The African Union on Thursday suspended Sudan, demanding a civilian-led transition authority to resolve a crisis which has claimed over 100 lives.
“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,” the AU posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia will launch a mediation effort on Friday, diplomatic sources in Khartoum said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was due to visit Khartoum on Friday to try to mediate between the military and an opposition alliance, a diplomatic source at the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum said.
The source told reporters that Abiy would meet members of the Transitional Military Council and the opposition’s Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces during his one-day visit.
Ethiopia hosts the headquarters of the African Union but it was not clear if Abiy would be acting under AU auspices.
Disputed death toll –
The Sudanese Health Ministry said on Thursday that 61 people had been killed in the crackdown but the opposition put the toll at 108.
The action was led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary force, witnesses said. Troops fired on unarmed protesters then mounted a wider operation crackdown in the following days, they said.
The RSF, commanded by the military council’s deputy leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, was built up from militias that fought insurgents in Sudan’s western Darfur region during a civil war that began in 2003.
The militias are accused of involvement in widespread atrocities in Darfur, and Bashir was indicted in 2009 and 2010 by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide – charges he denies. He is now detained in Khartoum.
Amnesty International called for international action against the military rulers and condemned the RPF for its role in the violence.
“The RSF, the special military force which killed, raped and tortured thousands in Darfur, brings its murderous rampage to the capital,” Amnesty said.
“Reports that bodies have been dumped in the river demonstrate the utter depravity of these so-called security forces.”
The military council has denied the force was involved in any illegal actions and said it was facing a negative media campaign “from hostile parties”. The raid was targeting criminals in an area adjacent to the camp, it said.
Meanwhile, Sudanese authorities have admitted dozens of people were killed when security forces stormed a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.
But doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108.
The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule.
But thousands of demonstrators had remained camped out in front of the army headquarters calling for the generals to cede power to civilians.
The AU had urged the generals to ensure a smooth transition of power, but the brutal crackdown to disperse protesters Monday saw pressure mount on the AU to hold those responsible for the violence to justice.