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Sudan protest leaders suspend talks with military rulers

Saudi Arabia and UAE promise $3bn in aid, throwing potential lifeline to military after protests led to fall of former president Bashir
Sudanese protesters shout slogans at demonstration near army headquarters in capital Khartoum on Sunday (AFP)

Protest leaders on Sunday suspended talks with Sudan's ruling military council and urged people to intensify demonstrations outside army headquarters in Khartoum. 

The failure of talks came as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates promised to send $3bn worth of aid, throwing a potential lifeline to the military rulers after protests led to the fall of former president Omar al-Bashir.

After the army failed to meet their demand for an immediate transfer to civilian rule, a spokesman of the protest movement, Mohamed al-Amin Abdel-Aziz, said: "We will continue the sit-in and we are suspending our talks with the military council," amid thousands of protesters gathered outside the army complex. "We are treating the military council as an extension of the regime," he said, as quoted by AFP.

Amin also called on people to step up their protests until their demand for a transfer of power to a civilian council is met by the military. "We call for escalating and continuing the demonstrations until the demands are met," he said.

The two Gulf Arab countries said they would deposit $500m with the Sudanese central bank and send the rest in the form of food, medicine and petroleum products, their state news agencies said in parallel statements, Reuters reported.

The promises of aid come amid wrangling between the military council and protesters and opposition groups demanding that civilians lead a two-year transitional period.

A sea of protesters has been rallying outside army headquarters in Khartoum, awaiting the unveiling of a civilian body to replace the military council that was put in place after the fall Bashir earlier this month, demonstrating in large numbers over the past three days and pressing for a rapid handover to civilian rule.

The military rulers have resisted calls to transfer power immediately to a civilian body, but earlier on Sunday new army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan insisted he was committed to handing power to the people and also pledged to respond to demonstrators' demands within a week.

"The role of the military council complements the uprising and the blessed revolution," said Burhan, adding that the council was committed to eventually handing power over to the people.

Still, the coalition of protesters and opposition groups said the council was not serious about handing over power to civilians, describing the military rulers as part of the "old regime".

"We have decided to opt for escalation with the military council, not to recognise its legitimacy and to continue the sit-in and escalate the protests on the streets," Amin Abdel-Aziz, of the Sudanese Professional Association, told one of the largest crowds outside the defence ministry.