Sudan protest leaders insist no civilian administration without rebels

Khartoum (AFP) –


Sudanese protest leaders insisted Thursday that the civilian administration they intend to establish must include representatives from armed groups who spent years battling Khartoum during the regime of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

"We will not have a transitional (civilian) structure without representatives from the armed groups," said Khalid Omar Yousef, a leader from the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group which has led the protest movement.

He did not name specific armed groups.

Since 2003, Sudan has been rocked by rebellions in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.

Tens of thousands of people have died in those areas since ethnic minority rebels picked up arms against the Arab-dominated forces of Bashir, accusing his administration of political and economic marginalisation.

In recent years, the violence has waned as rebels and Khartoum reached a series of ceasefires, but none of the rebel groups joined a civilian administration during Bashir's iron-fisted rule.

Many Darfuris feel that their demand for justice for Bashir-era officials should be a bigger priority for protest leaders.

Three armed groups are currently part of the Alliance for Freedom and Change which spearheaded protests since December that led to the ouster of Bashir.

The Alliance is now demanding that the military council which took Bashir's place be replaced by a joint civilian-military council, although they say the number of members is yet to be finalised.

On Thursday protest leaders presented the council with a proposal for the new civilian structures they want see rule the country.

Protest leader Satea al-Haj told reporters that the transitional civilian government should be of 17 ministers, while the legislative body should include 120 to 150 members.

He said the alliance was expecting a response from the military council in "48 to 72 hours".