Sudan's military holds second meeting with pro-democracy alliance to resolve crisis

Discussions mediated by Saudi Arabia and US now the only open channel between political opposition and army generals

People march against military rule in the Bashdar area of Sudan's capital Khartoum. AFP
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Representatives from Sudan’s ruling military and a major pro-democracy coalition have met for the second time in less than two weeks to discuss the country’s political future after generals seized power in October.

The meeting on Sunday night between Taha Osman of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and Gen Shamseldeen Kabashy was arranged by the embassies of the United States and Saudi Arabia, an FFC statement said.

“The Forces of Freedom and Change will inform the public of any subsequent developments,” the FFC said before the meeting took place. “We don’t want a political process that is at the expense of the struggle and sacrifices of our people or one that buys time or legitimise the coup.”

There was no word from either side on the outcome of the meeting.

The first meeting between the FFC and the military on June 9 was also arranged by the Saudi and US embassies. It was the first since the coup on October 25 which derailed Sudan’s democratic transition and plunged the country into crisis.

More than 100 anti-military protesters have been killed on the streets of Sudan since October. AFP

The FFC was the military’s partner in a transitional administration that took office after the removal of dictator Omar Al Bashir in April 2019. It has since been plagued by division and accused by the military and other opposition groups of nepotism and pandering to major political parties.

Like other pro-democracy groups, the FFC had vowed not to negotiate with the military until the generals cede power to civilians, and also demanded that the generals be held accountable for the killing of more than 100 protesters since October. Another 5,000 have also been hurt in near daily street protests against military rule.

The meeting on June 9 came a day after a national dialogue facilitated by the United Nations, the African Union and the regional Igad grouping held its first session but all pro-democracy groups, including the FFC, boycotted the process.

The boycott left representatives of the military talking with groups that are either aligned with the ruling generals or had publicly encouraged a military takeover in the weeks leading to the coup.

The dialogue was postponed indefinitely, leaving the FFC-military talks the only channel for finding a way out of Sudan’s crippling political crisis.

Sudan’s economy has been devastated by the coup, which forced the West to suspend billions of dollars’ worth of aid and debt relief and returned parts of the country to the international isolation endured during Al Bashir’s 29-year rule.

In its statement, the FFC repeated its call to the people to take to the streets on June 30 to mark the anniversary of the 1989 coup that toppled an elected government and brought Al Bashir, who also has an army background, to power.

Updated: June 20, 2022, 2:19 PM