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Sudan’s removal from terror list will be stopped if brutal repression continues: U.S.

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February 20, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC), Cyril Sartor, Wednesday warned that the violent crackdown on protesters threatens Sudan’s removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

Sartor paid a 4-day visit to Khartoum for talks with the government officials on the second phase of the Sudanese-American process to normalize bilateral relations, including the 26-year Sudan’s designation a state sponsor of terror.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for security forces to use excessive violence to crack down on demonstrators, to use detention without charge, certainly unacceptable to use brutality, torture .. and needless to say there’s no reason anyone should be killed," Sartor told the AFP at the end of his visit.

The ongoing process "which could eventually lead to the lifting of state sponsors of terrorism designation... is being threatened by the current developments," he further stressed as the opposition prepare for a big march that will include the participation of the opposition forces for the first time.

The Sudanese authorities said they released 2430 protesters who had been arrested during Sudan’s longest peaceful protest movement that erupted on 19 December 2018.

According to the government 33 people were killed during the protests, but rights groups and activists say the death toll reached over 50 people.

During his visit, Sartor met with the head of Sudanese National Assembly Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed, Presidential Assistant Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, Prime Minister Mutaz Musa.

The meetings touched all the six-track agreement which includes the humanitarian access, freedoms, North Korea, ceasefire, relations with neighbouring countries, and the counterterrorism cooperation.

The American official admitted the efforts done by the government in the war on terror but stressed that brutal repression on the peaceful protesters may put the process at risk.

"We have been quite clear, quite explicit ... with all the government leaders that I have met with that the current conditions in Sudan and the overreaction of the security forces in particular put the talks at risk," he told the AFP.

"There can be no confusion about our message, about the sincerity of this view from senior leadership in Washington."
Last Monday, the Sudanese government media focused on parts of statements made by Sartor after his meeting with the Sudanese presidential aide as he called on the Sudanese resolve the current crisis among them, stressing “there are no external solutions to be imposed on Sudan”.

On Wednesday he repeated the same statement but with more clarity.

"What we are witnessing is all about the people of Sudan who are seeking to have their voice, to have their views, to have their concerns injected into the political dialogue," he said.

"So, this is all about the people of Sudan finding a way to get to a solution."

The visiting official went further to blame the Sudanese government of attempting to circumvent the six-track deal.

"We are not at a stage of halting talks," he said. But he warned that the process could stop "abruptly."

"It is imperative that the government stop reacting with the tactics that it has been using to deal with the current situation," Sartor said.

"That’s a deal breaker. But we will try in every way we can to work together."

(ST)

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