Sudanese protest leaders meet with military for renewed talks

Sudan protest leaders meet with transitional military council for renewed negotiations
3 min read
25 April, 2019
The umbrella group representing the demands of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese protesters has agreed to begin negotiations with the country's governing transitional military council once more.
The protest leaders had previously canceled negotiations with the transitional military council [Anadolu]

Sudan's leading protest organisers late on Wednesday accepted an invitation from the country's governing transitional military council to renew negotiations.

"We are partners working together to bring Sudan to safety," transitional military spokesman Shams al-Deen Kabbashi said on state TV following the meeting.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), an umbrella body representing the demands of protesters, had cancelled discussions with the council last week as tensions rose over whether the military was willing to hand over power to a civilian body.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military council, said on Sunday that the council would hand over power immediately if "all political forces" could agree to a civilian government.

The council, he said, had received "more than 100 visions" from various political factions for the future the county, including that of the protest organisers. This has widely been seen as an attempt to discredit the protesters role in Sudan's political future. Burhan said the military would respond to proposals within a week.

After the AFC suspended negotiations with the transitional military council, the military ordered the protesters to dismantle barricades set up around a mass sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum earlier this month.

In response, leading protest organisers the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) refused and called on protesters to remain at the sit-in.

The SPA on Tuesday said security forces had attempted once more to break up the sit-in. It encouraged protesters to erect more roadblocks and continue in their efforts.

The transitional military council had extended an invitation to renew discussions earlier on Wednesday, saying that "the doors of dialogue and negotiation are open".

The AFC later responded in a statement published by the SPA, which is a main constituent of the AFC: "The AFC decided to respond to the invitation and listen with an open mind to what the president of the military council will propose, asserting that our desire is the peaceful transfer to a transitional civilian authority that reflects the forces of the revolution.”

The group has not yet made a statement on the content of Wednesday night's new discussions.

The AFC's earlier decision to suspend negotiations with the transitional military council delayed plans to announce the members of its own civilian council.

The umbrella group is now expected to unveil the council on Thursday, on which the SPA has called for a "million-strong march".

Some protesters have speculated that the delay signals infighting between members of the AFC, who come from various walks of life and do not share a unified political ideology.

The AFC has also experienced criticism for its handling of negotiations with the military council. While most protesters agree that the military should hand over power to a civilian body, some have worried that the AFC has been naive and non-pragmatic in its approach so far.

Protesters are nonetheless united in worries that negotiations with the military will lead to little more than promises of a civilian-led transition, rather than the actual involvement of the voices who led Sudanese protesters in four months of demonstrations against Bashir.

Sudan's military seized power in a coup earlier this month, ending three decades of former president Omar al-Bashir's rule and promising to transition to a civilian government in two years time, after months of mass protests against Bashir's regime.