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Sudan Military Rejects Ethiopian Proposal as Security Violently Disperses Protests

Sudan Military Rejects Ethiopian Proposal as Security Violently Disperses Protests

Monday, 24 June, 2019 - 19:30
Sudanese protesters gather by a barricade on a street, demanding that the country's military council hand over power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan June 3, 2019. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Sudan's military rulers refused to agree on Monday to the Ethiopian proposal for a power-sharing agreement with the country's opposition coalition.

Ethiopia has led diplomatic efforts to bring the military and protest leaders back to the negotiating table, after a deadly crackdown by security forces killed at least 128 people across the country earlier this month, according to protest organizers. Sudanese authorities offered a lower toll of 61 deaths.

Protest leaders, represented by the coalition Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, had accepted the Ethiopian initiative the day before.

The Ethiopian blueprint, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, suggests the ruling body be made up of eight civilians and seven members of the military.

The proposal also suggests that the ruling military council chairs the first 18 months of the governing body, and the remaining 18 months would be headed by a representative from the protest movement.

The blueprint further says that a transitional parliament of 300 lawmakers would take 67 percent of its lawmakers from the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

The remaining 33 percent would be from other political groups, excluding ouster President Omar al-Bashir's now defunct National Congress Party.

But on Monday, the powerful deputy head of the military council, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, said the mission of the Ethiopian envoy, Mahmoud Dirir, was to pave the way for resuming talks with the FDFC, "not to offer proposals for solutions."

"The mission of the Ethiopian mediator was limited to prepare the parties for negotiations. We did not agree on shares in the sovereign council. We do not accept prescriptions," he said.

Dagalo, better known as Hemedti , said the ruling military council did not oppose civilian participation in the future sovereign council — or that the FDFC might form the government. He added that the transitional legislative body "should be (formed) through elections."

Sudanese protest leaders said Monday that the Ethiopia-drafted proposal was already "unified" with an African Union plan, dismissing calls by the military for a joint blueprint.

On Sunday, the generals said mediators from the AU and Ethiopia had offered "different" proposals for the political transition, and called for them to unify their efforts.

But the protest movement contested that position on Monday.

"The initiatives (by the AU and Ethiopia) were unified a while ago and were presented (as one) to all parties at the same time," said protest leader Ismail al-Taj at a press conference on Monday.

"The Ethiopian and African envoys met on Sunday with the Alliance for Freedom and Change to discuss this unified initiative," said Taj.

Meanwhile, Sudanese security forces used violence to break up a protest in Khartoum on Monday by dozens of students demanding that the military council hand over power to civilians.

The demonstrators chanted “civilian, civilian” as they gathered in front of the National Ribat University in Burri neighborhood near the ministry of defense, but security forces quickly chased them and beat them with batons, a Reuters witness said.

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