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 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 press the generals to halt the crackdown on protesters demanding civilian rule.
Sudan has been led by a military council since it toppled autocratic president Omar Al-Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted 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 UN Security Council called on all sides “to continue working together toward a consensual solution to the current crisis” and voiced support for African-led diplomatic efforts.
The council also called for an immediate halt to attacks against civilians and stressed the importance of upholding human rights — a week after Russia and China blocked a similar draft statement on the crisis.
In Khartoum, the protest strike saw most shops and businesses remain closed with some companies extending to the end of the week the Eid Al-Fitr holidays marking the end of Ramadan.
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused of having played the lead role in last week’s crackdown patrolled districts in their trademark pickup trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.
“We are now getting used to living with guns as we are seeing so many of these men walking into restaurants with their weapons,” one resident said as a group of RSF members entered an eatery.