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New round of talks on Sudan civil rule to begin on Monday: Protest movement

Army and protesters at loggerheads over who will hold majority of new ruling body that would replace military council
Sudanese protesters gather outside army headquarters in Khartoum earlier this month (AFP)

Sudan's army rulers and protesters are to hold fresh talks over handing power to a civilian administration on Monday, a spokesman for the protest movement told AFP.

The army generals and protesters are at loggerheads over who will sit on a new ruling body that would replace the existing military council. The generals have proposed that the council be military led, while protest leaders want a majority civilian body.

On Saturday, the Alliance for Freedom and Change - an umbrella for the protest movement - said the generals had invited it for a new round of talks after several days of deadlock.

"The meeting was planned for today but it has now been postponed to Monday," alliance spokesman Rashid al-Sayed said.

Sayed did not explain why the talks were postponed, but sources in the alliance said that more time was needed for consultations within the leadership.

The latest planned round of talks come as thousands of protesters remain camped outside army headquarters in central Khartoum.

They say they are determined to force the ruling military council to cede power - just as they pushed the military into deposing veteran president Omar al-Bashir on 11 April.

The invitation on Saturday came days after the protesters threatened to up the ante and launch a civil disobedience movement, Al Jazeera said.

Sudan military rulers call for new round of talks, protest movement says
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Frustrated by a lack of progress, earlier this week a broad coalition of opposition groups headed by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), called for a campaign of civil disobedience to increase pressure on the military.

SPA said such a campaign would focus on mass strikes, which have had some previous success. It may also call for a boycott of non-essential goods and public services in a bid to starve the government of tax revenue, and intensify rallies and sit-ins across Sudan.

Late last month, the Alliance - which brings together protest organisers, opposition parties and rebel groups - handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transitional government.

But the generals have pointed to what they call "many reservations" over the alliance's roadmap.

They have singled out its silence on the constitutional position of Islamic sharia law, which was the guiding principle of all legislation under Bashir's rule but is anathema to secular groups including the Sudanese Communist Party and some rebel factions in the alliance.

"We want to hold the talks quickly and sort out all these points in 72 hours," the Alliance said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the military council dismissed unconfirmed reports that security forces were trying to clear the sit-in outside the army complex.

"There are reports circulating on social media about the military council's intention to disperse the sit-in by force," it said.

"We assure that this is totally false."