Negotiations between Sudan’s military, protest leaders postponed

Talks over power-sharing arrangement postponed as rebel groups in opposition movement brand deal ‘unacceptable’.

Sudanese protesters shout slogans and wave flags during a rally honouring fallen protesters at the Green Square in Khartoum, Sudan July 18, 2019
Sudan has been gripped by political deadlock since the toppling of former President Omar al-Bashir in April [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Sudan’s alliance of opposition groups has postponded negotiations with the country’s military rulers after members of their movement expressed reservations over a power-sharing deal inked with the generals earlier this week.

The deal is aimed at breaking the political deadlock that has gripped the country since the toppling of former President Omar al-Bashir in April.

After a long period of stalled negotiations, the two sides signed an accord on Wednesday to establish a joint military-civilian sovereign council that will rule the country by rotation for just over three years, after which elections will be held.

But talks scheduled for Friday aimed at finalising the power-sharing deal were put on hold, opposition figures said.

“We need more internal consultation to reach a united vision,” opposition leader Omar al-Digeir told the AFP news agency, adding that no new date had been set for negotiations to resume.

Fellow protest leaders Siddig Youssef and Taha Osman also confirmed to AFP the talks had been suspended.

The trio said three rebel groups that are part of Sudan’s umbrella protest movement, the Forces of Freedom and Change, had reservations over the so-called “Political Declaration” struck with the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC).


The rebel groups had been fighting government forces for years in the regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

“I’m going to Addis Ababa to meet the Sudan Revolutionary Front to get their opinion,” Digeir said, referring to the three groups which are currently based in Ethiopia’s capital.

“They are not happy with” the agreement signed with army leaders, Youssef said.

The three groups have said Wednesday’s deal was “unacceptable” to them, insisting it did not talk of bringing peace to Sudan’s warzones or addressing the needs of those affected by the conflicts.

“Unfortunately, some parties chose not to pay any attention to those issues and went ahead without consulting with their colleagues,” Gibril Ibrahim, head of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, told reporters in Addis Ababa.

Sudan’s government fought a decades-long war in mostly Christian and animist South Sudan until its secession in 2011.

When conflict broke out in the western Darfur province in 2003, al-Bashir mobilised Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, who carried out a wave of atrocities against ethnic African groups there.

The International Criminal Court later indicted al-Bashir on charges of genocide, the only time it has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state. Another war has been under way since 2011 in the provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Issue of immunity

Other groups within the pro-democracy coalition had rejected the deal arguing that it came with too many concessions to the generals.

The TMC demanded “absolute immunity” from prosecution for the military figures who will be part of the new joint governing body. 

The protest movement has strongly rejected blanket immunity amid growing concerns over the effectiveness of an independent investigation with the military still in charge. Protest leaders suggested a “temporary immunity” be offered that would be valid as long as the member is in service.

The issue mainly refers to the deadly raid carried out on June 3 against the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, the focal point of protesters’ months-long struggle for civilian rule.

Witnesses say the crackdown against the demonstrators was led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group. RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also deputy head of the TMC, has dismissed the accusation as an attempt to distort the image of his troops.

Doctors linked to the opposition said at least 128 people were killed in the raid and ensuing violence, with dozens of bodies recovered from the Nile River. Authorities confirmed 61 deaths.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies