Protester killed as US envoys arrive in Sudan to try to end country's political crisis

Envoys meet with two major pro-democracy groups at start of their consultations with stakeholders

Sudanese women sit on a brick barricade at 60th Street in the capital Khartoum as part of a civil disobedience campaign. AFP

Sudanese security forces on Wednesday shot dead a protester in the capital Khartoum as senior US envoys began their consultations with the country’s stakeholders to find a way out of the country’s political crisis following a military coup in October.

A medical group aligned with Sudan’s pro-democracy movement said the protester was fatally shot in the chest by a live round as he tried to blockade a street in Khartoum’s twin city of Umm Dorman.

The latest death takes to 75 the number of protesters killed since the October 25 coup that upended Sudan’s democratic transition, and more than 2,000 people have been wounded.

News of the deadly shooting came as Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and new special envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield arrived in Khartoum and went straight into consultations with the country’s stakeholders.

Sudanese demonstrators barricade Al Sahafa street during protests against the military coup in the capital Khartoum. AFP

The Sudanese Professionals Association, one of the country's main pro-democracy groups, said in a statement that its representatives met the two envoys on Wednesday. It said the association requested increased US pressure on the military to halt the use of deadly force against protesters and warned against what it said was the military’s attempt to brand them as terrorists.

The military on Monday said it was creating a counter-terrorism force and commended security forces on their handling of the post-coup protests.

The association also emphasised to the American envoys its commitment to an antimilitary policy and its refusal to negotiate with those behind the coup or to accord them legitimacy.

The US envoys also on Wednesday met with representatives of the Forces of Freedom and Change, a loose alliance of political parties that was the power base of the civilian-led government dismissed by army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan when he seized power in October.

Gen Al Burhan reinstated Abdalla Hamdok a month after the coup, but the former UN economist did not carry out his mandate to form a government of independent technocrats and quit on January 2, leaving the military in total control and deepening the country’s crisis.

Sudan's top general and coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan. AFP

Separately, Gen Al Burhan on Wednesday decreed that the top civil servants in each ministry should temporarily assume ministerial authority to run the day-to-day affairs of the country until the promised elections are held next year.

The pro-democracy movement, however, wants to see the military leave politics altogether and allow a civilian government to shepherd the country through the transitional period that followed the removal in April 2019 of dictator Omar Al Bashir.

Wednesday was the second of two days of strikes and civil disobedience called for by the pro-democracy movement following the deaths of seven protesters on Monday in one of the bloodiest days since the October coup.

Monday’s violence was strongly condemned by the US and the UN as well as nine members of the UN Security Council.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 10:52 PM