Sudan protesters pile pressure on military as deal appears closer

Sudan protesters pile pressure on military as deal appears closer

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese protesters took to the streets on Thursday, piling pressure the country’s military rulers to reach a deal with opposition leaders on forming a new government after the ousting of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.

Opposition leaders said earlier they had resolved major sticking points in talks with the military, bringing them closer to a deal.

The protesters were demanding justice following the killing of six people, at least four of whom were children, at a rally in El-Obeid, southwest of the capital Khartoum, on Monday.

Sudan has been gripped by months of political turmoil that climaxed in the army overthrowing Bashir in April. The opposition has kept up protests, pressing the army to hand over to civilians.

Despite signing a deal in July which secured a three-year transition period and a joint sovereign council with a rotating leadership, talks over the wording of a constitutional declaration on the changes have stumbled.

“The agreement is really now just around the corner,” Satea al-Hajj, a leader in the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition of opposition groups, said in a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday.

Negotiations were set to restart later on Thursday, the spokesman for the military council said.

The opposition had demanded that members of the sovereign council should not be granted blanket immunity from prosecution for past crimes, but FFC leaders said on Thursday they had agreed that they could be granted only ‘procedural immunity’ – meaning top officials could be tried with the permission of two-thirds of the legislative council.

The opposition leaders said both sides also agreed another key point, reaffirming that the parties included in the FFC would have 67% of the legislative council while the rest will be granted to other opposition and political groups.

Sudan’s ruling military council did not immediately confirm the details of the agreements.