Sudan's protesters accept roadmap for civilian rule

Ethiopia has led diplomatic efforts to bring the protest and military leaders back to the negotiating table.
Sunday 23/06/2019
Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers secure the area as they wait for the arrival of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of RSF, before a meeting in Aprag village June 22, 2019. (Reuters)
Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers secure the area as they wait for the arrival of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of RSF, before a meeting in Aprag village June 22, 2019. (Reuters)

Sudan's protest movement accepted an Ethiopian roadmap for a civilian-led transitional government, a spokesman said on Sunday, after a months-long standoff with the country's military rulers.

Ethiopia has led diplomatic efforts to bring the protest and military leaders back to the negotiating table, after a crackdown against the pro-democracy movement led to a collapse in talks.

According to protest organisers, security forces killed at least 128 people across the country, after they violently dispersed the sit-in demonstration outside the military's headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, earlier this month. Authorities have offered a lower death toll of 61, including three from the security forces.

Yet it appeared that protest leaders, represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, were open to the Ethiopian initiative as a way out of the political impasse.

Ahmed Rabie, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals' Association which is part of the FDFC, told The Associated Press that the proposal included a leadership council with eight civilian and seven military members, with a rotating chairmanship. All the civilians would come from the FDFC, except for one independent and "neutral" appointee, he said.

Rabie said that the roadmap would build on previous agreements with the military. These include a three-year transition period, a protester-appointed Cabinet and a FDFC-majority legislative body.

Rabie added that protest leaders would also discuss with the Ethiopian envoy, Mahmoud Dirir, the possibility of establishing an "independent" Sudanese investigation. Previously, the FDFC had said it would only resume talks with the military if it agreed to the formation of an international commission to investigate the killings of protesters.

The ruling military council has so far rejected the idea of an international probe, and says it has started its own investigation, in parallel with that of the state prosecutor.

The FDCF said Saturday said their approval of the Ethiopian plan "pushes all the parties to bear their responsibilities" to find a peaceful solution.

It urged the military council to accept the plan "in order to move the situation in Sudan" forward.

The military council did not immediately say whether it would also agree to the Ethiopian roadmap. A spokesman for the council did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.

(AP)