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Sudan opposition ready to discuss sovereign council leadership with military rulers

sudan

Sudan's main opposition alliance said on Wednesday it was prepared for direct talks with the country's military rulers over who should head a sovereign council to lead Sudan toward elections.


The Forces of Freedom and Change opposition alliance said the talks, launched in response to a call for negotiations from an Ethiopian mediator, should last three days.


The opposition has been demanding the military give up power since April, when the armed forces toppled President Omar al-Bashir, ending his 30-year rule after months of demonstrations.


"The leadership of the Freedom and Change Forces met and decided to respond to the mediators' call for direct negotiations with the military council and that the negotiations should only be about the presidency of the sovereign council and that the time frame for the negotiations should be 72 hours," said Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change.


The group will decide whether to start the talks on Wednesday or Thursday depending on a final proposal from mediators. It also demanded that detained members of the Forces of Freedom and Change and other political prisoners be released.


Later on Wednesday, the head of Sudan's ruling military council pardoned 235 detained members of the Sudan Liberation Movement, a rebel group active in the western Darfur region, according to a statement read out on Sudanese state TV.


The statement, which was attributed to military council head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said the prisoners should be released immediately unless they are wanted in connection with other legal proceedings.


Since Bashir's downfall, opposition groups have kept up demonstrations pressing the military to hand over power. Talks collapsed after members of the security services raided a sit-in protest camp outside the defence ministry on June 3.


The two sides have agreed on proposals presented by Ethiopian and African Union mediators to solve the crisis, Mahmoud Dirir, the Ethiopian mediator, said on Tuesday.


But they still disagree over the structure of a sovereign council meant to lead the country during the transitional period, Dirir said.

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