Blinken demands that Sudan allow peaceful protests after a deadly day

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday condemned the killing a day earlier of Sudanese protesters in the bloodiest violence since last month’s coup, urging the military to allow peaceful demonstrations.

“The military must respect the rights of civilians to assemble peacefully and express their views,” Blinken said at a press conference in the Nigerian capital Abuja, saying he is “deeply concerned” by Wednesday’s bloodshed in which 15 people died.

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“We continue to support the Sudanese people’s demand for the restoration of the civilian-led transition,” Blinken said, including the restoration of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Despite the violence, U.S. officials have expressed caution in hoping to find a way out of the crisis.

Molly Phee, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, traveled earlier this week to Sudan where she met military governor Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as well as Hamdok.

“Everyone, it seems to me, wants to find a way back, which isn’t the feeling I think you’d get from outside,” a senior official on Blinken’s plane said.

“There’s a lot of room to find a way forward,” the employee told reporters.

The official said both Burhan and Hamdok acknowledged shortcomings in Sudan’s democratic transition, which began in 2019 when the military ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in the face of mass youth protests.

After Burhan’s takeover on October 25, the United States quickly suspended $ 700 million in economic aid intended to facilitate the democratic transition.

The U.S. official acknowledged that economic pressure has boundaries with the military, which is firmly entrenched, but said all sides are proud of their work together at the start of the transition.

“More important was to talk to them about what their legacy will be – that they both played a positive role in 2019. Did they really want to become the bad guy in this scenario?” said the clerk.

Read more: Fourteen killed in Sudan coup protest: Day

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