|Date: Jul 5, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Sudanese celebrate as protesters reach deal with generals|
|Agence France Presse|
KHARTOUM: Crowds of jubilant Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum Friday, chanting "civilian rule" after protest leaders struck a deal with the ruling generals on a new governing body.
Chants of "the martyrs' blood has not been shed in vain" reverberated around the same streets where more than six months of protests culminated in the landmark roadmap for a new political future after the toppling of veteran president Omar al-Bashir in a palace coup in April.
The deal, reached in the early hours of Friday after two days of hard-won talks brokered by Ethiopian and African Union mediators, provides for the interim governing body to have a rotating presidency, as a compromise between the positions of the generals and the protesters.
The blueprint proposes that a general hold the presidency for the first 18 months of a three-year transition, with a civilian taking over for the rest.
The issue had led to weeks of deadlock, which was marred by a brutal raid on a longstanding protest camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum that killed dozens of demonstrators and wounded hundreds on June 3.
"Today we can say that our revolution has embarked on the right path in achieving our goals," said north Khartoum resident Somaiya Hassan.
"I think we will be able to change the horrible situation of our people," she said, as fellow residents flashed victory signs and waved national flags.
As the crowds celebrated, there was no visible security force presence on the streets.
The feared paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces, who have been widely blamed for last month's violence, appeared to be confined to base.
The convoys of pickups mounted with heavy machine guns, that had become a routine sight in the capital, were nowhere to be seen.
Crowds beat tin cans and plastic water bottles as they marched along the capital's main avenues chanting revolutionary slogans.
Men, women and children stood in their vehicles as they joined convoys of vehicles honking horns and chanting: "Civilian rule, civilian rule."
"Now we can congratulate each other," said Mohamed Hussein, who had taken his children out in his car to watch.
"We passed through a difficult phase. Often we felt our revolution had been hijacked, but today we can celebrate our victory."
Sudan talks enter day two, key issue drags
Agence France Presse
KHARTOUM / DUBAI: Talks between Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders, held after weeks of standoff following a deadly crackdown on protesters, enter a second day Thursday with the key issue of a new governing body still unresolved. Sudan has been rocked by a political crisis since the army ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April on the back of widespread protests, with the ruling generals resisting demonstrators’ demands to hand power to a civilian administration.
The generals had previously agreed over a broad civilian structure, but talks between the two sides collapsed in May following a disagreement over who should lead an overall new governing body - a civilian or a soldier.
Tensions further surged between the generals and protest leaders after a deadly pre-dawn raid on a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum on June 3 killed dozens of demonstrators and wounded hundreds.
Talks finally resumed Wednesday after intense mediation by Ethiopian and African Union envoys, who have put forward a draft proposal to break the deadlock.
The two sides were slated to meet again late Thursday night.
“The discussion will be about who heads the sovereign council,” a prominent protest leader who is part of the talks, Ahmad al-Rabie, told AFP, referring to the governing body.
He said the ruling military council that took power after Bashir’s ouster insists the head of the new governing body be from the army.
“We believe that symbolically the head of the state must be a civilian,” Rabie said.
Wednesday, the first day of the latest round of talks, the two sides did not discuss the crucial issue of the governing body.
“The parties conducted responsible negotiations and agreed on some issues,” African Union mediator Mohammad al-Hacen Lebatt told reporters overnight after long hours of talks held at a hotel in the capital.
“There’s a decision taken to release all political detainees.”
A group of 235 fighters from a faction of a Darfur rebel group that is part of the protest movement were released later Thursday.
They were freed from Al-Huda prison in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum across the Nile River, an AFP correspondent reported, adding that many relatives had arrived to receive the fighters.
Separately, the Middle East’s largest carrier, Emirates Airline, said it has decided to resume flights to Sudan from July 8 after a one-month suspension in the face of the deadly unrest. “After closely monitoring the situation in Sudan and conducting an exhaustive review of all operational factors, we have decided to resume our services to Khartoum,” Emirates said in a statement.
The carrier suspended its services to Sudan in early June along with fellow UAE carriers Etihad and Flydubai. Emirates will run one daily flight to Sudan.
Meanwhile, hundreds of students from several schools in the agricultural towns of Madani, Gadaref and Sinnar took to the streets Thursday, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule,” witnesses said, the main demand of demonstrators protesting against the ruling generals.
“Students from the high school stepped out of their campus and marched toward downtown, chanting ‘civilian rule, civilian rule,’” a teacher from the school in the central town of Madani told AFP.
The students were also chanting “Blood for blood, we don’t want compensation,” a catchcry of the protest movement calling for those guilty of killing demonstrators to face justice.
Similar marches were also staged in Sinnar and Gadaref towns Thursday, witnesses said.
“No education in this horrible situation,” chanted students in Gadaref, marching on the main street of the town, a resident from the town, said.