KHARTOUM: Sudan’s main opposition group and supporter of the protest movement on Sunday rejected its call to stage a two-day general strike in the first sign of a rift within the movement negotiating the launch of civilian rule.
Talks between leaders of the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change and army generals who seized power after ousting Omar Al-Bashir last month are deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body -— a civilian or soldier.
In a bid to step up pressure on the generals, the protest movement has called for a general strike starting Tuesday, but the National Umma Party (NUP), a key backer of the movement, rejected the measure.
“We reject the general strike announced by some opposition groups” in the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the NUP said in a statement.
“A general strike is a weapon that should be used after it is agreed upon by everybody,” NUP said.
“We have to avoid such escalated measures that are not fully agreed.”
The NUP led by former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi said any such decision should be taken by a council of leaders of the protest movement.
Such a council was still not in place and “will be composed in a meeting on Monday,” it said.
It was Al-Mahdi’s elected government that Bashir, who himself was deposed on April 11, toppled in a coup in 1989.
In a recent interview with AFP, Al-Mahdi warned protesters not to “provoke” the army’s rulers as they had been instrumental in ousting Bashir. Minutes after NUP’s statement, another key member of the protest movement, the Sudanese Congress Party, said the strike will go ahead as planned.
It said the strike was a new measure “to complete the mission of the revolution, which definitely will achieve its victory.”
The military toppled Bashir after months-long protests across Sudan led by the Alliance against his rule of three decades. Thousands of demonstrators remain camped outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum demanding that the generals step down.
Talks between the generals and protest leaders remain deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body to oversee the formation of a civilian administration — a soldier or civilian.
Protest leaders insist a civilian must head a new sovereign council and that civilians should make up the majority of its members, proposals rejected by the ruling generals.
The new ruling body when finalised is expected to install a transitional civilian government for three years after which the first post-Bashir election would be held.
Before suspending talks last Monday, the two sides had agreed on several key issues, including the three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament, with two thirds of lawmakers coming from the protesters’ umbrella group.