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What issues are at stake in next Sudan talks?

Friday July 19 2019

Sudan power sharing deal

Sudanese deputy chief of the ruling military council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (right) and protest movement Alliance for Freedom and Change leader Ahmad al-Rabiah stand after signing the Political Declaration agreement before African Union and Ethiopian mediators in Khartoum on July 17, 2019. PHOTO | HAITHAM EL-TABEI | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Khartoum,

Just days after protest leaders and Sudan's ruling generals agreed a power sharing deal, they are set to meet again on Friday for talks on key remaining issues.

The two sides inked an accord Wednesday to form a joint ruling body tasked with creating a transitional civilian administration that would govern for just over three years -- a key demand of protesters.

They will convene again Friday to thrash out details of a "Constitutional Declaration" crucial to a successful transition.

More than 200 protesters have been killed since the nationwide uprising erupted on December 19, initially against now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir and later against the generals who seized power.

IMMUNITY

The generals insist the five military figures who will be part of the new joint governing body be granted "absolute immunity" for violence against protesters during their rule.

The demand is expected to be the most heated issue in Friday's talks.

"This kind of immunity represents a big problem... it contradicts even international laws as international laws don't offer immunity for war crimes or for violations of human rights," said leading Sudanese political analyst Faisal Mohamed Salih.

Protest leaders have rejected this demand outright, and suggested a "temporary immunity" be offered that would be valid as long as the member is in service.

"If the Transitional Military Council remains stubborn then it will be a rock in the road of an agreement as all members of the protest movement refuse absolute immunity," Salih said, referring to the ruling generals.

TMC spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi told AFP Wednesday that there was "no dispute about immunity", but did not elaborate.

REVIEW

The protest leaders and generals agreed during initial talks in May to set up a 300-member transitional parliament, 67 percent of which would come from the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

But the generals have called for a review of the agreed seat allotments.

"This issue can be solved by ensuring that the 67 percent of lawmakers are widely distributed across all members of the protest movement, including rebel groups, NGOs and other movements," said Salih.

Protesters and rights groups accuse Sudan's feared Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group of carrying out a brutal raid on a protest camp on June 3 that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also the deputy chief of the ruling military council, has dismissed the accusations as an attempt to distort the image of his troops.

Protesters have increasingly called for a withdrawal of the RSF from the capital's streets, and Salih said this could be another focus in Friday's talks.

"The RSF is a tribal militia and represents a threat to a democratic state," he said.

Protesters say that in signing Wednesday's power sharing deal, their leaders offered concessions to the generals, making Friday's talks even more sensitive.

"They can't offer more, and if they do then they will lose the support from the street," said Salih.

"And if both sides hold on to their stances, talks will collapse."