UN official says Sudan deal under discussion

The UN special envoy says the deal has to be agreed in “days not weeks” before both sides’ positions harden



People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, amid ongoing demonstrations against a military takeover in Khartoum. — AP
People chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, amid ongoing demonstrations against a military takeover in Khartoum. — AP

By Reuters

Published: Thu 4 Nov 2021, 9:45 PM

Last updated: Thu 4 Nov 2021, 9:46 PM

The UN special envoy for Sudan said talks had yielded the outline of a potential deal on a return to power-sharing, including restoration of the ousted premier, but it had to be agreed in “days not weeks” before both sides’ positions harden.

The United Nations has been coordinating efforts to find a way out of the country’s crisis following a coup by the military on October 25 in which top civilian politicians were detained and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was placed under house arrest.

Disclosing the “contours” of a potential deal publicly for the first time, the envoy, Volker Perthes, said these included: The return of Hamdok to office, the release of detainees, the lifting of a state of emergency, as well as adjustments to some transitional institutions and a new technocratic cabinet.

“The longer you wait the more difficult it is to implement such an agreement and get the necessary buy in from the street and from the political forces,” Perthes, special representative of the Secretary General and head of the United Nations’ Integrated Transition Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), said in an interview.

“It will also become more difficult for the military, as pressures to appoint some government, whatever its credibility, will increase. And the positions of both sides would harden. We are speaking of days not of weeks,” he added.

“Now the question is, are both sides willing to commit to that. Here we still have at least a few hiccups,” Perthes told Reuters.

General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan has said he acted last week to avert civil war after civilian politicians stoked hostility towards the armed forces. He says he is committed to the civilian democratic transition and elections in July 2023.

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 talks effectively represented “the last chance,” for the military to come to a negotiated deal, Perthes said, adding that there appeared to be discussions inside the military on whether or not to take advantage of it.

Releasing detainees and resuming internet access would be steps the military could take to de-escalate the situation and garner more support for a deal, Perthes said.

“In any such situations, there are forces inside and outside who encourage the parties to take a harder course, refuse concessions, and simply sit it out,” he said.

Sudanese state television said on Thursday evening that Burhan had ordered the release of four of the cabinet ministers detained in the coup.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia and the UAE joined the United States and Britain in calling for the restoration of the civilian-led government.


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