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UN announces talks to help resolve Sudan’s political crisis

KHARTOUM (AFP) – The United Nations (UN) will launch talks to help Sudan resolve its escalating political crisis triggered by last year’s military coup, the UN envoy said, earning a mixed response.

“It is time to end the violence and enter into a comprehensive consultative process,” said UN special representative Volker Perthes, vowing at a press conference to facilitate “indirect talks” between all sides.

His comments came a day after Sudanese security forces again fired tear gas at anti-coup protesters, leaving two demonstrators dead including one who died on Monday morning from wounds to the head.

Perthes said consultations would be held with political and social actors along with armed and civil society groups. But he stressed that “the UN is not coming up with any project, draft or vision for a solution”.

“These are all Sudanese issues for the Sudanese to agree on,” he said, ahead of a scheduled meeting by the UN Security Council today to discuss the crisis in the northeast African country.

People chant slogans during a protest to denounce the October 2021 military coup in Khartoum, Sudan. PHOTO: AP

Sudan was thrown into turmoil when Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched the power grab on October 25, detaining Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his Cabinet for several weeks.

The putsch derailed a fragile power-sharing transition between the military and civilian leaders that followed the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Crowds of Sudanese have taken to the streets since – sometimes in their tens of thousands – to demand civilian rule.

At least 63 people have been killed in a violent crackdown, according to medics.

Later on Monday, Sudan’s ruling sovereign council – formed by Burhan following the coup with himself as its chair – welcomed the UN push.

In a statement, the council also called for the African Union – which suspended Sudan following the coup – “to back the initiative and contribute to the success of the Sudanese dialogue efforts.”

The UN-facilitated talks now “aim to support the Sudanese to reach an agreement on a way out of the current crisis,” said Perthes, who heads the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).