UN Security Council to discuss Sudan crisis

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The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Sudan after security forces violently broke up weeks of protests against military rule, leaving more than 30 dead.

FILE PHOTO: Members of Sudan’s alliance of opposition and protest groups chant slogans outside Sudan’s Central Bank during the second day of a strike, as tensions mounted with the country’s military rulers over the transition to democracy, in Khartoum, Sudan May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he was “alarmed” by reports that security forces had opened fire inside a hospital in Khartoum and called for an independent investigation into deaths from the violence. A committee of Sudanese doctors, which is close to the protesters, said more than 30 people were killed and dozens wounded in the violence.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the violence and reports of the excessive use of force by security personnel on civilians that have resulted in the deaths and injury of many,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“He condemns the use of force to disperse the protesters at the sit-in site and he is alarmed by reports that security forces have opened fire inside medical facilities,” Dujarric added. “What is clear to us is that there was the use of excessive force by the security forces on civilians. People have died. People have been injured.”

Guterres urged all parties “to act with utmost restraint,” called for unimpeded access to deliver care at the sit-in site as well as hospitals where the wounded are treated, and for the Sudanese authorities to facilitate an independent investigation of the deaths and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a separate statement that she deplored the “apparent use of excessive force in the protest camps” and called on security forces to “immediately halt such attacks.”

Britain and Germany requested the talks on Monday, diplomats said, after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized Sudan’s security personnel for using excessive force.

The United States on Monday condemned Sudanese military leaders’ “brutal” crackdown on protesters and said that better relations with Washington would be contingent on moving toward a civilian-led government.

“We stand with the peaceful protesters in Sudan. The path to stability, recovery and partnership with the U.S. is through a civilian-led government,” Tibor Nagy, the assistant secretary of state for Africa, wrote on Twitter.

The military council denied its forces violently dispersed the sit-in in front of army headquarters.

The UN chief renewed his call for negotiations to resume on a peaceful transfer of power to a civilian-led authority.

Negotiations between protest leaders and Sudan’s ruling military council have broken down, as the two sides have failed to agree on whether a planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure.

The military council has ruled the country since the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir on April 11, after months of protests against his authoritarian rule. Sudan’s generals, backed by key Arab powers, have resisted calls from African and Western governments to hand over the reins of power.

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