African Union Suspends Sudan

by Samuel Abasi Last updated on June 7th, 2019,

Khartoum, Sudan: The African Union has suspended Sudan from the organization until the nation establishes a civilian-led transitional authority, days after security forces killed dozens of protesters in the capital and talks with opposition leaders stalled.

In a statement, the union’s Peace & Security Council said such an authority was the only way open for Sudan to “exit from the current crisis.”

International criticism of Sudan’s military rulers has mounted following the violent June 3 crackdown on a protest camp, which a doctors’ group aligned with protesters said left at least 108 people dead. The Sudanese Health Ministry put the toll at 46. It was the worst violence in the country since the military ousted veteran President Omar al-Bashir amid a popular uprising in April.

While Sudan’s military has pledged a transition to democratic rule, talks with the opposition stalled over representation in a power-sharing government. Authorities had recently described the Khartoum sit-in, marked by a carnival atmosphere, as a threat to public order.

There were signs that diplomatic efforts to find a way forward had intensified. The opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change said it had been invited to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday in Khartoum, Sky News reported, in an apparent attempt at mediation.

The #AU Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of #Sudan in all #AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis— African Union Peace (@AU_PSD) June 6, 2019

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said earlier that Moscow was in contact with Sudan’s ruling military council and the opposition in a bid to help defuse the standoff.

At a United Nations Security Council meeting Tuesday, Russia and China blocked a statement circulated by Germany and the U.K. condemning the killing of civilians and urging a rapid solution to the crisis, diplomats said. The UN has temporarily relocated non-essential personnel from Sudan, according to Stephane Dujarric, the secretary-general’s spokesman.

Sudan’s military has denied it carried out the assault on the Khartoum protesters, with Mohamed Hamdan, deputy leader of the military council and head of the Rapid Support Forces, instead blaming “forces” who had obtained RSF uniforms.

In a statement published on the official Sudanese SUNA news agency, the army said it would safeguard Sudanese lives, but called on people to stay away from military installations.

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