Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Arab League sends delegation to Sudan to renew talks

Delegates will focus on procedures that should be adopted for transitional period

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) delivers an address in Khartoum, Sudan, May 18, 2019. Reuters
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) delivers an address in Khartoum, Sudan, May 18, 2019. Reuters

The Arab League sent a delegation to Sudan on Wednesday in a bid to resume dialogue between the conflicting Sudanese parties.

"The visit comes in light of the AL's efforts to reach an agreement on arrangements for handing over power to a civilian authority in Sudan," said a spokesman for the Arab League, Mahmoud Afifi.

The League's delegates will focus on the procedures that should be adopted for running a transitional period, Mr Afifi said.

The Transitional Military Council is running Sudan's affairs after it removed former president Omar Al Bashir in April.

On Tuesday, African Union and Ethiopian mediators invited Sudan's ruling generals and protest leaders to resume talks the following day on creating a new governing body for the country.

Tension remains high between the two sides after a deadly June 3 crackdown on a protest camp that killed dozens and wounded hundreds in Khartoum.

"We have invited the two parties for a meeting tomorrow, and we have fixed for them a time and place," said African Union envoy Mohamed Lebatt, alongside Ethiopian delegate Mahmoud Dirir.

He did not reveal the time and venue for the talks.

"It is not appropriate for political and security reasons to disclose the time and venue, but this invitation has been sent to both parties," Mr Lebatt said.

It was still unclear whether the two groups had agreed to talk, but the opposition alliance said on Wednesday it was prepared for direct talks with the military rulers.

"The Alliance for Freedom and Change met and decided to accept the invitation for direct negotiations," prominent protest leader Madani Madani said.

One of the conditions for the talks was to reach a decision "within 72 hours", Mr Madani said.

Negotiations collapsed in May over the make-up of the governing body and whether a civilian or a soldier should lead it.

The mediators say they have come up with a compromise to resolve the crisis that has rocked Sudan for months.

The opposition has been demanding the military give up power since the removal of Mr Al Bashir.

The group has also asked that political prisoners be released.

Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and other areas on Sunday, vowing to complete the revolution they launched in December.

Nearly a dozen people were killed in clashes as security forces prevented the demonstrators from reaching the military headquarters and the Nile-side presidential palace.

The marches provided a powerful show of unity but internal divides among the protesters threaten to undermine their struggle.

Protests first erupted at the end of last year in response to price rises but rapidly escalated into near-daily marches calling for an end to the almost 30-year rule of Mr Al Bashir.

The military largely refused his orders to fire on the protesters at the time, and removed him from power on April 11, after police forces killed about 100 people.

The former president, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and other war crimes committed during the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s, now languishes in a Khartoum prison where his forces once jailed and tortured his opponents.

Updated: July 4, 2019 02:14 AM

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