KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s opposition alliance said on Thursday the ruling military council’s suspension of talks with protesters for three days was a “regrettable” setback to efforts to forge a new democratic era following the overthrow of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.
The developments followed violence in central Khartoum on Wednesday when at least nine people were wounded by Sudanese troops firing live ammunition to clear demonstrators.
On Monday, at least four people were killed in an outburst of violence after security forces tried to clear some protest sites – the first deaths linked to the upheaval in Khartoum for several weeks.
The head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, accused the demonstrators of breaking an understanding on de-escalation while talks were underway and said protesters were disrupting life in the capital by blocking roads outside a protest zone agreed upon with the military.
In a televised speech, Burhan said the council had decided to suspend talks for 72 hours “until a suitable atmosphere is created to complete an agreement”.
The opposition alliance, known as the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), said in response: “The suspension of negotiations is regrettable…and ignores the reality of the revolutionaries who are increasingly angry as a result of the bloodshed and the souls that we lost.”
It promised to maintain sit-in protests outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum and across the country.
The sit-in, the culmination of months of demonstrations against Bashir’s three-decade rule, was not halted after the army removed him from power on April 11 as the opposition demands that the military hand over power to civilians.
The violence has cast a shadow on talks that had appeared on course to reach a deal on forming a joint military-civilian body to run the country for a three-year transition period until presidential elections.