Sudan risks counter coup without deal on transition – opposition leader

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Sudan could face a counter coup if military rulers and the opposition do not reach agreement on a transition of power, leading opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi on Thursday said.

Mahdi said he believed Sudan’s military council would hand over power to civilians if the current stalemate were broken.

He also said he would consider running for president only in an election, not during the transition period.

“I think their intentions are good,” he said of the army generals, who toppled President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on April 11,

Bashir ruled the country for three decades after he himself seized power in a coup, and then formed the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

“They are not interested in a military government.”

Mahdi, Sudan’s last elected prime minister, was toppled by Bashir in a bloodless coup in 1989.

He is Sudan’s most prominent politician, and Mahdi’s Umma party is engaged in the negotiations with the TMC.

Hardliners from Bashir’s National Congress Party could stage a coup along with allies in the army if the TMC and the opposition fail to make progress in talks, Mahdi said.

Bashir fell after weeks of mass protests and the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the main protest organiser, called for a million-strong march to take place later on Thursday to press for civilian rule.

Similarly, Sudan’s transitional military council and opposition groups have pledged to solve their disagreements following the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir late on Wednesday.

“The two sides agreed to form a joint committee to discuss contentious issues,” the council’s spokesman Shams-Eddin Kabbashi said in a statement, without mentioning further details.

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“We agreed to this meeting based on the positive position showed by the military council … we think this is a good start with a beautiful spirit,” a spokesman of umbrella opposition group Declaration of Freedom and Change said in response to the agreement.

The decision comes only a couple of days after opposition groups accused the military of a “lack of seriousness” in handing power to a civilian government and called for the continuation of protests in the capital Khartoum.

Thousands of Sudanese protesters demanding that the military hand over power to civilian rule have been staging a sit-in at the army headquarters in Khartoum.

The demonstrations began late last year with the call for long-time president al-Bashir to go.

The protesters got their wish on April 11, when the military deposed and arrested him.

But participants say the new military rulers are a continuation of al-Bashir’s former regime and have clamoured for more concessions.

SOURCE: Reuters

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