Final Sudan power transfer talks resume Tuesday

Mediator says talks between Sudanese protesters and ruling generals on remaining power transfer issues are set to resume.


The governing body will include six civilians and five generals


Constitutional Declaration is hoped to bring an end to political uncertainty

KHARTOUM - Talks to resolve remaining issues between Sudanese protesters and ruling generals are set to resume Tuesday, a mediator and protest leader said, as scores demonstrated in Khartoum to demand an impartial probe into a deadly June raid on a sit-in.

The two sides have already signed a power-sharing deal that aims to form a joint civilian-military ruling body which in turn would install civilian rule.

That is the main demand of a nationwide protest movement that led to the April ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir and has since demanded that the military council which took his place cede power to civilians.

The decision to resume talks came as police fired tear gas at protesters angered at the findings of a probe into the June 3 raid on a protest camp outside army headquarters.

African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt said in a statement Sunday that the protest leaders and generals had been invited for "final talks on the Constitutional Declaration".

Prominent protest leader Babiker Faisal also confirmed Tuesday's talks in Khartoum between the two sides, who on July 17 signed the initial power-sharing deal.

The second agreement will cover issues including the powers of the joint civilian-military ruling body, the deployment of security forces and immunity for generals over protest-related violence, Faisal said.

"I expect that we will reach an agreement on the Constitutional Declaration on Tuesday because the pending differences are not big," Faisal said.

Lebatt said a technical committee representing the two sides would meet first on Monday for preliminary talks.

The July 17 "Political Declaration" provides for the establishment of the joint civilian-military transitional ruling body that would install an overall civilian administration.

That governing body will include six civilians and five generals.

It will then oversee the formation of a transitional civilian government and parliament to govern for 39 months, after which elections will be held.

Political uncertainty

Talks were to resume soon after the July 17 deal, but three rebel groups who are part of the protest movement had objected to that agreement.

They argued that it did not address issues related to bringing peace to Sudan's war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Their concerns were addressed in separate talks in Addis Ababa last week between representatives of rebel groups and protest leaders.

The "Constitutional Declaration" is hoped to bring an end to the political uncertainty that has roiled Sudan since Bashir's ouster on April 11.

The crisis peaked following a deadly raid in June on crowds of protesters who had camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum since April 6.

Shortly before dawn on June 3, gunmen in military fatigues raided the site of the weeks-long sit-in, shooting and beating protesters.

Doctors linked to the protest movement say the raid left 127 people dead and scores wounded.

But a joint investigation by prosecutors and the ruling military council that took power following Bashir's ouster found that just 17 people were killed on June 3, with a total of 87 dying between that day and June 10.

The probe identified eight officers involved in the violent crackdown on the protest camp, including a general, a colonel and a captain from the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Impartial probe

The eight officers face charges of crimes against humanity, chief investigator Fatah al-Rahman Saeed told reporters on Saturday.

But protest leaders have rejected the findings, saying the inquiry exonerated the military council and gave a far lower death toll than their own figures.

Saeed's investigation "was commissioned by the military council, this is challenging its integrity as the military council itself is accused in this case," said the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the initial protests against Bashir.

Angry demonstrators have staged rallies against the probe, calling for an independent investigation into the raid.

On Sunday, scores of protesters chanting the months-long protest movement's catchcry of "Freedom, peace, justice!" rallied in Khartoum's eastern Burri district, witnesses said, adding that riot police swiftly dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

The country's ruling generals have insisted they did not order the dispersal of the sit-in.