United Nations seeks to verify reports of gang-rape by Sudan militias


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (C) is welcomed at Khartoum global airport, Sudan, June 7, 2019.

The Trump administration, facing pressure to address the violent political crisis in Sudan, announced Wednesday that veteran diplomat Donald Booth has been named a special adviser focused on the troubled northeast African state.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry said the military council and the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which is pushing for civilian rule, had agreed to resume talks soon "in good-faith to iron-out the remaining outstanding points", including establishing a government council to run the country during a set transition period.

Booth, who served as US special envoy for Sudan during the Obama administration, was dispatched to accompany Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy to meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. The generals have not yet commented on the latest development.

Relations worsened following the crackdown, with protest leaders now insisting any agreement reached with the military rulers must be backed by "regional and international" guarantees. He did not elaborate.

Military leaders moved in, but initially claimed they agreed to civilian rule, developing a reported plan to rotate power between the civilians and military leaders.

US call to stop attacks The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Tibor Nagy, plans to meet both the generals and protest leaders in Khartoum, the State Department said.

Negotiations between the military rulers and protest leaders had broken down over disagreements on whether a planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure.

The Ethiopian leader has tried to mediate between the military and protesters in Sudan, but as the generals have the political and financial backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there is little incentive right now for them to back down.

Later in the day, several restaurants reopened and street vendors came back to work.

Several shops, fuel stations and some branches of private banks were open in Khartoum, and some public buses were running but most parts of the capital remained closed.

"I'm still staying at my home because I'm anxious about the presence of security forces carrying guns on the streets", said Samar Bashir, an employee in a private company.

Rapid Support Forces personnel, militia originating from the 16-year-old war in the western region of Darfur, are accused of carrying out atrocities, including attacks on hospitals.

Other residents told AFP that they stayed at home because internet services - heavily cut in recent days - were still not fully restored, making office work hard. "However now, I truly believe they are a true extension of al-Bashir, said Faisal Suleiman, a resident of Khartoum".

Scores of people have been killed after a crackdown was launched on protesters in Khartoum since June 3. "We are appealing to those who blocked the roads to open them for all the sick people. since many people lost their lives because they can not reach the hospital", senior health ministry official Mohamed Altom told reporters.