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Sudan military rulers call for new round of talks, protest movement says

Talks on protesters' key demand for civilian-led body to oversee transition have been deadlocked, with military insisting on holding majority in any ruling body
Sudanese protester raises sign of victory outside army headquarters in Khartoum this week (AFP)

Sudan's military rulers invited protest leaders for a new round of talks on transferring power to a civilian administration, the protest movement said on Saturday.

"We received a call from the military council to resume negotiations," the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.

The call came as thousands of demonstrators remain camped outside army headquarters in central Khartoum, vowing to force the generals to cede power just as they forced veteran president Omar al-Bashir from office a month ago, AFP reported.

Talks on the protesters' key demand for a civilian-led body to oversee a four-year transition have been deadlocked for days, with the military insisting on holding a majority in any new ruling body.

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

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.

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"We have all options open from now on," Ahmed Rabie, an influential SPA member, told Reuters. If the council “insists on holding on to power, we are going to consider this a military coup, and we will escalate our tactics, peacefully".

SPA has said such a campaign would focus on mass strikes, which have had some success in previous uprisings in post-independence Sudan.

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 and opposition and rebel groups, handed the generals its proposals for a civilian-led transition.

But the generals have expressed "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 have identified the points of contention with the military council and ... decisive talks will revolve around (them) in each meeting," the alliance said in its statement.

"We want to hold the talks quickly and sort out all these points in 72 hours," it said without specifying when the negotiations would resume.