Middle East

Sudan protesters don’t want political parties in government

CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of Sudanese on Thursday took to the streets in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country to insist that an upcoming transitional government be made up of experts and technocrats, rather than political parties.

There was no immediate response to such demands by Sudanese political parties but the opposition Congress party posted videos for the protests in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman.

In the video from Omdurman, protesters are seen demanding accountability for those implicated in the crackdown against the protesters since the uprising against long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir began in December.

Over 250 people were killed in the uprising, according to protest organizers.

The military overthrew al-Bashir in April, but the protesters remained in the streets, calling for a swift transition to civilian rule. In early June, security forces dispersed their main sit-in, killing at least 128 people, according to the organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three members of the security forces.

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters, said in a statement Thursday their marches reject any party allocations in the Cabinet during the transitional period.

Earlier this month, the military council and the pro-democracy movement reached a power-sharing agreement, including a timetable for a transition to civilian rule.

The deal would establish a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized. A military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18.

The pro-democracy movement would appoint a Cabinet, and the two sides would agree on a legislative body within three months of the start of the transition. Last week, they signed a political declaration that outlines the deal, but have yet to sign the second, final part of the agreement — the so-called constitutional agreement — which is meant to specify the division of powers during the transitional period.

The deal marks a significant concession by the protesters, who had demanded an immediate transition to civilian rule. Rebel groups within the protest movement had rejected the deal, arguing it fails to meet their demands for peace.

Protest leaders engaged in intensive talks for over a week in Ethiopia’s capital with the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Sudanese rebel groups that are also part of the movement. The Revolutionary Front includes rebel groups from Darfur as well as Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.

On Wednesday, they said at a press conference that they have agreed to reconcile their differences and that the transitional government should be responsible for implementing the peace deal.


People take part in a protest condemning a deadly crackdown last month in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, July 18, 2019. Thousands of Sudanese have joined protests as tensions remain high despite recent progress toward a power-sharing deal with the ruling military council. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Hjaj)

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