Sudan's army, protesters strike some deals in negotiations

Sudan's army, protesters strike some deals in negotiations

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KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan's ruling generals and opposition leaders behind the protests that drove President Omar al-Bashir from power last month said Wednesday they have made significant progress in negotiations and have agreed on the length of the country's transition period.

The two sides, which have been at odds over the transfer of power to civilian rule and the extent of the military's role in it, said the transition would last three years.

The military ousted al-Bashir on April 11, after nearly four months of mass protests against his 30-year rule.

But the demonstrators remained on the streets, demanding the military hand over power to civilian rule and have since been holding negotiations with the military council.

Activists said clashes flared up Wednesday between protesters and forces from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces who attempted to remove barricades in a main street in Khartoum.

The Sudanese Professionals Association said the RFS used batons and whips to disperse protesters. It said at least nine people were wounded.

The Sudan Doctors Committee, which is part of SPA, said Wednesday night that at least 14 people, all of them young people, were wounded in the clashes, including seven from gunshots.

Ahmed Rabie, a spokesman for the SPA, told AP that talks were suspended late Wednesday by the military council. He said the council has called for the removal of barricades and opening of the roads in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

The agreement announced Wednesday marks a significant step toward resolving the standoff between the military and the protesters and could help the Sudanese return to some sort of normalcy.

In a joint press conference Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council, said the two sides agreed to a three-year transition period. The priority for the first six months will be to get the various armed rebel groups across the country to agree to peace talks, he said.

The protesters are represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition groups led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, a union umbrella that has spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir since December.

Al-Atta said the two sides also agreed on the makeup of a 300-member, all-civilian transitional legislative body. He said two thirds of this interim parliament will be made up of representatives of the protesters while the remaining third will be made up of parties that were not part of al-Bashir's regime.

What's now left on the negotiating table is the makeup of the sovereign council, a deal al-Atta said he hoped would be reached by the next day.

"Within less than 24 hours, there will be a complete deal, and the Sudanese people will celebrate of achieving the goals of their peaceful revolution," he said.

The negotiations were disrupted by clashes with protesters on Monday that killed at least five people, including an army officer, and wounded more than 200. The violence erupted when some security forces, apparently loyal to al-Bashir, attacked the protesters' sit-ins overnight, including the one in Khartoum outside the military headquarters.

Madani Abbas, a negotiator for the protesters, said the military council would investigate the attacks.

For his part, al-Bashir remains jailed in Khartoum and was charged this week with involvement in the killing of protesters and incitement to kill protesters during the uprising against his rule.

The military has said it would not extradite him to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has charged him with war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.


Magdy reported from Cairo.

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