Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

Sudan protests: several killed in violence after transitional authority deal

The US Embassy in Khartoum blamed the ruling transitional military council for the violence

At least five people, including an army major, have been killed in clashes in Sudan’s capital Khartoum just hours after the ruling military reported that there had been progress in negotiations with protest leaders.

The shootings on Monday night took place at a sit-in protest outside the military's headquarters, where demonstrators are demanding that the generals cede power to a civilian government. Dozens were also injured.

The US Embassy in Khartoum blamed the ruling transitional military council for the violence.

The military strongly suggested on Tuesday that the protest leaders, representing an umbrella called the Declaration of the Forces of Freedom and Change, must take some of the blame for the violence after they called on followers to escalate protests.

They said that "infiltrators" were behind the shooting of the army major and the injuring of 12 soldiers in circumstances that are yet to be clarified.

The military became stepped in to rule the country after removing longtime president Omar Al Bashir on April 11, but the protesters insist that civilians should lead and make up the overwhelming majority of the transitional government.

The two sides have for weeks been engaged in on-off negotiations over the structure and powers of an interim government.

Talks broke down acrimoniously last week, with each side accusing the other of not negotiating in good faith. They resumed again on Monday and the two sides later declared they had come to an agreement, but now needed to agree on the make-up of the administration and the length of the transitional period.

Military leaders have insisted that they should have the ultimate power and that the transitional period should be no more than two years. The protesters maintain that civilians should take the lead and the transitional period should be four years – long enough to draft a new constitution and election law, as well as negotiate a peaceful end to rebellions that have displaced millions of people in the country.

Protesters have accused the military of seeking to violently dislodge the sit-in protest, which capped four months of street protests against Mr Al Bashir’s 29-year rule.

The US embassy in Khartoum said that the violence left at least six dead and around 100 others injured. It said the attack was “clearly the result of the transitional military council trying to impose its will on the protesters”.

Addressing a hurriedly arranged press conference in the small hours of Tuesday, the military denied that soldiers were behind the shootings.

Lt Gen Hashem Abdul-Mutaleb, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said there had been a huge escalation and "clear provocation of the armed forces". The comments were in reference to roadblocks that protesters installed around the sit-in site and elsewhere in Khartoum which have prevented the flow of goods around the country.

Updated: May 15, 2019 10:50 AM

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