Opposition leader: Ethiopia, AU join forces in Sudan efforts
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A leading Sudanese opposition figure said on Wednesday the African Union and Ethiopia will present a new and joint proposal for a solution to the crisis in Sudan, as they renew efforts to bring the ruling generals and protest leaders back to the negotiating table.
In recent weeks, Ethiopia and the AU have been mediating between the military council and the pro-democracy movement demanding civilian rule. Talks collapsed when Sudanese security forces cleared a protest camp in the capital, Khartoum, earlier this month. The deadly clampdown killed at least 128 people cross the county, according to protest organizers.
Protest leaders, represented by the coalition Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, said over the weekend they had accepted the Ethiopian proposal for a power-sharing agreement.
The military council, however, refused to agree, saying that the initiative was to pave the way for resuming talks with the FDFC, “not to offer proposals for solutions.”
It asked Ethiopia to present a joint proposal with the AU, which it said had handed the military a separate transition plan.
The leading opposition figure Sadek al-Mahdi told reporters that Ethiopia and the AU were now planning a joint proposal to be presented later on Wednesday.
A former prime minister, Al-Mahdi’s Umma Party is the country’s largest political party, and part of the FDFC coalition.
The proposal would tackle the main points behind the current impasse, he said. These include the setup of a temporary legislative body. The FDFC has asked for a majority of seats.
“Some have complained that the 67 percent (of seats) for the FDFC means excluding us,” al-Mahdi said. “The mediation will review the shares.”
In earlier rounds of talks, the military council and the protest leaders had agreed on an interim legislative body, with 67 percent of seats for the FDFC, which would have a veto over the appointment of the remaining seats. They also had agreed on a protester-appointed Cabinet.
The two sides had not reached agreement on the extent of the military’s role in the planned sovereign council, which would lead the country during the three-year transition period, when security forces launched the deadly clampdown on June 3.
After the dispersal of the sit-in, the military council cancelled all previous deals. It also threatened to form an interim government without consulting protest leaders.
It remains to be seen whether the African-led mediation will restore the previous deals, a condition for talks with the military that protest leaders have insisted on.
Al-Mahdi also criticized the protesters over calls for mass demonstrations next week to pressure the military council to hand over power.
The demonstrations are planned to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamist-backed coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power in 1989 — and toppled Sudan’s last elected government which was led by al-Mahdi.