Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, US urge return of Sudan civilian-led rule

The four countries have urged for the lifting of Sudan’s state of emergency and the release of those recently detained.

Sudanese people protest against a military coup overthrowing the transition to civilian rule on October 25, 2021 in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. [AFP]

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States have urged the restoration of the civilian government in Sudan following last week’s coup.

The two Arab states, which enjoy close ties with Sudan’s ruling military, had previously had only emphasised stability in the country.

“We call for the full and immediate restoration of its civilian-led transitional government and institutions,” the four countries said in a joint statement released on Wednesday by the US Department of State.

“We encourage the release of all those detained in connection with recent events and the lifting of the state of emergency,” they added.

“Violence has no place in the new Sudan, on this point we encourage an effective dialogue between all parties, and we urge all to ensure that the peace and security for the people of Sudan is a top priority.”

The US has led condemnation of the military’s takeover of power on October 25 that interrupted a fragile transition to democracy in which power was shared with a civilian government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was initially detained and then placed under house arrest. Washington immediately froze $700m in economic support that was in the pipeline for Sudan.

Sudan’s military has also faced pressure from the African Union, which suspended the country until “the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority.”

Notably absent from the joint statement is neighbouring Egypt, whose position has been the focus of anger for some of the pro-democracy protesters who have taken to the streets to denounce the power grab.

The statement came as mediation efforts have been under way for several days in search of a negotiated way out of the crisis. Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said last week he wants to form a new government of technocrats, and that Hamdok could return to lead it.

On Wednesday, Hamdok’s office denied a report he had agreed to lead a new government and insisted that the deposed prime minister wanted detainees released and governing bodies restored before entering into any dialogue.

“Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is detained in his residence by order of the coup authorities, is sticking by the conditions that all detainees be released and constitutional institutions be restored [as they were] before Oct. 25, before engaging in any dialogue,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Hamdok was being prevented from communicating with supporters, it added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the Sudan crisis in recent days with his counterparts from both Saudi Arabia and the UAE during a trip to Rome and Glasgow for the Group of 20 and COP26 climate summits.

“I think the Emirates share our concern about the stability in Sudan,” Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, told reporters on Tuesday.

“Our analysis is that the stability in Sudan depends on restoring that partnership between the civilians and the military that was part of the transition,” he said.

He applauded what he described as restraint from both the military and protesters during nationwide anti-coup protests on Saturday, which the US had previously feared could be a bloodbath. In the end, three people died.

“You saw evidence, I think, of the Sudanese understanding that they need to get themselves out of this crisis by the conduct of the demonstrations,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies