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Sudan military leader calls for elections within 9 months

By Darryl Coote
Sudan military leader calls for elections within 9 months
Sudanese soldiers walk in a street leading to the sit-in site near the military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, where protesters were violently dispersed Monday, resulting in at least 35 people killed. Photo by Amel Pain/EPA-EFE

June 4 (UPI) -- Sudan's military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called on Tuesday for general elections to be held within nine months while terminating previous agreements the military had made with the opposition.

The announcement came a day after Transitional Military Council forces used live ammunition to break up a sit-in protest that began in April in front of the Defense Ministry in the Khartoum capital. At least 35 people were killed and hundreds were injured in the early morning attack, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said.

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"General elections will be held no later than nine months from now," al-Burhan said in a televised message, the Sudan Tribune reported.

He also announced the cancellation of agreements reached with the opposition, the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, to hand over the country to civil rule within three years. Negotiations continued following that agreement over what the ratio of military to civil personnel should look like in the transitional government.

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He also said a so-called caretaker government will be established to hold officials "involved in corruption or other crimes" accountable. This move, he said, is to achieve lasting peace and create a suitable environment for general elections.

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The announcement follows the DFCF announcing it terminated negotiations with the TMC in response to Monday's attack, which it described as a "massacre on civilians."

The group also announced a nationwide strike and complete civil disobedience, effective immediately.

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Monday's attack attracted international condemnation with Amnesty International urging sanctions be applied to those who perpetrated the attack and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying in a statement that he "strongly condemns the violence" and "the use of force to disperse the protestors at the sit-in site."

The weeks-long protest at the ministry was dispersed violently Monday by security forces who, following the use of tear gas and a sound grenade, opened fire on the crowd.

The protests began in early April to urge the military to dethrone Sudan's dictator-president, Omar al-Bashir, who held the country's reigns for 30 years.

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The military deposed of al-Bashir April 11, but protests persisted demanding that the country be handed over to civil rule.

On Monday, National Security Adviser John Bolton condemned the day's violence, urging the TMC to listen to its people.

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"The TMC must respect the right to peaceful demonstration and speed transition to a civilian-led government, which the Sudanese people have rightfully demanded," he said on Twitter.

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