14 May 2019

Sudan: TMC and AFC Should Not Allow Violence to Obstruct Negotiations - U.S.

Washington / Khartoum — The USA has voiced its sympathy to the families of the victims of Monday night's violence, and called on Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) not to allow the incidents to stand in the way of building on the progress of Monday's negotiations.

A statement via the US Embassy in Khartoum today says "the tragic attacks on protesters yesterday that led to the deaths of at least six Sudanese and potentially one hundred or more injured were clearly the result of the TMC trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks.

"The decision for security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control.

"The Embassy wishes to express its sympathy to the families of the victims who demand a full accounting for what happened to their loved ones."

The US statement urges that the TMC and AFC "should not allow yesterday's events to prevent them from building on yesterday's progress to rapidly conclude negotiations to establish a civilian-led transitional government.

"We encourage the people of Sudan to continue to express their desire for a peaceful and democratic Sudan in a non-violent manner and to not be provoked by the actions of those who oppose change."

'Expedite move to civilian govt'

As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, The US Deputy Secretary of State, John J Sullivan, spoke with the Chairman of Sudan's TMC, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, by telephone from Washington, urging the TMC "to move expeditiously toward a civilian-led interim government".

An earlier statement on April 19 by the US Department of State carries the caution that Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism remains in effect, and Phase II* discussions are suspended.

"We will continue to calibrate our policies based on our assessment of events on the ground and the actions of transitional authorities," The US statement concludes.

* Phase II

In November 2018, US Charge d'Affaires, Steven Koutsis, held a press conference at the embassy about the new phase which the USA and Sudan have entered in order for the country to be removed from the sponsors of terrorism list.

In September, the US State Department decided to keep Sudan on its blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism, yet affirmed its positive rating of Sudan's track record in combating terrorism.

The US State Department had announced its commitment to cooperate further with Sudan and to start the process to rescind Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Today Koutsis elaborated on the 'Phase II' framework for the bilateral cooperation.

"The completion of the Five Track Engagement Plan and the lifting of certain sanctions in October 2017 marked an important milestone in US-Sudanese relations. However, our progress thus far serves as only the first step in a longer road to improving bilateral relations.

"We have therefore launched the "Phase II" framework for our bilateral engagement, which is designed to expand our cooperation, facilitate meaningful reforms in Sudan, and achieve further progress in a number of areas of longstanding mutual concern."

Koutsis said that the second phase has the potential to make the bilateral relationship more productive than it has been in 30 years. "Providing us an opportunity to expand cooperation and achieve improvements in a number of key areas of mutual concern, including the protection of religious freedom and other human rights.

"Phase II will also "serve as a mechanism for securing justice for victims of terrorist violence", Koutsis said.

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