Saudi Arabia, UAE call for civilian-led government in Sudan

World

CAIRO (AP) — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday joined calls for the immediate restoration of a civilian-led government in Sudan after a military coup in the African nation.

A joint statement by the two nations, plus the United States and the United Kingdom, also urged the military to release those detained in connection to the takeover and lift the state of emergency imposed across the country since Oct. 25.

The statement will likely put pressure on Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the coup leader, and his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, to give concessions during ongoing negotiations to find a way out of the crisis. Both Burhan and Dagalo are close allies with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“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 four-nation statement said.

Buhan, head of the Sudanese military, dissolved the transitional government and detained many other government officials and political leaders. The coup, widely condemned by the U.S. and the West, has come more than two years after a popular uprising forced the military’s removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.

The takeover has threatened to derail Sudan’s already fragile transition democracy and further inflame the volatile Horn of Africa.

Burhan met Wednesday in Khartoum with Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa, to discuss mediation efforts. The Sudanese leader said the military would name a prime minister who will appoint a technocratic Cabinet, without mentioning Hamdok as a candidate, according to the state-run SUND news agency.

Burhan has claimed that the takeover was necessary to prevent a civil war, citing what he said were growing divisions among political groups. However, the coup came less than a month before he was to have handed some power to a civilian.

The U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia and the UAE has also called for “further dialogue about how to restore and uphold a genuine civil-military partnership for the remainder of the transitional period, pending elections,” in accordance with the 2019 constitution document and a peace deal with rebel groups last year.

The document was reached in August 2019 after months of torturous negotiations between the military and the protest movement that led the uprising against al-Bashir. It established a transitional government that include a civilian-military Sovereign Council and a Cabinet, led by former U.N. economist Abdalla Hamdok, to run the day-to-day affairs.

Since last week, U.N. representatives have shuttled between the military and pro-democracy leaders. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has engaged with regional powers in efforts to restore the civilian-led government.

Volker Perthes, the U.N. envoy in Sudan, has said Monday that mediation efforts were ongoing “in Khartoum by a host of actors, with both Hamdok and Burhan “are interested … in mediation.”

“The contours of an agreement seem within reach, but we cannot speculate when a deal will be reached,” Perthes told a group of journalists in Khartoum Wednesday.

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