Sudanese opposition calls for protests against quota system
The Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) - an umbrella opposition group consisting of protest and union leaders, political parties and rebel groups that has been in extended negotiations with the military since April - urged protesters to take to the streets on Thursday in the capital Khartoum and beyond.
Activists have called on the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), one of the main constituent groups of the AFC, to adhere to the Declaration for Freedom and Change.
The declaration, signed by the coalition of groups that makes up the AFC, was released on 1 January this year, and has been a rallying cry for protesters since then.
The document called for an end to former President Omar al-Bashir's regime and the formation of a transitional government led by technocrats.
A government led by technocrats, rather than one with seats granted to various groups by quota, remains the goal of the AFC, the group announced on Wednesday.
The umbrella group said that it was still "committed" to the Declaration for Freedom of Change and that Thursday's protests would stand for the message of the declaration and against party quotas.
The document also calls for an end to war in Sudan by "addressing the root causes" of conflicts in the country and discrimination and violence against women, as well as the prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations and the creation of independent institutions subject to the rule of law.
Mohammad Naji al-Assam, a leading figure in the AFC, denied that the AFC had come to an agreement with the Sudan Revolutionary Front over a quota.
It had been reported that the AFC had agreed to grant the Front, a coalition of rebel groups fighting in the conflict zones of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, two seats in the sovereign transitional council. The group had reportedly asked for 35 percent of the seats on the council.
Assam countered that no quotas had been discussed during negotiations in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Such a quota would "contradict" the Alliance's "commitment" to the Sudanese people, he said.
The Umma and Sudanese Congress parties on Tuesday rejected party quotas and expressed support for a technocratic government.
"We call to reject any form of party quotas that divert the revolution from its trajectory and turn it into a race on the chairs," said the Sudanese Congress Party in a statement, according to The Sudan Tribune.
Negotiations with the ruling military junta in Khartoum over the second half of a power-sharing deal broke down last week as amid discord between the rebel groups and other members of the AFC.
The rebels objected to the "unacceptable" deal, saying it did not reference bringing peace to Sudan’s conflict zones or addressing the needs of those affected by war.
While leading members of the AFC travelled to Addis Ababa to meet with the exiled rebel leaders, the various opposition strands are yet to come to a lasting agreement, and reservations over the military's commandeering role remain.
Several civilians and members of the Sudanese military, including Chief of Staff Hashim Abd al-Mutalib, were on Wednesday arrested.
They are accused of plotting a coup against the ruling military junta, reportedly the fourth of its kind since the armed forces overthrew Bashir more than three months ago, sources in Khartoum told The New Arab's Arabic service.
Other arrests include former ministers in Bashir’s government, Commander of the Armoured Corps Nasr al-Deen Nasr al-Deen Abd al-Fatih, and Commander of the Central Region Bahr Ahmad Bahr.