UNITED NATIONS - The United States has expressed its “deep concern” about Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s declaration of a one-year nationwide state of emergency amid growing anti-government protests.
“We continue to evaluate the impact of President Omar al-Bashir’s announcement last Friday,” U.S. Acting United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told a meeting of the Security Council on Monday.
“We’re deeply concerned about the declaration of a national state of emergency and call on the government of Sudan to respect the rights of all individuals in Sudan, bring an immediate end to the violent repression of peaceful protests, and seek accountability for those responsible for violations and abuses.”
Two months of protests triggered by a declining economy and rising commodity prices have rocked the country. Demonstrators have called for the 75-year old president to step down. His security forces have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.
Activists say at least 56 people have died during the demonstrations, a figure the government disputes.
On Monday, the presidential palace announced additional restrictions under the state of emergency, banning unauthorized public gatherings and protests.
The American ambassador called for a safe environment for Sudanese to express their grievances.
“We call for an inclusive political process toward elections wherein all Sudanese are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly,” Ambassador Cohen said. “The immediate release of all journalists, political opposition leaders, human rights activists and other protesters who have been arbitrarily detained; and for the government of Sudan to afford those facing charges full access to legal representation.”
Bashir has been in power for nearly 30 years and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed in the Darfur region of the country.