UN human rights chief Volker Turk voiced alarm Saturday at the tense situation in Sudan, urging all sides to redouble their efforts towards restoring a civilian-led government.
Pro-democracy activists in Sudan marched against the army and paramilitaries on Thursday as the civilian opposition marked a key anniversary in the decades-old struggle against military rule with new protests.
A new delay to the signing of a deal to restore the transition to civilian government, which had been rescheduled for Thursday, prompted the civilian opposition to call for nationwide protests instead.
Turk, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, urged all sides to de-escalate tensions and refrain from violence.
“The country is at a decisive juncture. Much work has been done and many positive steps taken towards the signature of a final agreement -- all efforts must now be made to get the political transition back on the right path,” he said in a statement.
April 6 is a symbolic date for Sudan’s civilian opposition, the anniversary of uprisings in 1985 and 2019 that ended up ousting two leaders who had seized power in coups.
Sudan is still ruled by a military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who took power in an October 2021 coup, aborting the transition to civilian rule agreed after the 2019 overthrow of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup.
Turk urged all sides to work together to avoid further delays in signing an agreement for a transition to civilian government, while also calling on non-signatories to join the process.
“I urge the authorities to ensure that the rights of the people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fully respected and that security forces are clearly instructed to respond to demonstrations in line with human rights laws and standards,” he said.
“We must not see a repeat of the use of unnecessary, disproportionate force.”
The worsening state of Sudan’s economy has put pressure on all sides to reach a deal, which is a precondition for the resumption of international aid to the impoverished country.