Saudi Crown Prince meets Sudan army council deputy

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman met the deputy head of Sudan’s transitional military council who is visiting Saudi Arabia, Saudi Press Agency said early on Friday.

The meeting between Prince Mohammad and General Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, who goes by the nickname Hemedti, was held in the city of Jeddah, where they discussed cooperation between the two countries, SPA added.

Earlier this week Saudi Arabia deposited $250 million with the Sudanese central bank, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s ministry of finance.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged to send $3 billion worth of aid to Sudan, after mass protests led to the ouster of president Omar Al Bashir last month.

At 44, Dagalo is the youngest member of the council.

He says he refused orders from Al Bashir to fire on the protesters, and he praised them as recently as last weekend, saying “we want the democracy they are talking about.”

Many see him as an ally against the Islamic movement that orchestrated Al Bashir’s 1989 coup and underpinned his regime.

Hemedti has supplied ground forces to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen and is close to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which also hope to sideline the Islamists.

Weeks after the army ousted Al Bashir, Sudan is gripped by uncertainty as talks between the military rulers and protesters on the transition to civilian rule remain deadlocked.

Protest leaders have said that preparations are under way for a “general strike and civil disobedience” to pressure the generals to cede power, after the latest round of talks fell through with no agreement.

Thousands of protesters have remained camped around-the-clock outside the army headquarters in Khartoum clamouring for civilian rule since Al Bashir’s ouster on April 11.

Although their determination has not waned, they have been unable to reach a deal with the military despite three rounds of talks on forming a new governing body that would replace the generals.

The latest round broke up early Tuesday but neither side has said when the talks will resume.

There are three forces at play: the ruling military council, the protest umbrella group Alliance for Freedom and Change and the demonstrators themselves.

According to prominent Sudanese journalist Khalid Al Tijani, the military council is determined to “have a role because it considers itself a key partner in change”.

The Alliance, he said, “is divided over the role the generals should play” in a future government.

The demonstrators are also divided into two camps, with one “leaning towards negotiations” with the generals on a future transition while the other is adamant that the military council must be ousted, said Al Tijani.

“The situation seems to have hit a dead end because the negotiating parties are focused on the form and not the substance,” he added.

Last week violence flared at the protest site, leaving five protesters and an army major dead and many civilians and security forces wounded from gunshots.