Sudanese protesters, military council say talks ‘fruitful’

Organizers of the protests that drove Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir from power and the ruling military council said talks on forming a transitional government were “transparent” and “fruitful.”

Both sides announced they would set up a joint committee comprised of members of both the military council and the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition groups led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, to tackle political disputes.

The meeting came after the protesters agreed Wednesday to resume talks with the military after a temporary break. The military also announced then the resignation of three members of the military council, whom the opposition had accused of being too close to al-Bashir.

The protesters fear the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him. They also fear Islamists and other factions close to the deposed leader, who is now jailed in the capital, Khartoum, will be granted a role in the transition.

Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, the spokesman for the military council, said the talks were “transparent” and that both sides agreed on resuming their meeting later Saturday.

“We are very optimistic that we will reach a final conclusion that will be announced to the Sudanese people as soon as possible,” he told a brief press conference.

A member of the protesters’ team said the talks were “fruitful” and that they have discussed “all disputed points.”

“The discussion was positive and fruitful,” activist Madani Abbas Madani said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded four months of escalating demonstrations that led the military to remove al-Bashir from power April 11, is demanding a civilian government.

They have proposed that a sovereign council, which would include “limited” army representation, hand over full powers to civilians during a four-year transitional period.

Army leaders have called for a two-year transition during which the generals would retain sovereign power and give only executive authorities to civilians.

The military has agreed to recognize the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of opposition groups led by the SPA, as the uprising’s only legitimate representative, in a move widely seen as a victory for the protesters.