Published: Fri, June 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

African bloc suspends Sudan demanding end to military rule

African bloc suspends Sudan demanding end to military rule

"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", the AU tweeted on Thursday.

"The people of Sudan deserve an orderly transition, led by civilians, that can establish the conditions for free and fair elections, rather than have rushed elections imposed by the TMC's security forces", they said.

Sudan's military rulers offered to resume talks with opposition groups on Wednesday, two days after deadly clashes between security forces and protesters in Khartoum, but the opposition rejected the invitation.

Referring to Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) as "the council of oppression and brutality", the group accused Sudanese military forces of violently targeting civilians.

Dagalo's forces used live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas to break up the more than five-month-old sit-in outside the country's defense ministry in Khartoum, where tens of thousands of Sudanese had encamped demanding an end to military rule and the transfer of power to a democratically elected government.

"With this senseless slaughter the [transitional military council] has completely destroyed the trust of the Sudanese people and crushed the people's hope for a new era of respect for human rights and respect for the right to protest without fear", Jackson added.

The moves take place after security forces cleared protesters from a sit-in camp in central Khartoum on Monday, killing dozens of people in the worst violence since President Omar al-Bashir was removed by the military in April after four months of generally peaceful protests. Bogdanov visited Khartoum earlier this year.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L), head of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council, during a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 1, 2019.

"We don't see any way back into negotiations with the TMC", said Madani Abbas Madani, a spokesman of Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), an opposition umbrella body.

At least 35 people have been killed in the violence, according to opposition-aligned doctors, as the demonstrations continued into Tuesday.

But the head of the military council, Lt. -Gen.

Large numbers of heavily armed troops were also reported on the streets of Omdurman, Sudan's second-largest city, just across the River Nile from Khartoum.

Sudan is a partner to a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fighting in Yemen against rebels linked to Iran, a regional rival of Riyadh.

Some life had returned to the streets of the capital on Thursday, with limited public transport operating and only a few cars on the roads.

Most shops were shuttered on what would usually have been a bustling Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations have withdrawn non-critical civilian staff from their embassies in Sudan.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the UK Foreign Office said they had summoned the Sudanese ambassador to raise concerns about the violence in Khartoum.

He did not urge a return to negotiations but criticized some in the movement for "unjustified escalation" - an apparent reference to strikes called by the Sudanese Professionals Association in previous weeks - and said he had expected the military to escalate as well.

On Tuesday, the TMC said it would hold elections within nine months under global observation, but protest groups rejected this plan, saying they wanted more time and a civilian-led interim government.

Sudan has been rocked since December when anger over rising bread prices and shortages turned into protests against Bashir that culminated in the military removing him after a three-decade rule where he became a pariah in Western eyes.

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