Sudan military council's offer of elections in 9 months rejected

Sudanese security forces ride in the back of a pick up truck through a main avenue in Khartoum on Tuesday. — AFP
Sudanese security forces ride in the back of a pick up truck through a main avenue in Khartoum on Tuesday. — AFP

KHARTOUM — Sudan's ruling military council said on Tuesday it was canceling all agreements with the main opposition coalition and called for elections within nine months after protest rocked Sudan on Monday.

Sudan's opposition on Tuesday rejected the plan by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hold elections within nine months.

TMC spokesman Lt. Gen. Shams El Din Kabbashi said security forces were pursuing "unruly elements" who had fled to the protest site and caused chaos.

Also talks between a coalition of protesters and opposition parties have ground to a halt amid deep differences over who will lead a transition to democracy that both sides had agreed will last for three years.

In a televised address in the early hours of Tuesday morning, TMC leader Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan said that the opposition coalition was equally responsible for the delay in coming to a final agreement.

The TMC had decided to cancel all agreements with the protest groups and call for elections within nine months, which he said will be organized under regional and international supervision.

"Gaining legitimacy and a mandate does not come but through the ballot box," Burhan said. He also announced that a government would immediately be formed to run the country until elections are held.

Burhan said he regretted the violence and said it would be investigated.

The mood in the capital Khartoum was very tense on Tuesday, with many roads barricaded by protesters, many shops shut and streets mostly empty. Security forces were trying to clear the barricades, a Reuters witness said.

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) vehicles were patrolling the streets in Omdurman, on the other side of the River Nile from Khartoum.

Sudan has been rocked by unrest since December, when anger over rising bread prices and cash shortages broke into sustained protests that culminated in the armed forces ousting Omar Bashir.

The security forces' operation drew condemnation from Europe, the United States and the African Union. — Reuters