Sudan's military rulers suspend transition talks

Sudan's military council has said that talks with protesters over installing civilian rule have been suspended for 72 hours. Talks have been marred by street violence, with several people wounded.

Sudan's military rulers have suspended talks with protest leaders to form a transitional body as they demanded protesters dismantle barricades set up around the capital, Khartoum.  

Army generals and the umbrella opposition group Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC) had been expected to agree on the composition of a joint military-civilian body to govern during a three-year transition period to pave the way for elections.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, chief of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), said in a live broadcast that negotiations with protest leaders had been temporarily suspended "until a suitable atmosphere is created to complete an agreement."

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Burhan said transportation arteries around Khartoum had been blocked and there was "infiltration of armed elements among demonstrators who were shooting at security forces."

He said the TMC had decided to remove all barricades set up outside a designated zone where protesters have engaged in a sit-in since April 6 outside the Defense Ministry.

Talks marred by violence

Discussions between the two sides that started on Monday to determine the makeup of the transitional body have been overshadowed by violence.

Both sides have accused the other of provoking the violence, which left six dead on Monday at a protest sit-in and another nine wounded on Wednesday.

The Sudanese Professionals' Association, which spearheaded months of protests that led to President Omar al-Bashir's ouster in April, have accused security forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of shooting on protesters.

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They have also expressed concern that forces loyal to al-Bashir may be attempting to stir up unrest to undermine any political deal.

Protesters have demanded a swift transition to civilian rule, fearful that military rulers will replace one dictatorship with another. 

cw/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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