SUDAN has been suspended from the African Union (AU) with immediate effect in response to the upsurge of violence in the capital Khartoum that has seen dozens of innocent killed as protests against the military junta grows.
On April 11 this year, Sudan’s military seized power from President Omar Al-Bashir but since then has been under pressure to organise elections and hand over to a civilian administration. Protesters have taken to the streets of Khartoum to demand that the regime hand over immediately but the junta has said it will no longer negotiate with protesters and have called for a general election within nine months.
Over the last week, the government has cracked down on protesters in Khartoum, leading to the death of about 108 people. In response, the AU has suspended Sudan and warned of further action if power is not transferred to civilian authority shortly.
Opposition activists say a paramilitary group has killed 108 people this week but officials put the figure at 46. On Monday, the violence intensified when security forces stormed a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital after talks between opposition activists and the ruling interim military broke down.
An AU spokesman said: “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 Sudan to exit from the current crisis.”
AU leaders took the decision unanimously at an emergency meeting in Addis Ababa that lasted more than five hours. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, has called for an immediate and transparent investigation into the killings.
Later today, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will be heading to Khartoum to try to mediate between the two sides. Doctors linked to the opposition say the casualty figure is as high as 108, pointing out that 40 bodies were pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on Tuesday.
However, Mohammed Hamadan, the deputy head of the military council, defended the violent suppression, claiming that the protesters had been infiltrated by rogue elements and drug dealers. Across Khartoum, a paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is reported to be roaming the city’s nearly deserted streets targeting civilians.
Formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, the RSF gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003. It is believed that the current military junta is using it as it cannot rely on the regular army.