June 23, 2019 / 5:56 PM / in a month

Ethiopian, African Union mediation needs to be unified - Sudan military council

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s ruling military council said on Sunday that Ethiopia and the African Union needed to unify their efforts to mediate between the council and an opposition coalition on the structure of the country’s transitional government.

FILE PHOTO: A Sudanese national flag is attached to a machine gun of Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers as they wait for the arrival of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of RSF, before a meeting in Aprag village 60, kilometers away from Khartoum, Sudan, June 22, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The generals and the opposition coalition have been wrangling for weeks over what form Sudan’s transitional government should take after the military deposed long-time president Omar al-Bashir on April 11.

Both Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union (AU) have been trying to mediate between the sides.

The council’s spokesman, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, said on Sunday the council had rejected Ethiopia’s proposal, which the opposition coalition agreed to on Saturday, but had agreed in principle to the AU’s plan.

“The African Union’s initiative came first,” said Kabbashi, adding that the council had not studied the Ethiopian initiative, which he described as unilateral.

A draft of the Ethiopian proposal seen by Reuters suggested that a ruling sovereign council would be made up of seven civilians and seven members of the military, with one additional seat reserved for an impartial individual.

Details of the AU proposal were not immediately known.

“We asked the mediators to unite their efforts and submit a joint paper as soon as possible to return the parties to negotiations,” Kabbashi said at a news conference at the presidential palace.

NO “DICTATIONS”

Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council, said: “The president (of the military council) clarified that he gave the mediators until tomorrow to present the joint vision.”

“We do not accept dictations from any country,” Atta added. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not and will not dictate political or economic conditions.”

The two oil-rich Gulf countries between them pledged $3 billion in financial and material support to Sudan in late April.

Talks between the ruling generals and the Forces for Freedom and Change coalition collapsed when security forces stormed a protest sit-in outside the Defence Ministry on June 3, killing dozens.

The military said a crackdown on criminals spilled over to the sit-in area, but some officers have been detained for presumed responsibility.

The makeup of the sovereign council was the main outstanding sticking point between the two sides before the talks collapsed. The military council cancelled all agreements it had reached with the coalition after the sit-in’s disperal.

“The reality has changed, and calls for bringing other political forces, together with the Forces for Freedom and Change, into government,” Atta said on Sunday.

Separately, Atta said the military council had not yet been notified of a court ruling a lawyer said was issued on Sunday ordering telecoms operator Zain Sudan to restore internet services. Internet access has been restricted since the security forces broke up the protest sit-in on June 3.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Gareth Jones

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