Sudanese protesters gather for a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, May 19 2019. Picture: MOHAMED EL SHAHED/AFP
Sudanese protesters gather for a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, May 19 2019. Picture: MOHAMED EL SHAHED/AFP

Khartoum — A “dispute” over who should lead Sudan’s new governing body was the key sticking point in overnight talks between army rulers and protesters, a protest leader said on Monday. 

The latest negotiations were launched on Sunday evening following international pressure to install a civilian-led administration — a key demand of thousands of demonstrators who have spent weeks camped outside Khartoum’s army headquarters.

Hours of meetings into the early hours of Monday ended without agreement, but the ruling military council announced the talks would resume on Monday evening.

A prominent protest leader who was involved in the Sunday night talks said they had revolved around who would lead the new governing body.

“The dispute over the presidency of the sovereign council and participation between the civilian and military still exists,” said Satea al-Haj, from the umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

The alliance, which led the nationwide campaign that toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April, has been at loggerheads with the military over the make-up of the new body, set to govern Sudan for a three-year transitional period.

“The military council is still insisting that the president of the sovereign council should be from the military,” he said. “They are justifying it by saying the country faces security threats.”

The protest movement insists that the head of the body should be a civilian and that the council should have a majority of civilian members, a demand backed by major world powers, Haj said.

“The international community and the African Union will not accept to deal with a military government,” he said. “The people [of Sudan] also want a civilian government.”

However, he said Sunday night’s talks were “positive” overall, and the ruling military council has said they will resume at 9pm.

Military council spokesperson Lt-Gen Shamseddine Kabbashi said the “structure of the sovereign authority” had been discussed during the night and that a “final deal” would be agreed later on Monday.

Previous rounds of talks have seen the generals and protest leaders agree on key issues including a three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament dominated by MPs from the protesters’ umbrella group.

The new governing council is expected to form a transitional civilian government, which would then prepare for the first post-Bashir election following the three-year transitional period.

AFP