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Sudan opposition agrees to direct talks with military council

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Sudanese man sits with another on the ground in a street while waving a national flag during a demonstration against the country's ruling generals in the capital Khartoum on June 30, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's main opposition alliance has agreed to hold direct talks with the ruling military council after a call from African Union and Ethiopian mediators to resume the stalled negotiations.

"The Alliance for Freedom and Change met and decided to accept the invitation for direct negotiations" with the ruling generals, prominent protest leader Madani Abbas Madani said on Wednesday.

The protest leaders said the talks over a new governing body should last three days.

 “The negotiations should only be about the presidency of the sovereign council and that the time frame for the negotiations should be 72 hours," Madani told reporters.

The group also demanded the release of political detainees.

The ruling military council has yet to respond to the call for the resumption of the talks.

The Sudanese military overthrew 75-year-old president Omar al-Bashir after some four months of widespread protests against him over dire economic conditions and the soaring prices of basic commodities on April 11. Following Bashir’s ouster, the coup leaders established the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC), presumably to run state affairs in the post-Bashir era. But the generals also moved to consolidate power and faced popular protests themselves.

Protesters have kept up demonstrations pressing the military to hand over power to a civilian government.

Talks between the umbrella protest movement and the TMC collapsed in May over the composition of a new governing body and whether it should have a civilian or military majority.

The African Union and Ethiopia have mediated between the two sides after tensions soared following the June 3 crackdown on a protest camp in Khartoum that killed tens of demonstrators.

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