EU condemns Sudan crackdown on protesters, journalists

AFP , Sunday 14 Nov 2021

The European Union on Sunday condemned a violent crackdown on protesters in Sudan against last month's power grab that left six dead and demanded the release of detainees including journalists.

People protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across Sudan to rally against the military s takeover last month. AP

The EU called on the junta that seized power on October 25 "to return to the path of a fair and open dialogue with civilians, as they have done in August 2019".

In a statement by the spokesman of the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell, the 27-member bloc warned of "serious consequences" for continued EU support.

Sudanese security forces stepped up pressure on the media Sunday with the arrest of the Khartoum bureau chief of the Al-Jazeera broadcaster.

The EU statement reiterated a "call for the release of all detainees including journalists" arrested since the putsch.

"We will hold authorities accountable for violations of human rights and lack of protection of civilians, which has been induced since the end of the democratic transitional process," it said.

Saturday was one of the bloodiest days since top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan ousted the government, detained the civilian leadership and declared a state of emergency.

Among those killed were two teenagers, according to a medics' union.

Sudan has a long history of military coups, enjoying only rare interludes of democratic rule since independence in 1956.

The October 25 power grab derailed a transition to full civilian rule, sparking international condemnation and provoking regular protests.

It triggered punitive measures by Western countries and the World Bank, imperilling the impoverished country's sources of investment and aid.

The protests, including by tens of thousands of people nationwide on Saturday, have continued despite internet outages forcing demonstrators to communicate via graffiti and SMS messages.

On Thursday Burhan, despite calls by the West, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for a return to the civilian-led transitional government, announced a new civilian-military ruling council with himself as head.

It excludes any members of the Forces for Freedom and Change, an umbrella alliance which was the main bloc seeking a transition to civilian rule.

Burhan insists the military's move on October 25 "was not a coup" but a push to "rectify the course of the transition".

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