Sudan risks counter coup without deal on transition: opposition leader

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan could face a counter coup if military rulers and the opposition do not reach agreement on a transition of power, leading opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi said on Thursday.

Mahdi said he believed Sudan’s military council would hand over power to civilians if the current stalemate were broken. He also said he would consider running for president only in an election, not during the transition period.

“I think their intentions are good,” he said of the army generals who toppled President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on April 11, three decades after he himself seized power in a coup, and then formed the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

“They are not interested in a military government.”

Mahdi, Sudan’s last elected prime minister, was toppled by Bashir in a bloodless coup in 1989. He is Sudan’s most prominent politician, and Mahdi’s Umma party is engaged in the negotiations with the TMC.

Hardliners from Bashir’s National Congress Party could stage a coup along with allies in the army if the TMC and the opposition fail to make progress in talks, Mahdi said.

Bashir fell after weeks of mass protests and the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the main protest organizer, called for a million-strong march to take place later on Thursday to press for civilian rule.