Sudan's leading opposition party rejects strike call

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KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A leading Sudanese opposition party said it has refused a call by protest leaders for a two-day general strike, in a sign of divisions within the pro-democracy movement that is challenging military rule in Sudan.

The opposition Umma Party said Sunday it opposes the "preparations and timing" of the strike. However, it said authorities do not have the right to fire those who take part in the planned strike.

The party's chief Sadek al-Mahdi led the country's last democratically elected government, which the military autocrat Omar al-Bashir ousted with Islamist support in 1989.

The party is a member of the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella group representing protesters and opposition parties in the negotiations with the ruling military council.

The FDFC said the nationwide strike would begin Tuesday. Protest leaders are hoping to force the military, which removed al-Bashir from power in April, to transfer power to a civilian-led authority.

Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, a spokesman for the military council, meanwhile said negotiations with the protest leaders are slow. He warned that "lots of choices" are on the table as military and protest leaders argue over the details of a transition plan.

He was talking to troops in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on Sunday.

Talks between protesters and the army stalled earlier this week after both sides had agreed to a three-year transitional period, a cabinet and a legislative body.

They remain split over the makeup and leadership of the sovereign council that would run the country during the transition.

Protest leaders say they want a civilian leader and "limited military representation," but say the ruling generals have refused to relinquish power over the proposed council.

Also on Sunday Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's military council, arrived in the United Arab Emirates for talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, believed to be the Emirates' day-to-day ruler.

Bin Zayed tweeted that he "affirmed the UAE's support in preserving Sudan's security and stability."

Burhan's visit to the UAE came a day after his meeting in Cairo with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Saturday. Also his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti , visited Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Thursday.

Egypt has voiced its support for the military council, pressing the African Union not to suspend Sudan's activities in the regional block. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $3 billion in aid to shore up Sudan's economy.

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