KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military rulers and an opposition alliance met on Monday to discuss the powers of a joint military-civilian council to steer the country’s transition after three decades of rule by Omar Al-Bashir, sources said.
The two sides had been due to talk about the makeup of the proposed body, but military officers who toppled Bashir on April 11 focused the discussions instead on the future council’s functions and powers, sources said.
A further meeting between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, an umbrella group representing opposition groups and activists, will be held to discuss the council’s composition, they added.
The makeup of the proposed council is key because activists who organized 16 weeks of protests leading to Bashir’s ouster have insisted that the body be civilian led. The TMC has not indicated that it is willing to cede ultimate authority.
The joint council would be the sovereign body overseeing a technocrat government and a legislative council.
On Sunday, protest leaders held talks with the military council after the army condemned an attack on an Islamist party close to Bashir.
Dozens of protesters on Saturday surrounded a building where the Popular Congress Party was holding a meeting.
The state-run SUNA news agency quoted party leader Idriss Suliman as saying that protesters attacked the party members as they left the building, wounding at least 64 people. The party was established in the late 1990s by Hassan Al-Turabi, the Sudanese leader who played a key role in the 1989 coup that brought Bashir to power. It is a symbol of the lingering power of Bashir’s regime, which was built on a close alliance between the military and Islamists.
The deputy head of the military council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — commonly known by his nickname Hemedti — accused the demonstrators of trying to set the building on fire. Security forces intervened to separate the two groups, he added, to avoid “a disaster.”
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded four months of overwhelmingly peaceful protests, condemned the violence.
The military has said it is open to “proportional” civilian representation in its council and the granting of executive powers to civilians. It has said it is consulting with all political factions except for National the Congress Party on the way forward.
Amjad Fareed, an SPA spokesman, said late Saturday the talks have focused on “the nature of the council, whether it is going to be a civilian council with some military representation or just military like the military council insists on. And how long is the transition process.”
Two activists within the SPA said both sides have reached an “initial deal” to share power in the transitional council. They said Sunday’s talks would focus on apportioning representation between the two sides. Both activists spoke on condition of anonymity as the talks are ongoing.