France economy

Sudan’s civilian bloc rejects post-coup crisis talks with military

Published on: Amended:

Khartoum (AFP) – Sudan’s civilian bloc on Monday rejected UN-facilitated talks with the military to resolve a crisis sparked by last year’s military coup, saying the meetings failed to address the issue.

The push for the talks comes amid continued street protests, the latest in months of unrest.

The United Nations, along with the African Union and the IGAD regional bloc, have been pushing for Sudanese-led talks to break the deadlock since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military takeover in October, ousting the Civil Forces for Freedom and Change. (FCF).

The FFC said it received an invitation from the UN-AU-IGAD trio for a technical meeting with the army on Wednesday, but “apologised” and said it would not attend.

The October coup derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule that had been established after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019.

The meeting “does not address the nature of the crisis” and any political process must work to “end the coup and establish democratic civilian authority”, the FFC said in a statement.

“This cannot be done by flooding the political process with parties representing the coup camp or linked to the old regime,” he added.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric urged the factions to take part in the talks “in good faith” and to “continue to work towards establishing an environment conducive to constructive dialogue”.

Burhan also called on the political blocs to “engage in the talks”.

Tear gas

Anti-coup protests erupted in several neighborhoods of Khartoum on Monday, with crowds demanding civilian rule.

They were met by a massive deployment of security forces, firing a barrage of tear gas canisters, witnesses said.

Since the coup, Sudan has been rocked by near-weekly protests and a violent crackdown that has killed nearly 100 people, according to pro-democracy doctors.

Last week, Burhan Week lifted the state of emergency in place since the coup to set the stage for “meaningful dialogue that provides stability during the transition period.”

Military officials agreed to launch “direct talks” between the Sudanese factions.

In recent weeks, authorities have also released several civilian leaders and pro-democracy activists arrested since the coup.

However, the FFC said on Monday that other activists remained in jail and the ruthless crackdown on protests continued.

On Saturday, UN human rights expert Adama Dieng, on his second visit to Sudan since the coup, denounced the killing of protesters and “excessive use of force” by security forces .

On Sunday, US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee arrived in Sudan to “support the Sudanese-led process to resolve the crisis”.

Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, was already reeling from a plummeting economy due to decades of international isolation and mismanagement under Bashir.

But unrest has intensified since the coup amid cuts to international aid.

During separate unrest in eastern Sudan, crowds blocked major roads leading to Port Sudan, the country’s main trading hub on the Red Sea, to protest a 2020 peace deal.

Protestors from the Beja people of eastern Sudan say the fragile peace deal does not represent them.