Sudan protest organizers reject U.N. mediation offer

Published : January 10, 2022 16:48 IST

Protesters in Sudan rallied again on January 9 in support of a return to civilian rule. Photo: Marwan Ali/AP/picture alliance

One of Sudan's leading protest organizers has refused a U.N. call for dialogue aimed at restoring civilian rule.

One of the major organizers of Sudan's anti-coup protests, the Sudanese Professionals' Association, refused an offer from the U.N. to mediate talks with the military on January 9. The U.N. has hoped to help broker a deal following a military coup last October. The U.N. 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 January 10, where it is expected he will outline the details of his proposal. The U.N. Security Council will meet on January 12 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 U.N. wish to broker talks?

The U.N.'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 January 9, 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 on January 9 during the protests?

On January 9, 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 on January 9 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 on January 9 calling for security guarantees at hospitals which have been stormed by the government during protests.

ar/wd (AFP, AP)