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Sudan Opposition Member to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Agreed with Military on Security Council

Sudan Opposition Member to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Agreed with Military on Security Council

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 - 07:15
Sudanese demonstrators make victory signs and wave Sudanese flags as they protest in front of the Defense Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 17, 2019.
Khartoum – Aidroos Abdulaziz and Mohammed Amin Yassine
Member of the Sudanese opposition Freedom and Change Forces Siddiq Youssef expressed his satisfaction with the results of the negotiations with the ruling transitional military council.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two sides agreed to form a security council that would be chaired by head of the sovereign council.

“The talks have come a long way,” he added, describing them as a “major breakthrough.”

The Freedom and Change Forces and military council agreed on Wednesday on transition period for the country that would last three years. Military council member Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta said Freedom and Change Forces will have two-thirds of the seats on a transitional legislative council and parties that are not part of the alliance will take the rest.

Youssef, who represents the Communist Party, revealed that the new authority will draft a law that outlines the jurisdiction and duties of the security council. He added that the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, interior, justice and finance will be among its members.

The talks over the past two days focused on the sovereign council, and legislative and executive authorities, he went on to say. The sovereign council will act as a monitor and will not enjoy legislative or executive powers.

It will have sovereign duties and represent the state. It will receive foreign ambassadors and sign agreements and laws, he explained.

He added that the military council focused on security affairs during the negotiations, citing the many problems confronted by Sudan, such as sleeper cells from the remnants of the National Congress party and its militias. The council also cited issues related to the war and therefore, stressed that its forces must play a major role in addressing them.

Youssef confirmed that the opposition’s proposal to form a national defense council was ruled out, “but an initial deal was reached to form a security council that would be affiliated with the government. The head of the council would be the chair of the sovereign council and it would be comprised of ministers and civilians.”

The military council is seeking an officer to chair the sovereign council, said Youssef, adding that no agreement has been reached yet over this issue. The African Union, European Union and international community refuse to have a military figure assume this role, he noted.

Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about the role the military council will play during the transition period, he replied: “There will not be a military council. They will be represented in the sovereign council and government through the defense minister. The interior minister will likely be appointed from the police corps.”

“The majority of the sovereign council members will be civilians.”

Addressing the formation of a new government, Youssef revealed that the cabinet will be completely comprised of Freedom and Change Forces members.

“No agreement has been reached yet over the legislative council,” he remarked.

The Freedom and Change Forces will determine who will join the legislative council, he added. It will be formed by the revolution forces and others that did not sign the declaration of freedom and change.

Asked to comment about the unrest at the opposition sit-in on Monday, Youssef said: “There are many interpretations to the development. Some say it was sparked by a counter-revolution after we reached an agreement with the military council. Another possibility is that they have decided to disperse the sit-in.”

“We do not know who carried out the attack,” he revealed.

On military council charges that the Freedom and Change Forces had escalated the situation at the sit-in, Youssef commented: “Yes, we escalated the peaceful movement.”

Asked if a fifth column had come into the picture, he responded: “It is difficult to verify all who come to the sit-in location. The youths do, however, carry out strict searches to prevent any infiltration. We cannot detect sleeper cells. Not everyone at the sit-in is loyal to the Freedom and Change Forces and everyone has the right to join the protest.”

He added, however, that Monday’s unrest demonstrated that the military council was incapable of controlling the security situation.

Regardless of the challenges, “we are confident of victory and we will not back down until we achieve it,” he declared. “We are armed with political strikes and civil disobedience that we have not carried out yet.”

At least four people died and dozens were injured during protests on Monday.

Gunfire rang out in the capital into the night on Monday 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.

The protesters, who want to keep pressure on the military for a swift handover, were back on Tuesday, blocking roads and bridges with bricks and rocks, images on social media showed.

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