Barricade protests bring life to halt in Sudanese capital

KHARTOUM, March 23 (Reuters) - Sudanese demonstrators erected barricades that paralysed much of the capital Khartoum for the second day on Wednesday, protesting against a military coup whose leader called for dialogue.

Sudan has been in political deadlock and economic turmoil since a coup in October ended a civilian-military power-sharing agreement. Military leaders have not appointed a prime minister.

In an interview with Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat, the head of the ruling council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said that a premier would not be named before talks with political forces, an apparent softening of his position.

"When all the civilian forces sit together and come to a consensus between them, we are ready to sit and come to an understanding with them or to present them with whatever they need from the military side," he said.

While Burhan has said the coup was a necessary corrective to political infighting, civilian politicians accuse the military of seeking to advance allied politicians in order to consolidate control.

An ongoing U.N. and African Union-led dialogue process is the best chance for finding a way out of the crisis, he said.

Resistance committees that have led five months of protests reject talks with the military, who they want to quit politics. On Tuesday, they began a two-day campaign of blocking many of Khartoum's streets with barricades of bricks, rocks, and tree branches.

"We will continue to barricade, strike, protest, and all forms of resistance until we bring down the coup. Our future is in democracy, not dictatorship," said Mohammed Hassan, a 21-year-old student at a barricade in Omdurman, one of Khartoum's sister cities.

Not everyone was supportive. "Protests and blocking the roads will not bring down the government," said 63-year-old store owner Ibrahim Salih, complaining of a slowdown to business.

The dollar was trading at about 650 Sudanese pounds at local banks and about 710 pounds on the black market - down from about 450 pounds to the dollar at the time of the coup.

Medics aligned with the protest movement have recorded at least 89 civilian deaths in security crackdowns on protests since the coup. Burhan said several suspects, some from among security forces, had been arrested.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum and Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo; editing by Aidan Lewis and Mark Heinrich

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