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Sudan generals, protesters split on who will lead transition

May 21, 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)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s ruling generals and the protesters who drove President Omar al-Bashir from power last month said Tuesday they remain divided over who will lead the country during its transition period despite progress in recent talks.

The protesters, represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, have insisted on “limited military representation” in a sovereign council, while the military wants to lead the body during an agreed-upon three-year transition.

The military council said in a statement Tuesday that the two sides are split over the makeup of the council and who should lead it. Both sides said early Tuesday that they intend to continue the talks, without setting a date.

The U.S., Britain and Norway meanwhile issued a statement urging a transition to civilian rule.

“Any outcome that does not result in the formation of a government that is civilian-led, placing primary authority for governing with civilians. will make it harder for our countries to work with the new authorities and support Sudan’s economic development,” it said.

The two sides have held several rounds of talks since the military overthrew al-Bashir on April 11, ending his 30-year reign after four months of mass protests and sit-ins, which are still underway.

The protesters have threatened a general strike, accusing the generals of dragging their feet on handing over power.

The military has warned against any further “chaos.” Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo , deputy head of the council, on Monday told his paramilitary Rapid Support Forces to be vigilant and ready to preserve security.

“There are parties that are plotting to create chaos,” he said.

The protesters are still holding a mass sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, that was set up days before al-Bashir was overthrown. They have vowed to remain there until the military hands over power to civilians.

Also on Tuesday, Sudan’s prosecutor’s office said in a statement that guards for former intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh obstructed his detention the previous day for questioning about alleged financial wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have been investigating a bank account with 46 billion Sudanese pounds (more than $1 billion) accessible only by Gosh. Protesters have accused Gosh of involvement in killing demonstrators during the uprising.

Once a member of the president’s inner circle, Gosh was sacked as an adviser in April 2011 for criticizing the government. He was arrested the following year on suspicion of involvement in a coup attempt, but was later pardoned by al-Bashir, who appointed him intelligence chief in February 2018.

Al-Bashir is being held in a jail in Khartoum, and local prosecutors have charged him with involvement in killing protesters and incitement to kill protesters during the uprising. The military has said it will not extradite him to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has charged him with war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.

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