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Sudan protesters threaten military with civil disobedience

By OMAR AKOUR and NOHA ELHENNAWYMay 30, 2019
FILE - In this April 30, 2019 file photo, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, second right, speaks at a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Sudan's ruling military council is meeting with protesters on Sunday, May19, 2019, to discuss the country's political transition after talks were halted for three days while roads were cleared outside the main sit-in in the capital, Khartoum. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this April 30, 2019 file photo, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, second right, speaks at a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Sudan's ruling military council is meeting with protesters on Sunday, May19, 2019, to discuss the country's political transition after talks were halted for three days while roads were cleared outside the main sit-in in the capital, Khartoum. (AP Photo)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s protesters threatened Thursday to launch a civil disobedience campaign to pressure the ruling military to hand power to a civilian transitional government after their two-day strike failed to produce tangible results.

The threat comes as negotiations between the protesters and the military about the handover of power remain stalled, more than a month since massive protests drove longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir from power. Al-Bashir has since been held by the military in a prison in Khartoum.

The two sides remain split over the make-up and the leadership of a sovereign council that would run the country during a three-year transition period. The protesters demand “limited military representation” on the council but the ruling generals refuse to relinquish power.

“It is unacceptable that the military council hijacks the revolution and blocks attempts to hold accountable criminals of the old regime,” said Saddiq Farouk, a leader of the Sudanese Professional Association, which has been spearheading the protests.

After the military ousted al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years, army generals took over but the protesters remained in the streets, mainly in a sit-in outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum, demanding the military hand over power. The protesters are represented by the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, an alliance of opposition groups and activists.

Farouk claimed the opposition’s two-day strike on Tuesday and Wednesday was successful — despite threats of layoffs in some sectors. Workers held rallies outside their workplaces, carrying banners and chanting slogans demanding a civilian government.

“The message is clear: all the Sudanese people want a civilian government,” Farouk told reporters late Wednesday.

Protest leaders chastised security forces for firing warning shorts to intimidate strikers. A female street vendor was killed late Wednesday, an incident the military blamed the killing on a drunk soldier.

“This approach is unacceptable and will lead to more escalation,” said Farouk. “What comes next is civil disobedience, if the military council refuses to meet the demand of the Sudanese people.”

More rallies are expected later Thursday in Khartoum.

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ElHennawy reported from Cairo.

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