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Sudanese threaten general strike in standoff with military

May 1, 2019
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A protester holds a placard at a sit-in at the Armed Forces Square, in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Sudan’s ruling military council on Tuesday warned protesters against any further “chaos” as organizers called for mass rallies later this week. (AP Photos/Salih Basheer)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — The organizers of Sudan’s protests on Tuesday threatened a general strike and civil disobedience as tensions escalated with the military council that assumed power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.

The Sudanese Professionals Association and its allies, which organized the four months of demonstrations that drove al-Bashir from office on April 11, accuse the generals of clinging to power.

The two sides have been negotiating the formation of a new transitional government but are divided over the role of the military, which is dominated by al-Bashir appointees.

The protesters have proposed a joint military-civilian sovereign council, comprised of eight civilian and seven military members. The military council proposed a 10-member council with three seats for civilians.

Forces of the Declaration for Freedom and Change, a coalition of groups led by the SPA, said they have submitted their full proposal for the sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body that would rule the country during a four-year transition.

The organizers have called for mass rallies on Thursday, while the military has warned against any further “chaos.” The generals have demanded the protesters clear roadblocks around their sit-in outside the military’s headquarters in the capital, Khartoum.

The protesters began massing outside the military complex on April 6, demanding that the military back their struggle to oust al-Bashir. Five days later, the generals removed him from office, ending his three-decade rule and later jailing him and other top officials.

The African Union initially echoed the protesters’ calls for a swift transition to civilian rule, giving the military 15 days to hand over power in line with the regional bloc’s policy of “zero tolerance” for military coups.

But late Tuesday, the African Union gave the military an extension of 60 days to hand over power, noting with “deep regret” that the generals had missed the earlier deadline.

“This final extension is granted to enable the putting in place of a civilian-led Transitional Authority,” the AU said.

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