Sudanese Protesters Spurn General's Call for Talks

A military vehicle drives past the gates of Royal Care Hospital, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 4, 2019.

Protest leaders in Sudan have rejected a proposal to negotiate with military generals, maintaining the call is insincere as security forces continue to target protesters in a violent crackdown that has killed at least 100 people this week.

Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) spokesman Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa said Wednesday the call by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan "is not serious," and "those under him have killed the Sudanese and are still doing it."

The association, which is part of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), an alliance representing the protesters, will instead continue its pro-democracy campaign to force the military to hand over power to a civilian authority, al-Mustafa said.

Burhan, head of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), said earlier Wednesday military leaders were ready to resume talks with protest leaders with "no restrictions."

He also said those responsible for the deadly breakup of the eight-week-old sit-in outside the Defense Ministry in central Khartoum would be held accountable.

His remarks Wednesday contrasted sharply with those he made in a televised address Tuesday, when he said the council was halting negotiations and canceling its previous agreement to form an interim government with the FFC.

Burhan also said a new government would immediately be formed and would rule until elections are held within the next nine months.

The SPA quickly rejected that plan.

Protest organizers said the death toll in the military crackdown climbed to 100 on Wednesday, deepening the impasse over Sudan's future. The Sudan Doctors' Committee said the death toll climbed after at least 40 bodies were pulled Tuesday from the Nile River in Khartoum. The committee said the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces took them to an unknown location.

Protest groups and opposition parties have been demanding that the TMC, which took power after the army overthrew longtime president Omar al-Bashir on April 11, hand power to a civilian-led authority.

Talks on the proposed interim government broke down over which side would have ultimate decision-making authority.

Violence erupted in Sudan last December, when anger over rising bread prices and cash shortages evolved into sustained protests against Bashir before he was ousted after three decades in power.

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