Sudan military cancels power-transfer deal

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Shams-Eddin Kabashi, Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) spokesman, speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, May 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohamed Khidir)

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan’s military on Tuesday cancelled a power-transfer agreement with protesters and called for elections within nine months, a day after forcefully breaking up a weeks-long sit-in, leaving more than 30 dead.

The Transitional Military Council ousted president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule and had agreed a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.

But army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced in a televised statement the plan had been ditched and an election would take place under “regional and international supervision”.

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“The military council decides on the following: cancelling what was agreed on and stopping negotiating with the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and to call for general elections within a period not exceeding nine months,” Burhan said.

Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds more wounded on Monday in the bloody crackdown outside Khartoum’s army headquarters, which was met with sharp international condemnation.

Heavily armed members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces were deployed around the capital, guarding entrances to the bridges that cross the Nile, and moved in convoys around the city.

The United States called it a “brutal” crackdown on protesters, who want the generals behind the overthrow of veteran president Omar al-Bashir to hand over to civilian rule.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the excessive use of force against protesters and called for an independent investigation.

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The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss Sudan, after Britain and Germany requested the talks, diplomats said.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is close to the protesters, said the “massacre” toll had risen to more than 30, with “hundreds of wounded”.

An eight-year-old child was among those killed, it said, and called for “urgent support” from humanitarian organisations to help the wounded.

Footage from the Royal Care hospital earlier in the day near the site of the sit-in showed people on the floors of the wards receiving treatment as men in uniforms sitting in pickup trucks gathered outside.

An AFP correspondent said the streets of the capital were largely empty Monday night, a time the city is usually busy.

Some streets were blocked off by demonstrators who had erected barricades made from stones, tree trunks and burning tyres earlier in the day.

Many shops and businesses were shuttered around the city.

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