Sudan protesters delay signing deal with army for second time

CAIRO (AP) – Sudan’s pro-democracy movement postponed a scheduled meeting with the country’s ruling generals for a second time last Sunday, saying “further consultations” were needed before they would sign a power-sharing deal with the military. Activists leaders said the meeting was pushed back to today.

Activists also said paramilitary forces had opened fire on demonstrators in a southeastern town, killing at least one protester and wounding seven others.

The military and the pro-democracy coalition had agreed earlier this month on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organised. Members of the military council and the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC), which represents the protesters, were supposed to meet last Sunday night to finalise and sign the agreement.

The signing was expected to take place last week, but several delays were announced, raising suspicions that a final comprehensive deal could not be reached soon.

“We are still debating within the FDFC over the constitutional document. We need to draft out notes in legal form before the meeting,” Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests, told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the military council did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The deal, which also includes an FDFC-appointed Cabinet, was meant to end a weeks-long political deadlock between the military and protesters since a Khartoum protest sit-in was razed by security forces last month. The sides also agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into the deadly crackdown, though it is unclear if anyone will be held accountable. Protest organisers said security forces killed at least 128 people during the dispersal and subsequent crackdown. Authorities, however, put the death toll at 61, including three security force members.

The Sudanese Communist party, which is part of the protest movement, said last Saturday it rejected the power-sharing agreement because it does not include an international investigation into the crackdown and keeps paramilitary forces in existence.

Sudanese protesters take part in a demonstration in the capital Khartoum’s northern district of Bahri, to mourn dozens of demonstrators killed last month in a brutal raid during a Khartoum sit-in. – AFP