By Ebi Kesiena
UN Special Representative to Sudan, Volker Perthes, told journalists in New York that multiple mediation efforts are underway one week after the military coup in Sudan.
Speaking from the capital, Khartoum, Perthes said the situation on the ground was stable but very tense in the wake of the takeover.
The Sudanese army dissolved the power-sharing transitional government and detained civilian Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and his cabinet on October 25.
The UN was quick to condemn the coup, and the arrests, and called for the restoration of constitutional order.
“Many of the interlocutors we are speaking with in Khartoum, but also internationally and regionally, are expressing a strong desire that we move forward quickly to get out of the crisis.
“Also, they are expressing desire that we move forward quickly to get out of the crisis and return to the steps of normalcy, to the steps of political transition, as we viewed it before October 25, on the basis of the Constitutional Declaration,” Perthes said.
The UN envoy has met several times with Prime Minister Hamdok, who is no longer detained but under house arrest at his residence. Though physically well, Perthes said “he is not free.”
The coup took place as Sudan was progressing along a democratic path following ouster of longstanding leader, President Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019.
On Saturday, scores of citizens took to the streets in nationwide mass demonstrations against the coup, billed as the march of millions, though exact numbers are unknown.
Several protesters were reportedly killed and Perthes deplored the loss of life, as well as the use of teargas and other measures.
Meanwhile, multiple negotiations are ongoing in the capital to resolve the crisis.
“There is a lot of shuttling between the General Command in the Prime Minister’s residence, and other places where other officials are located,” he reported.
Perthes listed some participants, who include the Forces of Freedom and Change, the main opposition coalition, and armed groups from the volatile Darfur region who signed an historic peace deal with the transitional authorities, in October 2020.
The UN continues its good role in Sudan and is supporting some of the talks.
“In essence, we’re engaging with all Sudanese across a very broad political spectrum.
“This political spectrum is broader than that that was represented in the transitional set-up.“And, of course, it includes people who would not necessarily want us to mediate, or are not in favour of restoring the civilian-military partnership,” said Perthes, who is also head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
The UN is also engaging with the African Union (AU) and other regional and international bodies.
Perthes said he was in contact with countries such as the United Arab Emirates, as well as South Sudan and other African states, and others from outside the region, including members of the UN Security Council.
He expressed hope that the “contours of a package” would emerge in the coming days.
Asked which countries could exert pressure on the situation, he responded that the United States, Egypt, South Sudan and “wider regional neighbours” could play a role.