Sudan Protesters Accept Plan for Rule

Sudan Protesters Accept Plan for Rule

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Sudan's protest movement accepted an Ethiopian roadmap for a civilian-led transitional government, a spokesman said on Sunday, after a months-long standoff with the country's military rulers.

Ethiopia has led diplomatic efforts to bring the protest and military leaders back to the negotiating table, after a crackdown against the pro-democracy movement led to a collapse in talks. According to protest organizers, security forces killed at least 128 people across the country, after they violently dispersed the sit-in demonstration outside the military's headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, earlier this month. Authorities have offered a lower death toll of 61, including three from the security forces.

Yet it appeared that protest leaders, represented by the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, were open to the Ethiopian initiative as a way out of the political impasse.

Ahmed Rabie, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals' Association which is part of the FDFC, told The Associated Press that the proposal included a leadership council with eight civilian and seven military members, with a rotating chairmanship. All the civilians would come from the FDFC, except for one independent and "neutral" appointee, he said.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by the AP, the military council would chair the council in the first 18 months, and the FDFC the second half of the transition.

Rabie said that the roadmap would build on previous agreements with the military. These include a three-year transition period, a protester-appointed Cabinet and a FDFC-majority legislative body.

Rabie added that protest leaders would also discuss with the Ethiopian envoy, Mahmoud Dirir, the possibility of establishing an "independent" Sudanese investigation. Previously, the FDFC had said it would only resume talks with the military if it agreed to the formation of an international commission to investigate the killings of protesters.

The ruling military council has so far rejected the idea of an international probe, and says it has started its own investigation, in parallel with that of the state prosecutor.

The FDCF said Saturday said their approval of the Ethiopian plan "pushes all the parties to bear their responsibilities" to find a peaceful solution.

It urged the military council to accept the plan "in order to move the situation in Sudan" forward.

The military council did not immediately say whether it would also agree.

A military official said the council had received a proposal from the Ethiopian envoy, and another one from the African Union envoy to Sudan, Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt.

"The council asked for a combined proposal to study and discuss the details," the official said on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

(KA)