Sudan’s military junta suspends talks with protesters


Sudan's opposition alliance blamed military rulers on Tuesday for renewed street violence complicating efforts to negotiate a handover to civilian power after last month's ouster of President Omar al-Bashir.

In a televised speech, the head of Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the council had chose to suspend talks for 72 hours "until a suitable atmosphere is created to complete an agreement".

"We chose to suspend the negotiations over civil rule for 72 hours to help prepare an atmosphere for completing the deal", Burhan said on Thursday, demanding that protesters dismantle roadblocks in Khartoum, open bridges connecting the capital and other regions and "stop provoking security forces".

The talks began on Monday and achieved major breakthroughs, but have also been marred by fresh violence that left five protesters and a major dead and many more wounded from gunshots.

"Extremely concerned by use of live ammunition by Sudanese security forces against protesters in Khartoum today, with reports of civilian casualties", Irfan Siddiq wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

"We are still sticking to our plan", said Altaj Blah, a protester in central Khartoum.

Gunfire rang out in the capital into the night after paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) - whose head is deputy of the military council - had patrolled the streets using tear gas and guns to disrupt demonstrations.

Another protester, Rayan al-Hadi, 25, said she would follow the instructions of protest leaders if they decided that barriers should be taken down.

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The key negotiations however remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which the generals have insisted to be military led while the protest leaders want it to be majority civilian.

As a reminder, the military had originally wanted a four-year transition period while protest leaders had sought two years.

They had also agreed that parliament be composed of 300 members for the transition, with 67 percent from the alliance and the rest drawn from other political groups.

General Yasser Al Atta, one of the members of the current ruling military council, had vowed earlier this week to reach a deal by Thursday that "meets the people's aspirations".

Monday's fatalities were the first in protests for several weeks after months of demonstrations led to Bashir's fall.

Six people, including a security personnel, were killed in running battles between soldiers and protesters in Khartoum as the negotiations over the composition of a proposed power structure for the transition entered their third week.

That civilian government would work towards having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period.

"We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday because it's their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens", Mohamed Naji al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters.