Sudanese protesters delay naming of civilian government

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – The organisers of the protests that drove Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir from power said yesterday they would delay their announcement of a transitional civilian government after having resumed talks with the ruling military council.

The protesters suspended talks with the military over last weekend, saying its chief negotiator was too close to al-Bashir, and had vowed to name a civilian council at a mass rally soon.

But tensions appear to have eased. The two sides met on Wednesday, and later that evening the council announced the resignation of Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abdin, who had been leading the talks with the protesters, and two other officials.

“The atmosphere of Wednesday’s meeting was very positive and I expect that we will conclude the matter very soon,” said Ahmed Rabie, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the four months of protests that drove al-Bashir from power.

The protesters fear that the military, which is dominated by al-Bashir appointees and includes veteran members of the movement that engineered his 1989 coup, will cling to power or appoint another general in his place.

Sudanese protesters rally in the capital Khartoum. – AP

The military has said it is committed to handing over power to a civilian government within two years, and that it is in talks with all political factions.

Late on Wednesday, the military announced the resignation of Zain al-Abdin, as well as Lieutenant General Jalal el-Din el-Sheikh, Deputy Head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Services, and General el-Tayeb Babiker, the county’s Police Chief.

The military jailed al-Bashir and other top officials in the days after his April 11 ouster, and has sacked top judges and prosecutors appointed by the longtime autocrat.

The protesters have meanwhile remained in the streets, maintaining a mass sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

Rabie said the SPA and allied groups would delay their announcement of a transitional civilian council and instead focus on forming different committees to lead talks with the military.

“The sit-in will continue until an agreement is reached with the military and a sovereign council is announced,” he told The Associated Press, adding that the protesters are willing to accept a transitional civilian council with a “limited” military representation.