Protest leaders in Sudan disapprove of talks with army, call for two-day strike

The movement called for the establishment of a civilian government to lead a transition to democracy.
Umma party secretary general Al-Wathig al-Berier urged the international community on Friday to pressure the military to reduce the escalation.
JEDDAH: Protest leaders in Sudan have called a two-day nationwide strike starting Sunday amid fresh fears that the country’s fragile transition to democracy could turn into further chaos after last month’s military coup.

The democracy movement rejected proposals to re-share power with the army and demanded the establishment of a new civilian government to lead the democratic transition, while the leader of Sudan’s largest political party accused military leaders of bad bargaining. faith.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan seized power on October 25, dissolved the transitional administration and arrested dozens of government and political officials. The coup sparked an international outcry and massive protests on the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere. It also halted the transition to a democratic government more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of dictator Omar Bashir and his Islamist government.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the uprising against Bashir, said that mediation initiatives that “seek a new agreement” between military and civilian leaders would “reproduce and worsen” the country’s crisis.

The association promised to continue protesting until a full civilian government is established to lead the transition, calling for strikes and civil disobedience on Sunday and Monday under the slogan “No negotiations, no compromise, no sharing of power.”

He proposed a four-year transitional government consisting of a five-member sovereign council with a ceremonial role and a 20-member technocratic cabinet headed by an independent figure. The proposal calls for the formation of a 150-member legislative council within two months and the restructuring of the army and the dismantling of all militias, including the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged an immediate return to a civilian-led government and called for the release of those detained by coup leaders, including government ministers and activist leaders.

Al-Wathig Al-Berier, general secretary of the Umma party, urged the international community to pressure the military to reduce the escalation. Since the coup, the generals have continued to dismantle the transitional government and arrest pro-democracy leaders. The Umma is the largest political party in Sudan and had ministers in the deposed government.

“We really need to prepare the environment and reduce tension so that we can sit at the table,” Al-Berier said.

“But clearly the military faction is continuing with its plan and there are no efforts to show goodwill.”

He said the mediation efforts had yet to produce results and blamed the military for that failure.

He warned of possible bloodshed as the military and the protest movement had increasingly entrenched themselves in their positions, and urged the international community to increase pressure on military leaders to reverse the coup.

“In these initial stages, we expect them to continue with strong pressure. This pressure has to be more than just tweets. This pressure must have mechanisms that can create real pressure on the military component, ”Al-Berier said.

In other developments, the board of deans of the University of Khartoum officially suspended classes indefinitely after security forces stormed the university grounds on October 25, the day of the coup, and beat and insulted students. and teachers. Classes had already stopped since the coup.

Later on Saturday, the Sudanese Professionals Association proposed a transitional government to rule the country for four years that would include a five-member Sovereign Council, with a ceremonial role, and a 20-member technocratic cabinet, headed by an independent figure.

The proposal calls for a 150-member legislative council, to be formed in two months, and the restructuring of the army and the dismantling of all militias, including the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The association said its proposal is open to discussion among other protest movements and non-governmental organizations.

There was no immediate reaction from Sudanese political parties or coup leaders to the proposal.

Protest leaders in Sudan disapprove of talks with army, call for two-day strike