KHARTOUM: Thousands of Sudanese pro-military protesters rallied on Wednesday against a UN bid to resolve a political crisis in the country three months after a coup.
The demonstrators gathered outside the Khartoum office of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, or UNITAMS, which launched talks with Sudanese factions this month.
They held up banners that read, “Down, down UN,” and others that urged UN special representative Volker Perthes to “Go back home.”
“We don’t want external intervention in our country,” protester Hamed Al-Bashir said.
On Jan. 10, Perthes said the consultations aimed “to support the Sudanese to reach an agreement on a way out of the current crisis.” But he added that “the UN is not coming up with any project, draft or vision for a solution.”
On Wednesday, UNITAMS said protesters had gathered outside the mission’s office demanding to expel the mission.
“We defend freedom of assembly & expression and offered to receive a delegation in our premises which they refused,” it said on Twitter.
Sudan has been rocked by a deadly crackdown against protests calling for civilian rule since an October 25 military coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
The country’s latest military takeover derailed a power-sharing transition between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar Bashir.
The ruling Sovereign Council — formed by Al-Burhan after the coup with himself as chairman — has welcomed the UN-led dialogue, as have the US, Britain, neighboring Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The Forces for Freedom and Change, Sudan’s main civilian bloc, has also said it would join consultations “to restore the democratic transition.”
In a Wednesday press conference, FFC leader Omar Al-Degeir called on the international community to stand by “the Sudanese people to achieve its demands to reverse the coup.”
Stephanie Khoury, UNITAMS director of political affairs, said earlier: “Our role at this stage of consultations for a political process for #Sudan is to hear Sudanese stakeholders; ensure we actively listen to their views, document their visions & suggestions.”
An 18-year-old protester died on Wednesday after suffering a bullet wound to the head during protests last month, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.
His death brought the number of people killed in the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations to 77, including others who were also shot in the head, it said.