4 June 2019

Sudan's Army Rulers End Talks As Opposition Declares 'Escalation of Revolution'

Photo: Al Jazeera English/YouTube
Security forces in Sudan moved in to break the sit-in outside the army headquarters.

Sudan is lurching closer to a vicious cycle of violence as miltiary rulers and protesters harden their positions. The opposition has vowed to topple the military council after at least 30 protesters were killed.

Sudan's army rulers Tuesday canceled all agreements it had reached with the main opposition coalition and announced elections would be held in nine-months.

The announcement comes a day after the military and militias used deadly force to quash a weeks-long sit-in protest outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum that left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.

"The military council decides to stop negotiating with the Alliance for Freedom and Change and cancel what had been agreed on and to hold general elections within nine months," General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), said in a statement broadcast on state television early on Tuesday.

The violent military crackdown on protesters calling for a quick transition to civilian rule has raised the prospect of the country plunging into civil war and chaos.

Opposition escalates

The Alliance for Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition forces that had been negotiating with the TMC, called on Monday for "an escalation of the revolution" in response to the military crackdown.

The opposition political alliance announced "the beginning of an all-out political strike and civil disobedience, and termination of negotiations with the Coup Council (TMC)" until it is overthrown.

"The coup council is no longer fit to negotiate with regarding the future of the Sudanese people," it said in a statement, calling on the armed forces "to side with the choice of the people in overthrowing the current regime and install a fully civilian government."

The TMC ousted strongman Omar al-Bashir in April following months of protests against his 30-year rule. Since then, the military and security forces have repeatedly shown signs of division and factionalism.

Deadlock and mutual recrimination

Protesters have suspected the military rulers would not hand over power to civilians and simply create a façade that recreated the structures of the old regime.

Negotiations between the Alliance for Freedom and Change and TMC have been deadlocked since mid-May when the two sides agreed to a three-year transition period before elections and the composition of a legislative body.

A major sticking point remained the make-up of the leadership of a sovereign ruling council during the three-year transition, with the military demanding it maintain significant powers.

Burhan said now that talks with the protest leaders have ended the military council would form an interim government to prepare for elections.

He also said an investigation would be launched into the breaking up of the sit-in, which was condemned by the US, UN and other powers.

However, Burhan did not mention the security forces, blaming instead protest leaders for enflaming the situation by "extending the negotiations and seeking to exclude other political and security forces."

The UN Security Council was expected to hold a closed-door session on Sudan on Tuesday.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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