Sudan’s military rulers have suspended talks on moving the country towards civilian rule in a bid to demobilise the movement that toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir last month.
Transitional Military Council (TMC) chief, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, said talks were being suspended “to help prepare an atmosphere for completing the deal”. He called on protesters to dismantle roadblocks, open bridges and “stop provoking security forces”.
Shots were fired on Wednesday as soldiers tried unsuccessfully to clear barricades. Protesters in the capital Khartoum said at least 14 people were wounded. Similar violence on Monday left five people dead and up to 200 injured.
The Alliance of Freedom and Change (AFC), the opposition umbrella group behind the recent uprising, said that the killings were carried out by the Rapid Support Forces. They are Sudan’s main government militia, headed up by the TMC’s deputy leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemeti”.
Mohamed Naji El Asam is a spokesperson for the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been at the centre of the uprising. “The TMC tried to break the sit-in,” he said. “All the wounded confirmed in their testimonies that the troops who opened fire were wearing uniforms of the RSF and using their vehicles”.
This is a key moment for the Sudanese revolt after news of a deal between the TMC and the opposition was met by rejoicing.
The TMC said that a deal would soon be signed for a three-year transition to a fully civilian administration. It would include the formation of two ruling bodies—a presidential council and a 300-member legislature—to run the country until elections are held.
Two-thirds of the seats in the legislature would go to members of the opposition.
But the composition of the presidential council still needs to be agreed. If the military can dominate it, the transitional structure will be a talking-shop with armed men at the top who will make the key decisions.
Even more fundamentally, why must people wait three years for elections?
The six-month revolt against al-Bashir and his followers has seen inspirational organisation by millions of people. They must not settle for a deal that leaves the military holding on to their very extensive economic and political power.
The military, who brutally defended the regime for years, have to be removed not compromised with.
Recent weeks have seen powerful strikes alongside sit-ins and marches across the country. And there were at least three examples on Tuesday of people bringing together political and economic demands.
Teachers began a sit-in at the offices of the department of education in El Geneina, capital of the West Darfur region.
They want civilian rule and changes in the schools.
Engineers and employees of the Sudanese electricity network organised a protest in front of the company buildings in protest at the killings in Khartoum. They chanted slogans demanding retribution against the murderers and demanded that the TMC speed up the handover of power to a civilian government.
They also called for the dismissal of the former regime’s allies and militias from the electricity network.
Staff of telecoms provider Sudatel organised a massive demonstration outside the firm’s building in Khartoum to protest over the killing of protesters. The demonstrators shouted slogans demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.
They also demanded the speedy dismissal of Sudatel’s director general, describing him as “an agent of the former regime”.
Those involved in the protests and the strikes have to form their own democratic centre of power—workers’ councils which draw in wider layers of the population. Every day it’s becoming more urgent to set up and coordinate such bodies.