Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt — The United Nations began holding meetings with Sudanese groups on Monday to find a way out of the political stalemate that has crippled the country since an October military coup, the UN envoy said.
The October 25 takeover dashed hopes of a peaceful transition to a civilian-run democratic government for two years after a popular uprising forced longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government to be overthrown by the military.
More than 60 protesters have been killed since the fall coup sparked relentless street protests as security forces clamped down on demonstrations.
Volker Pertes, the UN special envoy for Sudan, told a news conference in the Khartoum capital that the overarching goal of the consultations was to build trust between the military and the pro-democracy movement before direct talks were possible.
“I do hope that these consultations can be a confidence-building measure and at least help reduce violence,” he said.
Unrest in Sudan has intensified with the resignation of embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok last week as the military and the pro-democracy movement failed to reach a compromise.
Perthes said talks that began on Monday could eventually lead to “some consensus” that would help find a compromise to ease the deadlock.
He said the UN delegation was meeting with a civil society group on Monday and would continue to engage with other participants in the coming days.
“We want to move quickly,” Perthes said. “The situation in Sudan and we are under a lot of pressure.”
He said some protest groups had rejected the UN’s offer to negotiate and made the removal of the military a condition of negotiations.
Perthes mainly refers to the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the uprising against Bashir. The SPA on Sunday announced its refusal to negotiate, saying the only way out of the ongoing crisis is to remove the generals from power.
“We don’t offer negotiations. We offer consultations. Direct or indirect negotiations could go into phase two,” Perthes said.
In a statement, the ruling Sovereign Council welcomed the UN initiative to promote dialogue among Sudanese actors and called on the African Union to “support and contribute” to the effort.
Meanwhile, a 16-year-old protester died on Monday from injuries sustained during a demonstration in Khartoum’s Bahri district a day earlier, activist Nazim Siraq said.
More than 90 people were injured in Sunday’s anti-coup protests, according to the Sudanese Medical Council.
Twenty-two officers were also injured and four vehicles were damaged, the police statement said. At least 86 people were arrested during the protests, the statement said.
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