Sudan protest groups reject UN offer for talks with military

CAIRO (AP) — A major Sudanese protest group was rejected on Sunday UN initiative to hold talks with military Aims to restore the country’s democratic transition after the October coup. Meanwhile, at least one demonstrator was killed when security forces violently broke up anti-coup protests in the capital, activists said.

The move is a blow to international efforts to end Sudan’s political deadlock and signal that relentless street protests are likely to continue. More than 60 people have been killed since the military takeover.

UN’s proposal on Saturday comes a week later Troubled Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok resigns, citing the failure to reach a compromise between the generals and the pro-democracy movement.

More than two years after a popular uprising forced the military to overthrow longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government, the Oct. 25 coup dashed hopes of a peaceful transition.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which leads the opposition to Bashir, said in a statement that the “only way” out of the ongoing crisis was to remove the general from power. It seeks a fully civilian government to lead the transition and underscores its motto of “no negotiation, no compromise, no power sharing” with the military.

The SPA, along with a youth group known as the Resistance Committee, has been a mainstay of anti-coup protests.

Protesters continued their march in Khartoum on Sunday as security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace, according to activist Nazim Sirag.

Security forces also opened fire on protesters in the capital’s Bahri district. At least one protester was killed and another was shot in the leg, Silager said.

Health care workers who took part in Sunday’s protests demanded that the government guarantee the safety of hospitals, which have been repeatedly attacked by security forces during the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, a young protester died in hospital from his injuries on Sunday, the Sudanese Doctors Council said. Alaa el-din Adel, 17, was shot in the neck during protests in the twin cities of Omdurman in Khartoum on Thursday.

Volker Perthes, the UN special envoy for Sudan, said the talks would be inclusive in an attempt to reach a “sustainable path to democracy and peace” in the country.

“It is time to end the violence and enter into a constructive process. The process will be inclusive,” he said.

Although the envoy has yet to provide details of the political process brokered by the United Nations, the SPA’s refusal has dealt a blow to his efforts to bring the generals and the pro-democracy movement to the negotiating table.

Perthes plans to provide more details at a news conference in Khartoum on Monday.

The SPA said Pertus’ move had been “controversial”, citing his efforts to back Hamdock’s November deal with the military that reinstated him but sidelined the pro-democracy movement.

“He must listen carefully to the goals of our proud people and their revolutionary forces in establishing a completely civilian state,” it said.

World and regional powers welcomed the UN initiative.

The United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates urged all Sudanese participants to “seize this opportunity to restore the country’s transition to civilian democracy,” according to a constructive 2019 document establishing a transitional government.

At the UN, five countries – the US, UK, Albania, France and Norway – have called for a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan. Diplomats said it could take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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