GENEVA (Reuters) – Sudanese authorities must ensure a swift transition to a civilian government, as desired by large segments of the population and the African Union, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement on Wednesday.
She said mass protests across Sudan on Sunday appear to have been “unprecedented in recent Sudanese history”, despite the difficulty of monitoring the situation because of an internet blackout imposed by the Transitional Military Council, which has ruled Sudan since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.
The mass protests reportedly took place in more than ten major towns and cities, and her office had received allegations of excessive use of force against protesters, with at least 10 dead.
Bachelet called on the TMC to lift restrictions on the internet and to investigate all allegations of excessive use of force, including reported attacks on hospitals by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces and other security forces.
“This recipe of restrictions, unmet promises, and bouts of unbridled violence which are neither investigated nor punished is stoking massive resentment – as Sunday’s protests showed all too clearly,” she said in the statement.
“If things continue like this, it will be a recipe for disaster.”
Her previous offer to send a human rights monitoring team and calls for investigations into killings and thousands of reported rapes since June 3 had been ignored, and an offer by the TMC to release prisoners of war was “a welcome gesture” but failed to materialise by a June 30 deadline.
Sudan’s military overthrew Bashir on April 11 after months of demonstrations against his three decades in office.
Opposition groups kept up protests as they pressed the military to relinquish power, but talks collapsed after members of the security services raided a sit-in protest camp outside the defence ministry on June 3.
On Tuesday Mahmud Dirir, Ethiopia’s mediator in the Sudan crisis, urged the TMC and the opposition coalition to hold direct talks on Wednesday to strike a deal on handing over power to civilians. [nL8N243545]
The two sides still disagree over the structure of a sovereign council meant to lead the country during the transitional period, Dirir said.
Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Peter Graff