Leading Sudan pro-democracy group rejects UN mediation efforts

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association refuses to meet UN representatives, accuses UN mission of failing to condemn military coup.

Sudanese protesters clash with security forces during a protest against military coup, in Khartoum, Sudan, 30 January 2022.
Since the coup, at least 79 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded in a widely condemned crackdown on protests [EPA]

Sudan’s leading pro-democracy group has lashed out at the United Nations, accusing it of failing to safeguard the country’s transition to democracy and being soft on the generals who led the October 25 military coup.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which has led dozens of protests since the military takeover in October – and which also led protests in 2019 that led to the removal of Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir – rejected again an initiative by the UN Mission in Sudan aimed at bringing civilians and the military to the negotiating table.

“The UNITAMS mission did not fulfill its mission according to the mandate given to it by the UN Security Council to support and monitor democratic transition in the country,” the group said in a statement on its official Twitter account on Friday.

“Your mission has failed to explicitly condemn the coup,” it added. “All your mission’s moves implied a recognition of the coup authorities.”

The African nation has been on a fragile path to democracy since a popular uprising forced the military to remove al-Bashir and his government in April 2019.

The upheaval in Sudan worsened last month following the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was the civilian face of the transitional government during the past two years.

The prime minister, who was deposed in the October coup only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, stepped down on January 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.

‘Position of neutrality’

Friday’s statement came as the UN mission continued consultations to find a way out of the continuing crisis.

“By including the coup perpetrators, your consultations contradict the aspirations of the Sudanese people in a flagrant way,” the SPA said, addressing Volker Perthes, head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, or UNITAMS.

“The initiative launched by Mr. Volcker … took a position of neutrality towards the military coup in its call for dialogue and communication between the ‘Sudanese parties’,” it said, adding that the position is in “violation of the mandate”.

In the same statement, the SPA reiterated its opposition to any new talks or partnerships with the military. The group has insisted that the military must withdraw from politics and allow a fully civilian government to lead the transition.

The group reiterated a slogan often used during anti-coup protests, saying, “No negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy.”

Meanwhile, the Sovereign Council, formed by al-Burhan after the coup with himself as chairman, welcomed the UN-led dialogue, as have the United States, United Kingdom, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), Sudan’s main civilian bloc, has also said it would join consultations “to restore the democratic transition”.

The consultation sessions are continuing, with Perthes reportedly saying the mission wants to “hear what Sudanese believe is the solution to overcome current political impasse & not the other way around”.

Since the coup, at least 79 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded in a widely condemned crackdown on protests, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee, a medical group tracking casualties among protesters.

There were also widescale arrests of activists leading the anti-coup protests and allegations of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, in a December 19 protest in Khartoum, according to the UN.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies