The United Nations on Monday started consultations in Sudan in efforts to salvage the country’s move to democracy after a military coup.
U.N. officials were contacting parties to look for a way forward, and the army had raised no objections to the initiative, U.N. special representative Volker Perthes told reporters. “We want to move quickly,” he said.
The U.N. plan amounts to the only substantial effort at present to resolve the political crisis that halted a Western-backed opening up of the economy after decades of isolation and sanctions.
The October 25 military takeover ruined a power-sharing arrangement with civilian leaders that was meant to pave the way to elections after the overthrow of leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Over 60 anti-military protesters have died in clashes with security services.
“I do hope that these consultations can become something like a confidence-building measure and would help to at least reduce the violence,” Perthes said.
Protest groups and the political parties ousted by the coup have so far refused to negotiate directly with the military.
The United Nations would begin by approaching groups individually, in the hope of moving onto to a second phase of direct or indirect negotiations, Perthes said.
The first sessions on Monday afternoon would involve civil society groups. “We will have every day a mix of stakeholders we are talking to,” he said.
The groups have been asked by U.N. officials to present their visions for a way forward, with the aim of producing a consensus on points of agreement and disagreement at the conclusion of talks.
In a statement late on Monday, the military-led Sovereign Council welcomed the initiative and called on the inclusion of the African Union.
Perthes said that only Bashir’s former ruling party and the Sudanese Communist Party had rejected the initiative outright.
No timeframe has been set for concluding talks and starting negotiations.
“Time is precious, we know that. There’s a lot of pressure on the situation in Sudan and on us”, Perthes said.
More mass protests against the military are planned, with another round expected on Wednesday.