| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

Sudanese talks make progress, source says, as international pressure grows

As the US and the UN urged for a solution, a source close to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok indicated on Thursday that talks between him and the leaders of an Oct. 25 military coup are progressing.

According to a second source, Sudan’s military may soon organize a new 14-member sovereign council as a first step in forming new transitional institutions.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Thursday, urging him to restore constitutional order and the transitional process, in the latest sign of mounting international pressure.

Burhan promised to speed up the formation of a government in a phone discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, according to Burhan’s office.

“The two parties agreed on the importance of maintaining the democratic transition road, completing the transitional government’s structures, and expediting the creation of the government,” his office said.

Blinken asked Burhan to immediately release all political personalities jailed since the coup and “return to a discussion that returns Prime Minister Hamdok to office and restores civilian-led administration in Sudan,” according to the US State Department.

The UN has been attempting to negotiate a resolution to the political crisis that has erupted in the aftermath of the coup, which saw prominent civilian leaders jailed and Hamdok placed under house arrest.

Special Representative Volker Perthes, the United Nations special envoy for Sudan, said talks had yielded the outline of a potential settlement on a return to power-sharing, including the reinstatement of the ousted premier.

But he urged an agreement in “days not weeks” before both sides’ positions harden.

Hamdok has demanded the release of all detainees and the reversal of the coup as conditions for any further negotiations with the military.

The country’s highest authority, the joint civilian-military Sovereign Council, had been dissolved by Burhan along with the civilian-led cabinet.

Burhan, who says he is committed to a transition to democracy and elections, said after the coup that a new Sovereign Council and cabinet would be appointed.

Late on Thursday, state TV said Burhan had ordered the release of four civilian members of Hamdok’s cabinet who had been detained.

The four ministers were Hamza Baloul, Ali Jiddo, Hashim Hasabalrasoul and Yousef Adam, it added. Other ministers and officials not released were facing criminal cases, said the person close to the negotiations.

Several of the officials still detained had engaged in a war of words with the military in the weeks leading up to the coup.

Neighbourhood resistance committees, which have led protests since the coup and held demonstrations on Thursday, reject negotiations and have demanded that the military exit politics.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the 2019 protests that brought down Omar al-Bashir, called late on Thursday for two days of general strikes on Sunday and Monday in protest against military rule.

  • Reuters