WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States’ special envoy for the Horn of Africa said on Tuesday that the Sudanese military had shown “restraint” in its response to demonstrations on Saturday, which he said was a sign of potential for a return to power sharing with civilians.
Jeffrey Feltman briefed reporters on the fallout from the Oct. 25 military takeover in Sudan by phone from Washington, contradicting an earlier report that he had travelled to Sudan.
A medical group had said three protesters were shot dead https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/sudanese-set-nationwide-protests-against-military-coup-2021-10-29 and 38 were injured by security forces as hundreds of thousands protested military rule across the country on Saturday.
Feltman said the toll was “far too many” but that “by and large … security services exercised restraint”, and demonstrators also stayed away from sensitive military locations, which reduced the potential for violence.
“I think that demonstrated an understanding by the Sudanese people themselves that they have to be careful and find a way back to the civilian-military partnership this transition requires,” Feltman said, repeating a U.S. call for military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to restore the civilian-led government.
Burhan’s coup last week removed a government that had been put in place under an agreement meant to share power between the military and civilians following the toppling of long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019 after street protests.
“Neither side can sideline the other,” Feltman said of the military and civilians, adding the partnership had to be one of equals.
Burhan ousted Hamdok’s cabinet on Oct. 25 and put him under house arrest, prompting Western states to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in economic assistance to Sudan.
Demands laid out by neighbourhood resistance committees, which organised Saturday’s protests, include a rejection of negotiation with military leaders and full withdrawal of the military from politics.
The coalition of civilian parties that signed the power-sharing agreement with the military in 2019 also rejected negotiation and called for a full return of the civilian cabinet as well as accountability for coup leaders.
Washington was “supportive of Sudanese solutions”, was calling for all detainees to be released, and for Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to be freed from house arrest and allowed to continue his work, Feltman said.
One mediation proposal currently discussed would hand executive powers to Hamdok and a technocratic cabinet, establishing a parliament for political groups and reserving a Security and Defence Council for the military.
Hamdok, whose office says he is unable to freely communicate with his staff, ministers, or political groups, has placed the release of detainees and return to the situation prior to the coup as a pre-condition to any further negotiation.
Burhan has said elections will be held in July 2023 and that a technocratic cabinet would be selected to rule the country until then.
Some shops and government offices have been reopening gradually in Khartoum, though banks opened only temporarily to pay out salaries at the start of the month.
Doctors, teachers, bankers, and other groups have continued strikes. More demonstrations are planned for Thursday.
Fuel — supplies of which have been unstable — is currently available in the capital, and the price of sugar, which rose before the coup, has fallen back.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo, and Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, David Holmes, Peter Graff)