Sudan protest movement leaders reject power-sharing, call for strikes

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Sudan’s protest movement has rejected internationally backed initiatives to return to a power-sharing arrangement with the military after last month’s coup, calling for two days of nationwide strikes starting Sunday.

This comes as a leader with the country’s main political party urged the international community to increase pressure on the generals to stop what he called an “unfortunate escalation.”

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The Sudanese military seized power on Oct. 25, dissolving the transitional administration and arresting dozens of government officials and politicians. The coup has been met with international outcry and massive protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

The takeover has upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime president Omar al-Bashir and his government.

Since the coup, the international community has accelerated mediation efforts to find a way out of the crisis, which threatens to further destabilize the already restive Horn of Africa region.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which led the uprising against al-Bashir, said late Friday that mediation initiatives which “seek a new settlement” between the military and civilian leaders would “reproduce and worsen” the country’s crisis.

The SPA vowed to continue protesting until a full civilian government is established to lead the transition.

Under the slogan of: “No negotiations, no compromise, no power-sharing,” the SPA, which has presence across the country, called for strikes and civil disobedience on Sunday and Monday.

Al-Wathig al-Berier, the secretary general of the Umma party, urged on Friday the international community to pressure the military to de-escalate — as the generals instead continue to dismantle the transitional government and arrest pro-democracy leaders. The Umma is Sudan’s largest political party and has ministers in the now-deposed government.

“We truly need to prepare the atmosphere and de-escalate matters so that we can sit at the table,” he told The Associated Press. “But clearly the military faction is continuing with its plan and there are no efforts to show good will.”

He was referring to Thursday’s arrest of three leaders from the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition that was born out of the 2019 protest movement. The military detained the four after they met with UN officials on Thursday in Khartoum. The meeting was part of the mediation efforts, led by the UN.

Al-Berier said mediation efforts have yet to be fruitful, blaming the military for that failure. He warned of the possibility of upcoming bloodshed, since protest movements — including the SPA and the so-called Resistance Committees — insist on removing the military from any future government.

“For the military it will be difficult to exit this situation without blood in the streets, the political forces didn’t do their part to try to convince the streets and the opposition committees and the youth,” he said.

He urged the international community to increase pressure on the military leaders to reverse the coup.

“In these initial stages, we hope that they continue strong pressure. This pressure has to be more than just tweets. This pressure needs to have mechanisms that could create real pressure on military component,” he said.

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