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AFP
June 13, 2019

Sudan generals, protesters agree to talk

World

AFP
June 13, 2019

KHARTOUM: Shops began to reopen in Sudan’s capital on Wednesday after demonstrators called off a nationwide civil disobedience campaign and agreed to new talks, though many residents remained indoors following last week’s deadly crackdown.

The breakthrough in the standoff between the military rulers who toppled veteran leader Omar al-Bashir and protesters demanding civilian rule followed mediation led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The United Nations Security Council called on the generals and protest leaders to resolve the crisis triggered by the June 3 crackdown on a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum that killed dozens. Global diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff were expected to get a boost from a visit by a top US official who was due to meet with the two sides.

The slow return to normality came after an Ethiopian envoy of Abiy announced that the protest leaders and the ruling military council had agreed to resume talks and that a three-day civil disobedience campaign was ending.

The negotiations collapsed last month because the two sides disagreed about whether a civilian or soldier should head a new governing body. On Wednesday morning an AFP correspondent who toured parts of the capital saw buses waiting for passengers at their stations, while shops in some districts opened.

The main gold market in central Khartoum remained shut, and many residents still preferred to remain indoors given the heavy deployment of security forces across the capital. "I’m still staying at my home because I’m worried about the presence of security forces carrying guns on the streets," said Samar Bashir, an employee in a private company.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused of having played the lead role in last week’s crackdown continued to patrol districts in their trademark pickup trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.

Several other residents also told AFP that they were remaining indoors as internet services were still not fully restored across the capital, which made working from offices difficult. Several private companies had also extended the Eid al-Fitr holidays up to the end of this week. Sudan has been led by a military council since the generals ousted Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

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