A coalition led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which organised anti-government protests released a new proposal that drops a key issue of contention between the two sides — the allocation of seats in the transitional council.

Sudanese protesters attend a demonstration in front of the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan. May 2, 2019.
Sudanese protesters attend a demonstration in front of the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan. May 2, 2019. (Reuters)

Sudanese protesters toned down one of their key demands in an attempt to ease tensions with the ruling military council, which took over the country after ousting longtime president Omar al Bashir last month.

Meanwhile, the former president — now under arrest and held in a Khartoum prison — was ordered to appear before a military-appointed prosecutor for questioning over allegations of money laundering and terror financing, the state SUNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The report had no other details on the development. Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands for genocide and atrocities in Darfur, but the military council has said it would not extradite the ousted president.

The military forced Bashir from office on April 11, after his 30-year rule, and has since jailed him and other former senior officials. But the protesters fear the generals intend to hold onto power or cut a deal with other factions that would leave much of Bashir's regime intact.

They have been holding a sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum and have been negotiating with the council on the makeup of a transitional sovereign council for an interim period. But the talks have become deadlocked as both sides insist they should have the majority of seats in the transitional council.

Demanding more civilians in charge

On Thursday, the Forces of the Declaration for Freedom and Change, a coalition led by the Sudanese Professionals Association that has organised the protests, released a new proposal that drops a key issue of contention between the two sides — the allocation of seats in the transitional council.

The protesters had earlier proposed an 11-member council with three seats for the military, which in turn pushed for a 10-member council with just three civilians.

The new proposal instead offers a blueprint for a four-year-transitional period, including the make-up of an interim Cabinet and parliament.

"The number of seats has been a contentious issue with the military council," Rashid al Said Yakoub, an SPA leader, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. "So we left the matter open for negotiation and this is a sign of goodwill on our part vis-a-vis the military council."

The military council promised to respond to the new proposal in two days, according to Ahmed Rabie, another SPA leader.

Rabie denied allegations that the protesters were backtracking, and said they would still demand a civilian majority on the council.

Also Thursday, tens of thousands rallied in Khartoum to demand the end of military rule, chanting slogans against the military council. Another protest was expected on Friday.

Source: AP