Sudan talks starting within 48 hours


Negotiators from Sudan’s ruling military council and main opposition coalition made progress on discussions for the transition from military rule and are set to hold direct talks within 48 hours, an opposition leader said.

The on-off talks on how to run the country after the overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir halted on Tuesday after the killing of six people at a rally, at least four of who were children.

On Wednesday, Khalid Omar from the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition, said lower-level technical committees isolated key points of contention in a constitutional declaration to set the path from military rule to a new sovereign council.

Main delegations will meet for further discussions within 48 hours, Omar told Reuters, without giving details.

African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt urged the military council and the FFC to sign the declaration.

He called for a speedy trial for those responsible for shooting the children.

They were killed when security forces broke up a student protest in El-Obeid, south-west of Khartoum, opposition-linked doctors said. The teenagers were rallying against fuel and bread shortages, residents said.

Teaction to the killings remains raw. Hundreds rallied in El-Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, shouting, “Blood for blood! We won’t accept blood money!” – a chant used for months during protests that brought down Bashir and since.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a key part of the FFC, strongly condemned the incident and called for mass nationwide protests. The SPA spearheaded the protest movement that led to Bashir’s overthrow.

The head of the military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said the El-Obeid incident was “regrettable” and called for a speedy resumption of talks.

The Sudanese Communist Party, an FFC member, opposes negotiating with the military.

“We will not participate in ongoing negotiations and will not participate in any levels of power and we will fight with the masses,” Mohamed Mokhtar al-Khatib, secretary general of the Sudanese Communist Party, said.

Khatib called for Bashir and others to be sent for international criminal trial.

Bashir is facing charges in Sudan, including corruption and illegally possessing foreign funds. The first hearing was postponed to mid-August, a member of his defence team said. He did not attend the hearing.

Bashir’s mother died on Monday and he was allowed to attend her burial.