule Sudan was placed on a US list of sponsors of terrorism, was ousted by the army after months of protests against soaring prices, cash shortages and other economic hardships.

The army set up a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to rule and promised to hand over after elections.

PROTEST PRESSURE

Wary of neighbouring Egypt where the head of the army eventually became president after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Sudanese protesters want guarantees of civilian control.

Protesters pushed for justice over the deaths of dozens of demonstrators since December and for a crackdown on corruption.

Bashir and some aides have been arrested with guards blocking the arrest of Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah Gosh, the former intelligence chief, earlier this week.

Mohamed Ibrahim El Tayeb, a 60-year-old pharmacist in Khartoum, said people were determined to learn from Sudan’s history, when previous uprisings were “stolen” by the military.

A delay to negotiations would allow allies of the former Bashir government to regroup, so strikes and other protests were necessary, he said. “This card of civil disobedience is one of ours to ensure our revolution reaches a successful end.”

There have been sporadic work stoppages with some bankers and telecoms employees taking to the streets in Khartoum calling for civilian rule.

Medical staff have been on strike since December 19 when protests began against Bashir, wanted by international prosecutors for alleged war crimes in the western Darfur region.

The army acknowledged the make-up of the sovereign council remained the main point of contention, but did not detail on its position.

“Aware of our historical responsibility, we will work towards reaching an urgent agreement that meets the aspirations of the Sudanese people and the goals of the glorious December revolution,” said a statement signed by the TMC.



It gave no date for talks to resume.