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UN urges Sudanese to support prime minister for democracy

FILE - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks during a session of the summit to support Sudan, May 17, 2021 at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Par...

FILE - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks during a session of the summit to support Sudan, May 17, 2021 at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Par...

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations chief on Wednesday urged the Sudanese people to support reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok so the country can have “a peaceful transition towards a true democracy.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference he understands “the indignation” and outrage of Sudanese who have seen a military coup that called into question agreements for a transition to democracy, and don’t want any solution involving the military.

“But I would like to appeal for common sense,” he said. “We have a situation which is, yes, not perfect, but which could allow for a transition towards democracy.”

Protesters have taken to the streets in large numbers in the capital Khartoum and other cities around the country since the generals seized power on Oct. 25 to demand that the armed forces stay out of government. Hamdok and more than 100 civilian government figures were detained.

Guterres said the U.N. fought to free the prime minister. “For me, it was an important victory to see that the prime minister was freed and could return to his post” in November, the secretary-general said.

Hamdok was reinstated under military oversight in a deal that many in the pro-democracy movement oppose.

While reiterating that he understands the public outrage, Guterres warned that calling into question the solution that led to the prime minister’s reinstatement “would be very dangerous for Sudan.”

The U.N. chief was joined by African Union Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who told reporters the AU continues to encourage both the prime minister and the military “to find a compromise on the political side with civil society and political parties so they can conclude this transition.”

“In 18 months, in theory, there should be elections and I think that our political parties should be preparing for this,” he said. “The Electoral Commission is to be set up and the judicial institutions of the country need to be established, too, so that the whole thing can work.”

Mahamat noted the demands by young people and political parties, but said Hamdok’s return “was an encouraging sign.”

He said the AU wants to see a compromise to conclude the transition and organize the first elections in decades in Sudan. “I think this is an opportunity we shouldn’t let slip,” he said.