Sudan Army Warns of Violence at Rallies

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Sudan's ruling military council on Saturday warned protest leaders of "destruction or damage" ahead of planned mass rallies over the weekend calling for civilian rule over two months after the military ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.

The country's pro-democracy movement has been calling for the demonstration across the country on Sunday, despite efforts from the African Union and Ethiopian to bring back the generals and the protest leaders to the negotiating table.

The protests are planned to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamist-backed coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power in 1989, toppling Sudan's last elected government.

The military council said in a statement that the coalition Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters, has the "complete responsibility" for any deaths during Sunday's marches.

The council warned of "any destruction or damage" to people and the state institutions due to "traffic disruption or road closure."

Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said they did not oppose the planned demonstrations.

"We are not against peaceful rallies. But there are vandal people, people who have agenda. We do not want troubles, we do not need strife," he told a gathering of army supporters in Khartoum.

Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, said security forces and troops deployed in the capital, Khartoum aimed at "providing security for people not for harassing them."

The protest leaders said their rallies are planned nationwide, with a focus on Khartoum.

Lt. Gen. Shams Eddin Kabashi, a spokesman for the military council, said the generals were ready to resume "immediate, serious and honest" negotiations to end the political stalemate with the protesters based on a joint proposal offered by the AU and Ethiopia.

The protest leaders did not announce their position from the joint proposal.

The AU and Ethiopia a roadmap was built on previous deals between the protesters and the generals but left the shares in an interim parliament open for negotiations, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

The AU-Ethiopia initiative tackled the disputed sovereign council, proposing a 15-members body, with eight civilian and seven military members. All the civilians would come from the FDFC, except for one independent and "neutral" appointee.

The AU-Ethiopia proposal stipulates that the military would chair the council in the first 18 months, and the FDFC the second half of the transition.

In recent weeks, Ethiopia and the AU have been mediating between the military council and the pro-democracy movement demanding civilian rule. Talks collapsed when Sudanese security forces cleared a protest camp in the capital, Khartoum, earlier this month. The deadly clampdown killed at least 128 people cross the county, according to protest organizers. Authorities say the toll is at 61, including three security forces.

(KA)