Khartoum, Sudan (AP) — The military chief and the ousted premier of Sudan agreed on Saturday to reinstate the civil service and the prime minister’s office as well as free political detainees and restore all constitutional powers, but they failed to reach a wider deal for political power-sharing.
After their meeting at an army camp in south Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, Gen. Salah Abdallah said the army and the ruling party will resume their decisions and decisions of the previous period. Abdallah took over as commander of the armed forces after the fall of then-Prime Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, who lost a referendum to form an independent state south of the Nile last month.
Abdallah said no deal was reached on allowing the deposed Ghandour to return to his post but said a diplomatic statement would be issued later this week. “We agreed in the end not to compromise, and to continue supporting the national unity government,” he said.
The military did not say if Ghandour had to be arrested, but said Abdallah would lead the government only for the time being.
The government of President Omar al-Bashir has allowed the military to intervene in daily politics, in what has many here fearing a new Sudanese style of political dictatorship. Abdallah pledged to ensure a “civil service run by the civil servants” and a return to work for civil servants and government employees “without interruptions.”
The military has helped al-Bashir by preventing protests against austerity measures and fuel subsidies cuts.
In Washington, the State Department condemned the attacks on the judiciary, but expressed hope that “all parties will adhere to their promise to respect the right to peaceful assembly.”
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Over the past several days the Sudanese president’s state-owned media and most state-affiliated private broadcasters have virtually ignored the popular uprising demanding a way out of austerity measures.
The U.S. Embassy here issued a statement saying it strongly condemned all efforts to repress freedom of expression and the right to assemble. “These efforts will not help the government of Sudan resolve this crisis peacefully,” the embassy said.
The International Crisis Group earlier this week in a statement said the military’s actions “advance the most chilling coup proposal since Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.”
Africa’s largest country with 10 million people, Sudan was plunged into instability after the ouster of al-Bashir in a 1989 coup. Rebels fought for more than two decades in what is now South Sudan in an attempt to topple al-Bashir. The conflict ended in 2011 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that formed the multi-ethnic South Sudan government.
The umbrella opposition group Reform and Development Alliance criticized the ruling party’s “no-confidence” vote in Ghandour, saying it violated the Constitution.
“The document is illegal, and it must be reviewed,” its president, Khalil Ibrahim, said after the parliamentary vote last week.
After the referendum south Sudanese said they wanted more representation in parliament and more powers for the new country in exchange for siding with Khartoum.
The group Sudanese Congress Party also boycotted the vote and warned it may hit the federation in an undeclared civil war, in which over 80 people have died. A massacre of civilians in Burri, in South Kordofan state, sparked public protests but it was quickly suppressed. South Sudanese officials later claimed opposition forces may have carried out the massacre.
The two federations will be “completely split in two,” said Ibrahim.
It was unclear whether Sunday’s anniversary celebrations marking Sudan’s independence will include no-confidence motions against government leaders in Khartoum, because the government has said there will be no changes.
After the civil war, Sudan dissolved its first elected parliament but agreed on a transitional government formed by the two countries after negotiations led by the United Nations. It was supposed to continue until 2015, but al-Bashir dissolved it, saying state institutions had not been properly replaced.