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Sudan protest organizers reject UN mediation offer

January 9, 2022

One of Sudan's leading protest organizers has refused a UN call for dialogue aimed at restoring civilian rule. The UN has hoped to broker talks between the anti-coup movement and the military.

People chant slogans in Khartoum as several wave the Sudanese flag
Protesters in Sudan rallied again on Sunday in support of a return to civilian ruleImage: Marwan Ali/AP/picture alliance

One of the major organizers of Sudan's anti-coup protests, the Sudanese Professionals' Association, refused an offer from the UN to mediate talks with the military on Sunday.

The UN has hoped to help broker a deal following a military coup last October.

The UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, has said talks were the "sustainable path forward toward democracy and peace," and called for an "end to the violence." He claimed the process would be "inclusive," though protesters do not seek a power-sharing agreement but rather a return to civilian rule.

Perthes has planned a news conference for Monday, where it is expected he will outline the details of his proposal. The UN Security Council will meet Wednesday to discuss Sudan.

Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the umbrella coalition for the groups behind the protests, said it had not received any details of Perthes' proposal.

Why does the UN wish to broker talks?

The UN's offer to mediate comes a week after the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. He said the inability of the generals to compromise with protesters was behind his decision to step down.

The Sudanese Professionals' Association has said it sees Perthes as being behind that arrangement, which they've discredited as it sidelined pro-democracy forces, a position Hamdok similarly realized was untenable when he resigned.

The protest organizers' rejection of the offer came amid renewed protests on Sunday, which are expected to continue.

More than 60 people have been killed since the military took over.

What has the protest movement said?

The Sudanese Professionals' Association said in a statement that the "only way" out of the crisis was through the removal of the generals from the seats of power in the country.

The protest movement wants civilian leadership restored, underscored by the protest slogan, "No negotiations, no compromise, no power-sharing'' with the generals.

The coup on October 25 came two years after mass protests led to the ouster of the country's previous longtime autocratic ruler, Omar al-Bashir.

Together with youth groups known as Resistance Committees, the Sudanese Professionals' Association have buttressed the movement against military rule.

What happened Sunday during the protests?

On Sunday, protests in the capital, Khartoum, and other cities continued as thousands rallied against the country's military rulers.

Activist Nazim Sirag told the AFP news agency that security forces fired tear gas at protesters near the presidential palace. One protester was injured when security forces opened fire in Khartoum's Bahri district.

The Sudanese Doctors Committee said a teenage protester, Alaa el-din Adel, 17, died Sunday after succumbing to a wound to the neck during protests in Omdurman near Khartoum. His death brings the total number of people who have died since protests began to 61, the committee said.

Health care workers in white coats also joined protests Sunday calling for security guarantees at hospitals which have been stormed by the government during protests.

ar/wd (AFP, AP)