Senior US diplomats in Sudan to try to resolve post-coup crisis

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Two senior US diplomats are in Sudan to try to help find a way out of the ongoing crisis in the African country caused by an October military coup.

The October 25 military takeover overturned Sudan’s transition to a democratic government after three decades of repression and international isolation under autocratic President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted during a popular uprising in April 2019.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Molly Phee and newly appointed U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, met for the first time with pro-democracy activists from the Association of Professionals of the Sudan, according to the US embassy in Khartoum.

Activists led the uprising against al-Bashir and are now a mainstay of the anti-coup protests that have demanded a fully civilian government to lead the transition. Diplomats also met with another group, the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, on “their positive commitment” to the UN’s efforts to end the stalemate, he said. embassy. They were expected to meet with the ruling generals later Wednesday.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that Phee and Satterfield would reiterate Washington’s call for Sudanese security forces to “end the violence and respect freedom of expression.” of peaceful assembly “.

Before arriving in Khartoum, the two attended a meeting of the Friends of Sudan group in Saudi Arabia to gather support for UN efforts to end Sudan’s stalemate. The group includes the United States, Britain and other international governments and global financial institutions.

Sudan’s unrest has escalated following the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month. Hamdok, who was sacked in October only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, resigned on January 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.

On Monday, security forces opened fire on protests against the coup in Khartoum, killing at least seven people and wounding about 100. The death toll has risen to more than 70 in the number of protesters since the coup.

Also on Wednesday, an Israeli delegation met with senior Sudanese military officials in Khartoum, according to a Sudanese military official and Israeli reports.

The Sudanese official said the delegation, including officials from the Mossad intelligence agency, met with General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the coup leader and head of the ruling Sovereign Council, and other military officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Israeli public television station Kan also reported the visit and said the plane carrying the Israeli delegation made a brief stop at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh before heading to the Sudanese capital. Israel maintains close security ties with Egypt, the first Arab country to achieve peace with Israel.

Sudan normalized ties with Israel in 2020 as part of a series of US-negotiated agreements between Israel and four Arab countries. The agreement paved the way for the African country to rejoin the international community after two decades of isolation under al-Bashir.

Israel has been silent on the October coup and its aftermath, saying it intends to maintain normalized ties with Sudan, which was once one of Israel’s top critics in the Arab world.

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