Sudan: Ruling Military Leaders Call for Elections Within 9 Months

The Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lt. Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan

Sudan's ruling military council says it is canceling its previous agreement with civilian protesters following Monday's attack by security forces on a protest site in Khartoum that left at least 35 people dead.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Transitional Military Council, announced Tuesday in a televised address that a new government will immediately be formed and will rule until elections are held within the next nine months. General Burhan said the elections would be organized under regional and international supervision.

Monday's raid on the protest site outside the Defense Ministry capped a breakdown of relations between the military and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, a coalition of protesters and opposition parties.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the main protest organizing group, accused security forces of carrying out a "massacre" on Monday.

The top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Tibor Nagy, condemned what he called the brutal and coordinated attack and said any future government in Sudan must include the main opposition coalition.

General Burhan said the military will investigate Monday's violence, but he blamed protest leaders for prolonging the crisis by refusing to come to an agreement on an interim government.

The military and protest leaders had agreed in principle to form a transitional government to rule Sudan for next three years before elections. But negotiations over the makeup of the interim body reached an impasse.

The U.N. Security Council will discuss the situation in Sudan Tuesday during a closed-door session at the request of Britain and Germany.

Details of the Raid

Monday’s raid targeted a site outside military headquarters in central Khartoum where protesters had maintained a sit-in since April, demanding the army hand over power to a civilian-led government.

The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir on April 11, after mass protests against his autocratic 30-year rule.

On Monday morning, with batons in hand, Sudanese forces dressed in police and military uniforms surrounded the protesters and began forcing them to leave. Explosions and heavy machine gunfire were heard, and video on several media outlets shows Sudanese forces beating protesters lying face down on the ground.

Protesters say rapid response forces and paramilitary units also surrounded two Khartoum hospitals.

Witnesses say that by mid-afternoon on Monday, the area had been cleared.

Transitional Military Council spokesman Shams El din Al Kabashi said the forces only targeted what he called “dangerous groups” that infiltrated the protesters in the sit-in area.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change issued a statement calling on all demonstrators to continue with “the revolution.” Protesters later blocked roads leading into and out of Khartoum.

The organizers also say in the statement that security forces who killed protesters must be brought to justice.

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