'Back at square one': Sudan's opposition plans new mass protests

Calls for mass demonstrations after ruling generals rejected Ethiopia’s proposal for a transitional government.

    Sudan’s opposition announced plans for more mass demonstrations after the country’s ruling generals rejected an Ethiopian proposal for a transitional government.

    Ismail al-Tag, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, called on Monday for marches next week to demand the handover of power to civilians.

    “We are calling and preparing for mass demonstrations on June 30 to make sure the military council hears the people’s voice in the streets and the Sudanese people will continue their revolution until it meets their demands and reaches a civilian country,” Tag said.

    The demonstrations are planned to mark the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought former president Omar al-Bashir to power in 1989, toppling Sudan’s last elected government. 

    On Monday, Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council rejected Ethiopia’s plan to end the political deadlock over the composition of a new government, saying Ethiopia needed to unify its proposal with an earlier option offered by the African Union (AU). 

    Ethiopia has led diplomatic efforts to bring the military and protest leaders back to the negotiating table after a deadly crackdown by security forces earlier this month. 

    The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) – a coalition of protest leaders – accepted Ethiopia’s plan on Sunday.

    It reportedly centres on forming a transitional government – a so-called “sovereign council” – comprising seven civilians and seven members of the military, with one additional seat reserved for an impartial individual, according to Reuters news agency.

    Details of the AU proposal are not known.

    Previous agreements scrapped

    On Monday, the powerful deputy head of the military council, General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, said the mission of the Ethiopian envoy, Mahmoud Dirir, was to pave the way for resuming talks with the DFCF, not “to offer proposals for solutions”.

    A day earlier, the military council announced that previous deals reached with protest leaders were invalid, given the changes on the ground in Sudan since talks collapsed in May.

    Al-Tag on Monday accused the council of contradicting itself and said keeping previous agreements in place was “the most important part” of the proposals. 

    Amany el-Taweel, head of the Africa programme at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt, said the military cancelling previous deals was a bad sign for Sudan.

    “We are back at square one because this is not the first time they [the generals] cancel the understandings,” el-Taweel said.

    “I believe they are using time and waiting for the African Union’s initiative, especially after the pressure from the street on them decreased due to the break-up of the military headquarters sit-in.”

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