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14.05.2019 Sudan

Sudan Army Major, Protester Killed As Civil Rule Talks Bridged

By Jay DESHMUKH, Bassem ABOUALABASS
Protest leaders and Sudan's ruling generals have reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country.  By EBRAHIM HAMID (AFP)
MAY 14, 2019 SUDAN
Protest leaders and Sudan's ruling generals have reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country. By EBRAHIM HAMID (AFP)

A Sudanese army major and a protester were shot dead Monday at a Khartoum sit-in, hours after protest leaders and the ruling generals reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country.

The latest developments came as the prosecutor general's office said ousted president Omar al-Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month.

The major was killed and three soldiers were wounded along with several protesters and civilians when "unidentified elements" fired shots at the Khartoum sit-in, the ruling military council said, as crowds of protesters remain camped outside the military complex.

A protester too was killed at the sit-in after he was shot in the chest, a doctors' committee linked to the protest movement said.

The umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change said the violence was to "disturb the breakthrough in the negotiations," blaming the bloodshed on the former regime.

Several people were wounded when shots were fired at a protest sit-in outside the army complex in Khartoum. By EBRAHIM HAMID (AFP) Several people were wounded when shots were fired at a protest sit-in outside the army complex in Khartoum. By EBRAHIM HAMID (AFP)

Monday's violence erupted hours after the generals and the protest movement said a breakthrough had been reached in their talks over handing of power to a civilian administration.

"At today's meeting we agreed on the structure of the authorities and their powers," Taha Osman, a spokesman for the protest movement, told AFP.

"The authorities are as follows -- the sovereign council, the cabinet and the legislative body," he said.

Osman said another meeting would be held on Tuesday "to discuss the period of transition and the composition of the authorities".

Talks to continue Tuesday

The military council confirmed an accord had been reached.

"We agreed on forming the transitional authority on all three levels -- the sovereign, the executive and the legislative," council spokesman Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.

"Tomorrow we will continue to discuss the percentage of participation... and the transitional period."

Protestors blocked Nile Street, a major avenue in Khartoum, to press their demand for a handover to civilian rule. By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP) Protestors blocked Nile Street, a major avenue in Khartoum, to press their demand for a handover to civilian rule. By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)

The generals insist the transitional period should be two years, while protesters want it to be four years.

The crucial talks between the two sides follow a deadlock in negotiations.

The apparent breakthrough came as Sudan's acting prosecutor general Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said Bashir "and others have been charged for inciting and participating in the killing of demonstrators".

The charges form part of an investigation into the death of a medic killed during a protest in the capital's eastern district of Burri, his office said in a statement.

Ninety people were killed in protest-related violence after demonstrations initially erupted in December over a government decision to triple the price of bread, the doctors' committee said last month.

The official death toll is 65.

Protesters have been encamped outside Sudan's army headquarters for more than a month. By Mohamed el-Shahed (AFP/File) Protesters have been encamped outside Sudan's army headquarters for more than a month. By Mohamed el-Shahed (AFP/File)

Mass protests which drove long-time leader Bashir from office on April 11 are still being held outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum, vowing to force the military council to cede power.

Prior to Monday's talks, dozens of protesters blocked Nile Street, a major avenue in the city, for the second consecutive day, an AFP correspondent reported.

Pressing their demand for a handover to civilian rule, protesters also blocked a road leading to the capital's northern district of Bahari.

Three protesters were wounded by "live ammunition" when security personnel tried to dismantle blockades put by demonstrators in parts of the capital, the doctors' committee said in an earlier statement.

"We reject using force against the civilians ... we are calling on the military council to take its responsibility in protecting the peaceful protesters," the Alliance for Freedom and Change said.

'Optimistic atmosphere'

Following a deadlock in negotiations, the protest alliance on Saturday said the army generals had invited the movement for a new round of talks.

The generals in earlier talks had proposed the new council be led by the military, while the protest leaders want a majority civilian body.

Men and women prepare food for the demonstrators just before the time for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP) Men and women prepare food for the demonstrators just before the time for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)

Late last month, the alliance -- which brings together protest organisers, opposition parties and rebel groups -- handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transitional government.

But the generals pointed to what they call "many reservations" over the alliance's roadmap.

They have singled out its silence on the constitutional position of Islamic sharia law, which was the guiding principle of all legislation under Bashir's rule.

Demonstrators converged on the military complex last month seeking the army's help in ousting Bashir.

Days later the army ousted the veteran leader, but a 10-member military council took power and demonstrators have kept up their sit-in against the generals.

Although crowds have dwindled during the day due to the scorching heat, protesters gather in their thousands after breaking the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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