Khartoum, Sudan (AFP):
The US ambassador to Sudan has called on former rebels who were not part of an initial post-coup deal to join ongoing talks aimed at restoring civilian rule.
Military leaders and some civilian factions agreed last month on the two-phase political process seeking to end the turmoil Sudan has been plunged into since the 2021 coup by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
While the accord drew some international acclaim, opponents at home eyed it with scepticism, saying it fell short on specifics and timelines.
“It is important to note that the process remains open for them to come in,” ambassador John Godfrey said, referring to key factions which refused to sign the agreement.
Former rebel leader Mini Minnawi, governor of the restive Darfur region, slammed the deal as “exclusionary”.
Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim, also an ex-rebel leader who had signed a peace deal with the transitional government, said it was “far from a national accord and does not lead to free and fair elections”.
“Our understanding is that efforts continue to try to find a way to meet a situation where they feel that they could join the process,” Godfrey said.
Another round of talks is expected in the coming weeks over key contentious issues including transitional justice, accountability and security reforms.
– International aid –
Burhan’s coup, which derailed a fragile transition following Omar al Bashir’s ouster, triggered near-weekly demonstrations, with activists demanding a civilian government.
More than 120 people have been killed in the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations, according to pro-democracy medics.
The coup has also deepened a spiralling economic crisis and heightened ethnic clashes in Sudan’s remote regions, which killed around 900 people last year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The United Nations said the talks this week mark “another important step towards realising the aspirations of the Sudanese people for democracy, peace and sustainable development”.
Godfrey expressed high hopes, saying it was “very clear” that negotiators were working towards restoring Sudan’s transition.
Burhan has pledged the military would no longer be involved in politics once a civilian government is installed.
The army chief has also expressed hope that international aid suspended since the coup would be restored.
Ties between Washington and Khartoum were severely strained under Bashir’s three-decade rule, with crippling US sanctions imposed in 1993.
Relations eased under Sudan’s now-ousted transitional government led by former premier Abdalla Hamdok. In August, Godfrey took the post as the first US ambassador to Sudan in nearly 25 years.