A leading Sudanese opposition party said yesterday it has refused a call by protest leaders for a two-day general strike tomorrow, in a sign of divisions within the pro-democracy movement that is challenging military rule in Sudan.
The opposition Umma Party said it opposes the “preparations and timing” of the strike. However, it said authorities do not have the right to fire those who take part in the planned strike. The party’s chief Sadek al-Mahdi led the country’s last democratically elected government, which the military autocrat Omar al-Bashir ousted with Islamist support in 1989.
The party is a member of the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella group representing protesters and opposition parties in the negotiations with the ruling military council. The FDFC said the nationwide strike would begin tomorrow. Protest leaders are hoping to force the military, which removed al-Bashir from power in April, to transfer power to a civilian-led authority.
Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, a spokesman for the military council, meanwhile said negotiations with the protest leaders are slow. He warned that “lots of choices” are on the table as military and protest leaders argue over the details of a transition plan. He was talking to troops in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman yesterday.
Talks between protesters and the army stalled earlier this week after both sides had agreed to a three-year transitional period, a cabinet and a legislative body. They remain split over the makeup and leadership of the sovereign council that would run the country during the transition. Protest leaders said they want a civilian leader and “limited military representation,” but said the ruling generals have refused to relinquish power over the proposed council.
Meanwhile, a Sudanese rebel leader has returned to the country after years in exile despite having been sentenced to death in absentia. Yasir Arman was convicted for involvement in an uprising that began in 2011 in Blue Nile State.
He is reported to have faced no problem from the authorities on his arrival. According to BBC, Arman is expected to join the talks. He returns six weeks after al-Bashir was ousted from power and observers speculate that he could take part in peace talks.