Tunis — The African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) has granted Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC), a 'final extension' of two months, to hand-over power to a transitional civilian government, or face suspension. This extends a previous 15-day deadline stipulated by the PSC on 15 April.
The TMC seized power on April 11 by means of a coup, overthrowing President Omar Al Bashir, who himself seized power in a coup in 1989.
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, a meeting of AU leaders in Cairo on April 23 recommended allowing the junta three months to relinquish power to civilian authority, however at a meeting in Tunis on Tuesday, the PSC decided on "an additional period of 60 days".
In an official communiqué following the meeting, the PSC expressed "deep concern over the situation in Sudan following the military takeover of power on 11 April 2019, and its impact on the country, the region and the Continent, in a context where Sudan already faces challenges."
The Council reiterates the solidarity of the African Union with the people of Sudan, who will determine their own future, and reaffirms its commitment and readiness to continue to support Sudan during this period, in line with the relevant AU instruments and principles."
It recognises "the legitimate aspirations of the Sudanese people to the opening of the political space in order to be able to democratically design and choose institutions that are representative and respectful of freedoms and human rights," and further reiterates the "AU's condemnation and total rejection, through its zero tolerance policy, of all forms of unconstitutional changes of government, in particular through military coup d'état".
In the communiqué, the AU underscores 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 AU takes due note of the Joint Communiqué of the Consultative Summit of Regional Partners of Sudan, however the AU also "notes with deep regret that the Sudanese military has not stepped aside and has not handed over power to a civilian-led transitional authority by the expiry of the period of 15 days, as stipulated in the [April 15] communiqué".
It stresses the primacy of AU instruments and policies on unconstitutional change of government and the imperative of compliance with their provisions, taking into account the exceptional circumstances prevailing in Sudan that need to be considered, in the interest of the Sudanese people and the preservation of peace in the country, the region and the Continent.
Call for restraint
The AU further underscores "the need for all Sudanese stakeholders to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any act or declaration that could jeopardise the efforts so deployed in the search for a sustainable solution to the current crisis, based on respect for constitutional order and reflecting the aspirations of the people of Sudan, within the framework of the relevant AU instruments".
The AU PSC "reaffirms its respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Sudan, and further reaffirms its support to the democratic transformation in Sudan" and underlines "the need for external actors to refrain from any action or initiatives that could further complicate the situation in Sudan; and calls on all AU partners and the international community at large, to support AU ongoing efforts in Sudan, bearing in mind the longstanding multifaceted challenges facing the country, including the urgent need to address the financial and economic problems".
While it "acknowledges of 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 that will lead the process to the organisation and holding of free, fair and transparent elections," it encourages the Sudanese stakeholders to continue to pursue constructive dialogue to ensure the setting up of the civilian-led transitional authority in Sudan, without further delay.
Restoration of constitutional order
The communiqué announces that the PSC has decided to extend the deadline "for an additional period of up to 60 days for the military in Sudan to hand over power to a civilian-led transitional authority" and "in this context, emphasises that this final extension is granted to enable the putting in place of a civilian-led transitional authority."
It concludes with the following demands by the AU PSC: That the military and the Sudanese stakeholders should continue to work together towards urgently completing the negotiations and agreeing on the composition of a civilian-led transitional authority, and that the military and the Sudanese stakeholders should finalise all transitional arrangements, including modalities, duration and priorities of the transition, as well as legislative and judicial structures, that will lead to the restoration of constitutional order.