Sudan reprimands UN envoy over call for security forces to show restraint

Envoy's comments come on eve of anti-military rallies marking Al Bashir's 1989 coup

Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative to Sudan, right, and Mohamed El-Hassan Ould Labbat, special envoy of the African Union in Sudan. AFP
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Sudan on Wednesday summoned the UN representative in the country to admonish him over a statement in which he called on Sudanese authorities to refrain from using violence against protesters during rallies scheduled for Thursday.

“Violence against protesters will not be tolerated,” the UN Special Representative for Sudan, Volker Perthes, said in a statement issued by his office in Khartoum.

Mr Perthes, the statement added, “calls upon the authorities to ensure their commitment to protecting the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

A Sudanese foreign ministry statement said the representative was summoned by its under-secretary Dafaallah Al Haj and told of the “Sudanese government’s disappointment and dissatisfaction with the comments he made regarding the expected demonstrations on Thursday.”

“His comments were based on pre-assumptions and judgments condemning the law-enforcement authorities that violate his role as a facilitator who is expected to bridge the [political] gap and work for the consensus that everyone aspires to.”

The use of violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan has been repeatedly denounced by the West. At least 100 people have been killed and about 5,000 injured in near daily, anti-military protests since army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan seized power last October.

Gen Al Burhan says the protesters are the guilty party, accusing them of attacking the police and state facilities.

He has repeatedly pledged to investigate police violence. In an interview last week with Al Hurra television, he said several policemen have been detained in connection with the violence.

Thursday’s rallies are to mark the anniversary of the 1989 coup that toppled a democratically-elected government. The coup was led by Omar Al Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 29 years before he was removed from power in April 2019.

Updated: June 29, 2022, 6:01 PM