CAIRO (AP) — A Sudanese pro-democracy group has condemned comments by the U.N. chief urging citizens to support a deal that reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, so the country can have “a peaceful transition towards a true democracy.”
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which was at the forefront of the uprising against former autocrat Omar al-Bashir, rejected late Friday Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s comments as a “moral and political failure.”
Hamdok was deposed as part of the Oct. 25 coup by military leaders that brought international criticism and disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy. He was reinstated last month amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight.
The SPA said Guterres’s comments were seen as a “justification for violence” against anti-coup protesters, who vowed to continue their street demonstrations against the deal despite deadly violence by security forces.
The United States, its allies and the United Nations have condemned the use of excessive force against protesters who have since taken to the streets en masse. Dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds others were wounded since the Oct. 25 coup.
The agreement, signed on Nov. 21, has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.
Guterres told a news conference Wednesday that he understands “the indignation” and outrage of Sudanese who have seen the military coup and don’t want any solution involving the military.
“But I would like to appeal for common sense,” he said. “We have a situation which is, yes, not perfect, but which could allow for a transition towards democracy.”
The U.N. chief warned that calling into question the solution that led to Hamdok’s reinstatement “would be very dangerous for Sudan.”
The SPA said it would continue peaceful protests until the establishment of a “full civilian” government to achieve the democratic transition.
Hamdok’s reinstatement is the biggest concession made by the military since the coup but the takeover has left the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis.
Since his appointment in 2019, Hamdok has been the civilian face of the government and one of the pro-democracy movement’s most respected figures. But Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have said the deal that reinstated him falls short of their demands for full civilian rule.
Coup architect Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, meanwhile said the deal was “a true start” for the democratic transition.
He told the Saudi Arabia-owned satellite news network Al-Arabia in an interview aired late Friday that the military has sought to establish a broader consensus with a “new political charter,” that will be announced soon.
“I am optimistic that most of the political forces will sign the new agreement,” he said. “It will be open to include all political forces that want to complete the democratic transition.”
Burhan has asserted that Hamdok has “full authority” to appoint his technocratic Cabinet as stated in the November deal reinstating Hamdok.
“We just want him to have independent figures that don’t have political affiliations… Other than that, there are no restrictions on him,” Burhan said.
In the western Darfur region, meanwhile, tribal clashes over the past two months have claimed the lives of at least 45 people in a single town, the Sudan Doctors Committee said Saturday.
The group said the killings — all by gunshot — took place in the town of Tawila, in South Darfur province. It did not give further details but said the tally could be even higher given that a dire security situation prevented many people from reaching hospitals.
Darfur has seen a series of deadly clashes in recent months, sparking fears the war-torn region could slide back into conflict. It also raises questions over whether the government can implement a peace deal there and protect civilians.