Sudanese civilian groups ask U.N. to help contain paramilitary forces

Reuters | Updated: 04-10-2022 22:52 IST | Created: 04-10-2022 22:52 IST
Sudanese civilian groups ask U.N. to help contain paramilitary forces

Sudanese pro-democracy groups will ask the country's United Nations mission to help them integrate a paramilitary force and former rebel factions into a unified army, or disarm and demobilise them, according to a draft letter seen by Reuters. The letter, drafted by the Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations, is backed by the main political groups sidelined in an October 2021 coup that ended a power-sharing arrangement between civilians and the military, its authors said.

The coup derailed a transition toward democratic elections after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in a 2019 uprising. It also triggered anti-military street rallies that protest groups are planning to intensify around the coup's Oct. 25 anniversary. The appeal, which supporters said would be sent in the coming days to the UN Special Representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, focuses on the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and former rebel groups that established a presence in the capital, Khartoum, after signing a peace deal in 2020.

The letter asks the mission, known as UNITAMS, to develop an urgent plan to "initiate processes for reintegration, demobilisation and disarmament of the Rapid Support Forces and the armed movements." The number of armies and militias in Sudan threatens peace and security in the region and containing them was "one of the core competencies of the U.N. Security Council," it says.

It also noted a pledge in July by the head of Sudan's ruling council, military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to step aside from political negotiations. Burhan's deputy, RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said last month Sudan's military leaders agreed that civilians should appoint a prime minister and head of state.

UNITAMS, in a statement to Reuters, said Perthes "agrees with both military and civilian actors who see security sector reform and the integration of armed forces into one unified army as a priority issue that needs to begin in a new transition period". "The United Nations stands ready to support developing such a process if asked to," it said.

No new prime minister has been named since the coup, while the letter said security forces continued to perpetrate "excessive and unprecedented violence" against peaceful protesters with impunity. Military leaders have said peaceful protests are allowed and protest casualties will be investigated. They also said that they disbanded the government last year because of civilian infighting.

At least 117 civilians, including many young Sudanese killed by bullet wounds, have died in demonstrations since the coup, medics aligned with the protest movement say. (Writing and additional reporting by Aidan Lewis; editing by Barbara Lewis and Bill Berkrot)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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