Sudan protest group rejects proposal for UN and military talks

A major Sudanese protest group rejected an initiative by the United Nations to hold talks with the military aimed at restoring the country’s democratic transition after the October coup

The move shows that Sudan’s political deadlock and relentless street protests may continue, with at least 60 people killed since the military took over.

A week after the troubled Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned, the United Nations made the proposal on Saturday, 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 the long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir and his Islamic government, the October 25 coup dashed hopes for a peaceful transition.

In a statement, the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the rebellion against Bashir, stated that the “only way” to escape the ongoing crisis is to let the general step down. It seeks a fully civilian government to lead the transition and emphasizes the motto of “no negotiation, no compromise, no power sharing” with the military.

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

Activist Nazim Sirag said that protesters continued to march in Khartoum on Sunday, and security forces fired tear gas in at least one place to disperse the demonstrators. There were no direct reports of casualties.

Volker Perthes, the UN Special Envoy for Sudan, said the talks will be inclusive in an attempt to achieve a “sustainable path to democracy and peace” in the country.

“It’s time to end the violence and enter a constructive process. This process will be inclusive,” he said.

Although the envoy has not provided details of the political process promoted by the United Nations, the refusal of the SPA has dealt a blow to his efforts to bring the general and the democratic movement to the negotiating table.

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

The SPA stated that Perthes’ actions have been “controversial” on the grounds that he worked hard to support an agreement reached by Hamdok with the military in November that reinstated him but put the pro-democracy movement aside.

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

The world and regional powers welcome the initiative of the United Nations.

According to the construction document for the establishment of a transitional government in 2019, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates urge all Sudanese participants to “seize this opportunity to restore the country’s transition to civilian democracy”.

At the United Nations, five countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Albania, France, and Norway — called for a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan. The diplomat said that this might take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.