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Khartoum Talks Held Without Key Civilians

FILE: Protesters march during a rally against the country's military rulers in Khartoum, Sudan, May 19, 2022.

Khartoum hosted UN-and-AU-sponsored talks Wednesday intended to get Sudan back to a civilian-led government. But only the military regime and few others showed up - the country's main civilian groups decided to boycott, saying they were one-sided. Meanwhile, anti-military protests continued.

After months of effort by the United Nations the African Union, and others, the Khartoum discussion table was set on Wednesday.

But only military coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, some political party representatives, and senior leaders from former rebel factions, including Finance Minsiter Jibril Ibrahim were there.

The nation's main civilian group, "Forces for Freedom and Change" (FFC) and the Umma Party refused to show up. The FFC earlier stated that the meeting "does not address the nature of the crisis," and that any discussions must focus on "ending the coup and establishing a democratic civilian authority."

The Umma Party's decision not to attend the talks was because it asserted the discussion was "undefined" and that the nation's political atmosphere "was not fully prepared."

In response to the boycott, al-Burhan's office stated that those who boycotted the meeting were putting up "roadblocks to a sustainable democratic transition."

The general, also the head of Sudan's Sovereign Council, stated Tuesday that "We [his regime] commit to executing the results of the dialogue.

On June 7, al-Burhan also called the Wednesday discussion a "historic opportunity" and urged other parties not to act as "a stumbling block."

UN Special Representative Volker Perthes tried to persuade the boycotters to take part, telling reporters "It is important not to let this moment slip," adding "We are asking everybody to work with one another in good faith."

Out in the streets of Khartoum, meanwhile, hundreds of people rallied against Burhan and his October 25, 2021 coup. Reporters covering the protests said security forces used tear gas to quell the anti-coup gathering.

Demonstrations against al-Burhan's coup have taken place constantly over recent months. A group of western nations, including the United States, Britain, Norway, and France issued a statement calling Wednesday for an "effective end to the use of force against protestors, lifting emergency decrees, [and] ensuring progress on ongoing investigations into human rights violations."

The military regime finally lifted its state of emergency decree on May 29, having been in effect since the October coup.

The UN, AU, and regional bloc IGAD have pushed for such talks since March. IGAD envoy Ismail Wais told the boycotters "They are always welcome, and the door is open."

The AU envoy, Mohamed Lebatt, said "We,...cannot imagine a political solution without the participation" of those who refused to attend.