UN begins talks to end political deadlock in Sudan

The UN says it has started meetings with Sudanese groups to find a way out of the political deadlock that has crippled the country since the October military coup.

The October 25 takeover sapped hopes for a peaceful transition to a democratic civilian-led government for more than two years after a popular uprising forced the military overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar el- Bashir and his Islamist government.

The fall coup sparked relentless street protests and more than 60 protesters have since been killed as security forces cracked down on protests.

Volker Perthes, the UN envoy for Sudan, told a press conference in the capital Khartoum that the consultations will first aim to build trust between the military and the pro-democracy movement before they ‘they don’t engage in direct talks.

“I hope these consultations can become something of a confidence-building measure and at least help reduce violence,” he said.

The unrest in Sudan escalated with the resignation of besieged Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok last week following a failed compromise between the military and the pro-democracy movement.

Perthes said the consultations which began on Monday could eventually lead to “some consensus” that would help find a compromise to break the deadlock.

The UN mission was meeting with a civil society group on Monday and would continue to engage with other actors in the coming days, he said.

“We want to go fast,” Perthes said. “There is a lot of pressure on the situation in Sudan and on us. “

He said some protest groups rejected the UN’s offer of talks and posited the military’s withdrawal from power as a condition for entering into negotiations.

Perthes was primarily referring to the Association of Sudanese Professionals, which led the uprising against al-Bashir. The SPA announced on Sunday its rejection of the talks, saying the only way out of the current crisis was the removal of the generals from power.

“We don’t offer negotiations. We offer consultations. Negotiations, direct or indirect, can enter a second phase, “said Perthes.

In a statement, the ruling Sovereign Council welcomed the UN initiative to facilitate talks between Sudanese actors and called on the African Union to “support and contribute” to the effort.

A 16-year-old protester, meanwhile, died on Monday from injuries he sustained while participating in protests the day before in Khartoum’s Bahri district, activist Nazim Sirag said.

More than 90 people were injured in anti-coup protests on Sunday, according to the Sudan Medical Committee.

A police statement said 22 police officers were also injured and four vehicles were damaged. At least 86 people were arrested during the demonstration, the statement said.

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