Sudan rivals agree to new talks as protest strike ends: Mediator

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Sudanese residents walk in the central market of Khartoum on Monday, as most of the shops and businesses remained shut. — AFP

KHARTOUM — Protest leaders have agreed to end a campaign of civil disobedience launched after a deadly crackdown on demonstrators and to resume talks with Sudan's ruling generals, an Ethiopian mediator said on Tuesday.

The apparent breakthrough, which the military rulers had yet to confirm, came as a top US diplomat prepared to embark on a mission to find a solution to the crisis in Sudan.

Sudan has been led by a military council since it ousted President Omar Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his rule of three decades.

Following Bashir's removal, protesters camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks to demand civilian rule, before security and paramilitary forces dispersed them in a June 3 crackdown that killed dozens.

The protest movement launched a campaign of civil disobedience on Sunday, and most businesses stayed closed and residents hunkered indoors for the next three days.

It had threatened to pile even more pressure on the generals by releasing a list of members for a new ruling body — the key point of dispute between the two sides.

But they agreed to end the campaign and return to talks, said an envoy of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"The Alliance for Freedom and Change agreed to end the civil disobedience (campaign) from today," Mahmoud Drir, who has been mediating between the two sides since Ahmed visited Khartoum last week.

"Both sides have also agreed to resume talks soon," he told reporters.

The protest movement itself said in a statement that it was calling on people "to resume work from Wednesday".

The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Tibor Nagy, plans to meet both the generals and protest leaders in Khartoum, the State Department said.

He is to leave on the trip on Wednesday and also visit Addis Ababa to discuss the Sudan crisis with Ethiopian leaders and the African Union.

"He will call for a cessation of attacks against civilians and urge parties to work toward creating an enabling environment" for talks to resume, the State Department said.

The military-led government blamed deteriorating conditions in Khartoum on the disobedience campaign.

"We are appealing to those who blocked the roads to open them for all the sick people... since many people lost their lives because they cannot reach the hospital," senior health ministry official Mohamed Altom told reporters during a tour organized by the ministry. — AFP


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