Sudan opposition says military rulers’ suspension of talks is regrettable

Sudanese protestors celebrate after an agreement was reached with the military council to form a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration in Khartoum early

Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) said Wednesday it is suspending talks with the opposition alliance for three days on the transition to civilian rule.

Khartoum has been plagued by protests in recent weeks, despite the opposition's success in ousting long-running dictator Omar al-Bashir from power last month, with locals demanding the military hand full control over to civilian rule.

However, after at least eight people were reported wounded by gunshots near a sit-in outside the army complex in the capital, Sudan's army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced negotiations would be suspended for 72 hours, AFP reported.

"We made a decision 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".

"While they claimed that a third party was the one who did so, eyewitnesses confirmed that the party was in armed forces vehicles and in armed forces uniforms, so the military council must reveal this party".

On Monday, similar clashes left five dead, including an army officer, and more than 200 wounded.

However, the council reportedly pledged it would not use force to disperse the protesters.

"The tragic attacks on protesters. were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks", the USA embassy said in a statement.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change, the group that is leading the protest movement and negotiating the transfer of power with the army rulers, called the move "regrettable".

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.

However, the protests continued, calling for a transition of power to the civilian authorities. "The barriers are there and they are not moving until our demands are met".

The first six months of the transitional period will be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the country's warzones, he added.

On Wednesday the two sides were to finalise the composition of the new sovereign council which has been the toughest part of the negotiations.

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

In a statement Monday, the office of Sudan's prosecutor-general said Bashir and others "have been charged for inciting and participating in the killing of demonstrators".

Protest leaders responded by urging people to join the demonstrators but to avoid clashes.

The British ambassador to Khartoum said Sudanese security forces had fired at protesters.

"Only the ministers of defence and interior are going to be with the military".



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