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Mediation calls for direct talks over Sovereign Council between Sudanese parties

July 2, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - African Union envoy and Ethiopian mediator said on Tuesday they sent invitations to the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change to join the negotiating table for direct talks on the disputed leadership of the Sovereign Council.

Ethiopian mediator and AU envoy speak to reporters in a joint press conference on 2 July 2019 (SUNA photo)In a joint press conference held in Khartoum, Ethiopian and AU special envoys Mahamoud Dirir and Professor Hacen El Lebatt told reporters they had received "positive" responses from the two sides on the draft agreement made to settle the ongoing dispute over the transitional institutions.

The envoys made a joint proposal providing to form a 15-member Sovereign Council including seven from each side and additional individual picked by the two sides by consensus.

The proposal, however, delayed the formation of the legislative council for three months, as the military junta retracted from a previous agreement giving the FFC 67% of the parliament’s members.

El Lebatt urged the two parties to participate in the meeting to resolve the points of contention, adding, "we invited the parties to hold direct negotiations between them on Wednesday to resolve the point of disagreement concerning the Sovereign Council."

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) had given the junta until the end of June to hand over power to civilian-led administration formed in agreement with the Forces for Freedom and Change. It further threatened to take punitive measures against TMC members if they refuse to transfer power.

The PSC will meet on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Niger on the seventh and eighth of July and will discuss the Sudanese crisis.

For his part, the Ethiopian mediator, Dirir said the mediation will continues to talks with the TMC and FFC and various parties until reaching an agreement that ends the crisis and establishes a transitional authority.

"The military council and the FFC change responded positively to the mediation proposal and it can be a good basis for future negotiations," Dirir said.

"After receiving their comments, the mediation welcomed this positive position of the parties and there is only one issue that the parties have not reached a consensus on it. So, the mediation calls on the parties to hold direct negotiations to resolve outstanding issues, on Wednesday".

The forces of freedom and change refuse to enter into direct negotiations with the Council as a result of the Council’s failure to take a number of steps to restore confidence between the parties, including lifting the ban on the Internet and the formation of an independent commission of investigation to investigate the killing of protesters on June 3 during an attack on the pro-democracy sit-in by the Rapid Support Forces and other security forces.

The FFC factions will hold a meeting on Wednesday morning to decide if they will meet with the military junta or not.

The opposition is divided over the usefulness such a meeting as many believe that the council is not credible and can come up with new demands.

Others, told Sudan Tribune they support taking part in the meeting as it will provide a new opportunity to show how much they are "reckless and incredible".