EU piles on pressure, tells Sudan to 'urgently' form civilian-led government

Thursday August 01 2019

Sudanese students protest in the capital Khartoum on July 30, 2019, a day after teenagers were shot at a rally against shortages of bread and fuel in the town of al-Obeid, about 420 kilometres southwest of the capital. PHOTO | EBRAHIM HAMID | AFP


The European Union (EU) has warned the Sudanese military rulers that it may no longer engage with them unless civilians “exercise demonstrable authority” in running the affairs of the country.

In what appears to be new pressure to stop chaos in the country, the European Union said Khartoum’s need for a civilian-led government is “urgent”.

“Further delays risk upsetting the achievements reached so far and could fuel further violence,” a statement from the bloc’s Spokesperson said on Wednesday, in the wake of renewed violence in Sudan.


On Monday, at least five people, including school children, were shot dead during a peaceful demonstration in the Sudanese town of El Obeid in North Kordofan, raising condemnation from the UN children’s agency (Unicef).

The European bloc, which has supported African Union and Ethiopia’s midwifed talks for a peaceful transition, said the violence “makes the formation of a transitional government that is broadly supported by the Sudanese people even more urgent.”


The TMC and the FFC had on July 17 agreed on a power-sharing agreement, following the ouster of Omar al-Bashir. But they were yet to discuss how the joint government composed of military rulers and civilians would run, as well as issues of whether to shield the military commanders from responsibility in past violent incidents against protesters.

On Tuesday, the opposition civilian body the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) cancelled talks with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) following the shooting.


Both the opposition and military rulers condemned the killing.

According to the Sudanese News Agency, TMC leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said on Tuesday there will be an investigation into the killings, but he did not specify the timelines.

“The killing of peaceful citizens is unacceptable and rejected, and a crime that requires immediate accountability," SUNA reported.

It wasn’t clear whether Burhan’s pledge for “accountability” referred to bringing the Forces leaders to book. But the RSF has been in the centre of a storm even before Omar al-Bashir was officially removed from power, accused of targeting civilians with brutality.

Since the killings, students in Sudan have poured in streets to protest what they have termed as the El-Obeid Massacre. The TMC responded by shutting down schools, raising condemnation from rights groups.

“Closing schools and preventing children from receiving an education is misguided and unfair – pupils should not be punished because of the actions of an out-of-control paramilitary unit,” said Dr Joan Nyanyuki, the Amnesty International Director for East, Horn and Great Lakes of Africa.