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Pressure Sudan’s Military to Value Human Life: Catholic Bishop to International Community

Flag of Sudan. Credit: Shutterstock

There is need for the international community to put pressure on the military in Sudan to show respect and value for human life, a Catholic Bishop in the country has said a day after the country’s army seized power in a coup.

In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, October 26, Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille said the military coup that took place on Monday, October 25 is a retrogression that brings Sudan “back to the military junta rule.”

“We hear of the death of the people who express their feelings towards the coup against civilian governments,” Bishop Tombe Trille said in reference to the reported death of civilians who were among protesters demanding the return of civilian rule in the Northeast African nation.

The Sudanese Catholic Bishop added, “The international community should put their pressure on the junta to value the life of their citizens.”

On October 25, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan who was at the helm of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, the country’s power-sharing ruling entity, announced the dissolution of the Council and civilian rule, the detention of political leaders, and called a state of emergency across the country.

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Among those reportedly detained are Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a host of pro-government party leaders, and members of Sudan’s cabinet.

“Defiant protesters remain on the streets of Sudan after the country's armed forces launched a military coup,” BBC has reported Tuesday, October 26, adding that the protesters who are waving flags and chanting “have blocked roads in the capital Khartoum and around the country following the takeover.”

The BBC report further indicates, “Soldiers opened fire on crowds and reportedly killed ten people.”

In his interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Tombe Trille urged the international community “to assist the military junta to respect and abide with the norms, release the detained civil ministers and dialogue with them to hand back the power to civil government.”

“The message of the scripture remains to be the strength of the people of God in the light of any situation,” the Local Ordinary of Sudan El Obeid Diocese who doubles as the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) told ACI Africa October 26.

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He added, “The church in Sudan has (never) remained silent under the Cross of Christ despite some changes which took place in Sudan; the attitude of the rulers towards the church never changed.”

The October 25 military coup has received condemnation from the international community, including governments and human rights groups who are demanding the immediate release of the detained Sudanese civilian political leaders.

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission said he had “learned with deep dismay of the serious development of the current situation in Sudan.”

“The Chairperson calls for the immediate resumption of consultations between civilians and military within the framework of the Political Declaration and the Constitutional decree,” Moussa Faki Mahamat says in his statement published on Twitter October 25.

“Dialogues and consensus is the only relevant path to save the country and its democratic transition,” the AU Commission Chair says, and “further calls for the release of all arrested leaders and the necessary strict respect of human rights.”

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Since the Sudanese army overthrew President Omar al-Bashir on 11 April 2019 after a 30-year rule following popular protests against him, the military leaders and their civilian counterparts have been at odds.

In a July 2019 power-sharing agreement between Sudan’s military and civilians, the post al-Bashir transitional authorities were tasked with addressing a legacy of abuse and repression alongside a challenging economic crisis.

“The takeover risks precipitating a reversal of the small but important gains made over the course of the last two years under the now-dissolved transitional government,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported, citing Human Rights Watch.

“I condemn the ongoing military coup in Sudan. Prime Minister Hamdok & all other officials must be released immediately. There must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition,” the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres Tweeted October 25, and added, “The UN will continue to stand with the people of Sudan.”

This story was updated on 26 October 2021 at 13h30 EAT.

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