Sudan army rulers say talks with protesters to resume

Khartoum (AFP) –


Talks between Sudan's army rulers and protesters are set to resume, army rulers announced Saturday, as Islamic movements planned to rally for the inclusion of sharia in the country's roadmap.

The ruling military council announced "the resumption of negotiations with the Alliance for Freedom and Change on Sunday," following international pressure to get back to the table.

There had been some breakthroughs last week on Sudan's future leadership, following the ouster last month of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir after mass protest.

The generals and protest leaders had been expected to come to an agreement on Wednesday on the thorniest issue -- the make-up of a new body to govern Sudan for three years.

But that meeting never took place and on Thursday the head of the military council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, confirmed talks were suspended for 72 hours.

Demonstrators subsequently spent hours meeting Burhan's demand to dismantle roadblocks which had paralysed parts of the capital.

World powers on Friday urged the generals to resume meetings on Sudan's future leadership.

Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and European powers "called for an immediate resumption of talks", said Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa.

They called on both sides to "reach an agreement ASAP on an interim government that is truly civilian-led and reflects the will of the Sudanese people," Nagy tweeted Friday.

The generals have allowed protesters to maintain their sit-in outside Khartoum's army headquarters, where they remain camped out to demand a rapid transition to democracy.

Ahead of talks resuming between the generals and protest leaders, Sudanese Islamist movements were set to hold their own demonstration Saturday.

"The main reason for the mobilisation is that the alliance is ignoring the application of sharia in its deal," said Al-Tayieb Mustafa, who heads a coalition of about 20 Islamic groups.

"This is irresponsible and if that deal is done, it is going to open the door of hell for Sudan," Mustafa told AFP.

Former president Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed coup and Sudanese legislation has since been underpinned by Islamic law.

The protest movement -- under the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group -- has so far remained silent on whether such a legal framework has a role in Sudan's future.

The alliance argues the issue of sharia is "irrelevant" at this stage, stressing their main concern is installing a civilian administration.