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EU denounces violence against protesters in Sudan

CAIRO (AP) — The European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief on Tuesday said Sudan’s military rulers have shown an unwillingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the country’s ongoing crisis, a day after security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters in the capital, Khartoum.

At least seven people were killed.

Across Sudan, the pro-democracy movement kicked off a civil disobedience campaign to protest Monday’s killings.

More than 70 people have been killed and hundreds of others have been wounded in mass protests since the military took over on October 25, removing the country’s civilian-led government.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that repeated calls for Sudanese authorities to refrain from violence against protesters “have fallen on deaf ears”.

The coup has upended Sudan’s transition to democratic rule after three decades of repression and international isolation under autocratic President Omar al-Bashir. The African nation has been on a fragile path to democracy since a popular uprising forced the military to remove al-Bashir and his government in April 2019.

People burn tyres as part of a civil disobedience campaign in Sudan. PHOTO: AP

Borrell said the ongoing crackdown, including violence against civilians and the detention of activists and journalists, has put Sudan on “a dangerous path away from peace and stability”.

He urged the military authorities to de-escalate tensions, saying that “avoiding further loss of life is of the essence”.

The crackdown, Borrell said, also risks derailing United Nations (UN) efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis that has worsened with the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month.

Hamdok, who was ousted in the October coup only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, stepped down on January 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.

He was the civilian face of the transitional government over the past two years.

There was no immediate comment from Khartoum to EU’s condemnation but General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, ordered the formation of a fact-finding commission to investigate the killings, the council said. The commission, which will include security agencies and the public prosecution, has 72 hours to report back, it said.

Monday was one of the deadliest in Sudan since the coup. Security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators in Khartoum. Along with the seven killed, around 100 were wounded, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee.

The Doctors Without Borders medical group, which is known by its French acronym MSF, said it was “very chaotic” Monday at the al-Jawda hospital in Khartoum, where at least 60 people were treated from gunshots.

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