Sudan military says talks with protest leaders to resume Sunday
KHARTOUM - Sudan's army rulers announced talks will resume with protest leaders Sunday, four days after the generals suspended negotiations on implementing civilian rule in the country.
"The Transitional Military Council announces the resumption of negotiations with the Alliance for Freedom and Change on Sunday at the presidential palace," the ruling army council said in a Saturday statement.
World powers have urged the generals to resume meetings on Sudan's future leadership, following the ouster last month of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir after mass protest.
Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and European powers "called for an immediate resumption of talks", said Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa.
They called on both sides to "reach an agreement ASAP on an interim government that is truly civilian-led and reflects the will of the Sudanese people," Nagy tweeted Friday.
The generals and protest leaders had been expected to come to an agreement on Wednesday on the thorniest issue -- the make-up of a new body to govern Sudan for three years.
But that meeting never took place and on Thursday the head of the military council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, confirmed talks were suspended for 72 hours.
Demonstrators subsequently spent hours meeting Burhan's demand to dismantle roadblocks which had paralysed parts of the capital.
The generals have allowed protesters to hold onto their sit-in outside Khartoum's army headquarters, where they remain camped out to demand a rapid transition to democracy.
Sudanese Islamist movements said they would rally Saturday against the protesters' roadmap for seeking civilian rule that makes no mention of Islamic sharia law in the country.
"The main reason for the mobilisation is that the alliance is ignoring the application of sharia in its deal" with the army rulers for installing a civilian administration, said Al-Tayieb Mustafa, who heads a coalition of about 20 Islamic groups.
"This is irresponsible and if that deal is done, it is going to open the door of hell for Sudan," Mustafa said.
The Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella for the protest movement, last month handed the army rulers its proposals for a civilian-led transitional government - but the negotiations with the military have so far sidelined the Islamists.
But the generals expressed reservations over the alliance's roadmap, singling out its silence on the constitutional position of Islamic sharia law, which was the guiding principle of all legislation under Bashir's rule.
The protest movement says the issue of sharia was "irrelevant" at this stage and can be discussed later as installing a civilian administration was their main demand.
"The military council should not consider the Alliance for Freedom and Change as representative of" the Sudanese people, said Mustafa.
He accused the alliance of having "stolen the revolution in broad daylight" and said the demonstration was aimed at denouncing "the new civilian dictatorship".
Hardline cleric Mohamed al-Jazuli said Saturday's rally would take place outside the presidential palace in downtown Khartoum after the iftar meal that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast of Ramadan.