June 30 protests expected to be first mass demonstration since deadly crackdown by security forces early this month.
Sudan‘s ruling military council has said a proposal submitted by the African Union (AU) and Ethiopia received on June 27 is suitable for the resumption of talks with the opposition on a transition to democracy.
The generals of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition coalition have been wrangling for weeks over what form Sudan’s transitional government should take after the military deposed long-time president Omar al-Bashir on April 11.
Mediators led by the AU and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have since been trying to broker a return to direct talks between the two sides.
On Thursday, they presented a joint proposal to both sides after the TMC rejected a previous Ethiopian proposal and called for mediation efforts to be unified.
‘A suitable proposal’
A draft of the AU-Ethiopia proposal suggested few changes from a previous Ethiopian plan that a coalition of protesters has endorsed, Reuters news agency reported.
“A number of points have emerged around it, but in general it is a suitable proposal for negotiations to reach a final agreement leading to the establishment of the institutions of a transitional rule,” TMC spokesman Lieutenant General Shams al-Din Kabashi said on Friday.
He said the TMC was ready to resume “immediate, serious and honest” negotiations.
The joint proposal provides for a sovereign council that would oversee the transition, made up of seven civilians and seven members of the military with one additional seat reserved for an independent member. The balance of membership of the council had been the sticking point during weeks of talks after al-Bashir’s removal.
However, the make-up of a legislative council would only be decided after the agreement was signed. In previous drafts, the Freedom and Change opposition alliance was to make up two-thirds of that council.
Meanwhile, a Canadian firm has signed a $6m deal with the Sudanese military council to help lobby foreign governments on behalf of the TMC.
A lobbying contract signed in May 2019 between the Montreal-based Dickens & Madson Inc. and Sudan’s military council says the company will help lobby the governments of the United States, Saudi Arabia, the Russian Federation and others for “the beneficial development of your political aims”.
“We shall use our best efforts to ensure favourable international as well as Sudanese media coverage for you and we shall further undertake to obtain financing for you from the United States, the Russian Federation and other countries,” the document said.
“We shall also strive to obtain funding and equipment for the Sudanese military.”
The document was signed by Rapid Support Forces’s (RSF) commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti, and Ari Ben-Menashe, the company’s president and a former Israeli intelligence officer and arms dealer.
It also said the company would “strive to arrange a public meeting between The Honorable President Trump and yourselves [the TMC]”.
Hemeti’s lawyers – Here’s the signature page of the TMC in Sudan’s lobbying contract with Canadian law firm Dickens & Mason to help the military government build relations with Russia and US – it’s signed by none other than Hemeti himself. Full doc here https://t.co/Ws7NoVHquT pic.twitter.com/MUOcEsoukp
— Tom Wilson (@thomas_m_wilson) June 27, 2019
Activists who led months of protests against al-Bashir have called for a million-strong march on Sunday to try to revive street pressure on the military council and call for it to cede power to civilians.
In a statement on Friday, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo demanded that military rulers guarantee the safety of protesters ahead of the planned mass rallies and following a deadly military crackdown in early June that left 120 people dead, according to a doctors group linked to the protest movement.
“The horrific unprovoked use of lethal and unnecessary force against peaceful protesters as witnessed on 3 June must not be repeated this Sunday, or ever again,” said Naidoo.
Al-Bashir ruled Sudan for nearly 30 years before he was unseated following a deepening economic crisis and 16 weeks of street protests.