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African summit urges democratic transition in Sudan

Chairperson of the African Union Gen Al-Sisi

Cairo, Egypt | AFP |  African leaders at an emergency summit in Cairo urged Sudan’s military rulers on Tuesday to implement a democratic transition within three months, the Egyptian presidency said.

Egypt and representatives from several other African nations gave Sudanese authorities and political actors three months “to implement peaceful… and democratic transition measures”, it said in a statement.

They also urged the African Union to extend its deadline, currently the end of April, for Sudan’s military council to hand power to a civilian authority or face suspension from the regional bloc..

Background

Egypt hosted African leaders for summit talks on the upheavals in Sudan and Libya, as Chairperson of the Union President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned against “a slide into chaos”.

Sisi called for a coherent regional response, as protests continue in Khartoum despite the toppling of Omar al-Bashir earlier this month and as strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces bear down on Tripoli.

“The principle of African solutions to African problems is the only way to deal with common challenges facing us,” Sisi said in opening remarks to the summit on Sudan, according to Egypt’s presidency.

The gathered leaders were to focus on “the evolution of the situation in Sudan”, Sisi’s office said.

“We are taking into account the efforts the Sudanese transitional military council has taken as well as the civil and political forces… to overcome this critical juncture,” Sisi said.

Sudan’s military council, which took power after Bashir was deposed, has so far resisted calls from protesters to stand aside immediately for a civilian administration.

Sisi cautioned Sudanese political actors to “safeguard the state’s institutions…in order to prevent a slide into chaos”.

Last month, he warned against the dangers created by protests, but fell short of explicitly naming Sudan, or Algeria, where demonstrations have toppled long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The Egyptian president also called on the international community to “shoulder the pressing economic burden” created by Sudan’s challenges.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced three billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) in financial support for Khartoum.

Attendees in Cairo include Chadian President Idriss Deby, Rwanda’s head of state Paul Kagame, Congo’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Djibouti’s leader Ismail Omar Guelleh, Egypt’s presidency flagged on Monday.

The AU on April 15 threatened to suspend Sudan if the military does not hand over power within 15 days of that date to a civilian authority.

It has echoed protesters’ demands, saying “a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan”.

The AU suspended Egypt and the Central African Republic in 2013 following coups in both countries. Both have since had their membership restored.

 

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