Sudan protesters plan general strike as talks falter

Call for strike comes as protesters and military fail to reach a deal on who will lead Sudan's three-year transition.

    Sudanese protesters gather for a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry compound in Khartoum [File: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP]
    Sudanese protesters gather for a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry compound in Khartoum [File: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP]

    Sudan's main protest group called on Tuesday for a general strike after talks with the country's military rulers stalled on who will lead an agreed three-year transition.

    Protesters are demanding civilians head a new sovereign council which is meant to oversee a transition towards democracy. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) said the army was still insisting on directing the transition and keeping a military majority on the council.

    "Civilian power means that the structure is fully civilian with a civilian majority in all its parts," the SPA said in a statement.

    "In order to achieve a full victory, we are calling for a huge participation in a general political strike," it said, without giving a date.

    The impasse has hit hopes of a quick recovery from the political turmoil that climaxed at the end of former President Omar al-Bashir's nearly three-decade rule on April 11.

    The military removed the former general after months of anti-al-Bashir protests, which first erupted in December over soaring prices, cash shortages and other economic hardships.

    It set up a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to rule the country and promised to hand over power after elections.

    The TMC has faced pressure from Western governments and the African Union to agree to a civilian-led transition - a key demand of the thousands of demonstrators who have spent weeks camped outside the Defence Ministry compound in Khartoum.

    The council and protest leaders had reached an agreement on the other main aspects of the transition, including a three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament, with two-thirds of legislators to come from the protesters' umbrella group.

    The two sides launched what had been billed as a final round of talks on the transition late on Sunday.

    The TMC acknowledged early on Tuesday that the make-up of the sovereign council remained the main point of contention, but did not go into details on its position.

    "Aware of our historical responsibility, we will work toward 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 when talks would resume.

    SOURCE: News agencies