Friday, February 28, 2020

African Union extends deadline for Sudan junta to cede power by 60 days

Sudanese demonstrators, from the Nuba mountains, take part in a demonstration in the capital Khartoum on May 1, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The African Union has extended the deadline for Sudan’s military rulers to transfer power to civilians by further 60 days or face suspension.

The AU threatened to suspend Sudan’s membership unless the military council that has taken power in the country after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir hands over power to a civilian authority within 15 days from April 15, but the initial deadline was missed.

The AU Peace and Security Council said in a statement on Tuesday that it “notes with deep regret” that the military had not transferred power to civilians within the original deadline.

But it announced “an additional period of up to sixty days for the military” in the country “to hand over power to a civilian-led Transitional Authority”.

The council reiterated its conviction that a military-led transition in Sudan “will be totally unacceptable and contrary to the will and legitimate aspirations, to democratic institutions and processes, as well as respect for human rights and freedoms of the Sudanese people.”

The statement comes as the Alliance for Freedom and Change, Sudan’s leading protest group, called for a “million-strong march” on Thursday to demand a civilian administration.

The military had earlier agreed to allow civilians into the transitional administrative body.  But the military and the opposition are at odds over the composition of the joint civilian-military council, with the military pushing for a 10-member council, including seven military representatives and three civilians.

The protesters want a 15-member joint council with eight civilians and seven military representatives.

The pan-African body said the 60 days were a final extension, noting that it gave the extension after acknowledging “the gradual progress made so far by the Sudanese parties in the negotiations towards an agreement on the modalities, structures and timelines of a civilian-led Transitional Authority.”

Thousands of protesters have been camping outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, almost three weeks after the military and security forces removed Omar al-Bashir from power on April 11.

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