8 June 2019

Ethiopia: PM Attempts Mediation of Sudan Crisis

Photo: Jason Patinkin/Voice of America
Roadblocks set up by protesters are seen in the Burri neighborhood to protest the June 2 massacre of at least 60 civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan.

Ethiopia's prime minister urged "courage" as he met Friday with Sudan's ruling generals and opposition leaders to try to ease the political crisis that has gripped Sudan since the overthrow of longtime President Omar al-Bashir.

Upon arriving in Khartoum, Abiy Ahmed conferred with the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC), including TMC chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan. He later met separately with leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), a coalition of political groups whose protests helped drive Bashir from power in April.

In a statement following the talks, the Ethiopian prime minister called on the Sudanese people and political forces to show "courage" and move quickly toward a democratic, inclusive transition.

Abiy has won praise for reforms inside Ethiopia and for making peace with his country's neighbor and longtime foe, Eritrea.

There was no sign Friday, however, of a revival of talks between Sudan's military and opposition. Protest leaders Friday insisted that any new talks with Sudan's generals could happen only if certain conditions were met, including the removal of the military from the streets.

A military crackdown on the main protest site in Khartoum earlier this week killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds more.

Doctors close to the protesters said Friday that at least 113 people had been killed in the crackdown. The Sudanese health ministry put the death toll at 61.

Many observers blamed the violence on the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, who have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militias that Bashir used during the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s.

The military removed Bashir from power on April 11, following months of mass protests.

On Thursday, the African Union said it had suspended Sudan from all activities until a civilian-led government was formed.

The TMC and FFC agreed in principle last month to form a post-Bashir transitional government, but talks stalled over which side would have ultimate decision-making authority.

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