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Sudan military backers UAE, Saudi Arabia call for 'dialogue' after Eid massacre

The Sudanese military ruler made visits to the Gulf before the crackdown [Twitter]

Date of publication: 6 June, 2019

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The UAE and ally Saudi Arabia called for resumed dialogue in Sudan, despite a mounting death toll that has already surpassed 100.

The UAE has said it is watching developments in Sudan with "great concern" and claims to support the continuation of a dialogue between the different parties, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, echoing earlier sentiments made by ally Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf state which has been a key supporter of Sudan's ruling generals, called Thursday for resumed talks on its political future following a deadly crackdown on protesters, according to a statement published by the state news agency WAM.

"The UAE hopes that wisdom, reason and constructive dialogue will prevail between all Sudanese parties, in a way that guarantees security and stability," the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

"The UAE emphasises the importance of resuming talks among various Sudanese forces to realise the aspirations of the brotherly people of Sudan."

The Emirati statement echoed a call for resumed negotiations issued by its ally Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

"The government of Saudi Arabia has followed with great concern the developments in the brotherly Republic of Sudan, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries," said the statement on the official Saudi Press Agency.

"The kingdom affirms the importance of resuming the dialogue between the various parties in Sudan to fulfil the aspirations of the brotherly Sudanese people." 

The statements came as the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors, which is close to the protesters, said Wednesday that at least 108 people had been killed since paramilitaries moved in on a long-running sit-in outside army headquarters on Monday.

The military council, which ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir on 11 April, had offered to reopen negotiations following the assault but the offer was rejected by protest leaders who demanded justice for those killed in what has been dubbed the Eid massacre.

While African and Western governments have been strongly supportive of the protesters, Riyadh and its allies, which are deeply hostile to popular movements in the region, have provided the military council with desperately needed aid.

Last month, the UAE deposited $250 million in Sudan's central bank, part of a promised $3 billion credit line Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have pledged to shore up the plummeting Sudanese pound and finance imports of basic goods.

The blooded assault was launched shortly after top Sudanese generals visited Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Egypt to secure support for their takeover, with observers arguing the transitional military council received a green light from the three powerful Arab states for their move.

Sudan's leading protest organisers responded to those visits by rejecting "foreign intervention" in the revolution and calling for a campaign of "civil disobedience" if the country's military rulers continued to refuse to relinquish power.

"The revolution has since its beginning last December been an orphan," Babaker Faisal, a leader in civilian negotiating body and leading opposition organisation the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), said on Wednesday.

"It has remained a purely Sudanese revolution. No support has been found for it among the countries of the region or in the international community, and so it will remain Sudanese until its goals are realised," Faisal said, commenting on recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt by the country's military rulers.

On Wednesday, a statement from the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors confirmed forty bodies belonging to victims of the Sudan military massacre were recovered from the River Nile in Khartoum.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International deplored the army's violence which "destroyed the trust of the Sudanese people".

"Many of those attacked this morning were sleeping when the Rapid Support Forces and other Sudanese security agencies began unleashing deadly violence," Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said. 

"With this senseless slaughter the [transitional military council] has completely destroyed the trust of the Sudanese people and crushed the people's hope for a new era of respect for human rights and respect for the right to protest without fear," Jackson added.

"The Sudanese people suffered for decades under the repressive rule of Omar al-Bashir, and his ousting should have represented a new chapter of respect for human rights," Jackson said. 

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