Talks to Resume in Sudan After Military Junta Agrees to Release Political Prisoners
This was agreed upon by the junta after the civil disobedience and political strike action by the civilian opposition had paralyzed Sudan since Sunday.
June 14, 2019
The civilian opposition, led by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), has called off the civil disobedience and political strike. This is after the Transitional Military Council (TMC), in its meeting with Ethiopian special envoy Mohamoud Dirir, agreed to release political prisoners. It is unclear how many political prisoners will be released after this offer.
This decision, Dirir said, in a press conference on Tuesday, was one of the “confidence-building measures” that the TMC had agreed to take after it oversaw a massacre of more than 100 protesters while dispersing the mass-demonstration outside the army headquarters on June 3. Following this, the opposition had decided to stop engaging in further negotiations with the military junta.
On June 7, after Sudan was suspended from the African Union following an emergency meeting in Ethiopia, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed flew into Khartoum, offering mediation.
He held meetings with the TMC and the opposition leaders separately. The latter had told him that they would resume talks only if a number of conditions were met – one of which was the release of political prisoners.
Two days after this meeting, a mass civil disobedience was launched at the call of SPA. The country was brought to a halt as the strike action paralyzed the banking sector, public transport, railways, aviation, ports, oil sector, judiciary, etc.
The striking medical professionals made an exception in cases of emergency as the Rapid Support Forces militiamen, who carried out the massacre, continued to patrol the streets of Khartoum, brutalizing the citizens. A statement by the SPA said, “Medical support was provided free of charge in emergency departments of government hospitals.. and several private hospitals.”
Despite the military junta’s mass arrests and attempts to force those on strike to work, the disobedience campaign re-established some of the strength which had suffered a setback after the brutality of June 3.
It was in this context that Mohamoud Dirir, appointed as a mediator by the Ethiopian PM, arrived in Khartoum.
After the meeting, the SPA called off the civil disobedience and advised the strikers to return to work. At the same time, it asked the protesters to be ready to resume the action if the TMC stepped back on its commitment.
Radio Dabanga also reported that, “It is believed by some opposition members that the TMC.. agreed to give the presidency of the collegial presidential body to the civilians, together with the majority of seats.”
It was the refusal of the TMC to permit the civilians to decide the president and hold the majority of the seats in the presidential body, referred to as the Sovereignty Council that had stalled the negotiation and increased tensions between the two forces, which ultimately culminated into the massacre on June 3.
However, neither sides have formally confirmed any agreement to this effect.
First published in Peoples Dispatch.
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