KHARTOUM: A Sudanese protester raises a sign of victory outside the army headquarters on May 9, 2019. - AFP

army rulers and protesters are to resume talks over handing power to a civilian
administration, protest leaders said yesterday, a month after veteran president
Omar al-Bashir was deposed. The Alliance for Freedom and Change - an umbrella
for the protest movement - said the generals had invited it for a new round of
talks after several days of deadlock.

The apparent
invitation to fresh talks came as thousands of protesters remain camped outside
army headquarters in central Khartoum, vowing to force the ruling military
council to cede power - just as they forced Bashir from office exactly a month
ago. "We received a call from the military council to resume negotiations,"
the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.

Late last month,
the alliance, which brings together protest organizers, opposition parties and
rebel groups, handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transitional
government. But the generals have 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 but is anathema to
secular groups like the Sudanese Communist Party and some rebel factions in the

"We want to
hold the talks quickly and sort out all these points in 72 hours," the
alliance said without specifying when the negotiations would resume. Protesters
remain determined to achieve their goal. "We want civilian rule or we will
stay here forever," said Iman Hussein, a regular at the sit-in outside the
army complex which protesters have kept up since April 6.

Winner 'will be

initially gathered at the army complex to seek the generals' help in ending
Bashir's three decades of iron-fisted rule. On April 11, the army toppled
Bashir in a palace coup replacing him with a military council formed entirely
of generals that has so far stymied protesters' dreams of a civilian-led
transition to democracy. A deepening economic crisis that fuelled the four
months of nationwide protests which led to Bashir's ouster shows no sign of

Huge queues form
daily at ATM machines. Basic goods have become ever more costly, due to the
sliding value of the Sudanese pound. The generals insist they will not use
force to disperse the sit-in, which protesters have kept up even during daytime
fasts for the holy month of Ramadan. The generals have offered several
concessions to placate the protesters, including detaining Bashir in Khartoum's
Kober prison, arresting several of his lieutenants and promising to prosecute
officers who killed protesters during the last days of the former president's

But when it comes
to the protesters' key demand for a civilian authority to oversee a four-year
transition, the military has simply dragged its heels. "They are
pressuring us with time, but we are pressuring them with our presence
here," said protester Hussein. "One of us has to win in the end, and
it will be us."


The protest
movement says the military appears intent on hijacking the revolution and
determining its outcome. Protest leader Khalid Omar Yousef told reporters on
Wednesday that the movement was now considering "escalatory measures"
like launching a nationwide civil disobedience movement to achieve its demand.
The generals are under pressure too, with the United States and the African
Union calling on them to ensure a smooth transition of power.

In a telephone
call with military council chairman General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, US Deputy
Secretary of State John Sullivan backed "the Sudanese people's aspirations
for a free, democratic and prosperous future". The State Department said
Sullivan encouraged Burhan to reach agreement with the Alliance for Freedom and
Change and "move expeditiously toward a civilian-led interim
government", during a phone call on Wednesday.

But the generals
have strong support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,
which have extended a $3 billion credit line to shore up the Sudanese pound and
fund imports of basic goods. Some members of the protest movement are
optimistic that the generals will ultimately cede power. "Because they
know if ultimately they settle for a military dictatorship, they will be in the
same position as Bashir," opposition leader Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the prime
minister Bashir overthrew in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, told AFP earlier
this month. - AFP