Sudan’s protest leaders and ruling generals resumed talks Wednesday over forming a new governing body, the first such negotiations since a deadly crackdown on demonstrators last month.
The dialogue came after African Union and Ethiopian mediators called on the two sides Tuesday to resume long-stalled negotiations on a transition to civilian rule — the main demand of demonstrators who have rallied against the generals for weeks.
Negotiations between the two sides collapsed in May over the make-up of the governing body and who should lead it — a civilian or a soldier.
Tensions further soared after a brutal crackdown on a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum killed dozens of demonstrators exactly a month ago.
On Wednesday the talks resumed in Khartoum, between three generals from the ruling military council and five protest leaders, an AFP correspondent reported from the Corinthia Hotel on the bank of the Nile river.
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — deputy chief of the army council and chief of the feared Rapid Support Forces — was among the three military negotiators.
Ethiopia and the AU have proposed a blueprint for a civilian-majority body, in a bid to resolve the crisis that has rocked Sudan for months.
The military deposed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April, amid widespread protests against his iron-fisted rule.
Earlier on Wednesday, the umbrella protest movement said it was ready for the talks.
“The Alliance for Freedom and Change met and decided to accept the invitation for direct negotiations” with the generals, prominent protest leader Madani Abbas Madani told reporters.
He added that one of the conditions for the talks was to reach a decision “within 72 hours”.
After several hours of talks on Wednesday, the parties decided to continue negotiations on Thursday.
“The parties conducted responsible negotiations and agreed on some issues,” African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.