CAIRO -The Sudanese prime minister ousted in an army coup last week wants detainees released and governing bodies restored before he will enter into any dialogue, his office said on Wednesday, denying a report he had agreed to lead a new government.
Abdalla Hamdok has been under house arrest since his government was toppled on Oct. 25 by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in the coup which derailed a transition towards civilian rule and led Western donors to freeze aid.
Burhan said last week he wants to form a new government of technocrats, and that Hamdok could return to lead it.
Mediation efforts have been underway for several days in search of a negotiated way out of the crisis.
A source close to Hamdok told Reuters mediated talks were ongoing but no deal had been reached.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV said earlier on Wednesday that Hamdok had agreed to return to lead a government. Al Hadath TV, an affiliate of al Arabiya, reported Hamdok wanted political detainees released as a condition.
However, his office denied he had agreed to return.
“Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is detained in his residence by order of the coup authorities, is sticking by the conditions that all detainees be released and constitutional institutions be restored (as they were) before Oct. 25, before engaging in any dialogue,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Hamdok was being prevented from communicating with supporters, it added.
Volker Perthes, the U.N. special representative to Sudan, said on Monday that Sudanese and international mediation efforts were expected to bear fruit in coming days.
Speaking to Sudanese editors on Wednesday, he said “the contours of an agreement are becoming clearer”, his office said.
The transition was meant to steer to elections in 2023, after the army deposed long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir two years ago, prompted by a popular uprising against his rule.
Burhan has said he moved last week to avert civil war after civilian politicians stoked hostility to the armed forces. He says he is still committed to a democratic transition, including elections in July 2023.
The Geneva-based World Organisation against Torture said on Tuesday at least 36 civilians arrested in the coup were still held incommunicado.
“The whereabouts of many of those who have been detained are not yet known and they have not been able to contact their families or lawyers,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Clement Voule said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sudanese lawyer and human rights defender Kamal El Gizouli said lawyers attempting to defend the detainees had been unable to establish their whereabouts or the existence of any charges against them after contacting the public prosecution and police.
Burhan has said that those detained who did not have criminal charges brought against them would be released.