Thu, 22 Aug 2019

What issues are at stake in next Sudan talks?

News24
20 Jul 2019, 17:41 GMT+10

Just days after protest leaders and Sudan's ruling generals agreed a power sharing deal, key issues remain after talks were postponed Friday.

The two sides inked an accord Wednesday to form a joint ruling body tasked with creating a transitional civilian administration that would govern for just over three years - a key demand of protesters.

They were due to convene again Friday to thrash out details of a "Constitutional Declaration" crucial to a successful transition, but the negotiations have been suspended.

"We need more internal consultation to reach a united vision," prominent protest leader Omar al-Digeir told AFP, hinting at the tough issues still to be tackled.

Immunity for generals?

Doctors linked to the protest movement say that 246 people have been killed since the nationwide uprising erupted on December 19, including 127 people on June 3 alone when armed men raided a weeks-long protest camp in Khartoum.

The committee said another 1 353 people have been wounded since the protests broke out, initially against now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir and later against the generals who seized power.

The authorities have given lower casualty figures.

The generals insist the five military figures who will be part of the new joint governing body be granted "absolute immunity" from prosecution over the violence.

The demand is expected to be the most heated issue in the next round of talks.

"This kind of immunity represents a big problem... it contradicts even international laws as international laws don't offer immunity for war crimes or for violations of human rights," said leading Sudanese political analyst Faisal Mohamed Salih.

Protest leaders have rejected this demand outright, and suggested "temporary immunity" that would be valid as long as the member is in service.

"If the Transitional Military Council remains stubborn then it will be a rock in the road of an agreement as all members of the protest movement refuse absolute immunity," Salih said, referring to the ruling generals.

TMC spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi told AFP Wednesday that there was "no dispute about immunity", without elaborating.

Transitional parliament?

The protest leaders and generals agreed during initial talks in May to set up a 300-member transitional parliament, 67 percent of which would come from the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

But the generals have called for a review of the agreed seat allotments.

"This issue can be solved by ensuring that the 67% of lawmakers are widely distributed across all members of the protest movement, including rebel groups, NGOs and other movements," said Salih.

Future of paramilitaries?

Protesters and rights groups accuse Sudan's feared Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group of carrying out the brutal raid on a protest camp on June 3 that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also the deputy chief of the military council, has dismissed the accusations as an attempt to distort the image of his troops.

Protesters have increasingly called for a withdrawal of the RSF from the capital's streets, and Salih said this could be another focus in Friday's talks.

"The RSF is a tribal militia and represents a threat to a democratic state," he said.

Protesters say that in signing Wednesday's power sharing deal, their leaders offered concessions to the generals, making the next round of talks even more sensitive.

"They can't offer more, and if they do then they will lose the support from the street," said Salih.

"And if both sides hold on to their stances, talks will collapse."

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