Sudan military council ready to negotiate

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The head of Sudan’s ruling military council said it was ready to meet an opposition alliance to negotiate the country’s transition towards democracy, after talks collapsed following the deadly dispersal of a protest sit-in.

“We are ready to continue negotiations with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces,” Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said. “We do not deny its role in the uprising or in the popular revolution, their leadership of the masses.”

Talks between the military council and the DFCF alliance stalled before collapsing when security forces stormed a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry on June 3, killing dozens.

They were wrangling for weeks over who would control a sovereign council to lead Sudan to elections: civilians or the military.

Burhan said the alliance should return to talks without preconditions.

“The solution must be satisfactory for all Sudanese people,” he said. “We pledge to you and to the people we will not accept any solution that excludes any faction of the Sudanese people.”

The opposition called for an international inquiry into the sit-in dispersal before they would rejoin talks.

There have been no direct talks since the dispersal. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union are trying to mediate.

Burhan renewed the military’s denial of its involvement in the dispersal.

“We all know we pledged to the Sudanese people we would not disperse that place and that is a promise we made and we did not lie,” he said.

The military council said dispersal of the protest camp came about when a campaign against criminals using an area next to the sit-in strayed from its course.

“The committee concluded a number of officers were responsible for clearing the protest site,” a military investigative committee said in a statement read on state TV, adding the officers were not part of the force assigned to deal with criminals.

The statement gave no details on the fate of the officers, but a military council spokesman said some were in custody.

State television said tribal leaders, known as the National Administration, gave the military council a mandate to form a technocratic government.

Addressing the largely toothless body at the presidential palace, the deputy head of the military council said it was ready to form a technocratic government, a remark suggesting the council may seek to navigate the transition alone.